Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Amahl and the Night Visitors

In observance of Christmas, I'm doing a "nostalgia post." Back in 1985 and 1986, I sang the role of Amahl and Gian Carlo Menotti's light Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, for Opera West, a shoestring opera company headquartered in the Utah County area. It's an experience I look back on each Christmas very fondly. I have especially fond memories of 1986, when we went on tour to out-of-the-way places like Arco, Idaho, and Vernal, Utah. I'm sure this will be "old hat" for people who do dramatic performance, but the bonding within the troupe as we toured was an unusual experience for me (loner by temperament), and one that I think of as having spiritual dimensions, in part because of the religious themes of the performance.

This year, I tried Googling and Facebooking the major cast members to see if I could find out what they're up to now, almost 30 years later. I found rather less information than I'd hoped for, but it seems that the young man who played Balthazar, Michael Wadsworth, went on to have a singing career with some national recognition. I really wish I could have found out something about Donna Wellman, who played my mother. I learned a little about her past--she'd been singing that role for several years--but couldn't find anything about her more recent life. I'm guessing that Gene Larsson, who ran Opera West and sang the role of Melchior in 1986, has since died. (Forgive me, Gene, if you're alive and reading this!) Director Jerry Elison is still a prominent and beloved figure in the Utah County performing arts scene.

Here's a clip of my favorite aria from Amahl. It's not my troupe's performance--I don't have a DVD rip of that, unfortunately.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New blog for CofC worship resources

About 6 months ago, I started doing weekly posts of worship resources for Community of Christ congregations. From here on out, I'll be posting those resources to a new blog:

Because of that shift, I anticipate that I'll be posting much less often to Liberal Mormon Spirituality, although I'm not retiring the blog altogether. (For instance, I want to finish up the 20th-anniversary series of reflections related to my mission in the Dominican Republic.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Some worship resources designed as options for December 23, the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. Scroll down to find:
  • Focus Moment: Mosiah 1:93-97
  • “Second Witness” Scripture Readings: 3 Nephi 1:12-14 or Alma 12:150-154, 169-171
  • Disciples’ Generous Response: Hebrews 10:5-10

Excerpted from Mosiah 1:93-97

This passage from the Book of Mormon is thematically appropriate for the Candle of Joy.

Contemporary language:

A messenger from God said to me: “Wake up!”
I woke up and saw the messenger standing in front of me.

The messenger said:
“I have come to share with you glad tidings of great joy,
so that you may rejoice
and may share them in turn with your people,
so that they too may be filled with joy.

“These are the glad tidings:
The time is coming—it is not far off!—
when the All-powerful Ruler,
the Immortal One,*
will come down from heaven,
and will live among human beings
in a body made from the dust.”**

* Or: who always has been and always will be
** Or: in a body of clay

Traditional language (lightly updated):

An angel from God said to me: “Awake.”
I awoke, and he stood before me.

He said to me:
“I am come to declare to you glad tidings of great joy,
that you may rejoice,
and that you may declare to your people
that they may also be filled with joy.

“For the time comes, and is not far distant,
that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigns,
who was and is from all eternity to all eternity,
will come down from heaven
among the human family*
and will dwell in a tabernacle of clay.”

* Original language: among the children of men. The substituted phrase, “human family” is taken from Mormon 2:86.


With sermon helps

Either of these passages might be read alongside the recommended preaching text from the lectionary, Luke 1:39-45, in the “second witness” style. For an example of that style, see this post.

Option A. Excerpted from 3 Nephi 1:12-14

Sermon help: In the lectionary reading from Luke, Mary and Elizabeth rejoice in knowing that the long-awaited promise of God’s salvation is being fulfilled. Likewise, in the following reading from the Book of Mormon, Nephi is encouraged to rejoice in Christ’s birth as a sign that God’s promises will be fulfilled.

Contemporary language:

Nephi heard the Lord’s voice say to him:
“Look up! Cheer up!*
The time has come—
this very night, the sign will be given.

“Tomorrow** I will come into the world
to show the world
that I will keep every promise
I have made through the prophets.

“I am coming to my people***
to carry out the plan that I have been revealing
since the beginning of the world.”

* Or: Do not hang your head! Take heart!
** Or: In the morning
*** Or: I am coming into the world I created

Traditional language (lightly updated):

The voice of the Lord came to Nephi, saying:
“Lift up your head and be of good cheer,
for the time is at hand,
and on this night will the sign be given.

