On the third Sunday of advent, we celebrate the joy of the coming Savior. This is Gaudete Sunday - Gaudete in Domino semper; Rejoice in the Lord Always. The exceeding great joy of knowing that you are unconditionally loved by the Father and that nothing - not sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death - can take that love away.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob."
Phillipians 4:4-6; Psalm 85:1
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
I love this last one, especially as overjoyed seems to undersell it. Older translations put that the magi rejoiced "with exceeding great joy." These were scholars who travelled far and brought expensive gifts simply to worship at the new Messiah. These magi even told the priests and the scribes, the very people who had been longing for a Messiah, that the signs were in the heavens. The scribes and priests even pointed the magi in the right direction of Bethlehem, but were not interested enough to go and see what might be going on. Because the magi continued onward, their joy was fulfilled. And they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
May this be a Sunday of exceeding great joy for you and yours and may the joy of this season carry you forward in your days to come.
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