A Reading for the Third Sunday of Advent
Third Sunday of Advent: Jesus fulfills the world’s story
Relight the first and second purple candles.
The word “advent” means coming. Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ in his incarnation, and also look ahead to his final advent at the end of time, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and authority and power. By lighting a candle each week of Advent, we remember God’s great promises to Israel and to the world, we recognize our need for God’s mercy and grace, and we prepare to rejoice in the birth of Jesus, our Savior and King, who will come again.
The past two weeks we lit candles reminding us how Jesus fulfills both Israel’s story and God’s story. This morning we focus on how Jesus fulfills the world’s story. God promised to bless all nations of the earth. The prophet Isaiah described a day when those nations would see God restoring the glory of his kingdom, and respond in worship. Foreign kings would bring their wealth to God in Jerusalem, including gifts of gold and incense. When the Magi visit the child Jesus with gifts like this, they signal that the hope and satisfaction of the whole world is found in the one born King of the Jews.
Isaiah 60:1-7 says:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm.
5 Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land,
young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.
7 All Kedar’s flocks will be gathered to you,
the rams of Nebaioth will serve you;
they will be accepted as offerings on my altar,
and I will adorn my glorious temple.
Light the pink candle.
We light the third candle of Advent to recognize that Jesus, King of the Jews, is the Lord and Savior of the whole world, and he alone deserves our worship.
Please pray with me:
You give all men life and breath and everything else.
You made from one man every nation of humanity to inhabit the whole earth,
and determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live,
so that all would seek and perhaps find you.
What all nations seek, we pray that you would make known
by pointing them to your Son, Jesus Christ, our King, and the Hope of all nations.
Amen. (from Acts 17:24-27)