Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
It’s the third Sunday in Advent. Some call it ‘Gaudete Sunday’; the Latin Gregorian chant that used to be sung on this Sunday started: ‘Gaudete in Domino semper…’ St Paul’s words: ‘Rejoice in the Lord…’
The third advent candle in many churches is pink, signifying joy. Historically it was a day when Christians would leave their sombre advent reflections and disciplines and celebrate.
I joined a group of local Ukrainians yesterday singing their national songs and carols; I think of friends who are sad, despairing, depressed, fearful, anxious… We live in a sad world that needs joy.
Sometimes we wait and hope that joy will come. Gaudete Sunday is about deliberately, intentionally, actively seeking joy – thinking positive thoughts, talking about good things life, smiling at giggling children, doing a random act of kindness.
Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
The Christmas story tells of shepherds hearing angels saying: ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy…’ wise men who ‘when they saw the star they were overjoyed.’
For some churches today the lectionary reading is Isaiah 35; Israelites’ are returning after exile, through the wilderness, to their promised land.
‘Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy…
… They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.’
The people’s trials aren’t over, but during their suffering they can seek and discover joy.
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love