The third Sunday of Advent has special traditions attached to it. It has its own name, traditionally called “Gaudete Sunday,” a version of the Latin term for “rejoice.” It also has its own candle color, usually pink. The other three advent candles are traditionally purple, the royal color, but Gaudete Sunday’s candle may be rosy pink to celebrate joy.
When the messenger angel appeared to the shepherds outside the village of Bethlehem, the first words spoken were:
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Good news! Great joy! All the people! That includes us!
And what was this good news? The sheep herders were told that a baby had just been born in their village, and that this was Christ the Lord. I would imagine it took awhile for this message to register with them.
Baby? Well, that’s cool. My wife will like that, she loves babies. I must tell her when my shift ends, but she probably already knows through the village grapevine. There’s going to be a proud poppa there, maybe passing out cigars. Christ? That rings a bell in the depths of my brain. In synagogue, I’ve heard Scripture read about a coming one, an anointed one sent from God to deliver Israel. Well, it’s the right place, because King David was born in Bethlehem a thousand years ago. The Lord? Not quite sure what to make of that. We usually reserve that language for God, or maybe for a king. Can’t imagine God being a baby. And we haven’t had a king in Israel for a long time, not a real king. There’s that creep in Jerusalem who calls himself “king,” that old reprobate named Herod. He throws his weight around like a king, but I will never willingly bow the knee to that old fool. He isn’t even a real Jew, no more my king than the Roman Emperor, Augustus. But wait! Maybe this baby is the coming king those prophets promised. Could it be? This is incredible, too much for me. But angels! Lots of angels! Bright shining angels! Celebrating, worshiping angels! Hey guys, let’s go to Bethlehem and see for ourselves. Don’t worry about the sheep right now. If God wants us to go see this new baby, he will watch over the lambs. Come on, let’s go! I have a great feeling about this, like a fountain of joy welling up from my soul. I’m getting excited. Let’s go right now.
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Pope John Paul II once wrote, “God made us for joy.” As we come to this, the Sunday of Joy, may our hearts be filled with joy that only comes from God. May our lives be impacted again by that great line from Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” He has come, and the world is changed forever. May we rejoice!
Nebraska Christian College