Worship in the Home: December 13, 2020

Posted on December 8, 2020 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Third Sunday of Advent, Year B
December 13, 2020

In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While you cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this brief resource as an aid for prayer in the home. As with our prayers in the gathered assembly for worship, you are encouraged to prepare or adapt them locally for your context.

Find a peaceful place to pray, perhaps a table. During this season, you may wish to include an Advent wreath where you pray, and light three candles this week. You may light your Advent wreath each day this week. A prayer to use throughout the week appears at the end of this blog.

Then, one person may lead in this acclamation and then pray the Prayer of the Day.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Then the readings for this day may be read, as follows:

First Reading:  Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

1The spirit of the LORD GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
the LORD has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to 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.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, to display the glory of God.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

8For I the LORD love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for God has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
and has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the LORD GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


The Psalm may be sung or read in response to the First Reading.

Psalm 126

1When the LORD restored the for- | tunes of Zion,
then were we like | those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with | shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great | things for them.”
3The LORD has done great | things for us,
and we are | glad indeed.
4Restore our for- | tunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses | of the Negeb.
5Those who | sowed with tears
will reap with | songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carry- | ing the seed,
will come again with joy, shoulder- | ing their sheaves.


Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.

23May 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. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and will do this.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Gospel: John 1:6-8. 19-28

The holy gospel according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19This is the testimony given by John when the Judeans sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20John confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23John said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ”
as the prophet Isaiah said.

24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.



Having read these readings, think on this:

Mourning and waiting for comfort are the human condition. Right now, all the world waits for healing. Christians in the northern hemisphere have taken Advent darkness as a strong and evocative symbol for all human waiting, in all times. The darkness of this season has a certain quiet beauty, especially as it frames the growing presence of holiday lights, but — like John the Baptist — this season is not the light. John then bears witness to the Light that is Christ: “Among you stands one whom you do not know.” Every Sunday celebrates the presence of the crucified and risen Christ in the power of the Spirit. This Third Advent Sunday celebrates how Christ stands present with us all now, hidden in the midst of and sharing all human waiting. Just so, he is already the garland God puts upon the earth, the springing up of righteousness like a blossoming garden, the grounds of our rejoicing. In our baptism and in the word we hear today, we are clothed like guests at God’s marriage with the earth, and we are invited to turn to our mourning and waiting neighbors, being with them in comfort as Jesus Christ is, and working to repair the ruined cities.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 311),Each Winter as the Year Grows Older” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 252). Selected hymns are provided below for those without a hymnal at home.

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed


Then pray these intercessions:

On this third Sunday of Advent, we join in prayer as we await God’s salvation, responding to each petition with the words “Mighty Savior, come and save us.”

A brief silence.

God of prophets and preachers, strengthen the witness of bishops, pastors, deacons, church musicians, and lay leaders. Protect Christians who are persecuted for the faith. While churches await a full return to assembly worship, empower the baptized with your faithful Spirit. Embed your word in our hearts.

A brief silence.

We pray for the church:
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God of creation, grant relief to endangered animals and plants. Protect the rain forests. Provide for those who rely on nature’s rhythms for their livelihood. Train us to dwell on this earth in such a way that all people may thrive.

A brief silence.

We pray for the earth:
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God of all lands, plant in the leaders of every nation a love of justice and a commitment to serve the common good. Calm tensions in the Middle East, and bring peace where civil conflicts rage. Release child soldiers from forced service. Equip regions to rebuild cities that have been destroyed by war.

A brief silence.

We pray for the nations:
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God of exiles and wanderers, give a homeland to refugees. Provide housing for those whose dwellings have been destroyed. Protect street people from the cold and be with teenage runaways. Uphold the work of ELCA Good Gifts, Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran World Relief, and all disaster relief organizations. Comfort all who feel isolated from others.

A brief silence.

We pray for all in distress:
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God of the sorrowing and the brokenhearted, give health to the sick, relief to medical workers, and comfort to mourners. Attend to those with lifelong illness. We beg for an end to the coronavirus and a fair distribution of the vaccines. Receive our prayers for . . .

A brief silence.

We pray for the sick:
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God of each one of us, we await peace and justice, health and wholeness. Sustain us as we await your coming. Hear now our unceasing prayers.

A longer period of silence.

We pray for ourselves:
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God of sinners and saints, while facing sadness and death, we grieve; yet we offer you praise for all the saints, especially the martyr Lucy, those who have died of COVID-19, and those whose names we call out to you now. . . . At the end, gather us into the joy of your glory.

A brief silence.

We pray for your salvation.
Mighty Savior, come and save us.

God beyond all things, God dwelling among us now, receive these prayers for the sake of Jesus Christ, who came, who comes, and who is coming now and forever.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Hark, the Glad Sound!” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 239), People, Look East” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 248), “Surely God Is My Salvation” (All Creation Sings 926). Selected hymns are provided below for those without a hymnal at home.

Hark, the Glad Sound

Surely God Is My Salvation


Then conclude with these prayers:

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

We praise you, O God, for your creating Word!
You set the foundations of the world
and gave breath to every living thing.
There is no Rock like you.
Blessed be God, forevermore;
our hearts sing of your mercy and might!

We praise you, O God, for your liberating Word!
In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed,
you guided them by your strength to the land of promise.
You have lifted up the lowly.
Blessed be God, forevermore;
our hearts sing of your mercy and might!

We praise you, O God, for your life-giving Word!
Your Word became flesh and lived among us,
full of grace and truth.
You have looked with favor on the lowliness of your servants.
Blessed be God, forevermore;
our hearts sing of your mercy and might!

Blessed be God, from this time on and forevermore,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
With Miriam, Hannah, and Mary,
we give you thanks and praise for your
creating, liberating, and life-giving Word!
Send us forth in the power of your Spirit
to sing of your greatness and serve all people,
following Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:

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 forever.


Then speak the Blessing:

The Creator of the stars bless our Advent waiting,
the long-expected Savior fill us with love,
the unexpected Spirit guide our journey,
+ now and forever.


Here is a brief prayer to use as you light three candles on the Advent wreath this coming week:

Blessed are you, O God. You have done great things for us, and we rejoice in you! Send us with the good news of your love to all who are sad or lonely.


Devotional Music Links: For your individual or group devotion, you may choose to listen to the following choral recordings made available through Augsburg Fortress: “In A Lowly Manger Born;” “Adam Lay Ybounden;” “Prepare the Royal Highway.”


Readings for the Week:
Monday (commemoration of John of the Cross, renewer of the church, 1591) Psalm 125. Tuesday Acts 3:17 — 4:4. Wednesday Mark 9:9-13. Thursday Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26. Friday Hebrews 1:5-14. Saturday John 7:40-52. Fourth Sunday of Advent (commemoration of Katharina von Bora Luther, renewer of the church, 1552) 2 Samuel 7:7-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38.

Daily Prayer Resources are available, including simple forms of Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer; Responsive Prayer; and prayers for mealtimes and other occasions.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are only able to provide downloadable hymns that are in the public domain and selected hymns for limited use. Other suggestions provided above may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. To purchase copies of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and All Creation Sings for the home, visit the Augsburg Fortress website or call 1-800-328-4648. Selected hymns from All Creation Sings will be provided for limited use.

Reflection text: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, sundaysandseasons.com, and Families Celebrate Advent & Christmas 2020-21 © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress.

Readings from Readings for the Assembly © 1995, 1996, 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Citations from the Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. Scripture quotations from NRSV Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted and edited with permission by Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw.

Follow this blog

Get a daily email of all new posts.