“On the morrow I come into the world
to show the world
that I will fulfill all that I have caused to be spoken
by the mouth of my holy prophets.

“I come to my own
to fulfill all things that I have made known
from the foundation of the world.”

Option B. Excerpted from Alma 12:150-154, 169-171

Sermon help: The online sermon help for the lectionary reading explains that “Luke provides an interesting insight into the leveling, or equalizing power of the mission of Jesus Christ by using women as prophetic witnesses.” The following story from the Book of Alma likewise places two women in a prominent role as witnesses of God’s saving work in Christ. Like Mary and Elizabeth, Abish is a person considered to be of less importance in her society—a servant, an ordinary person who nevertheless recognizes that she has a mission to fulfill for God.

Contemporary language:

One of the Lamanite women, named Abish,
had converted to the Lord many years before,
in secret.

When she saw that Lamoni’s servants,
and the queen—her mistress—
and the king, and Ammon,
had all fallen to the ground while praying, as if they had fainted,
she realized that this was God’s power at work.

So she ran from house to house,
telling the people what had happened;
and they began to gather in the king’s house.

Then Abish went and took the queen’s hand,
as if to try to lift her from the ground.
As soon as Abish touched her hand,
the queen regained consciousness and stood up.
She exclaimed:

“O blessed Jesus, who has delivered* me!
O blessed God, show your compassion to this people!”

Then she clapped her hands together for joy
and spoke many words in a language that no one could understand.

* Or: rescued

Traditional language (lightly updated):

One of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish,
[had] been converted to the Lord for many years
[but] never had made it known.

When she saw that all of Lamoni’s servants,
and also her mistress, the queen,
and the king, and Ammon,
lay prostrate on the earth,
she knew that it was the power of God.

Therefore she ran forth from house to house
making it known to the people,
and they began to assemble to the house of the king.

[Then Abish] went and took the queen by the hand,
that perhaps she might raise her from the ground;
and as soon as [Abish] touched her hand,
[the queen] arose and stood on her feet
and cried:

“O blessed Jesus, who has saved me!
O blessed God, have mercy on this people!”

When she had said this,
she clapped her hands, being filled with joy,
speaking many words which were not understood.


Based on Hebrews 10:5–10

Readers 1 and 2 take up positions in front of the congregation.

Reader 1:
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

Reader 2:
When Christ came into the world,
this brought to pass the scripture that says:

Reader 1:
“You do not want sacrifices of animals or offerings of grain.
Daily sacrifices and sacrifices for purification mean nothing to you.
You have given me, rather, a body with which to serve you.
Therefore I say: See, God—I have come to do your will!”     [Psalm 40:7-8]

All:  God—we have come to do your will!

Reader 2:
When the scripture says
that God does not want animal sacrifices,
or grain offerings,
or daily sacrifices,
or sacrifices for purification—
this is referring to the sacrifices
that are commanded in the Law revealed to Moses.

All: God—if you do not want these sacrifices,
        what do you want from us?

Reader 1:
The scripture then adds,
“See, God—I have come to do your will!”
These words are telling us
that Christ came to end the Law and its sacrifices
in order to do the will of God.

All: And what is your will, God?

Reader 2:   [slowly and emphatically]
The will of God is this:
that we be made holy,
once and for all,
through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s body.

Reader 1:   [after a short pause]
Here ends the reading.

Readers 1 and 2 return to their places in the congregation. There is a short pause. Then Reader 3 speaks up from within the congregation.

Reader 3:
Jesus Christ,
through the gift of your body,
you have made us a holy people—
a people consecrated* to God’s service.          * or: dedicated
Therefore, we offer you
our whole selves as a gift.

Allow a few minutes of silence for prayerful reflection. The silence is followed by the Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

God Is among You

A number of worship resources designed as options for December 16, the third Sunday of Advent. Scroll down to find:
  • Confession – Luke 3:7-16
  • Focus Moment – 3 Nephi 1:13-14 or 1 Nephi 3:46-65
  • “Second Witness” Scripture Reading – D&C 108: 5g, 9d-10b
  • Disciples’ Generous Response – Philippians 4:4-6
  • Sending Forth – Philippians 4:4-5, 7 or D&C 161:7

Based on Luke 3:7-16

Reader 1:
Crowds came to John to be baptized by him. 
He said to them:

Reader 2 / John:
If you wish to escape the coming judgment,
bring forth the fruits of a changed life.
Even now, the ax is in place,
ready to strike at the roots of the trees.
Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

All: Lord, we hear your prophet’s words.
        What must we do?
        Tell us how to change our lives.

