Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Holy Communion on the Third Sunday of Advent, 10:30 a.m.

 The livestream may be found here.

December 12, 2021

Third Sunday of Advent

John the Baptist preaching in the desert





The color blue, used for the vestments and paraments of Advent, is redolent of the deep blue of twilight just before dawn, symbolic of the Christian hope for the coming of the Light of the World.


FIRST READING: The prophet Zephaniah and the Song of Isaiah (the Psalmody for today) amplify the theme of joy in the promised salvation of God. Zephaniah pictures God as a warrior who will both defeat the oppressors of Israel and gather the people from the nations to rejoice in the land of promise. Isaiah 12 is a far more personal song to a God who is ‘my salvation.’ Both Scriptures are songs of praise and joy in response to God’s saving help.


SECOND READING: ‘Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, Rejoice.’ The reading from Philippians 4 is the traditional introit for the Third Sunday of Advent in the Latin Mass, and appears in our readings today. This Sunday has been called ‘Gaudete Sunday’ in the Church year, for the word ‘Gaudete’ means ‘Rejoice.’ The theme of ‘joy’ is the reason that many Advent wreaths have a pink candle for the third Sunday of Advent. The joy comes from the nearness of the coming of Christ, as well as the joy the Church feels at the half-way mark of Advent, coming ever closer to the feast of Christmas.


GOSPEL: On the face of it, John’s harsh words to those who come to be baptized seem to counteract the theme of ‘joy.’ But what is more joyful than for people to truly repent and bear fruits worthy of repentance? What is more joyful than the promise of the one coming to gather his people, and that evil and suffering will be banished from the earth? If we think of it that way, surely the theme of ‘joy’ applies also to this reading.



On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry - John Eggert

Hark, a Thrilling Voice Is Sounding - Paul Bouman



X OPENING HYMN                            Hark, a Thrilling Voice Is Sounding


St. 1 and 3/ Choir

St. 3 setting/ Gary Matheny


 1      Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding!

        “Christ is near,” we hear the cry.

        “Cast away the works of darkness,

        all you children of the day!”


2      Startled at the solemn warning,

        let the earthbound soul arise;

        Christ, its sun, all sloth dispelling,

        shines upon the morning skies.


3      See the Lamb, so long expected,

        comes with pardon down from heav’n.

        Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,

        one and all, to be forgiv’n;


4     So, when next he comes in glory

        and the world is wrapped in fear,

        he will shield us with his mercy

        and with words of love draw near.


5      Honor, glory, might, dominion

        to the Father and the Son

        with the everliving Spirit

        while eternal ages run!


Text: Latin hymn, 1632; tr. Edward Caswall, 1814-1878, alt.



The day of justice and righteousness dawns upon us.

Illumined by the light of three candles, we turn to God

with sorrow for sin and hope for salvation.


Heavenly Father,

you call us to prepare for the coming of your Son:

forgive us our unreadiness to receive him. Lord, have mercy.

  Lord, have mercy.


Lord Jesus, you were proclaimed by John the Baptist:

help us also to prepare your way. Christ, have mercy.

  Christ, have mercy.


Holy Spirit, you speak through the prophets:

make us attentive to hear your word. Lord, have mercy.

  Lord, have mercy.


Almighty God, who in Jesus Christ

has given us a kingdom that cannot be destroyed,

forgive you your sins,

open your eyes to his truth,

strength you to do his will

and give you the joy of his kingdom.





The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,

and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

  And also with you.


Almighty God, you once called John the Baptist to give witness to the coming of your Son and to prepare his way. Grant us, your people, the wisdom to see your purpose today and the openness to hear your will, that we may witness to Christ’s coming and so prepare his way; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.





With many exhortations,

[John] proclaimed the good news to the people.                          Luke 3:18

  Let us hear the Word of the Lord.



First READING                                               Zephaniah 3:14-20


14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
  shout, O Israel!
 Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
  O daughter Jerusalem!
15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
  he has turned away your enemies.
 The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
  you shall fear disaster no more.
16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
 Do not fear, O Zion;
  do not let your hands grow weak.
17The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
  a warrior who gives victory;
 he will rejoice over you with gladness,
  he will renew you in his love;
 he will exult over you with loud singing
  18as on a day of festival.
 I will remove disaster from you,
  so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19I will deal with all your oppressors
  at that time.
 And I will save the lame
  and gather the outcast,
 and I will change their shame into praise
  and renown in all the earth.

