Third Sunday of Advent 2018, Year C — Planning Notes


Prepare the Way Worship Series: DO
Third Sunday of Advent — December 16, 2018


Calendar Notes

December 21    Longest Night/Blue Christmas
December 24    Christmas Eve (evening)
December 25    Christmas Day
December 26    Kwanzaa
December 31    Watch Night/New Year’s Eve

January 1     New Year’s Eve / Holy Name of Jesus
January 6     Epiphany Sunday/Epiphany
January 13   Baptism of the Lord
January 11   Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 20   Human Relations Day
January 21   Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 20   Ecumenical Sunday

All Month       Black History Month
February 10   Scouting Ministries Sunday
February 18   Presidents Day (USA)

March 1        World Day of Prayer
March 3        Transfiguration of the Lord
March 6        Ash Wednesday, and Lent Begins
March 31      UMCOR Sunday

Planning for this Series

This is the third Sunday of Advent, the “Joy” Sunday. While most people associate this with the Advent wreath themes, the Joy Sunday goes back much further than the Advent wreath. Taylor Burton-Edwards explains it,

 While most of the “themes” attached to the Sundays of Advent by twentieth-century church supply houses (Hope, Love, Peace) have no precedence in church history except that created by those church supply houses, today’s “Joy Sunday” does have some. Advent had initially been an extended season of preparation for baptism, lasting seven weeks, much like Lent. As a season of baptismal preparation, and with its themes of readiness for the second coming, judgment, and new creation, it was also a generally “admonitory” or “penitential” season as well. So just as Lent has its “Laetare Sunday” (fourth Sunday in Lent) to “lighten the mood” a bit, so Advent has its “Gaudete Sunday” (originally, the sixth Sunday of Advent). Vestments and pavement candles (candles placed in large stands around, but not on, the Lord’s Table) would shift from purple to rose on this day. If you have pink or rose things, go for it. If not, it's fine to stay with what you have while adding other elements that make your worship space feel joyous today.

Our theme word this week is Do. It comes from the Luke passage, where the crowd asks, “What then should we do?”

For the series “Prepare the Way,” we decided to use two of the lectionary texts for every week except the Sunday after Christmas. We were called to the traditional Luke texts that present Advent and the Christmas story in a familiar way. We were also called to the prophets of the Old Testament and how their words and stories connected with the story of the coming of Christ. We hope that in your church, you will use both sets of texts to illuminate your Advent season.

This year, Advent begins with the roaring of the sea and ends with words of hope and blessing. Consider having different voices read the two Scripture passages in worship— from different places in the congregation. Perhaps the gospel is read traditionally from the lectern, but the prophets speak from the back. Or the prophet may be pre-recorded. Keep the tension of the words from the gospel and the Old Testament in mind as you choose music, art, and ritual for the season.