Advent 3 Liturgy

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Lord be with you
and also with you

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5)

My dear friends in Christ, we gather round this Holy Altar offering this Holy Sacrifice to Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, on this Third Sunday of Advent: a Sunday which calls us to “Rejoice” and is therefore known as “Gaudete Sunday”

A warm welcome to you this morning as we gather from across our Parishes to worship together, to hear God’s holy word and receive this blessed sacraments.

We pray with special intention for the life, work and witness of our parishes, and that our Advent Preparations will find us ready to greet the Lord when he comes.

ADVENT 3 (John the Baptist)

Blessed are you, Sovereign Lord, just and true,
to you be praise and glory for ever!
Your prophet John the Baptist was witness to the truth
as a burning and shining light.
May we your servants rejoice in his light,
and so be led to witness to him
who is the Lord of our coming Kingdom
Jesus our Saviour and King of the ages.
Blessed be God for ever!

God our Father,
you gave to Zechariah and Elisabeth in their old age
a son called John.
He grew up strong in spirit,
prepared the people for the coming of the Lord,
and baptized them in the Jordan to wash away their sins:
Help us, who have been baptized into Christ,
to be ready to welcome him into our hearts,
and to grow strong in faith by the power of the Spirit.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Light who is coming into the world.

Lord Jesus, Light of the world,
John told the people to prepare,
for you were very near:
As Christmas grows closer day by day,
help us to be ready to welcome you now.

Invitation to confession

When the Lord comes,
he will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness,
and will disclose the purposes of the heart.
Therefore in the light of Christ let us confess our sins.
God of mercy, we acknowledge that we are all sinners. We turn from the wrong that we have thought and said and done, and are mindful of all that we have failed to do. For the sake of Jesus, who died for us, forgive us for all that is past, and help us to live each day in the light of Christ our Lord. Amen

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy
Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
+ pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

No Gloria in Advent

The Collect

Let us pray…

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Word of God

FIRST READING

Zephaniah 3: 14-20
A reading from the Prophet Zephaniah

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” “The sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a reproach to you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honour in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.

SECOND READING

Philippians 4: 4-7
A reading from a letter to the Philippians

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

GOSPEL
Luke 3: 7-18

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptised by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptised. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptise you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

Homily

In the name of the +Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

I was preparing this week’s homily and asked Lou for ideas, and she gave me the whole sermon: “Jesus is coming, look busy! Amen!” and she suggested I then sit down. Well, now that Fr. David has flown to Australia, and I have embarked on the round of school and parish services, alongside all the hard work you have all been putting in, we have certainly been looking and being busy, but although this is the key message for the whole of Advent, there is more to Advent than just busyness, and that warrants a proper exploration.

There is a little girl who loves to wear pink dresses, shiny paten shoes, with a little purse and sparkly headband. You see her in a million different places, if you keep your eyes open. She wears a smile and is usually holding the hand of someone she loves –that is when she is not twirling around watching her skirt branch out like a bell. It is obvious that this little girl loves life, it oozes from her. Most when seeing her smile back, chuckle to themselves, or wish to have even a little piece of her joy. The little girl is Gaudete.

We are now at the midpoint of Advent, the Sunday known as Gaudete Sunday: the Sunday for rejoicing. As I mentioned earlier in my introduction, it comes from the words of the Entrance Antiphon which we heard at the beginning of Mass:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice! The Lord is near!”

and our New Testament reading from Paul’s letter to the Phillippians.

It was so designated at a time when Advent was considered a penitential preparation for Christmas. Since penance is no longer the emphasis of Advent (it would seem that shopping is), the Sunday seems to have lost some of its initial purpose. But the rejoicing that it advocates continues to be in line with the season.

Advent is a time for joy, not primarily because we are anticipating the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, but because God is already in our midst. That is what the prophet Zephaniah claims, and he makes that claim twice. He is speaking to a people who have been burdened with war and destruction and displacement. Their lives have been assaulted and their hopes have been dashed. In the face of this the prophet directs them to “Shout for joy… Sing joyfully…. Be glad and exult.” How can they possibly respond in this way?

The prophet assures them that with God in their midst, they can indeed move forward into a new life.

In God’s presence they have nothing further to fear. No longer do they stand under judgment, for they will be renewed in God’s love. Are these empty promises? Can this really come to pass? It was up to Israel to decide whether they would turn to God and trust in the promises made to them or continue on the path they had set for themselves.

Unfortunately, our world is not terribly different from theirs. It too is burdened with war and destruction and displacement; lives have been assaulted and hopes have been dashed. We are probably as sceptical about peace and restoration as were the ancient Israelites—perhaps even more. However, this scepticism need not prevent us from trusting that God will encircle us with love and will grant us the peace we so desperately seek.

Saint Paul also calls us to rejoice. In fact, he says that we should rejoice always, because the Lord is near. There is no contradiction here regarding God’s presence. Paul did not think that Christ is absent from our midst. Rather, he was speaking of Christ’s final manifestation in glory. It is that time that is near; hence there is reason for rejoicing.

But notice what else he says.

In anticipation of that time of fulfilment, he admonishes us: “Your kindness should be known to all.” Though peace and restoration are given to us by God, they do not simply drop down from heaven. We are involved in their fashioning.