20At that time I will bring you home,
  at the time when I gather you;
 for I will make you renowned and praised
  among all the peoples of the earth,
 when I restore your fortunes
  before your eyes, says the Lord.


The Word of the Lord.                                                                                                    

  Thanks be to God.

PSALMODY     Isaiah 12:2-6

   In your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not | be afraid,
  for the Lord God is my strength and my might,

and has become | my salvation.
3With joy you | will draw water
  from the wells | of salvation. 
4And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord,

call | on God’s name;
  make known the deeds of the Lord among the nations;

proclaim that this name | is exalted.
5Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done | gloriously;
  let this be known in | all the earth.
6Shout aloud and sing for joy, O | royal Zion,
  for great in your midst is the Holy | One of Israel. 

   In your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

SECOND READING                                       Philippians 4:4-7


4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


The Word of the Lord.                                                 

  Thanks be to God.



VERSE                Matthew 11:10                             Setting by Robert Wetzler

Alleluia. Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare a place before you. Alleluia.



Gospel                                                          Luke 3:7-18


The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke.

7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”
15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.


The Gospel of the Lord.







X HYMN OF THE DAY                         On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry


St. 3/Choir; setting by M. Praetorius


 1      On Jordan’s banks the Baptist’s cry

        announces that the Lord is nigh;

        awake and hearken, for he brings

        glad tidings of the King of kings!


2      Then cleansed be ev’ry life from sin;

        make straight the way for God within,

        and let us all our hearts prepare

        for Christ to come and enter there.


3      We hail you as our Savior, Lord,

        our refuge and our great reward;

        without your grace we waste away

        like flow’rs that wither and decay.


4     Stretch forth your hand, our health restore,

        and make us rise to fall no more;

        oh, let your face upon us shine

        and fill the world with love divine.


5      All praise to you, eternal Son,

        whose advent has our freedom won,

        whom with the Father we adore,

        and Holy Spirit, evermore.


Text: Charles Coffin, 1676-1749; tr. composite




The pastor and people confess the faith of the Church in the words of the Nicene Creed.


X At the words ‘For us and for our salvation,’ and continuing through ‘and was made man,’ a solemn bow is appropriate to praise the incarnation of our Lord.


We believe in one God,

                the Father, the Almighty,            

                                maker of heaven and earth,

                                of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

                the only Son of God,

                eternally begotten of the Father,

                God from God, Light from Light,

                true God from true God,

                begotten, not made,

                of one Being with the Father.

                Through him all things were made.

                X For us and for our salvation

                                he came down from heaven;

                                by the power of the Holy Spirit

                                he became incarnate from the virgin Mary,   and was made man. X

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

                                he suffered death and was buried.

                On the third day he rose again

                                                in accordance with the Scriptures;

                                he ascended into heaven

                                                and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

                He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

                                and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

                who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

                With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

                He has spoken through the prophets.

                We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

                We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

                We look for the resurrection of the dead,

                                and the life of the world to come. Amen




In the morning twilight of these days of preparation, let us stand before God, asking him to provide for the Church, the world, and for the needs of all people.


Silence is kept.


Father, give us joy in the promise of your Son’s advent at the end of the age, and in the yearly remembrance of his advent among us as a human being. May that joy sustain us in the midst of our trials now and always. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Give us joy in our life together as a faith family. Confirm us in the bonds of friendship and love which bind us. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Give us joy in our earthly callings, that we may serve you in our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and in all people. Help us discern your creative work in every human being and in all creation. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Give your joy to the peoples of the nations, and be present with their leaders, that they may exercise their offices with wisdom and discernment. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Give your joy to those who work for the welfare of others, especially first responders, caregivers, and health-care providers, that they may find fulfillment in their work and strength for each day. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


Give your joy to the poor, the sick, those who are homeless, those who grieve, and all who suffer. Be especially be with those whom we bring before you now:


The pastor reads the names submitted for prayer.

The people may offer silent or spoken intercessions and thanksgivings.


Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.


We give thanks for the saints who rejoice in your unveiled light, and we live in the hope that we will stand with them in glory in the day of your revealing to all people. Lord, in your mercy,

  hear our prayer.

Father, at your command we have joyfully made our requests known to you. Answer our petitions as may be best for us, and give us the peace that passes all understanding to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.




The peace of the Lord be with you always.

  And also with you.


