Sunday (Zoom from the sanctuary) message: A different kind of joy

Worship on the Lord’s Day

We gather to worship God

Music prelude


L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words:

L: I lift up my eyes to the hills –
from where will my help come?
P: My help comes from the Lord,   
    who made heaven and earth.
L:  Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Holy is the Lord

We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He
And together we sing

Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
Holy is the Lord God Almighty
The earth is filled with His glory
The earth is filled with His glory

Songwriter: Chris Tomlin © Universal Music Publishing Group
Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship:

L: In this time of worship,
we remember that God is with us.
P: God is with us in joy and in sorrow.
L: In Jesus Christ, God reshapes the past,
the present and our future.
P: We wait with God for something new
    to emerge.
L: In this time of worship,
we await the birth of Jesus.
P: We wait with hope,
    preparing to rejoice in Jesus’ name.

Lighting of the Advent candle of Joy

Prayers of approach and confession

Loving God, Compassionate Son, Healing Spirit, Holy One in Three and Three in One, You approach us with such kindness and tenderness. You look kindly on us, no matter what our state or condition, Your care for this world is greater than we could ever ask or imagine: You bring order from chaos. You turn weeping into laughter. You turn sorrow into joy, and death into new life. You redeem all that appears lost, making all things new. And so we come to you in joy, resting from our work and responsibilities, trusting you to bring peace amid our anxiety and hope into these uncertain times. Receive our worship this day as we anticipate the difference your gifts will make to us through Christ, your Son and our Saviour…

(In unison) Generous and gracious God, we confess the smallness of our love and the narrowness of our concern. These days we easily become preoccupied with statistics and case numbers. Opportunities to say thanks, to offer encouragement, to remember each other in friendship slip by. Anxiety turns us inward and anger can make us lash out. Forgive us for neglecting the joy at the heart of the Advent season. Turn our hearts back to you, and inspire us with your love made flesh in Jesus Christ.

Response: I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s pardon

In Jesus Christ, we are a new creation. There is nothing we have done, nothing we could ever do, that can separate us from the love of God shown to us in Christ. Know that we are forgiven, and with this joyful truth, have the courage to forgive one another.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

Lord, our eyes are set upon You, as we continue to be aware of our need for your presence in the faith journey we are on. Lead us as our dear loving Parent. You know what is best for us. As we come before You, we ask for your loving hands to touch the ones who are in need of healing. You know each of them, even while we aren’t always aware of the finer details in the lives of every individual person. And now, God of wisdom, by the inspiration of your Spirit, open our hearts so that we may hear and understand your Word, speaking in the scriptures. Open our minds to your renewing grace, at work in Jesus Christ, your Living Word. Then open our eyes to see what you are doing in the world. Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time                    

Song: Hark the glad sound  

Hark the glad sound! The Saviour comes,
the Saviour promised long;
let every heart prepare a throne,
and every voice a song!

You come the prisoners to release
in Satan’s bondage held;
the gates of brass before you burst,
the iron fetters yield.

You come the broken heart to bind,
the wounded soul to cure,
to bring the treasures of God’s grace,
good tidings for the poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
your welcome shall proclaim,
and heaven’s eternal arches ring
with your most honoured name.

Words: Philip Doddridge, Music: Thomas Haweis, Arrangement: Samuel Webbe
Public domain, License #3095377. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Scripture readings:                       

Psalm 126:1-6 – Old Testament (Contemporary English Version)

L:      It seemed like a dream
when the LORD brought us back
to the city of Zion.
P:      We celebrated with laughter
         and joyful songs. 
L:      In foreign nations it was said,
P:      The LORD has worked miracles for us.”
L:      And so we celebrated
P:      because the LORD
         had indeed worked miracles for us.

L:      Our LORD, we ask you
to bless our people again,
P:      and let us be like streams
         in the Southern Desert.
L:      We cried as we went out to plant our seeds.
P:      Now let us celebrate
         as we bring in the crops.
L:      We cried on the way to plant our seeds,
P:      but we will celebrate
         and shout as we bring in the crops.

Luke 1:46b-55 – New Testament (The Message)

And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me,
and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me
will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy,
set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.

He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies,
piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham
and right up to now.

Response: My Lord, he is a comin’ soon

Message: “A different kind of joy”

There is nothing as powerful as real experience. If, for example, you’ve walked a few blocks in minus 40 degrees you know that you have to bundle up and do it rapidly and at the same time ensure that you don’t slip and fall. That’s real experience and someone from a warmer country won’t even get it when you try and explain it to them. They just say “brrrr” and make remarks that they wouldn’t even make it for a few minutes.

The people that were part of the experience of Psalm 126 had been in exile, they were taken captive and dragged as prisoners against their will to a foreign country. What they also experienced, was getting back to their original home country, back in the city of Zion. The writer of Psalm 126 was writing from first-hand experience. He and the people with him knew full-well what it’s like to be taken out of captivity, because God was faitful to them. They wanted to celebrate it and worship God for God’s amazing goodness.

