December 12, 2021 | 9:15 a.m. | The Third Sunday of Advent

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church | Williamsburg VA

The Lighting of the Advent Wreath

Three candles are lit.

People:  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

First Person or a Child:  Why do we light three candles?

Second Person:  The first candle reminds us of the hope God’s people always had.  The second candle reminds us of the dark night when Mary and Joseph found light, warmth, and peace in a stable where Jesus was born.  The third candle reminds us of the joyous angels who told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus.

People:  While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, the angel of the Lord came down, and glory shone around.

Celebrant:  Good Shepherd, help us focus on you during this busy season. May we stay aware of the joy you bring into our lives. We want to find you in the everyday moments and come with hearts of gratitude to your manger on Christmas.  Amen.

The Word of God

Opening Hymn     Prepare the way, O Zion

     1      Prepare the way, O Zion, your Christ is drawing near!

             Let every hill and valley a level way appear.

             Greet One who comes in glory, foretold in sacred story.

Refrain:  Oh, blest is Christ that came in God’s most holy name.

     2      He brings God’s rule, O Zion; he comes from heaven above.

             His rule is peace and freedom, and justice, truth, and love.

             Lift high your praise resounding, for grace and joy abounding.   Refrain

     3      Fling wide your gates, O Zion; your Savior’s rule embrace.

            His tidings of salvation proclaim in every place.

             All lands will bow before him, their voices will adore him.   Refrain

Opening Acclamation

Blessed are you, holy and living One. 

You come to your people and set them free.

The Collect for Purity (together)

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Trisagion  (sung three times)

Holy God, Holy and Mighty,

Holy Immortal One,

Have mercy upon us.

The Collect of the Day

The Lord be with you.  And also with you.  Let us pray.

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The First Reading     Philippians 4:4-7

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. The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Canticle 16  (responsively by half-verse; please come in on the bold lines) 

Surely, it is God who saves me; * I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, * and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing * from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say, * Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples; * see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, * and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Gospel Acclamation     Come and fill

Come and fill our hearts with your peace.  You alone, O Lord, are holy. 

Come and fill our hearts with your peace.  Alleluia.

The Gospel     Luke 3:1-6  

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke.  Glory to you, Lord Christ. 

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”  As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.  

The Gospel of the Lord.  Praise to you, Lord Christ. 

The Sermon                                                                                                              The Rev. Lisa Green     

A period of silence follows the sermon.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.  Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.  He has spoken through the Prophets. 

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Prayers of the People

As we wait for Christ to come in victory, let us make our requests known to God who saves the lame and gathers the outcast. For the peace of the world, and for our unity in Christ.  Come, O Lord, and save us.

For Susan, our bishop and all bishops; for Cathy and Lisa, our priests, and all priests; for deacons and all who minister in Christ; and for all the holy people of God.  Come, O Lord, and save us.

For the church throughout the world and the faithful in every place.  Come, O Lord, and save us.

For the leaders of the nations and all in authority.  Come, O Lord, and save us.

For justice, peace, and freedom among peoples of the earth.  Come, O Lord, and save us.

For travelers, for the sick and the suffering, for the hungry and the oppressed, and for those in prison.

Come, O Lord, and save us.

For our deliverance from all affliction, strife, and need.  Come, O Lord, and save us.

Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as Christ loves us.  We pray for the Wheatley, Unaitas, and Pease families, Thomas and Ginny, Kathi, Ruth, Cindy, for the children of St. Vincent’s School, Haiti, and for an end to the pandemic.  We pray for the dying and those who have died, especially Beth Unaitas and John Wheatley, and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom.  Come, O Lord, and save us.     

Please add your own intentions, silently or aloud.

Lifting our voices with all creation, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Blessed Martin, and all the saints, let us offer ourselves and one another to the living God through Christ. To you, O Lord.

O King of all the nations, only joy of every heart, keystone of the mighty arch who makes us one, come and save the creature you fashioned from clay. Glory to you for ever.  Amen.

Confession of Sin

God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives.  We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world you have created.  We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.  Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen. 


The Peace & Announcements

The peace of the Lord be always with you.  And also with you.

The Holy Communion

The Offertory     Great is thy faithfulness                                                       Christian Waddell, piano

The Offering of Gifts     Take, O take

Take, O take me as I am; summon out what I shall be; set your seal upon my heart and live in me. 

The Great Thanksgiving     Prayers for an Inclusive Church, Prayer 1

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 God thanks and praise.

Mystery of winter skies, we thank you in the darkening hour for opening our eyes to see your starlit beauty; for parting the wide heavens to send your gentle light; for offering your Word to take our mortal flesh. He was promised by those who shared your dream of peace; John the Baptist cleared his way with words of desert fire; Mary and Joseph accepted his coming with tenderness and faith; we know that he draws near again, to show us who we really are with honesty and love. Now we take up the song of hope that we might awaken to his coming among us and the world be touched by the footfall of his glory:

            Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power, God of might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. 

            Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

            Hosanna in the highest.  Hosanna in the highest.

We ask that your Holy Spirit will fall upon us and upon these gifts that these fragile, earthly things may be to us the Body and Blood of our Lord and brother, Jesus Christ; who, on the night that he was betrayed, gathered with his faltering friends for a meal that tasted of freedom.  Calling them to his table, he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and said: ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’  In the same way after supper, he took the cup, saying: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, whenever you drink it, to remember me.’ As on that night, so here and now he offers himself in touch and taste beyond all words can hold.  Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Therefore we come in memory and hope, responding to your call and the promise that echoes from the dawn of all time. May mind and heart be held by your self-giving love as we stand before the cross, approach the empty tomb and praise the One whose name is lifted high above all earthly power.  Receive our broken offering through his all-powerful grace and bind us in communion with all who share your gifts; through Jesus Christ, in whom all ages and all the worlds are drawn into the ceaseless love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer   (contemporary words)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread

Alleluia.  Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia.

Communion Hymn     Peace before us

     1   Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet.

          Peace within us, peace over us, let all around us be peace.

     2   Love before us…       3   Light before us…       4   Christ before us…       5   Peace before us…

The Post-Communion Prayer

God of abundance, you have fed us with the bread of life and cup of salvation; you have united us with Christ and one another; and you have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth. Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit, that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue for ever in the risen life of Christ our Savior. Amen.

The Blessing

The Closing Hymn     Savior of the nations, come

     1    Savior of the nations, come!  Virgin’s Son, make here your home.

           Marvel now, both heaven and earth, that the Lord chose such a birth.

     2    Wondrous birth! Oh, wondrous child of the Virgin undefiled!

           Mighty God and Mary’s son, eager now his race to run!

     3    Thus on earth the Word appears, gracing his created spheres;

           hence to death and hell descends, then the heavenly throne ascends.                   

The Dismissal

     Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  Thanks be to God.  “Alleluia, alleluia” is only said during Easter season.

The flowers on the altar are given to the glory of God in thanksgiving for St. Martin’s,

Hospice House & Support Care, and in loving memory of Bob Cope.

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