The people exchange a sign of peace with the simple words, Peace be with you.



The Lord’s Table is prepared.



OFFERTORY     Ezekiel 37:26-27                 Setting by Robert Wetzler

The Lord says, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an

everlasting covenant with them.  My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.



Hear us, O Lord Jesus Christ, from your dwelling place,

from the glorious throne of your kingdom, and come and cleanse us.

  You are seated on high with the Father,

  and you dwell also with us here, although unseen.

By your mighty hand render us worthy to receive in holy communion

your spotless body and your precious blood.




The Lord be with you.                                   

  And also with you.                     

Lift up your hearts.                                         

  We lift them to the Lord.                        

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.                                  

  It is right to give him thanks and praise.


It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places offer thanks and praise to you, O Lord, holy Father, almighty and ever-living God. Through the voice of prophets you promised the coming of your Son in human flesh and his birth from the Virgin’s womb. Now, in these latter days, you have fulfilled that promise. Therefore, with a new joy, we affirm the faith that Christ has come as our Redeemer and that he will come again to be our judge. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn:


Holy, holy, holy LORD, God of power and might!

Heaven and earth are full of your glory;

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!

Hosanna in the highest!                                                    (Isaiah 6:3, Matthew 21:9)


The pastor leads the people in praying the Eucharistic canon:


                Blessed are you, O Adonai, Most High and Holy God,

                for the wonder of your goodness

which creates, establishes, and permeates

                the heavens and the earth.


We praise you for the promises you made to the Patriarchs,

                as you led your chosen people out of slavery

into the land of promise,

                giving them your Law on Sinai’s heights.               


You promised, through the prophets,

                that the Messiah would come,

                the very branch of Jesse –

                before whom all nations would keep silent.




Then, at the appointed time,

                you sent your beloved Son, Jesus our Emmanuel,

                the key of David born of Mary by the power of the Spirit. 


He came to rescue the uprooted,               

                to bring life to the lifeless

and voice to those who were without hope;

                on Calvary’s heights gave His life

                to draw all people to Himself

and to your promise of mercy.


In the night in which He was betrayed

our Lord Jesus took bread and gave thanks,

broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying:

Take and eat; this is my Body, given for you. 

                        Do this for the remembrance of me.


Again, after supper, He took the cup, gave thanks,

and gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my Blood,

                        shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. 

                        Do this for the remembrance of me.


Together, let us proclaim the mystery of faith:

                O Christ, you are the splendor of life everlasting:

We laud your death and resurrection,

and await your return in glory.


Blessed are you, O Adonai, Lord of might. 

                You fulfilled your promises

in the death, resurrection and ascension of your Son,

                the King of all nations. 

We praise you for embracing us

                as the people who now dwell in the brightness of His glory.


Send now your holy and life-giving Spirit

                upon this Bread of Life and this Cup of Salvation,

                that we, in this holy communion,

                may be united to Him who is our cornerstone,

                the One who gives us His very body and blood

                to sustain us in His forgiving love.

With all the people of your promises,

                we await our Lord’s final coming

                when we will share in that feast which shall never end.

                Amen.  Come, O precious Ransom, come!


In the presence of Christ, we pray to his Father using the words he gave us.


Christ is in our midst.

                By the power of the Spirit,

                we pray to his Father, saying:



Our Father, who art in heaven,

                hallowed be thy name,

                thy kingdom come,

                thy will be done,

                                on earth as it is in heaven.

                Give us this day our daily bread;

                and forgive us our trespasses,

                                as we forgive those who trespass against us;

                and lead us not into temptation,

                                but deliver us from evil.

                For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

                                forever and ever. Amen                                    Matthew 6:9-15


This is the bread of God which gives life to the world.

  Glory to you, O God, forever.                                                                 John 6:33


Wisdom has built her a house;

she has mixed her wine;

she has set her table.

  Glory to you, O God, forever.                                                            Proverbs 9:1


We adore Christ with the words of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).


Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;           

   have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;

  have mercy on us.        

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;

  Grant us peace.                                                               John 1:29, see also Luke 17:13



Admission to the Sacrament is by invitation of the Lord, presented through the Church to those who are baptized.


They may receive the Lord’s Body and Blood who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, who commune in their home churches, and who believe that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is truly present in, with, and under the forms of bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.


The communicants will be invited forward one family unit at a time. Please do not come forward until the pastor directs you to come forward, do not approach all the way to the table until the pastor has retreated.


