You, Lord God, are our Strength and our Song and we trust in you.
A Call to Worship
Advent 3C 2015
Isaiah 12: 2-6
Together, we joyfully sing: “...Thank the LORD! Praise his name..!”
You, Wonderful God, are our Liberator, our Freedom and our Joy.
Together, we gladly sing: “For the LORD has done wonderful things.”
You, Trustworthy God, are the Wonderful Source of all goodness and
mercy – so let creation and all humanity join together in thankful songs.
Together, we freely sing: “See God has come to save us, we will trust
in God and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is our strength and our song…” Amen.
Isaiah 12: 2-6
2 See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”
3 With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
4 In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the LORD! Praise his name!
Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is!
5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things.
Make known his praise around the world.
6 Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy!
For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”
Prayers of Trust and Praise
Sustaining and Steadfast God, we gather to declare to you our heartfelt praises,
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Isaiah 12: 2-6
which are expressions of the relationship we have with the God who frees us
from our anxious fears and our childish imaginations. Yet, because of our very
human doubts, we prefer to trust in our own emotions rather than the proven
compassion and honour of our Holy God! Loving Lord God, you are indeed our
Strength and our Song and we do trust in you; especially when we come to
worship you and we are very blessed as we receive the encouragement and
support we need from so many people; and as we hear their stories of God’s
grace and mercy so generously given to them. May the joy of God’s presence
be always with us as we journey along life’s pilgrimage towards our home in you.
Trustworthy and Gracious God, we celebrate with joy the wonders of fountain of
your liberating and saving grace towards wayward humanity; and the way the
waters of baptism wash away our sin and shame; cleansing and renewing us in
our day to day living, as we bear witness to God’s loving mercy. We regret the
need to confess to God about the numbers of times we have failed to completely
trust in God’s promises, and have allowed doubts and fear to distract us from our
worship, witness and service to and for our Glorious God. Even as we express our
regrets, we are also filled with holy joy as we celebrate God’s involvement in our
daily life, and in the life of our community and world. We praise and give thanks that
God has always used people to help fulfil God’s purposes and plan for all creation.
Generous and Wonderful God, we praise you for the gift of joy that enlivens our
life and living in so many ways! We praise you for the quiet confidence and trust
we have in you that reassures us when we are troubled; we praise you that we
can experience the joy of family love and the blessings of friendships that enrich
us in so many ways; and for the holy joy we can know when in fellowship with you.
We praise you for that special spiritual joy that we experience in those moments
when we are drawn close to God; when you bless us with God’s near presence—
and so we sing: “...Thank the LORD! Praise his name..! Sing to LORD, for the
LORD has done wonderful things... Let them all know how mighty the LORD is..!” Amen.
A Personal Meditation
‘Joy’ is the theme for the third Sunday in the Advent season, and the prophet
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Isaiah 12: 2-6
wrote: ‘“...The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”’
With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!.... Let all the people
of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy...! Yet what do we mean when we think
about joy, and so we ask: “What does ‘joy’ mean?” Thinking about what was/is
‘joy’ - I eventually decided that ‘joy’ is my personal response to God, expressed
as an intense sense of quiet gratitude and thankfulness that reflects my own life
experiences; that ‘joy’ means I can trust that all of creation, including humanity,
are held securely in God’s hands; and that my life, and all those things that I care
about can be left to God’s compassionate and forgiving care. ‘Joy’ can also be
still within that same quiet confidence, a special response to familial emotions
and events that bind and bond people closer together - both as family and friends.
Julian of Norwich wrote: "The greatest honour we can give almighty God is to live
gladly because of the knowledge of his love." That word ‘gladly’ could be inter-
changed with ‘joy’ and not lose anything of its meaning - or even of its message!
|Creative pause:||Living gladly and joyfully in the knowledge of God’s love.|
Secular interpretations of the word “joy” use words describing emotions such as:
delight, keen pleasure, gaiety, ecstasy, exultant happiness, elation, felicity which
are usually associated with well-being, success, or good fortune; rather than being
a state of mind regardless of one’s circumstances. In the Isaiah reading, there is a
personal response in the early verses, and then it becomes a shared communal
outburst of joyful thankfulness because of God’s saving and liberating actions. It is
worth noting that in the dry and arid country such as the people of Israel normally
lived in, that they celebrated the “fountain of salvation.” For a fountain to successfully
function, there has to be an assured supply of water to maintain that flow; so being
able to “drink deeply from the fountain of salvation” indicates the ceaseless flow of
God’s liberating grace, which fulfills people’s deepest needs within God’s presence.
|Creative pause:||Even in life’s “droughts” – God’s wells of love never dry up!|
The joy of singing the story of God’s interaction with the people of Israel is clearly
shown in this Isaiah reading: ‘“....The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he
has given me victory.’.... In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the LORD!
Praise his name! ... Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things. Make
known his praise around the world....” According to information on the internet—
in Isaiah’s time, singing within worship for the people of Israel was not something
everyone joined in all the time; as trained singers usually sang the chosen Hebrew
Scripture passages; and the people only responded with “Amen”; “Hallelujah”; or a
selected response such as: "For the Lord is good, for his loving kindness is upon
Israel forever."1 When the people did join in the singing, it was more like they were
chanting on a single note, with the priests playing their instruments also using that
same musical note. This evolved process of singing and expressing their joy in worship
was no less sincere, than when they “shouted for joy to the LORD GOD” in praise and
in celebration of God’s liberating presence with them whatever their circumstances.
|Creative pause:||In worship of God, is your own personal song always joy-filled?|
1 Ezra 3:11 (NLT)
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,
copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
*Revised Indexing Scheme from 'Consultation on Church Union' (COCU).
I acknowledge and give heartfelt thanks for the theological inspiration available from the writings of
Professor Walter Brueggemann; and through the resources from the internet and “The Text this Week” (Textweek).
If the Prayers and/or Meditations are used in shared worship, please provide this acknowledgement:
© 2015 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year C. Used with permission.
Download/view a pdf file of this document here: advent3c_2015.pdf