Third Sunday of Advent
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
Rejoice! Rejoice! Do you rejoice in the Lord always?
Do you rejoice when everything in our society moves us to do more, to be more, and to spread our energies thinner and thinner? Do you get caught up in ‘what needs to be done’ to keep your household running, and your family fed and your deadlines met? Do you forget to let joy overtake you?
Sometimes I feel so burdened by the weight of my responsibility, by my obligations and my commitments that I forget to be joyful. I forget, when it’s time to go to work, to meetings, and to classes, that there is strength in my God that I can call on when I feel run down and tired. I forget to be grateful for the work that I can do. I forget to be grateful that I am capable of listening, hearing, and taking action. I forget to be grateful that I am one of the few in the world who have access to higher education. I forget to be grateful and I forget to rejoice.
But on this third Sunday of Advent, joy is what we have been called to remember. We have much for which to feel joy! Our God is one who has been with us, guiding us, instructing us, leading us, since our beginning. Our God is a merciful God. Our God has made us able so that we “might serve him without fear,” forgiven for sin. We should rejoice in all conditions, for the work that God has done and the work that God has yet to do. For the gift of salvation through Christ, and for the anticipation of Christ’s coming again, we should rejoice!
Amidst the hustle and bustle of life, and the pressures of this season, take a moment and a breath to let joy take over. For “78by the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And that is a promise full of joy!