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Advent III, 2018: Lighting the Candle for Joy

From the order of worship for the third Sunday of Advent (Year C)

VOICE: Last Sunday we lit the candle of peace. We light it and the candle of hope again as we remember that Christ, who was born in Bethlehem, will come again to judge the world and bring it everlasting peace.

The candles for hope and peace are lighted

VOICE: The third candle of Advent is the Candle of Joy. When the angel Gabriel told Mary that a special child would be born to her she was filled with joy. She sang a song that began with the words: “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

VOICE: Just as the birth of Jesus gave great joy to his mother, so his presence in the world gave joy to those who had none before. He healed them and gave them hope and peace when they believed in him. From hope, peace, and love grows joy.

VOICE: We light the candle of joy to remind us that when Jesus is born in us we have joy and that through him there will be everlasting joy on earth.

The candle for joy is lighted

VOICE: Joy is like a light shining in a dark place. As we look at this candle we celebrate the joy we find in Jesus Christ.

VOICE: Let us pray. Thank you God for the joy you give us. We ask that as we wait for all your promises to come true, and for Christ to come again, that you would remain present with us. Help us today, and every day to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your joy with each other. We ask it in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.

Advent 2018 Theme: Getting Busy

The first Sunday of Advent 2018 is December 2nd. Here are the message, readings and sermons for the season.

Advent 2018 Message

As we look at God’s word, we need to understand how the Christ (as the word of God) comes to humankind now and how we can receive and carry the Christ’s presence today. This starts with our attitude… the guides for which can be found throughout scripture. I am calling this attitude “Getting Busy”: Awareness and watchfulness, getting prepared, doing the work, understanding the all-inclusive Gospel. The task then becomes to take a journey over the next four weeks to come into a full consciousness with God, who comes to us in Jesus the Christ, and in fact to be prepared to get busy doing the Gospel — using words if needed.

Advent 1 Readings: “Pay Attention”

Psalm 25:1-9
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Advent 2 Readings: “The Mechanics of Being Prepared”

Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 3:1-6
Philippians 1:3-11

Advent 3 Readings: “What Should We Do?”

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

Advent 4 Readings: “The First Shall Be Last”

Psalm 22:25-31
James 3:17-18
Luke 1:39-45
Luke 1:46-55

Advent 2018 Sermons

Remember to turn on the volume for any video you play, by clicking on the speaker icon in the lower right corner of the frame. These videos are reposted from our Facebook page, where we post our weekly sermon videos. You can also listen to them on our podcast.

December 16, 2018

And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers 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.”

Luke 3:10-14


December 9, 2018

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

(Philippians 1:9-11)


December 2, 2018

Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too — these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

(Luke 21:33)

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

Guide to the Christmas Season

This year’s Advent theme is “Getting Busy“.

Teddy Bear Ministry

Every year, Gentle Spirit Christian Church collects teddy bears and stuffed animals during the Advent season and distributes them to patients in local hospitals and hospices to spread Christmas cheer and let them know they’re not alone. To participate, you can either bring a teddy bear(s) to a church service or contact the church office to arrange to drop them off.

Worship Services

  • Christmas Eve 6pm Service: We will join First Christian Church of Decatur in their main sanctuary to celebrate the eve of Christ’s birth. All are welcome.
  • Christmas Eve 11pm Service: We will lead the second Christmas Eve service at First Christian Church of Decatur in their main sanctuary to celebrate the eve of Christ’s birth. All are welcome.
  • Christmas Day: No service. The Gentle Spirit office will be closed.

Office Hours

The Gentle Spirit Christian Church office at First Christian Church of Decatur will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. For an appointment with Pastor Paul, just contact the church office.

Decatur Tree & Wreath Sale

The 11th Annual Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale at First Christian Church of Decatur once again had a record-setting year in 2018, selling more than 1,000 quality trees and more than 250 handmade wreaths with the help of more than 100 volunteers. Proceeds benefit church and community missions in the City of Decatur, including the Toy Park and shared ministries with Gentle Spirit Christian Church.