Advent 3: Joy


The traditional theme of the third week of Advent is joy.

Some Churches have traditions relating to this week. In some traditions, the third candle in the advent ring is coloured pink, and clergy wear rose coloured robes. Historically, the colour pink has been symbolic of joy.

I learned this year that the third Sunday of advent is sometimes called Gaudete Sunday. The introit for the Catholic mass is “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete”. This is a Latin translation of Philipians 4:4.  ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’.  The word ‘rejoice’ is interesting. We don’t often use it in modern English, and I want us to reflect on what it really means. Of course it is an exhortation to be joyful. Be filled with joy. Experience joy.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). This joy is not the excited, enthusiastic kind of emotion we might feel when our favourite football team scores a goal. Something different is going on here.

The Greek word is ‘chairete’ (Χαίρετε). It’s another one of those words which doesn’t translate easily into English. The meaning is far deeper than just being excited about something. It is a deep, strong emotion of gladness. It has a strong, spiritual element. It is the emotion we are to feel as we look forward to the reward which awaits us in Heaven (Matthew 5:18). It is the joy which we are to feel that our names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20).

Advent is about anticipation of the arrival of the Messiah. The joy of advent is a deep, heartfelt emotion. It is the joy of anticipation. Anticipation of something so indescribably special that it defies description.

Yes, Christ has died. But of course, Christ is risen. So rejoice. Be joyful. Christ will come again.

Advent 1: Hope

Advent 2: Peace

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