Reader 2 / John:
Everyone who has two coats
must give one of them to someone who has no coat.
Everyone who has food
must do the same.
All: Lord, we hear you.
        We will share what we have with others.

Reader 1:
Some of those who came to be baptized
were tax-collectors and soldiers—
[people who worked for the imperial government].*
They asked John: “What of us? What must we do?” 
He told them:

Reader 2 / John:
Do not benefit yourself
by extracting more from people than the law requires.
Do not take advantage of your position
to mistreat anyone, or extort them,
or take anything beyond your salary.

All: Lord, we live and work in a world that is not just.
        But we will treat others as justly as we are able.

Reader 2 / John:
I immerse** you in water.
But someone else is coming—
someone more powerful than me,
someone far greater than me—
who will immerse** you in the Holy Spirit
and in fire.

All:  Lord, immerse** us in your Spirit.
        Transform us, and our world, with your fire.

Allow a few minutes for silent prayer and reflection.

* Alternatives: for the conquering powers; for the Roman occupation
** Alternative: baptize



Option A uses part of the scriptural passage proposed in the suggested outline for worship. Option B uses a different Book of Mormon selection, one that is more explicitly related to the theme of the third Advent candle: love.

Option A. 3 Nephi 1:13-14

Contemporary language:

I am coming into the world
to show the world
that I will keep every promise
I have made through the prophets.

I am coming into the world I created*
to carry out the plan
I have been revealing to the human family
since the world began.

The work I come into the world to do,
I do as both “Father” and “Son”:
as “Father,” because I am God;
as “Son,” because I am born in a mortal body.

* Or: I am coming to my people

Traditional language:

I come into the world
to show the world
that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken
by the mouth of my holy prophets.

Behold, I come to my own
to fulfill all things
which I have made known to the children of men
from the foundation of the world

and to do the will
both of the Father and of the Son—
of the Father because of me,
and of the Son because of my flesh.

Option B. Excerpted from 1 Nephi 3:46-65

Contemporary language:

I looked and saw a tree,
more beautiful than anything I could have imagined
and whiter than snow.

I said to the Spirit:
“You have shown me the tree
that is the most precious of all things.”

The Spirit said to me: “What do you want?”
I replied: “To know what the tree means.”

The Spirit said to me, “Look!”
I looked and saw the town of Nazareth,
and in the town, a young woman of marrying age.

The sky opened up,
and a messenger from heaven came down and stood in front of me.
The messenger said to me:
“The young woman you see
is the mother of the Son of God!”*
I looked again, and saw the young woman
carrying a child in her arms.

The messenger said to me:
“Do you understand now the meaning of the tree?”

I replied:
“It stands for God’s love,
which shines in people’s hearts.**
That is why the tree is the most desirable of all things.”

The messenger said:
“Yes—and the thing that brings people the greatest joy!”

* 1830 edition: is the mother of God
** Or: which radiates out into people’s hearts

Traditional language:

I looked and beheld a tree.
The beauty thereof was far beyond all beauty,
and the whiteness thereof exceeded the driven snow.

I said to the Spirit:
“Thou hast shown me the tree which is precious above all.”

He said to me: “What desirest thou?”
I said to him: “To know the interpretation thereof.”

He said to me, “Look!”
I looked and beheld the city of Nazareth,
and in the city, I beheld a virgin.

I saw the heavens open,
and an angel came down and stood before me.
He said to me:
“The virgin whom thou seest
is the mother of the Son of God.”*
I looked and beheld the virgin again,
bearing a child in her arms.

The angel said to me:
“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree?”

I answered him:
“It is the love of God,
which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men;
wherefore it is the most desirable above all things.”

He spoke to me, saying,
“And the most joyous to the soul.”

* 1830 edition: is the mother of God


D&C 108: 5g, 9d-10b

This passage could be read alongside the recommended preaching text from the lectionary, Zephaniah 3:14-20, in the “second witness” style. For an example of that style, see this post. 

Contemporary language:

The Lord,* the Savior,
will stand among his people,
and his rule will extend over all who live.

He will proclaim:
“I have completed the work!
I have established justice among all people!
I alone have done it!

“This was the day my heart longed for:
the day of reckoning for those who wronged my people!
In my outrage, I have leveled them to the ground
like a worker trampling grapes in a winepress,
like a warrior victorious in battle.

