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Year B, Advent 3, 2017 – Joy!

December 12, 2017 / Molly Douthett / Advent


Gaudete! Gaudete!

Christus est natus

Ex Maria virgine



each clip in order:

Steeleye Span; The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; Celtic Thunder; Libera; The King’s Singers

This week’s texts are:

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 [01:59]

The selection for the Old Testament returns to third Isaiah, but the tone of the message retains the hope of God’s presence with the people. Is it any wonder then that Jesus begins his public ministry with the first verses from this chapter? “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me because he has anointed me….” You must trust that every eye and ear was riveted on him as he read! For WORD smart, we are taking a comment from Gretchen Wolff Pritchard’s essay in The Christian Century that the prisoners to whom Isaiah referred were not those serving punishment for civil or criminal actions but were rather political prisoners. Illuminating that point may bring a different flavor to this proclamation. For a special effect, we suggest sending words of comfort (and presence) to the people listed by the prophet. One of the many reasons for the prophet to rejoice is that God will clothe the people with righteousness and salvation, so for EYE smart, give folks a chance to do some costume design! Other images used by the prophet come from NATURE so we have some suggestions to illustrate God’s glory with an oak tree. Finally, for PEOPLE smart, give your congregation time to identify the brokenhearted, oppressed, captive, and imprisoned in your community and brainstorm ways to proclaim Good News to them, and not just in this season.


1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 [10:48]

I had to laugh at one commentary I read about these verses. In essence, the author said this list sounds a lot like the admonitions parents rattle off to their children everyday and like children having parents rattle instructions off to them everyday, how many of us really hear them anymore? 😀 For EYE smart, setting sparklers on fire will break through the routine! (I don’t recommend trying this to get your kids to brush their teeth, though. But, you know – do what works.) If burning things does not appeal, try the illustration we offer for MATH smart. It’s much quieter, and you won’t need to have a fire extinguisher on hand! In BODY and SELF smart, we suggest a way to do a check up on the soundness of your whole being. These directions for living as a disciple are like weights at the gym; use them often enough and you will be fit and ready for what comes your way.  


John 1:6-8, 19-28 [19:25]

I must admit I had an arm’s length relationship with the Gospel of John – there was so much TALKING – until David and I went to a retreat and heard Frances Taylor Gench present an argument that this book is written as a court trial. I am not certain this idea is original to her nor why I had not heard it before, but considering this realigns the content in an intriguing manner for me. We did not use WORD smart in the show, but the commentary by Mark Davis follows this idea of John setting the story of Jesus as testimony given in a trial. Judge Judy and other courtroom dramas on television indicate that we love the drama of the story, if not the underlying search for truth and justice. In EYE smart, we have some ways to illustrate witness as a game in a car and how to talk about something to people who have no context for what you are saying. The authorities coming out from Jerusalem ask John to identify himself and that made me think of a particular song from the 70’s which you could reference for MUSIC smart. In PEOPLE smart, we suggest using a novel by Robert Heinlein – or this movie that I just thought of starring Harrison Ford – about being a witness. Testimony in public worship is not for the benefit of the person giving it but for the good of the body, and we have a link to setting a framework for it. And for SELF smart, John is asked repeatedly to identify himself, and he does so only in relation to who he is not and who is coming after him. We have some ideas that you and your congregation could to use to help you self-identify. 

  • Smarts – Eye [21:05], Music [25:20], People [26:24], Self [30:25]
  • John 1 worksheet
  • Links in John


Image Credit: Copyright: juliahenze / 123RF Stock Photo. Used by permission.


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