 When the pastor says ‘The body of Christ, given for you,’ eat the bread. When the pastor says, ‘The blood of Christ, shed for you,’ drink the wine.  Please take the plate and the glass(es) and place them on the table that is indicated.



CHOIR                                                           There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying

Text/ James Lewis Mulligan;

Music/ Henry Hugh Bancroft


There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, a call from the ways untrod, prepare in the desert a highway, a highway for our God!

The valleys shall be exalted, the lofty hills brought low;

make straight all the crooked places where the Lord our God may go!


O Zion, give voice to good tidings, ascend to the heights and sing! Proclaim to a desolate people the coming of their king.

The works of pride all perish, like flowers they shall decay;

the pow’r and pomp of nations shall pass like a dream away.


But your word, O God, is faithful, your arm, O Lord, is strong;

you stand in the midst of nations, and you will right the wrong.

You will feed your flock like a shepherd, the lambs you’ll gently hold;

in pastures of peace you’ll lead them, and bring them to your fold.


After all have returned to their places, the people stand at the direction of the pastor.


The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.    




Rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4)


Pour out upon us the spirit of your love, O Lord,

and unite the wills of those

whom you have fed with one heavenly food;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord.




Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you,

scatter the darkness from before your path,

and make you ready to meet him when he comes in glory.



Almighty God, Father, XSon, and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever.





X CLOSING HYMN                                           O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide


1              O Savior, rend the heavens wide;

                come down, come down with mighty stride:

                unlock the gates, the doors break down;

                unbar the way to heaven’s crown.


2              O Morning Star, O radiant Sun,

                when will our hearts behold your dawn?

                O Sun arise; without your light

                we grope in gloom and dark of night.


3              Sin’s dreadful doom upon us lies;

                grim death looms fierce before our eyes.

                Oh, come, lead us with mighty hand

                from exile to our promised land.


4             There shall we all our praises bring

                ever to you, our Savior King;

                there shall we laud you and adore

                forever and forever more.



Text: German spiritual song

Tune: Gesangbuch, Augsburg, 1666



Go in peace. Serve the Lord.                                          

  Thanks be to God!

THE SCHEDULE for Christmas and New Years’ Services is below. Please note that there is no Saturday evening worship service on Dec. 25.


Fri/Dec 24 Christmas Eve Worship, 7:30 p.m.

Sat/Dec 25 Christmas Day Worship, 10:30 a.m.

Sun/Dec 26 St Stephen’s Day Worship, 10:30 a.m.

Fri/Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Service, 6:30 p.m.

Sat/Jan 1 WORSHIP, 6:30 p.m.

Sun/Jan 2 WORSHIP, 10:30 a.m.



Sun/ Dec 12         Choir rehearsal 9:30 AM


Voters Meeting after worship

Prayer at the Close of the Day (livestream) 9:30 PM

Mon/ Dec 13       Morning Prayer (livestream ) 8:30 AM

Wed/ Dec 15       Evening Prayer (livestream) 7:00 PM

                                Bible Study (over Zoom) 7:30 PM

Fri/ Dec 17           Morning Prayer (livestream) 8:30 AM

Sat/ Dec 18           NA Meeting 11 AM

                                SATURDAY EVENING WORSHIP 6:30 PM

Sun/ Dec 19         Choir rehearsal 9:30 AM


Decorate the church 6:30 PM

Prayer at the Close of the Day (livestream) 9:30 PM



From Sundays and Copyright 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #20540.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2006 and published by Church House Publishing.

Eucharistic Prayer reprinted by permission from A Little Book of Canons

 by Rod L. Ronneberg, STS, 1997 and 2010.

JESUS MAFA, John the Baptist Preaching in the Desert.

Agnus Day appears with the permission of













The Rev. Maurice C. Frontz, III 

(412) 279-5868 Office

(570) 447-8758 Cell


Pastor Emeritus

The Rev. Harvey S. Mozolak


Organist/Choir Director           

Joyce Moon Strobel, AAGO

(412) 366-0074  Home


Office Manager

Carrie Hoffman

(412) 279-5868 Office




Mr. Robert Dawe



Mr. Robert Shekerko














St Stephen Lutheran Church

55 Forsythe Road

Pittsburgh PA 15220

(412) 279-5868


Saturday Evening Worship – 6:30 pm

Sunday Morning Worship –10:30 am