The third week of Advent marks a shift away from the solemn tone of the previous two weeks, which focus on hope and reflective preparation, to an atmosphere of joyful anticipation and expectancy. During this week we are reminded that the Christmas message is one of rejoicing, that the message of the angels to the shepherds was one of “good tidings of great joy.” In fact, the traditional name for the third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “Rejoice!”
This week, read and reflect on this passage from the gospel of Luke 1:46-45
Advent reminds us that our deepest joy is grounded in God's saving acts of self-giving love. Advent reminds us that God’s love for us is so grand, so deep, so all-consuming that he could not leave creation as it was and went to the greatest lengths to make things right again, to establish a Kingdom of justice and shalom. Advent reminds us that like a great composer writing her masterpiece or a brilliant poet writing his defining work, God wrote us the greatest letter of love in the skin and bones of Jesus his Son. Advent reminds us that fear and anxiety have given way to a deep, unspeakable joy. It is the joy of knowing all creation is waiting in expectation for when the great love story will be finished, for Christ to come again and write the final chapter of a new creation where heaven and earth are united as God always intended.
Sometime on Sunday, prayerfully light a candle to mark the beginning of your week. We light a candle in celebration of God’s restoration—past and yet to come—knowing we can rejoice because the Lord is near.
This week you may wish to watch a funny movie with family or friends. Be sure it’s a “laugh-out-loud” sort of movie. Enjoy the gift of JOY together. Remember that we have received good news of great joy.
As you dwell on this week's theme, consider listening to some music appropriate to the Advent season. Some of my favorite Advent albums are from Future of Forestry, The Brilliance, Page CXVI, Elizabeth Hunnicutt, Sojourn, Young Oceans, and Kings Kaleidoscope. This week, I'll be listening to the songs "Joy to the World" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" in particular as I think about this good news of great joy.
An Advent Prayer:
Gracious and generous God, you are the bringer of all joy. You strengthen what is weak; you enrich the poor and give hope to those who live in fear. Look upon our needs today. Make us grateful for the good news of salvation and keep us faithful in your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives forever. Amen.