Still, we do not create this renewed world; God does. Furthermore, it is not given to us as a reward for our labours; it is fashioned within and through the very efforts we make.

“What shall we do?” This is the very question the crowds asked John the Baptist. We might expect this ascetic to make radical demands: Leave everything and join me in the desert; adopt a life of fasting and penance.

But John does not make such demands. Instead, he calls people to fidelity in the very circumstances of their lives: Those who have more than they need, share with those who have less; tax collectors, be honest; soldiers, do not take advantage of the vulnerable; parents, cherish your children; spouses, be faithful; neighbours, live in peace.

John models an attitude of mind and heart that is needed in today’s world. Though he was eccentric, he was very popular. People from every walk of life thronged to him. While some no doubt came out of curiosity, others were clearly motivated by religious fervour. They sought his advice about the direction their lives should take. John could have taken great pride in his reputation and in the influence that this probably afforded him, but he did not. Quite the contrary. He knew who he was, and he knew who he was not. He did not use his influence to enhance his prestige. He clearly was an honest man: a man of humility.

We cannot fail to wonder how much of the world’s sorry state is not the consequence of arrogance: arrogance stemming from military dominance, or economic prosperity, or educational superiority. Because – lets’s face it – people and nations less fortunate are sometimes minimized or treated as inferiors. Resentment turns to hatred, and hatred breeds violence. This does not excuse acts of terror or insurgency but it does suggest that we have a hand in this.

Violence and terror seem almost to be a part of the world in which we live, and this curtails the freedoms not just in Syrian streets, but here in this country where our civil liberties, our freedoms are curtailed out of fear, well meant, but fear nonetheless. If we give away our civil liberties, our freedom of expression, then the terrorists will have won.

But this does not have to be the case. It is precisely because this world filled with resentment and hatred and violence that can be transformed. It is precisely in and through our efforts to rid our world of such a scourge that the new world is fashioned, the reign of God brought forth.

Are these empty promises? Can this really come to pass? It is now up to us to decide whether we will turn to God and trust in the promises made to us, or continue on the path we have set for ourselves.

It took a faithful, brave and visionary man like John the Baptist to stand against the tide of first century Israel and their occupiers. It will take faithful, brave and visionary individuals to once again proclaim freedom, justice and the Kingdom of God where the blind see and the captives are free. #

This will keep us looking busy for when he returns again in glory. God is already in our midst. Rejoice! … and keep busy.

Amen

with thanks to Fr Cutmore who made much better sense of an old sermon of mine that I’ve borrowed it back!

Creed

Brothers and sisters, I ask you to profess our common faith in Jesus Christ.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father,
source of all being and life,
the one for whom we exist?
I believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Son,
who took our human nature,
died for us and rose again?
I believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in God the Holy Spirit,
who gives life to the people of God
and makes Christ known in the world?
I believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Peace

In the tender mercy of our God,
the dayspring from on high shall break upon us,
to give light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

cf Luke 1.78,79

The peace of the Lord be always with you
and also with you

Let us offer one another a sign of peace

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that this our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Church.

Prayer over the gifts

May the sacrifice of our worship, Lord, we pray,
be offered to you unceasingly,
to complete what was begun in sacred mystery
and powerfully accomplish for us your saving work.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Preface

The Lord be with you
and also with you

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give thanks and praise

It is indeed right and good to give you thanks and praise,
almighty God and everlasting Father,
through Jesus Christ your Son.

For when he humbled himself’ to come among us in human flesh,
he fulfilled the plan you formed before the foundation of the world
to open for us the way of salvation.

Confident’ that your promise will be fulfilled,
we now watch for the day
when Christ our Lord will come again in glory.

And so’ we join our voices with angels and archangels
and with all the company of heaven
to proclaim your glory,
for ever praising you and singing:

Eucharistic Prayer B

Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness;
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit,
and according to your holy will,
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who, in the same night that he was betrayed,
took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body
which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way, after supper
he took the cup and gave you thanks;
he gave it to them, saying:
Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus:
Dying you destroyed our death,
rising you restored our life:
Lord Jesus, come in glory.

And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,
his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins
of the whole world;
rejoicing in his mighty resurrection
and glorious ascension,
and looking for his coming in glory,
we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.

As we offer you this our sacrifice
of praise and thanksgiving,
we bring before you this bread and this cup
and we thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.

Send the Holy Spirit on your people
and gather into one in your kingdom
all who share this one bread and one cup,
so that we, in the company of
Our Blesséd Lady, St. Anne, St. Cecilia, St Edward,
and all the saints,
may praise and glorify you for ever,
through Jesus Christ our Lord;

by whom, and with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ
Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share the one bread

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace

Come not because you are strong,
but because you are weak.
Come not because any goodness of your own
but because you need mercy and help.
Come because you love the Lord a little
and would like to love him more.
Come because he loves you
and gave his life for you.

This is the lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world.
Blesséd are those who are called to his supper
Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

Prayer after Communion

We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts;
kindle in us the fire of your Spirit
that when your Christ comes again
we may shine as lights before his face;
who is alive and reigns now and for ever. Amen

Notices

Blessing

The Lord be with you
And also with you

Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing

Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you,
scatter the darkness from before your path,
and make you ready to meet him
when he comes in glory;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the +Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

The mass is ended. Go in the peace of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

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