“The jubilee year has arrived—
the time appointed for my people to be set free!
They will praise their Lord** for his loving-kindness,
for all that he has done for them in his goodness and love.
They will praise him forever!”

All that they suffered, he suffered with them.
He sent his most trusted angel to rescue them.
In his love and compassion, he freed them.
All through the past, he supported and carried them.

* Alternatives: the Mighty One; the Holy One
** Alternatives: their Ruler; their Defender

Traditional language:

The Lord, even the Savior,
shall stand in the midst of his people,
and shall reign over all flesh.

His voice shall be heard:
I have trodden the winepress alone,
and have brought judgment upon all people;
and none was with me.

“I have trampled them in my fury,
and I did tread upon them in mine anger;
their blood have I sprinkled upon my garments,
and stained all my rainment;
for this was the day of vengeance which was in my heart.

“And now the year of my redeemed is come,
and they shall mention the loving kindness of their Lord,
and all that he has bestowed upon them,
according to his goodness, and according to his loving kindness,
forever and ever.”

In all their afflictions he was afflicted.
And the angel of his presence saved them;
and in his love, and in his pity, he redeemed them,
and bare them, and carried them all the days of old.


Adapted from Philippians 4:4-6

Reader:  At all times, rejoice in the Lord!
               I repeat: Rejoice!

All:         Lord, this world is hard.
               Still, you have given me reasons for joy.

               Pause for prayer and silent reflection.

Reader:  Be gentle to everyone.
               The Lord is close!

All:         Lord, I want to be gentler,
               more loving,
               more generous.

               Pause for prayer and silent reflection.

Reader:  Do not be worried about anything.
               Bring all your needs and concerns to God
               through prayer,
               always giving thanks.

All:         Lord, I bring you my needs and concerns,
               my goals and hopes—
               and my gratitude.

               Pause for prayer and silent reflection.
               Mission tithes are then blessed and received.



Option A. Adapted from Philippians 4:4-5, 7

At all times, rejoice in the Lord!
I repeat: Rejoice!
The Lord is almost here!
Do not be worried about anything.
In Jesus Christ, you have God’s peace—
a peace beyond all understanding,
a peace that will set your hearts and minds at ease.

Option B. Adapted from D&C 161:7. Alternatively, this responsive reading might be used during the Focus Moment.

Reader: The Spirit of the One we follow
All:         is the spirit of love and peace.

Reader: That Spirit seeks to abide in the hearts
All:         of those who would embrace its call and live its message.

Reader: The path will not always be easy;
All:         the choices will not always be clear.

Reader: But the cause is sure,
All:         and the Spirit will bear witness to the truth.

Reader: And those who live the truth
All:         will know the hope and the joy of discipleship in the community of Christ

Friday, December 7, 2012

First-Friday service: Christ, the son of Mary

Today I led a first-Friday service of contemplative song and prayer. In honor of Advent, the theme was "Christ, the son of Mary." The altar was adorned with images of the Madonna and Child.


A hymn from the scriptures:
THE SONG OF MARY (Luke 1:46-55)

My soul proclaims your greatness, O God!
My heart rejoices in you, my Savior,
because you have showered your servant with blessing!
From now to the end of time,
all generations will know the great things you have done for me,

Mighty One! Your name is holy!
In every age, your mercy flows to those who reverence you!
But with the strength of your arm,
you have blasted the presumptions of the proud.

You have deposed the mighty from their thrones,
and have raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things;
the rich, you have turned away empty-handed.

You have come to the aid of Israel your servant,
in fulfillment of the promise you made to our ancestors—
when you spoke blessing to Sarah and Hagar
and all their descendents, to the utmost generation!


A reading from the apostles:

In former times,
we were slaves to the powers of this world.

But when the time had waxed full,
God sent the Begotten One,
born of a human mother—
born, like us, a slave to the law,
yet with power to set us free.

Through him, we have been emancipated!
We have been adopted into God’s family!
God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of the Begotten One,
so that we, like him, may call God, “Abba! Father!”

Once you were slaves;
now you have become God’s children.
And because you are God’s children,
you are also God’s heirs.


A reading from the Gospels:
LUKE 1:26-45

God sent a messenger named Gabriel
to a Galilean village called Nazareth,
to a young woman named Mary,
who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendent of David.

The messenger came to Mary and said,
“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you!”
Mary was perplexed and troubled by this greeting.

The messenger said, “Do not be afraid, Mary.
God’s blessing is upon you!
You will conceive and give birth to a son.
You will name him Jesus—‘God liberates.’
He is destined for greatness!
He will be called the Son of God.
God will set him in the judgment seat
promised to David’s line,
to govern the people of the covenant forever.
His reign will never end!”

