This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent. The theme is Joy. It is also known as “Gaudete” Sunday and the color is Pink or Rose.
The season of Advent originated as a fast of 40 days in preparation for Christmas, so it had a penitential character, one of expectation and preparation for the feast of Christmas as well as the second coming of Christ. Gaudete Sunday was introduced as a time of joy in the middle of fasting and solemnity. In 2014, Pope Francis said that Gaudete is known as the “Sunday of Joy”, and instead of fretting about “all they still haven’t done to prepare for Christmas, people should think of all the good things life has given you.” This is especially true of the year 2020.
During this pandemic that has literally changed of our lives in such incalculable ways, as people of faith there is still much for which we have joy. That is the idea behind “Gaudete Sunday.” We are not to be waiting for joy; but rather experiencing joy in spirit of our circumstances.
We see this in each of the assigned sacred texts for this Gaudete Sunday. In Isaiah 61, the prophets say of God’s people, “They will be called oaks of righteousness…” whereas we should be as steadfast in our joy as an oak with deep roots in the soil; for our joy is to be found in the Lord, not in our circumstances. Think of being a teenage peasant girl in Palestine 2000 years ago who gets the message she is going to miraculously get pregnant by God. Really? Yet, Mary responds, “My soul rejoices in God my Savior.”
The message is clear: We are NOT to wait and have joy after the pandemic or at Christmas. God intends of us to have “Joy while waiting in Advent,” 2020.
Join us at Covenant for worship this Sunday by Zoom or Facebook livestream. My sermon will be “Joy While Waiting in Advent” based on Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11, and Luke 1:46b-55.