Today we are celebrating the third week in Advent. This week may also be known as "Gaudete" Sunday, which is Latin for "rejoice". We first lit the candle of Hope, signifying the hope of the patriarchs of old as they anticipated the coming of the Savior, and also the hope that we hold onto today that Christ will come again. We then lit the candle of Peace, as a prayer that we might allow God's peace to rule in our hearts this season, putting aside personal differences to recognize the fullness of the celebration of Christmas morning. And today, we celebrate.
Today we will be lighting the candle of Joy.
Luke 2:8-14 says:In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christthe Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
As with Peace, Joy can be difficult to find amidst the distractions and struggles we face this time of year. But, the charge from Paul to us to "rejoice in the Lord always!" remains true. Because, despite those things that stand in our way or the things that we allow to block the light of God's glory in our lives, God has given us more than enough for which to be joyful. This week, let our focus remain on what we know to be true: That God sent His only Son for us. That He broke through heaven to experience a human birth and a human life. He did not come in a blazing light of glory. He chose instead a manger as His place to begin an earthly life and He chose shepherds to celebrate His arrival. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords chose poverty. Christmas morning is a miracle. And friends, THAT is our reason for joy.
Let us pray.
We praise you God for the things You have given us for which to be joyful. Open our eyes to Your truth and fill us with Your joy as we celebrate the birth of Your Son. And we pray the psalm that says, For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of your hands! You are holy and worthy to be praised. In Christ's name, Amen.