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Holy Eucharist, Rite II, the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 13, 2020

A Voice in the Wilderness, Crying



The Celebrant and LEM stand at physical distance. The Advent wreath is lit. There is no procession.

Opening Rites

Celebrant:   Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

LEM:           And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.

Celebrant:   Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Celebrant:   Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,

LEM:              Have mercy upon us.

[acc_item title=”The Collect of the Day”]

Celebrant:     The Lord be with you,

LEM:              And also with you.

Celebrant:     Let us pray.

The Celebrant says the Collect.

Lord of Light,
who sent the Baptizer
to offer hope and face the world’s scorn:
open our ears to hear
the cries from the margins,
exposing our fears,
inciting our vision
and calling us to a step of faith;
through Jesus Christ, the one who is to comeAmen



The Lessons

( Click on the “+” as you go to show each part of the service )

[acc_item title=” The Old Testament Lesson:                                             Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11″]

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.


8For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;[b]
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.


LEM:                  The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.


[acc_item title=” Psalm of the Day:                                             Psalm 126″]

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,[a]
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
    reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    carrying their sheaves.


[acc_item title=”The New Testament Lesson:                                             I Thessalonians 5:16-24″]

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.


LEM:               The Word of the Lord.

Celebrant:       Thanks be to God.


The Gospel

Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying

Celebrant:       The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

LEM:                  Glory to you, Lord Christ.

[acc_item title=”The Gospel Lesson:                                                        John 1:6-8, 19-28″]

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said,

“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.

24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.


Priest:                           The Gospel of the Lord.

LEM:                              Praise to you, Lord Christ.


[acc_item title=” Sermon:

A Voice in the Wilderness, Crying


A Voice in the Wilderness Crying

Advent 3 B, December 13, 2020
(The printed sermon text may differ from the spoken sermon)

John’s take on John – and how the author’s must’ve loved the irony that their names happen to match – is a little bit different than Mark’s. It’s clearer by this point what God is up to in all this – just as it is clearer in Isaiah 61, the opening of 3rd Isaiah, than it was last week in Isaiah 40, the opening of 2nd Isaiah.

It? What he must cry. What is it? “Make straight the way of the Lord.” Or, that is, make a path straight enough for light to shine, even though you are not the light, but simply bear witness to it, much as do we all, whatever light may shine upon us, and by whatever beams.

No-one quite knew what to make of this, back in Jerusalem in Judea. They were not used to people speaking this way – or, more accurately, they were not used to people speaking this way and remaining sane, selfless, and coherent for long. They went out to find him in the wild – and when they got there, they asked him, “Who are you?”

So he told them. No, he was not the Messiah, though he could understand why they might think so. He was an overwhelming, overpowering presence, someone who could’ve done anything he wanted – led a rebellion, started a war, probably seen one to its conclusion, taken over from them – which is something you’d expect in a Messiah. Then he told them, as this gospel reports it, that he was not the prophet, or even a prophet, but a messenger, one sent to prepare the way. Prophets don’t do that; they hope to inspire you who hear them to change what you’re doing and avoid disaster. John didn’t do that. Instead, he baptized people, and the Pharisees and Levites and priests from Jerusalem could not quite understand why. Why did he? Well, according to this gospel he baptized them as part of his testimony to the light that was to come, a light that, who, was already among them, though they saw it not, and certainly were not yet ready to see by it, by means of it.

For that is the thing about light. It’s not there so that you’ll look at it – indeed, the brightest light in our world, our very sun, is one that we cannot look at directly except during sunrise or sunset, not even during an eclipse. Light it there so that you’re able to look at everything else. A light of the world – and does not Jesus tell his people that they are the light of the world? – is placed for all to see not, or not primarily, so that they will see it, but so that through it and by means of it they will see everything else. John is coming to prepare the way of the Lord, as a messenger bearing witness to this new light among them, so that they will be ready to see things differently once they see that light shining, and all that it surveys.

You wouldn’t think that light needs anyone to testify to it. Does it really require a messenger to tell us that the light is on the living room, or over the stove? One might imagine a warning dong in a car that the headlights are still on and might drain the battery, or a person coming to tell you in one room that someone left the light on in another and would you please turn it off. But it’s not clear why a light shining as brightly as did Christ would need anyone to testify to it so that people might believe. Before it shows up, however, one can see the need. “You may not see it now, you may not see it yet, but a new dawn is rising, and when it comes, it will flood the world will all its brightness and splendor. Are you ready to see it? Are you ready to see by it? Get rid of all that holds you down, holds you back, makes you weak, leads you to despair and to give up hope, and make yourself ready to face this new dawn, this new day, so that you do not waste it, so that we do not waste it.” Yes, one can imagine that a messenger bearing witness so such a light, such a dawn that was yet to come would have much to say.

