FIRST READER: This is the third Sunday in Advent. Today, we light three purple candles (OR: Two purple candles and a pink candle). The first Sunday, we lit the candle of hope. On the second Sunday, we lit the candle of love. Today, we light the candle of joy. One thing that sometimes happens as we get ready to celebrate Jesus' birth is that we expect to be happy all the time. Joy is not the same as happy. Joy is a deeper feeling created by knowing that God cares for us. Joy is remembering that God sent Jesus so we would always know of God's care. During Advent, we pray that we may remember again God's gift of Jesus to the world and know the joy that gift brings to all people.
(Light the first, second, and third candles)
SECOND READER: When we look at the third candle, we remember God's promise of joy. God promised to send a Savior to the people. Today we read from the Gospel of Luke. In the Scripture, we read Mary's song of praise and joy. There must have been times when Mary was frightened, worried, fearful, and sad. But we have these words of joy even in a time when she was unsure of the future. Her words can guide us to look for the joy of God even when things may be uncertain for us.
FIRST READER: Read Luke 1:46b-55
DISCUSSION: How privileged we are to have this beautiful song of Mary. Can you imagine her singing the words written in Scripture? It is a testimony to her faith and joy at being chosen as God's servant.
- Who are the people in our world who need God's joy?
- What are our hopes for joy in our world today?
- How do we help others know that God gives joy?
PRAYER: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the joy remembering Jesus' birth brings to us today. Help us live in such a way that our words and our actions help others know of the joy you give. AMEN.
Monday, December 16, 2013: Today read again Luke 1:46 -55. Make a list together of the things that bring joy to your lives. Write your own song of joy to God, or sing a song that expresses joy to God.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of joy? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013: Joy is something we need in our city. Think about different leaders of our city. Select one leader of our city. Pray for that leader today.
Thursday, December 19, 2013: As we get ready to celebrate again the birth of Jesus, we sometimes get very busy. Today, take a ten-minute break. Sit quietly. If it helps you to concentrate, look at your Advent wreath. Pray, asking God's help to bring quiet and calm to a busy world.
Friday, December 20, 2013: Think about your family. Some may live with you. Others may be far away. Who in your family needs God's joy? Pray for this family member today.
Saturday, December 21, 2012: There are people in our neighborhoods, in our church, and in our community who need to know of God's peace. Select someone to visit today. Visit by phone or in person. Go as a family or by yourself. It doesn't necessarily have to be a visit to a home. Maybe there is someone you see in a place where you go to eat. Stop by today and talk with that person. Tell the person you visit one way he or she brings joy to you.