I actually swapped preaching weeks with our other lay preacher just so I could get John the Baptist this year – that crazy, wild-haired, camel-hair sporting, locust- and honey-munching sidewalk prophet. I think John is actually my favorite Bible character, and I had a lot of fun with my sermon. But here’s a teaser: an opening prayer & pastoral prayer for Sunday.
I also have a great idea for an edible children’s object lesson… now I just need to find locust cookie cutters & some green food coloring. (Oh, the Sunday School teachers and mothers will love me for this one…)
Can you hear?
A voice is heard in the darkness,
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Make way! Level the valleys! Straighten the paths!
Prepare the way for his coming:
The coming of the Lord!
God, your servant cries out to us:
Repent; turn and be restored.
Can you hear?
God, open the ears of our souls
to hear your word of salvation.
God, on the second Sunday of Advent,
Open wide our hearts and our minds
To see, feel, hear, and know the salvation of our God.
God, when the time was ripe and the hour had come, you sent your servant John into the wilderness to proclaim the coming of the one true Messiah: Make way! Repent and be baptized! For the salvation of God is at hand.
John came to bear witness to the true light, the Messiah, the Son of God. And he told them, wake up! Watch and wait, for the hour is near when the Son of God will arise.
God, on this second Sunday of advent we have heard your servant crying out to us in the wilderness. We have heard the call to repentance and restoration, and we want to respond. We have heard that you are offering forgiveness of sins, and we want to hear your mercy spoken over us. We have heard that you are baptizing with water, and with the Holy Spirit and with fire: cleanse us and make us new. We have heard that you are ushering in a reign of peace, and we want to see your kingdom when it comes.
God, our sins are many, but your mercy is great.
Our vision is dim, but your coming is at hand.
Our hope is feeble, but your promises stand forever.
God, your world stands in need of you. Everywhere we look we see need of you: for your coming, your restoration, your peace, your transformation.
On this second Sunday of advent we pray for the nations to know your truth and your light. We pray for the poor, the hungry, and the needy. We pray for those who are spiritually hungry and poor in spirit: may they come to know the living water, and to drink deeply from your well. We pray for those who face Christmas alone, or sick, or homeless, or destitute: Jesus Christ, Light from true Light, be a light in the darkness.
(Prayers of the people)
God, the hour of your coming again draws near. Make us ready: in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls.
Lord Jesus Christ, come to us again this Advent. Come and do not tarry.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!