Mary said, “How can this be? I am a virgin.”

The messenger said to her,
“The Holy Spirit will rest upon you;
the power of God will overshadow you.
For this reason, your child will be holy
and will be called the Son of God.

“Does it seem hard to believe?
Listen: your kinswoman Elizabeth
has conceived a son in her old age.
She who was called barren is now six months pregnant!
You see—with God, nothing is impossible!”

Mary said, “I am God’s servant.
I accept what you have said—may it be.”
Then the messenger left her.

As soon as she could,
Mary traveled to the house of Elizabeth
in the hill country of Judea.
As she arrived, Mary called out to greet Elizabeth,
and Elizabeth felt the fetus kick inside her.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
She exclaimed to Mary,
“Blessed are you among women!
Blessed is the child you will bear!
And what have I done to deserve to be blessed
by a visit from the mother of my Lord?
I knew it without your telling me,
for as soon as I heard you calling,
the child inside me leaped for joy.
Blessed is she who believed
that the Lord’s promise to her would be fulfilled!”



Abba, Father—
you sent your Son to free us from all that enslaves us,
and to reconcile all things in himself.
Grant us peace! Deliver us from evil!

Son of Mary—
you shared our humanity, and our suffering,
so that you would know how to aid your people.
Give us the compassion and the strength
to be with others in their suffering.

Promised Child, Son of God—
by the indwelling of your Spirit in our hearts,
you have transformed us also into God’s children.
Give us grace to grow into your likeness.

Emmanuel, God-with-us—
you came into the world
through the courage of the one who agreed to be your mother.
Give us also the courage to say “yes” to your call.

Word made flesh,
we encounter you in every person that we meet.
Fill us with your love,
and endow us with power
to minister to our fellow beings on your behalf.



Christ Jesus—
You were a human being.
You know our yearnings and our sufferings.

Our soul asks you:
Give us peace.

And in our darkness,
you kindle the fire
of your forgiveness and compassion.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

All Shall See God's Salvation

Some additional worship resources for December 9, the second Sunday of Advent. Scroll down to find:
  • Responsive Reading – Luke 1:68-73, 78-79
  • Responsive Reading – 1 Nephi 7:55-58, 64
  • Confession – Based on Malachi 3:1-4 / 3 Nephi 11:4-7
  • “Second Witness” Scripture Readings and Sermon Helps
  • Sending Forth – Adapted from Philippians 1:6, 9-11

Luke 1:68-73, 78-79

This reading might be used as a Call to Worship, during the Focus Moment, or at the lighting of the Candle of Peace.

Leader:   Praise to you, Holy One, God of Israel!
All:         You have blessed your people; you have set us free!

Leader:   You have given us a Savior, mighty and strong,
All:         from the family of David, your servant.

Leader:   By doing this, you have kept the promise you made long ago through the prophets—
All:         that you would rescue us from all our enemies.

Leader:   You have given us the blessing you promised to our ancestors.
All:         You have kept the sacred promise you made to Sarah and Abraham.

Leader:   In your compassion, O God,
All:         you have sent us light from heaven, rising like the sun.

Leader:   The light shines on all who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
All:         The light shows us the path of peace.


1 Nephi 7:55-58, 64 (contemporary language)

This reading might be used during the Focus Moment or at the lighting of the Candle of Peace.

Leader:   The time is coming soon when God will lead the faithful
All:         like carefree calves to the safety of their stall.

Leader:   The Holy One of Israel will rule supreme—
All:         strong, and powerful, and glorious!

Leader:   He will gather his children from every part of the earth.
All:         They will come to him, like sheep that recognize their shepherd’s call.

Leader:   He will count them, to be sure that none have been lost.
All:         They will form a single flock, with a single shepherd.

Leader:   All nations, all tribes, all language groups, all people
All:         will live safely in the Holy One of Israel.


Based on Malachi 3:1-4 / 3 Nephi 11:4-7

The Lord, for whom you are waiting,
will come suddenly to his temple.
The messenger of God’s promise—
the one who brings you joy—
is coming, says the Lord.

All:   Jesus, we long for your coming!

         [Pause for silent prayer and reflection.]

But when he comes,
he will be like a purifying fire,
or like corrosive soap.
Who will be able to endure the cleansing?
When he appears,
who will be able to stay on their feet?

