Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
   Home      Third Sunday of Advent 2012
First Thoughts: Our theme for the third Sunday of Advent is "Pray," and our symbolic representation of that is a rock cairn.  Our teachers in prayer are Simeon and Anna.  Although they are not introduced to us until later in the scripture text, we know from that reference that they spent their whole lives in the temple, praying for the coming of the Deliverer.  Here we see a further deepening of the call.  Waiting requires patience, and watching requires stillness; but prayer requires energetic diligence.  They have been calling out to God on behalf of themselves and their nation every day. So we are called to bring ourselves before God in an active step of communion.  We are to present ourselves, to reveal ourselves, and to be open to what God will do in our lives.  The rock cairn reminds us of the practice of our ancestors, to build a stone reminder to their prayer struggle with God and God's intervention on their behalf. When they saw the cairn it reminded them that their faith was an active faith, in which God is always offering deep and healing communion to us.  The traditional theme of this Sunday of Advent is joy, and joy is certainly one of the fruits of discovering the depth of this communion with God.  If you would like to use a coordinating children's lesson, I've provided one on SermonSuite.
Call to Worship
L:  In a world where many feel disconnected and unloved, O Lord, we pray,
P: We seek that we may find.
L: As Simeon and Anna spent their days in the temple, petitioning your deliverance, O Lord, we pray,
P: We knock that the door will open.
L: As the rocks stand steady, calling us to diligence and ongoing openness to your will, O Lord, we pray,
P: We ask that it might be given.
L: Come to us, Joy of our Hearts, naming us as your own.  O Lord, we pray,
ALL: As children, confident in a parent's love.
Reading for the Advent Wreath
As Simeon and Anna spent their time in the temple, not only watching and waiting for the Christ child, but actively praying for his coming, so we engage our hearts and minds in a life of prayer.  We open to you, God, our wounds and fears, our hopes and dreams.  We open to you our concern for the world - our family, our neighbors, strangers on the other side of the world.  We deeply desire healing in our own inmost hearts and in the hearts of all of your children.  We pray, and in that prayer we feel your love, your assurance of pardon, your promise of abundance.  Already we feel an answer to our heart's desire, and joy breaks through.  We pray diligently, we pray joyfully.
(As reader lights the third purple candle or the pink candle, two children lead in the song "Stay with Me." This is a traditional Taize song, and I've embedded a video of it below on this page. I mean only to use the first refrain, "Stay with me, remain here with me; watch and pray." They sing it through once, the congregation joins in the second refrain, and the children sing third refrain alone.)
Stewardship/Communion Meditation: As the rocks stand guard over our faith, reminding us of where we've been, we pray in the knowledge of where we are going.  We don't know how the path will lead, or through what dark places it will take us.  But we do know assuredly that it will lead us to God.  It will lead us to healing and abundant love, and a home for all.  Our hearts fill with joy not attached to our present circumstances, but to our experience of being God's Beloved.  We ask knowing that we will receive, and we give of ourselves knowing that the seed will be sown widely and fruitfully in the world.  We give of our lives, our hearts, and of our Joy.