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Responsive Readings for Advent, Year C

Based on Old Treatment Lectionary Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary

Provided courtesy of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene

Dennis Bratcher

Advent 1: Jeremiah 33:14-16

The Lord is our Righteousness

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Leader: Our world sometimes seems to be in chaos and out of control.  We constantly hear of wars, of terrorist acts, of genocide, of the most horrific atrocities, of unspeakable cruelty.  Is there no justice to be found?  Is there no peace?  

People: O LORD, do not be far away! Come quickly to our aid.  Come and be with us.

Leader: Our nation sometimes seems to be in chaos and out of control.  We hear of violence, of racial tension, of crime rates, of social upheaval. We debate policy and politics and wonder what it will take to fix the problems. We wonder if they can be fixed.  Is there no righteousness in the land? Who has the answers?

People: O God, hear our cries and have mercy on us. Rise up, O Lord, come to our help. For the sake of your steadfast love come and be with us.

Leader: Sometimes our own lives seem to be in chaos and out of control. We struggle with changing circumstances; we grapple with the consequences of our own choices; we reap the bitter harvest of our own sin.  Is there any hope for healing?  Is there a path to a better future?

People: O God, hear our cries and have mercy on us. O Lord, come with your forgiving and healing presence.  Come be with us.

Leader: We sometimes think that the future is ours to control. We think that everything depends on us: the right political decisions, the force of our armies, the might of our intelligence and technology, the power of our moral certainty. Yet we sometimes forget about God's future. That future is shaped by his presence and activity in the world on His own terms.

People: O God, hear our cries and have mercy on us. O Lord, we have not forgotten you.  You are our hope.  Our trust is in you.  Come and be with us.  Immanuel.

Leader: God's promise has always been, "I will be with you."  That promise to be with us calls us to hold the present realities of life within the cradle of expectation. The present is not the final chapter. The world that we experience, with all of its sin and pain and misery, is not God's final word. So we wait expectantly.

People: Days are surely coming!  O God, come quickly.

Advent 2: Malachi 3:1-4

Prepare the Way Before Me

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Leader: I have good news.  The Lord is Coming!  We have been expecting Him.  We have been waiting and the time is drawing closer.  What should we do to prepare for His arrival? Are we ready for His coming? 

People: We rejoice at the good news of the Lord's coming.  We are anxious to begin the festivities and the Holy Days.  We are ready for the celebration. 

Leader: The Lord is Coming!  He is coming with grace and righteousness.  He is coming in purity and holiness, like gold and silver purified by fire.  Will he find righteousness and holiness among His people?  Can we stand in the presence of a Holy God?  Are we prepared for His Coming?

People:  O Lord, we want you to come.  But not just yet.  And not too close.  We know the One coming is Lord and Savior, the embodiment of grace and love.  Yet we do not always reflect that love.  Perhaps we are not as ready as we think.

Leader: The Lord is Coming!  Prepare the way of the Lord.  Remove every obstacle.  By the 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.

People: O God, prepare us as we prepare for your Advent.  Purify us.  Cleanse us.  Clear a way through the clutter of our lives.  Tear down our pretensions to righteousness.  Make a path through our doubts and pride.  Soften our hearts that we may receive you with humility.

Leader: The Lord is Coming!  Prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people's way. For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I come and dwell with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite."

People:  Hear our humble prayer, O Lord.  Forgive us for wanting celebration without preparation.  Fill our hearts anew with your love.  Give us strength to serve you in holiness and faith.  May we give voice to your presence among us as we await your Advent.

Leader: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hill shall be made low, the crooked shall be made straight, the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

People: O God, come and be with us.  We are ready for your purifying and transforming presence.

Advent 3: Zephaniah 3:14-20

Rejoice and Exult with all your Heart

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.

Leader:  Rejoice in the Lord; again I will say, Rejoice!  Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O people of God, and shout for joy, all who are upright in heart.

People:  Why should we rejoice?  The world has become a dark and threatening place.  Enemies surround us.  Disaster lurks at every corner.  There is no justice.  There is no peace. 

Leader: The Lord is near.  Let all who take refuge in the Lord rejoice.  Let all who hope for deliverance sing for joy. The Lord is near! 

People: Why should we sing?  We are often discouraged and weighed down by our own failures.  Sometime we are overly confident in our own ability to change.  We long for your renewing presence among us.

Leader: Rejoice, for the Lord is near.  The Lord has turned away our enemies. He has taken away the judgments against us. The LORD will make known his victory. He will reveal his vindication in the sight of all people.

People: O Lord, spread your protection over us, so that those who love your name may exult in you.  Remind us that you have already defeated the powers of darkness.  Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within us.

Leader: Sing to the LORD for joy, all the earth. Break forth into joyous song and sing praises, people of God.  For He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to those who call upon Him.

People: O Lord, you have given us a new song, a song of praise to our God.  We rejoice that you are near.  Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  

Leader: The Lord, our God, is in our midst. He will gather the outcast. He will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. He will renew us in his love.

People: We sing to the LORD, because he loves us.  We rejoice for the Lord is near.  Surely He is coming soon. Come, Lord Jesus!

Advent 4: Micah 5:2-5a

He Shall Be Great

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.

Leader: Hear the good news.  God is about to do something new.  A new King is coming.  He will establish a new Kingdom. He will rule over his people and establish justice. He will be great to the ends of the earth.

People:  We long for His coming. We are anxious about the future.  We are threatened by enemies.  We are uncertain about leaders.  We need strength and power to change the world.

Leader:  This King does not come from the centers of power.  He comes from an insignificant place.  He does not come with conquering armies.  He comes as a shepherd to care for His people. He does not come with riches and influence.  He comes as one who became poor.

People:  We wait upon the Lord.  We wait for Him to crush our enemies.  We wait for a future secured by strength.  We welcome a conquering King.

Leader: The powers of this world are not the powers that matter most. This King is not that kind of King. He subverts the power structures of the world.  He brings justice, unity, and peace. The world will never be the same after He comes.

People:  O Lord, forgive us for wanting you to work in the ways we think best.  We long for your newness.  But it cannot be on our terms.  We trust and hope in You.  Bring your newness into our midst. Reorient us to your priorities. Help us to respond faithfully.

Leader: A new future is being born.  It is God’s way, the way of God’s kingdom that leads to life. The old has passed away.  All things have become new.

People:  We rejoice in the Coming One who casts aside the old ways that lead to death.  The old ways cannot save us.  God's way and His Kingdom lead to life and peace.  O Lord, transform our hearts that we may live fully in this New Kingdom.

Leader: He will stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And we will live secure, for He shall be the one of peace

People: O Lord, help us live as if this New Kingdom is a present reality.  May we not just long for justice, unity, and peace.  May we practice them each day as you give of your strength.  We rejoice for the Lord is near.  Surely He is coming soon. Come, Lord Jesus!

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-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2018, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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