All:   Jesus, make us able
         to stand without shame in your presence.

         [Pause for silent prayer and reflection.]

He will purify those whom God has chosen to be priests,
like a metalworker purifies gold and silver in a furnace.
He will make the priests ritually clean,
so that they can offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.

All:   Jesus, we want to serve you.
         Change us into what you need us to be.

         [Pause for silent prayer and reflection.]

Then the offerings of God’s people
will once again be pleasing to the Lord,
as it was in days past,
as it was in years gone by.

All:   Jesus, we have brought you offerings.
         Do they please you?

         [Pause for silent prayer and reflection.]



Either of the D&C selections below might be read in tandem with Luke 3:1-6 (the suggested preaching text) in the “two witnesses” style. For an example of this style, see this post.

Sermon help: Both D&C selections echo the call from Luke (quoting Isaiah) to “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” In the D&C, that call is presented as part of the message that Latter Day Saints proclaim as they carry out the church’s mission to invite people to Christ. What situations in today’s world require us, as Christ’s witnesses, to raise voices of warning and calls for change?

Option A: D&C 32:2c-f

Contemporary language:

Truly I say to you
that the field is white, ready to harvest.
Therefore, thrust in your sickle and reap
with all your might, mind, and strength.

Open your mouths, and they will be filled.
You will become like Nephi, from long ago,
who journeyed from Jerusalem through the desert.

Open your mouths; do not hold back . . .
for I am with you.

Open your mouths . . . , saying:
“Repent, repent!
Prepare the way of the Lord!
Make his paths straight,
for God’s kingdom is near!”

Traditional language:

Verily I say unto you,
that the field is white already to harvest;
wherefore, thrust in your sickle, and reap
with all your might, mind, and strength.

Open your mouths and they shall be filled;
and you shall become as Nephi of old,
who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness;

yea, open your mouths and spare not . . .
for lo, I am with you;

yea, open your mouths . . ., saying,
Repent, repent
and prepare ye the way of the Lord,
and make his paths straight;
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Option B. D&C 33:1c-2b

Contemporary language:

I have called you to proclaim my gospel—
to lift up your voice like a trumpet,
long and loud.
Call a crooked and perverse generation to repentance!
Prepare the way of the Lord for his second coming!

Truly I say to you:
The time is coming soon
when I will arrive in a cloud,
with power and splendor;
and at the time of my coming,
all nations will tremble. . . .

Therefore, lift up your voice,
do not hold back—
the Lord God has commanded it!
I will give you words to speak
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And if you are faithful,
I am with you until I come.
Truly, I am coming quickly.

Traditional language:

You are called of me to preach my gospel;
to lift up your voice as with the sound of a trump,
both long and loud,
and cry repentance unto a crooked and perverse generation;
preparing the way of the Lord for his second coming;

for behold, verily, verily I say unto you,
the time is soon at hand,
that I shall come in a cloud
with power and great glory,
and it shall be a great day at the time of my coming,
for all nations shall tremble. . . .

Wherefore lift up your voice
and spare not,
for the Lord God hath spoken.
Therefore prophesy
and it shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost;
and if you are faithful,
behold, I am with you until I come;
and verily, verily I say unto you, I come quickly.

Sermon help, incorporating Luke 3:1-11 IV: The lectionary reading from Luke (3:1-6) includes a quotation from Isaiah 40:3-5. In the Inspired Version, the Luke passage is expanded (3:1-11) to include what is, in effect, a commentary on the Isaiah quotation. The IV interprets the Isaiah quotation as a prophecy of Christ’s ministry, which, according to the IV passage, includes:
  • preparing the way for the universal proclamation of the gospel.
  • gathering “those who are lost,” “the dispersed and afflicted.”
  • being “a light unto all who sit in darkness.”
  • bringing to pass the resurrection.
  • “administer[ing] justice unto all.”
  • convincing people of their “ungodly deeds.”
How do we bear witness to, and participate in, these aspects of Christ’s ministry?


Adapted from Philippians 1:6, 9-11

Note: If the “Amen” responses are omitted, this reading could be used instead as a preface to the Disciples’ Generous Response.

1st Reader:
May God, who has begun a good work in us,
bring that work to completion
by the time Christ returns!

All: Amen!

2nd Reader:
May our love increase to overflowing!
May we have the knowledge and insight
to recognize perfectly what is good!

All: Amen!

3rd Reader:
May Christ bring forth in us
an abundant harvest of good deeds,
for the praise and glory of God!

All: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!