This Sunday is historically called “Gaudete” Sunday because it is the third week in Advent, the week that everyone got to take a break from fasting. As Presbyterians, we don’t really do the whole fasting and penitence thing, at least not in the traditional sense. So why do we still call the third candle “Joy”?
Well, we are preparing ourselves for God’s good news of great joy for all people that comes at Christmas. The arrival of the Christ-child who turns the world upside down and right-side up. A change that means peace, hope, and love for a world that is so desperately in need of it.
As we are in Advent, we need to remember that we are not only looking for the star of Bethlehem, but also the return of Christ that is still to come. Though our world likes to focus on the little baby in the manger, we do know who that child was, is, and ever shall be. And we know the kingdom of God that his death and resurrection brought into being. It is already here even if not yet fulfilled.
The kingdom in our midst is a bit like waiting for a letter to arrive. If you have ever had a family member or friends in the military, or served in the military yourself, you know that the time it takes to get letters from here to yonder can take weeks, sometimes even months. And there are times when modern technology cannot give you the respite you seek in connecting you with those you love. You know they are out there, but they are just beyond your reach. But oh that moment when that letter does find its way into your hands. That glimmer of hope, peace, love, and, yes, joy. For one small sliver of time, you know all is as it should be.
That is like the kingdom we are waiting for. The one we are working for. Patiently. Compassionately. With determination. Because when we find it, oh the joy it brings.
And that is what we celebrate on this, the third Sunday of Advent. So come and worship as we continue on the journey of welcoming God’s love into the world, with open arms, and into our hearts.
Blessings, Pastor Janie