One of the underlying themes of the Gospel of John, as of the Letters of John, is that the light came among people and they knew it not, so deep was the darkness of their hearts and their minds. They had to grapple with a reality that stunned them: people in their world, near the end of the 1st century A.D./C.E., had heard all that they had to say, heard their stories, listened to them about who Jesus was and what he had done, and rejected them. Whether it was because of the miracles they could not believe, the healing and mental freedom that his followers could not provide in his name, the sheer absurdity of their teachings about incarnation and resurrection, or the impossibility of living as Jesus taught, many, many people rejected what Jesus’s followers had to say. As far as the communities that created this gospel and those letters were concerned, their neighbors had seen how love – divine love, holy love, selfless love, and overwhelming love – had changed them, and rejected it, preferring to continue to dwell in darkness, in selfishness, and in ignorance of the bliss they, the followers of Christ’s way, had come to know. They couldn’t believe it, or had such trouble believing it that they became convinced they must’ve missed something, some prediction that this was possible, some weakness in the human mind or spirit that could let people standing under the brightest sun of their or anyone’s lives decide that they were not, in fact, standing under the sun at all. They saw in their neighbors who turned against them proof that people could actually be that deluded and depraved. It stunned them. It would’ve stunned any of us – just think how we react to people who refuse to accept facts and truths when those facts and truths are staring us all in the face and shining as brightly, by contrast, as a neon sign outside a desert casino a midnight. Yet, as we see in the blather of refusals to accept the results of the current election and/or the reality of the coronavirus pandemic and what it takes to mitigate it, people can do this. They can stare at cloudless blue and declare that it’s raining. They can stare and the sun and declare that it’s 2:00 in the morning. They can look right at a pumpkin and declare that it’s really an owl, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

One of the defining traits of our species is our ability to create, propagate, and dwell in lies. All the while it feels good and right, and even when it feels just the right kind of wrong, we can do this. Entire nations have been shaped, and millions of lives destroyed on purpose, because people believed in lies, put all their energy into supporting things that were not true. The ability to do this is the negative side of our ability to hope in things unseen, to have faith in things not yet revealed, or to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy literary fiction or the idea that, yes, I really do look good in that cowboy hat or that outfit two sizes to small for me.

The John who baptized, like the John who died on Patmos and the John who wrote this gospel, came to bear witness to why we should not do this, and to what we should do instead. Believe in what you can see, and by what means you can see it. Trust the light, and that what the light reveals is really there. Walk in light, not in darkness. Walk in the power of truth, in the sure and certain knowledge that facts matter, there is a great difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is never good to be deceived or to be deceiving. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” That’s what he, that’s what they, came to tell you to do to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight in the desert a highway for our God – a highway that God can use to travel to us, and that we can use to travel to God. Let it be so. Amen.




The Deacon or Priest prepares the altar and sanctuary for the Eucharist.

The People make ready their gifts of bread and wine. The LEM continues


The Creed

The Celebrant says

[acc_item title=”The Nicene Creed”]

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.
    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 human.
    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.



The Prayers of the People

The LEM prays. In the silence after each bidding, the People offer their prayers without speaking.

[acc_item title=”Prayers of the People“]

I ask your prayers for all God’s people; for our bishops, our clergy, and this gathering, and for all ministers and people. Pray for the Church.


I ask your prayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all. Pray for justice and peace.


I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison.
Pray for those in any need or trouble.


I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of God.
Pray that they may seek, and pray that they might find.


I ask your prayers for the departed [especially N.N.]. Pray for those who have died.


I ask your prayers for those on the prayer list of this parish, and those whose needs are known to you alone.


The Celebrant adds a concluding collect.



The Peace

The People stand.

Celebrant:  The peace of the Lord be always with you,

LEM:         And also with you

The Ministers and People greet one another in silence while keeping physical distance


The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving

Celebrant:   The Lord be with you,

LEM:           And also with you.

Celebrant:   Lift up your hearts.

LEM:           We lift them to the Lord.

Celebrant:   Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

LEM:           It is right to give God thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds


[acc_item title=”The Holy Eucharist: The Great Thanksgiving”]

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, for you are the source of light and life, you made us in your image, and you call us to new life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the host of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to the glory of your Name:

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.


The people stand or kneel. The Celebrant continues

[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]

Holy and gracious Father: In love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin, evil, and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you. He offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.

On the night he was handed over, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me.”

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith: [/acc_item]

LEM:  Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

The Celebrant continues.

[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O God, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ by whom, and with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.


Now, as Christ taught us, we are bold to say,

The LEM prays

[acc_item title=”The Lord’s Prayer”]

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,
for ever and ever. Amen.


The Breaking of the Bread

The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread, and then keeps a period of silence.

The Celebrant continues

[acc_item title=”The Celebrant continues…”]

Celebrant:   [Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

LEM:           Therefore, let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]

Celebrant:   The Gifts of God for the People of God.

The people come forward to retrieve the hosts, maintaining physical distance. They consume the hosts upon returning to their seats.

After Communion, the Celebrant says

Let us pray. 

The Celebrant prays

Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart, through Christ our Lord. Amen.[/acc_item]


Blessing and Dismissal

The Celebrant says

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.


The LEM says

          Let us go forth, in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

The Celebrant, the LEM, and the People depart, maintaining physical distance.


We hope that today’s service has been a blessing to you.
We are here to serve you, and hope to see you again.
Please feel free to call us, email us, or visit us online.

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About Episcopal Worship and this Service

The audio and video of this service will be posted to the church website on Monday. Please join us, either in person or online, as you are able.  We are grateful for your pledge support, and hope that you will continue it.

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St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Fairland, MD

12621 Old Columbia Pike

Silver Spring, MD  20904 * 301-622-5860 ext. 1002

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wilkins, Priest-in-Charge * 301-622-5860 ext. 1001

Linda Lee, Parish Administrator  *301-622-5860 ext. 1004

Beresford Coker, Musical Director

Joyce Walker, Administrative Assistant

Charles Smith, Senior Warden

Lee Mericle, Junior Warden

For information about St. Mark’s, please visit our website:

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Resources (available for free online)

These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.


This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office,


Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.

The Episcopal Church:

Episcopal News Service:

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington:

St. Mark’s, Fairland:


[1] The readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary. See: