This third Sunday of Advent as we are centering our thoughts around Restoration, we will be focusing on scriptures about hope and patience in the midst of suffering. 

This week we will be looking at encouragement and one way we encourage each other is through stories of what God is doing in our life. 

What stories do you have of God being active in your life?

Have you shared those stories with others?

Are we too shy, too embarrassed?  Do we think our stories are insignificant?  Are we too humble?  What is our reluctance. 

What if we put a mic in the middle of the worship space on Sunday and prayed for God to prompt us to tell the stories of God working in our lives?

Here are the scriptures we have for this third Sunday of Advent…

Isaiah 35     New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

35 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;

the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly

and rejoice with joy and shouting.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

the majesty of our God.

3 Strengthen the weak hands

and make firm the feeble knees.

4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

“Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.

He will come with vengeance,

with terrible recompense.

He will come and save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf shall be opened;

6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness

and streams in the desert;

7 the burning sand shall become a pool

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp;

the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8 A highway shall be there,

and it shall be called the Holy Way;

the unclean shall not travel on it

but it shall be for God’s people;

no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

9 No lion shall be there,

nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

but the redeemed shall walk there.

10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain joy and gladness,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalm 146:5-10     New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord their God,

6 who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them;

who keeps faith forever;

7 who executes justice for the oppressed;

who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;

8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

the Lord loves the righteous.

9 The Lord watches over the strangers;

he upholds the orphan and the widow,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,

your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord!

Matthew 11:2-11     New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with a skin disease are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What, then, did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What, then, did you go out to see? A prophet?  Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

11 “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

James 5:7-10     New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

7 Be patient, therefore, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.  9 Brothers and sisters, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

This week is a week of encouragement. 

Have you thought that maybe part of your story could encourage someone else?

Can you think of a time when you were encouraged by someone at Marion?

Let’s talk about it on Sunday.

Don’t be surprised if you see an open microphone waiting for you on Sunday.

~ Pastor Dustin