December 15, 2019: Rejoice in the Lord

Third Sunday of Advent

The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “rejoice.” On this day many liturgical church services begin with the following words: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” It is indeed a day of joy as reflected in the readings of the day, most beautifully expressed in Isaiah and the psalm.

Advent is a time of expectation and hope but also a time of serious self-reflection and penitence. On this day of joy, however, all is light and singing. Even the earth itself and all creation take part; and the prophet tells us that all sickness, disease, and maladies of all sorts will be no more. To read the psalm is to experience liberation and a sense of floating on God’s promises.

How we long for what the prophet Isaiah and the poet psalmist offer in these Scriptures; and we can have it if we live in God’s written word and the Word made flesh. Even in the worst of times we can find solace and feel and express joy that is more than happiness; something deeper, eternal, life-giving. Out of that fountain of grace, we are propelled forward into action by the words of one of the hymns in our Book of Worship:

The church of Christ, in every age

beset by change, but Spirit led,

must claim and test its heritage

and keep on rising from the dead.*

Advent joy. Advent hope. Advent expectation. Advent action. O come, O come, Immanuel.

Judith Justice, retired pastor
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

*Fred Pratt Green, © Hope Publishing Co., used by permission.