Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

3rd Sunday of Advent

13 Dec 2020, midnight

Readings: Isaiah 61.1-4,8-11; Psalm 126 or Canticle-Magnificat; 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24; John 1.6-8 &19-28

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the thoughts and meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, o lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen

A Word from Lucy: Today on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, some places have a pink candle, because this Sunday is about joy and rejoicing. Today is no different, even though our world has been shocked, troubled, devastated and distressed by the Pandemic; and even though life for many is dark, troubled and perplexing with all the worries, trials and woes of life. For, in spite of how life may feel, there is so much to be joyful about.

For today we remember that the prophet Isaiah, foretold a time when the Messiah promised by God would come into the world and proclaim that: The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion - to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

Today we also call to mind, a song of praise sung by Mary. These days we pray that song and call it the Magnificat. In the song, Mary is full of joy because she is to bear the Messiah: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. Luke 1:46-55

Then in today’s gospel of John, we hear that another man named John was sent by God to testify to the light and make straight the way of the Lord because the Messiah was in the world. Finally, today’s letter from Paul reminds us that it is God’s will that we rejoice always as well as to pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances and keep the true spirit of God alive in us.

So, there we have it. Today is a day of great celebration and joy because God has fulfilled his promise to send the Messiah. And in days gone past we may have sung a Latin Carol which goes: Gaudete, Gaudete, Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine, Gaudete; and means: Rejoice, rejoice, Christ is born of Mary the Virgin, rejoice. Or maybe even, the carol Joy to the world, which goes: Joy to the world – the Lord has come let earth receive her King.

For today we rejoice that God came to earth to live amongst us. And as our Creed tells us, one day he will return and when he comes again he will judge the living and the dead. Something none of us need be afraid of because he came to save us from our sins.

Let us pray the prayer we hear Paul’s pray: May the God of peace sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. Amen.