They knew from first-hand experience that – even though everything wasn’t exactly the same afterwards – God had restored them to their former homeland that they had grown up in. They had celebrated with laughter and joyful songs. Their repeated refrain was over and over, the Lord had indeed worked miracles for us.

By the middle of the psalm it appears as if the fortune of the people has changed for the worse again. Things had slid backwards and the poet of the psalm says “Our Lord, we ask you to bless our people again. Why again?

I can only imagine that they knew from the past that when their circumstances had gone sideways, God still worked miracles for them and led them back to their place of origin. They knew exactly what it was like and had full trust in God to help them and see them through.

Yes, they were overwhelmed. Just like we too are overwhelmed. People in the stores aren’t exactly sure how to act, as the pandemic we are experiencing has just become too much.

Someone described this year as a year during which we have very little breath. It appears as if much of 2020 can be depicted as breathlessness. When you have a lack of oxygen, your patience runs out. People start arguing where previously they wouldn’t even consider arguing. A person loses hope and perspective and it becomes harder for folks to find new perspective and hope. Gladness and joy get eroded.

Jeremiah 48:33 describes such a situation, “Gladness and joy have been taken away from the fruitful land of Moab; I have stopped the wine from the wine presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy; the shouting is not the shout of joy.”

How do we experience joy again in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that has taken over our lives?

I wonder if we can’t learn from Psalm 126? “Let us be like streams in the Southern Desert. We cried as we went out to plant our seeds. Now let us celebrate as we bring in the crops. We cried on the way to plant our seeds, but we will celebrate and shout as we bring in the crops.”

This is maybe not our default setting at the moment. We tend to become despondent and our gladness and joy is worn out. We too, cried on the way to plant our seeds. How does the next exclamation go? Yes, it says boldly, “but we will celebrate and shout as we bring in the crops.”

We might not literally be sowing seeds and bringing in crops to celebrate about.

However, I think there’s a whole lot of hope to be found in this description. Let us approach this third week of Advent with newly found joy. It might not be the joy we are used to. It is indeed a different kind of joy.

New hope and profound joy originate from previous experience. It isn’t just a manufactured joy. It’s rather a joy that is born out of a solid trust in the Lord who was faithful and dependable in the past and the knowledge that this will indeed happen again in the future.

So when Mary sings “I’m bursting with God-news, I’m dancing the song of my Saviour God”, she sings with a similar trust and joy in the God who provided and will always provide even when we think all hope has dried up.

The gladness and joy in our hearts seem not to be a lost cause. They might be different, but in fact they are a joy born in spite of the lack of breath that 2020 has brought to us. It is a joy that the Leonard Cohen song sings about, “There are cracks, cracks in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Nobody is able to do the absolute perfect job in making life go on during this global pandemic. Here we are, not being able to physically visit with so many loved ones. But does that have to steal our joy? Absolutely not!

Our joy can continue, because we know that God will be faithful and the same God who chose and favoured Mary to conceive a Son, came as a flesh-and-blood baby who would bring the ultimate hope which is the source of so much joy! Let’s allow the Holy Spirit of God to fill us with this different kind of joy! Amen

Song: There’s a voice in the wilderness     

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, that bringest good tidings,
go up to the heights and sing!
Proclaim to a desolate people
the coming of their King.
Like the flowers of the field they perish,
like grass our works decay,
the power and pomp of nations
shall pass like a dream away,

but the word of our God is steadfast;
the arm of the Lord is strong;
God stands in the midst of nations,
and soon will right the wrong.
God shall feed the flock like a shepherd,
the lambs will gently hold,
to pastures of peace will lead them,
and bring them safe to the fold.

Words: James Milligan and copyright public domain
Music: Henry Bancroft © the estate of Henry Bancroft
License #A735555​. All rights reserved, Permission
to stream the music in this service obtained from

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Come, Christ Jesus, be our guide and show us the way to wisdom and gratitude. We are thankful for the kindness we know in friends and good neighbours, in warm houses and warm smiles, which hold off the darkness and fear for the future. Encourage us to reach out to those who need your embrace and ours…so that together we may sing of your presence:Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel. Amen

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving

Song: Once in royal David’s city        

Once in royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed: Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ her little child.

Christ came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all, sheltered by a humble stable, cradled in a cattle stall: with the poor, oppressed and lowly, lived on earth our Saviour holy,

and our eyes at last shall see him, through his own redeeming love, for that child so dear and gentle is our Lord in heaven above, and he leads his children on to the place where he is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable, with the oxen standing by, we shall see him, but in heaven,

set at God’s right hand on high; there God’s children gather round, bright like stars, with glory crowned.

Words: Cecil Alexander; public domain
Music: Henry Gauntlett,
Harmony A H Mann © Novelle & Co. Ltd.
License #3095377. All rights reserved.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Sending out with God’s blessing

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Amen

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude

3rd Sunday of Advent

10:00 am December 13, 2020

led by: Rev. Heinrich Grosskopf

Elder: Sam Malayang

children’s time: Lynn Vaughan

vocalist: Linda Farrah Basford

Copyright 2020 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church
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