Advent Joy. We need to know what it is, because we are about to get some!
This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. The day takes its name from the Latin word “gaudete” which means “rejoice.” While Advent focuses on the coming of Jesus in three ways—his first, his present, and his final advent—the third Sunday of Advent always has a special emphasis on Christian joy.
There is an important difference between joy and happiness. Henri Nouwen, a theologian and prolific writer, notes that happiness is dependent on external conditions, but joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing—sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death—can take that love away.” So we can celebrate the wonderful reality in which we live each and every day: Joy can be present even in the midst of pain and sadness.
One of the key markers for the Third Sunday of Advent is that the color of the candle on the Advent wreath changes. You will notice this Sunday that two purple candles will be lit (representing the first two Sundays of Advent) as well as a lone pink candle. This pink candle is a special way we remind ourselves of the joy we find in our Lord.
I find it wonderfully fitting that our annual Christmas Cantata falls this year on the joyful Third Sunday of Advent. Music is a great gift of God that brings an immense amount of joy to our lives. Remember that we will have ONE Service this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Make sure you are present to receive this wonderful gift, complete with orchestra, from our choir. Is there a friend you might bring along to share the light and joy of this season?
And also this: We will have another ONE Service on the morning of Sunday, December 24 @ 10:30 a.m. This time we will worship in the CLC, and the Embrace Band will play some of our favorite Christmas songs. That evening we will have our normal Christmas Eve services—4 and 6 p.m. in the sanctuary.
This is a season of joy. My deepest prayer is that our worship offerings over the next two weeks will lead us all into a deeper sense of God’s amazing love. See you in worship!