This Sunday the rose-pink candle of JOY will be lit on our Advent wreath by Lorrie and Isabella LeGrand. This third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. This day takes its name from the Latin word Gaudete “Rejoice”, the first word of the Gregorian chant introit of the Roman Catholic Mass used on this day.
This introit may be translated from the Latin as: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.” (Philippians 4:4-6, Psalm 84:1-2)
This kind of rejoicing has as its object God and is a spiritual joy. It is a filling of our soul with joy that is in itself worship. We hear this rejoicing in the words and music of Handel’s Messiah masterpiece which is performed at this time of the year. JOY and REJOICING go together, for joy comes from God. When we recognize that God is the source of all the joy we experience in our human lives, we are moved to praise God to praise God for the gift of JOY.
We may feel that it’s hard to rejoice this year as our hearts break at news reports of death and destruction in Gaza in retaliation for Hamas attack on Israel. The humanitarian crisis there affecting so many civilians who are trapped in Gazais beyond horrific. We may feel it’s hard to rejoice as the war in Ukraine caused by Russia’s aggression continues on. We may feel its hard to rejoice for so many reasons—personal health concern, grief over the passing of a loved one, family worries, financial challenges… I could go on and on!
I don’t think it’s hard to understand why many people get depressed over the holidays. Our challenge, and our privilege, is to focus on what we can do to make a positive difference, and to bring joy to others.
Follow through with the UCC’s action items listed in our e-blast. Donate to “Middle East Support”, give to CCC’s Outreach programs, help demonstrate love, peace, hope, and joy in any opportunity you have to interact with others. I believe you will find joy in doing what is God’s work.
I pray that each of you have much joy as you praise God for the beauty and meaning of this Advent season, as we wait once again for the One who is coming, has come, and will come again to make all things right, Jesus the Christ. Rejoice in God always!
In Christ’s joy and love.
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