Advent 3 Year B

| DB Home | RCL Resources Index |


Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11 The Spirit of the Lord in upon me
Psalm 126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion
or Luke 1:47-55 The song of Mary [which may be used next week]
1 Thess 5:16-24 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing
John 1:6-8,19-28 The testimony given by John

Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia.)
109 Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord
147 Rejoice the Lord is King
148 Love divine, all loves excelling
179 Christ is the world's true light
200 Come thou long expected Jesus
203 Hail to the Lord's anointed
210 My soul glorifies the Lord
235 Angels from the realms of glory
237 Once in royal David's city
418 Let all mortal flesh keep silence
540 Father eternal, ruler of creation

Sermon summary (Click here for complete sermon)

Jesus, John and Elijah: who were they?

The big question was, who was Jesus, and it is still the question, even in a cynical Western world: just who was that man from Nazareth who appeared with John the Baptist at the River Jordan. Was he another great man like him, or a being of a different order altogether.

The way the gospels are written is clearly intended to address this basic question. They are all primary witnesses to Jesus as the redeeming Word of God (John 1:14). John placed his account of the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist in this cosmic context for good reason, while he inserted various denials of equality between John and Jesus (John 1:8,15).

John the evangelist does not conceal the purpose of his writing,(John 20:30-31), his aim was convince the reader that Jesus was the Messiah, and how that for him that meant acceptance of his full humanity and together with his complete divinity. He was dealing with big questions, the answers to which would determine the survival of the Christian faith in a hostile and seductive world.  There is a similar test today in the West. In what ways was he, is he, then, was he for them, is he for us, a man like John the Baptist, and yet the Word of God through whom all things came to be and who can give power to become children of God to all who believe in him? (John 1:3,12)

When, just after the reading for today, John introduces Jesus the man, walking the dusty roads of Galilee, John the Baptist says he is the Lamb of God (so giving us the words used in the Eucharist). Then comes the saying about Jesus ranking before him (that is in importance) because he was before him (that is in time and creation). (John 1:29-30) after dealing with the question of status (John 1:26-27.

The point of fundamental difference between John the Baptist and Jesus is demonstrated by their different kinds of (John 1:33; Mark 1:7-8). John baptised with water, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.  That was because of who they were (John 1:34). The point for us, and for all who seek to understand who Jesus was, is to hear the claim that he was not only superior to John the Baptist but radically different.

John was the forerunner, as he said of himself (John 1:23). Being like Elijah they wonder if he was Elijah returned. When he is asked whether he is Elijah, John the Baptist here replies that he is not (John 1:21), though Jesus said something strange in that respect (Matthew 11:7-15), if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. We might say, "if you will, you could see him that way" or he carried out the role of Elijah. But to see him that way, is to see that Jesus is the Messiah - if you are willing to accept it!

Elijah was unique among the prophets in that there is no report of his death, but rather the tradition was that he was taken up to heaven directly (2 Kings 2:11-13) and was expected to return before the coming the Kingdom of God (Malachi 4:5-6 cf Luke 1:17; John 1:19-23). Much the same as Elijah challenged the corruption of the rulers of his day so too did John the Baptist. But the fourth gospel separates them in order to emphasise the uniqueness of Jesus: so that even the Jewish ideas of the Messiah as a great king in the historical pattern of King David would be inadequate, just as the comparison of the Baptist with Elijah, in his spirit and power, did not being out the whole truth about him.

Jesus was no mere earthly king or leader, however great. He was the Word that was with God at the beginning and was God. For us it means that the social gospel is not enough. The signs of the coming of the Kingdom point to Jesus the man not merely to his work as an inspiration (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:17-21; Matthew 11:2-6). To make the bringing of justice the gospel in itself is to miss the point. Many have tried and failed to put right what is wrong in the world. The good news is that the one who can do all that needs to be done for humanity has come, and he is the very presence of God himself, the one to whom the Baptist looked when he said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:19).

Order of Service - Advent 3 Year B - | DB Home | RCL Resources Index |

The Gathering of the People of God


The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9)
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalms 118:1)
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD. (Psalms 118:26)

HYMN 147 Rejoice the Lord is King

[A family group or individual comes to the table and one reads:]
On this third Sunday in Advent we rejoice at the prospect of the coming of the Kingdom of God which John the Baptist foresaw and Jesus announced, and which even now is breaking into the world.
[Three coloured candles are lit (including those lit last week), and reading continues.]
"The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining." 1 John 2:8
"I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. " John 12:46

THE JESSE TREE* [See below, at the end]


Almighty and loving God, we have failed to love you with all our heart and to acknowledge you as our Creator: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
We have failed to take part as disciples of Christ in the new creation he has brought: Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
We have failed to open our lives to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

DECLARATION OF FORGIVENESS ... Your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
DOXOLOGY: Praise to you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: John points to Jesus as like other before him
OLD TESTAMENT Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11 The Spirit of the Lord in upon me
PSALM 126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion
EPISTLE 1 Thess 5:16-24 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing
GOSPEL John 1:6-8,19-28 The testimony given by John

HYMN 200 Come thou long expected Jesus


HYMN 179 Christ is the world's true light

SHARING TIME [Notices, celebrations, requests for intercessions]

Prayers for people in need, the nation, community and the church local and universal, followed by

The Benedictus [The song of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, (Luke 1:68-79)]

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he wore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of the Hymn Book]

The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN 540 Father eternal, ruler of creation
DISMISSAL Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.


A bare branched small tree stands in the sanctuary. It bears decorations prepared by the children including leaves with names of members of congregation. Gifts for people in need are placed at the foot of the tree to be distributed before Christmas. The name "Jessie Tree" is a reminder of the father of King David from whom it was promised a new descendant would arise as the Messiah, (Isaiah 11:1-2) A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. {2} The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
  | Christian Beliefs | Family History | Public Affairs | Higher Ed Research | Hobbies and Interests | Issues in the UCA | Personal Background | Psychological Research | Templestowe UC | Worship and Preaching |