Happy third week of Advent! This Sunday is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for "rejoice" — in the depth of winter and the long days of Advent, we get a small inbreaking of light, a brief infusion of joy. The deep purple of the Advent candles gives way, for just a week, to the visibly lightened pink. And all our readings speak of a lasting joy, even in the midst of tears.
Joy may seem incompatible with a season of waiting. But actually, at its core, joy is always about waiting. C.S. Lewis writes: "All joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still about to be." Elsewhere, he writes that joy "emphasizes our pilgrim status."
Joy is an awakening, a longing, a pilgrimage toward something still yet to be. And so we light our pink candle in the middle of Advent to illumine our pilgrimage toward the joy that will be revealed at Christ's coming.
Last month, when our new vestry met for a full day of prayer and discussion, someone used the phrase "joyful gentleness" to describe the atmosphere of our Sunday worship. We prayed with that phrase — may it be so!
One aspect of our joyful gentleness is our very inclusive choir, affectionately dubbed the All Y'all Chorus. They will lead us in worship this Sunday. This will be the largest and most age-diverse choir we've ever assembled — I'm not exactly sure whether there will be more people in the choir or in the congregation! What a fitting expression of our shared joy. I can't wait.
As we enter this third week of Advent and these long and dark days of winter, I am praying that we would experience the joy of the Lord as true strength. It's a gift to be your pastor, and I'm praying for you all.