Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Philippians 4:4-5

Ah! This Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, we get to light that pink candle! The third Sunday of Advent is also Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice.” This Sunday calls us to recognize the joyful anticipation of the season that climaxes with the birth of Christ on Christmas day. The rose or pink color is a brightening of the blue or purple and symbolizes joy.

Advent slows us down from the secular race against Christmas perfection and social expectations from the influence of “must have” needs suggested by retailers and Madison Avenue advertising. Advent calls us to take a deep breath and say to ourselves: “Not yet.” There is preparation, but not the preparation that the secular world has us believe is necessary. Our preparation is to anticipate the coming of the Savior of the World. The Christ. God incarnate in human form from a virgin birth that defies all logic. This preparation allows us to remove the scales from our eyes and see God’s ultimate desire for His Kingdom of peace on earth as it is in Heaven. It is difficult to embrace this if we are overly preoccupied with worrying about whether the house is decorated sufficiently to impress the dinner guests, worrying about burning the bread, worrying that everyone is happy with their presents, or the stress of making it perfect! All of this is encompassed in a cultural blindness to the fact that the best Christmas gift is the birth of Jesus. 

Let’s embrace this gift of Advent to serve as a signal to slow down. To take a deep breath. To marvel in the mystery of the birth of our Savior. To anticipate our reconciliation into God’s kingdom with the return of the Lord. Let this be our opportunity to minister to those less fortunate, not with a token financial contribution, but active engagement with them in giving of our time and attention to their dignity and humanity. We can’t fix every problem, but we can help set into motion the restoring of people’s self-worth and significance as a child of God. It can also be something that seems small to us, but large to those in need. We still need Christmas gift bags to distribute to our friends at Accordius. All are also welcome to help us deliver the bags to the residents. I promise that you will find a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas. And a word of warning: It may be habit forming! I know it will be transformative. Let’s take to heart the Lord’s Prayer to realize “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN”. 

REJOICE! Enjoy the season – Advent and Christmas. Let’s really put Christ back into Christmas. But more importantly, let’s invite and welcome Christ in us! 

Amen, Alleluia! Alleluia!

Tom Lowe