Third Sunday of Advent — Family faith formation for December 12, 2021


Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy as a way to begin your time of learning together.

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?  

One:    Christ, the light of the world.

(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.

(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the scriptures  

(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God

(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?

One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the Table.

(Place a symbol of Communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread and grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.   

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something a person, community, experience, event, etc. for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world … [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for … [Invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier.]. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Connecting with Scripture — Isaiah 12:2-6

Read the scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

As today’s Scripture is read a second time, listen for and list all the reasons are to praise God.

Connecting through story

Listen to this modern-day psalmist in spoken work poetry:

  • Our Advent theme last week was “proclaim.” What does this psalmist proclaim about God?
  • What glorious things does this poet think need to be made known to all the earth?
  • Why do you think this psalmist and poet wrote and spoke this?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue

  • What do you think Isaiah meant by “Surely God is my salvation?”
  • In what ways is God our salvation?
  • How do we know God is our salvation?
  • What does it mean to give “praise?”
  • What does it m mean to give “thanks?”
  • In what ways are “thanks” and “praise” similar or different?
  • Many churches sing a doxology each week in their service after the offering is received. Watch this American Sign Language version of “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” and identify all praiseworthy attributes of God. Remember, praise focuses on God, not on ourselves and what we receive.
  • Watch this prayer and turn the “thanks” into praise. What are the attributes and characteristics of God that are behind the “thanks”? Keep your focus on who God is not what you receive.
  • As you think about Advent and what it means, what is there to praise God about during Advent? What are the ways you can practice gratitude during Lent?
  • In what ways do you praise God with your life?

Teaching Points that can be incorporated into your discussion

  • Today’s text is filled with images, concepts and ideas. We would be here for weeks to unpack all of it, so we will focus on praise and thanks today. However, a few notes that may help you with responses to questions if they should arise:
    • Our salvation, as Isaiah notes, is a gift from God. It is God’s work and God’s alone. There is nothing we can do to earn, barter or purchase our salvation. It is a free gift from God that came in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is why salvation is an outpouring of God’s grace.
    • We can trust and not be afraid because salvation, and all good things, are God’s work. If they were our own, or any human’s, they would be subject to our own fallibility and fickleness. Praise be that God is infallible, faithful, trustworthy and unfailing.
    • We know God is all these things about God, and more, because God has consistently and faithfully shown us who God is throughout all the ages. If God, therefore, shows up in ways that are true to the essence of God – love, grace, justice and life-giving – for all who have come before, then God will do the same in our present and in the future. This is what we build our trust on and this is why we praise and give thanks to God alone.
  • The theme for the third week of Advent this year is “praise.”
  • Doxology is a biblical Greek word that was translated into Latin. It literally means to speak praise and glory to God. The words were put to a tune composed in the 1640s and is still consistently sung each week in many congregations.
  • Thanks and praise are often used and confused as synonymous. The subtle but significant difference is “thanks” focuses on what we receive, and “praise” focuses on the “other.”
  • In Advent, we give thanks for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ who gives us salvation, redemption, incarnate love and grace. The focus is on what we receive because of God’s graciousness.
  • In Advent, we praise God for who God is. The focus is on God because it is what we are called to give God. We praise God for who God is – for the qualities, characteristics and capabilities that make God, well, God.
  • The praise we give God helps us stay focused on what is important…stay focused on God.
  • Thanksgiving becomes the shape and form of our lives as we manifest our gratitude for what God has given to, and for, us and what God will continue to do.
  • Advent connects the past, present and future in both praise and thanks. Who God was for our foremothers and forefathers in faith as salvation happened in, who God is for us now

What is your praise for God? Write your own prayer or psalm of praise to God.


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world. Extinguish the candle.