December 16th, 2012 (see other dates)
Third Sunday of Advent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Can you think of a time when you felt especially close to God? Share that memory. Have there been times of "reunion" with God in your life when you felt like singing, or at least breaking into a big smile? Describe one of these times and tell how you felt.
Reading 1 Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Reading 1 ReflectionWe could really get into the spirit of this reading if we could sing it and accompany ourselves with musical instruments. Our song would celebrate a renewed relationship between God and God's people. The time of exile, or separation from God, is over. Now the people can once again feel good about themselves because they are living according to God's will. They sing our their joy, and God sings with them.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2Joy is a gift of God. Sometimes we have to ask for it. Sometimes it takes an effort to set aside our worries or expectations of the future and to be happy in the present moment. Sometimes, to "get joy," we have to give joy first! How can you do this in a little way today?
Sometimes we need to stop and notice the peace and joy already in our lives. What can you notice today? The smile of a friend? A snow-covered tree? A favorite verse from Scripture?
What little thing can you do to rejoice and "give joy" unselfishly during these days before Christmas? Try to do something each day, one day at a time.
Reading 2 Philippians 4:4-7
Reading 2 ReflectionThis Third Sunday of Advent is sometimes called "Gaudete" Sunday. This is Latin for "Rejoice!" It comes from the first word of Saint Paul's letter for this Sunday. Paul reminds the Philippians that they should not merely rejoice that the Lord is near, and then go about their everyday business. They must also pray, be grateful, place their trust in God, and be unselfish in their relationships with others. Then they will experience "the peace of God."
Discussion Questions for GospelDid you know that the name John means "gift of God"? How was John the Baptist a gift to the people of his time? What gifts did he bring to them?
Think of people who are gifts in your life. Do not forget those who, like John the Baptist, remind you to live as a just and peaceful person! Pray for those people. You may want to write them a note, if possible, to thank them for the gifts they bring to you.
Gospel Luke 3:10-18
Gospel ReflectionImagine that you are there, listening to John the Baptist in today's gospel. You hear him advising the people who have already expressed their sorrow for their sins. They are about to be baptized as a sign of their repentance. But they realize that they must also change their lives and avoid sin in the future.
Then the people wonder whether John might be the promised Messiah of God. John tells them that they must look for someone greater than he. We know that he was directing them to Jesus.
We can be like John the Baptist when we help others to find Jesus Christ in their lives. Pray today that your joy in knowing Christ will help lead others to him.
Proclaiming Faith Activities for Primary Grades
Lighting the Advent WreathHave children "light" the pink candle of their Advent wreaths. As the children light the candles, sing the following song to the tune of Here We Go ?Round the Mulberry Bush.
Advent is the special time, the special time, the special time.
Advent is the special time, we are filled with joy.
Jump for JoyThe theme of the third Sunday of Advent is joy. Make this concept come alive for the children by doing the following activity.
Read the following situations to the children. If the situation makes them feel joyful, have them jump for joy.
Proclaiming Faith Activities
Advent AdviceToday's readings echo with the joy and excitement and helpful advice that are a part of our lives as Christmas draws near. Imagine that you are the host of a radio talk show. People call in with questions that concern them at this time of year. Look at the advice below. Then write the question for which you might give that advice. The first one is given for you as an example.
Living an Advent Life
Answer: Be glad. Express your enthusiasm.
Question: How can I spread the good news of Jesus' love during Advent?
Answer: Don't try to go it alone. Let God in on your needs.
Answer: Share what you have with someone who has less.
Answer: Do not bully or judge others.
Answer: Be content with what you have.
How will you practice one of these pieces of advice?
Wiping Out Advent WorriesWorry is like a hungry grasshopper that eats away at the green hopes of Advent. Jesus has advised us not to worry about material things and not to be anxious about the future. But sometimes this is very difficult to do. Tell how you might help the people in the following situations to follow Jesus' advice.
An elderly neighbor is worried he or she will be left alone during the holidays.
Your family is worried about not having enough money to spend for Christmas presents.
Your friend's family is going through a hard time. Your friend is worried that the Christmas celebration will be a time of fighting and anger at home.
For Bibles and other scripture resources, please see the Sadlier Religion Catalog.
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