3rd Sunday of Advent

The Joy Candle

Zephaniah 3:14-20

14 Rejoice, Daughter Zion! Shout, Israel!
        Rejoice and exult with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem.
15 The Lord has removed your judgment;
        he has turned away your enemy.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;
        you will no longer fear evil.
16 On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem:
        Don’t fear, Zion.
        Don’t let your hands fall.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst—a warrior bringing victory.
        He will create calm with his love;
        he will rejoice over you with singing.

18   I will remove from you those worried about the appointed feasts.
        They have been a burden for her, a reproach.
19 Watch what I am about to do to all your oppressors at that time.
        I will deliver the lame;
        I will gather the outcast.
        I will change their shame into praise and fame throughout the earth.
20 At that time, I will bring all of you back,
        at the time when I gather you.
        I will give you fame and praise among all the neighboring peoples
            when I restore your possessions and you can see them—says the Lord.

Reflection

Many times, when people are going up to light the advent wreathes, they will ask the pastor, “which candle do I light?”  They reason for this question seems to be the rose candle     and few people remember when to light it.  The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday to represent the joy of the season.  Sometimes we have difficulty grasping this concept because in our celebrations of Advent is all about joy through its association with Christmas, which is a time of joy.  However, in some cultures Advent has been a more solemn and contemplative time, focused on the not yet fulfilled promises of God, and prayer for God to accomplish those promises.  This type of worship often does not lend itself to joy.  Recognizing this Christians began to designate the third Sunday in Advent to remember the joy of God’s promises including the nativity of Jesus.  As a visual reminder, the color of this candle is rose colored instead of blue or purple so that our joy does not get lost while we work through Advent.  As Advent and Christmas have been merged into one season, we have lost some of the meaning of the joy candle.  It reminds us, in the midst of the sober reality that accompanies our lives, God provides us with joy.

Today there are many for whom this season is a sad reminder of family long gone or present sorrow and struggles.  The joy candle should be a gentle reminder that God brings joy and even if this season is somewhat bitter and cold God still provides an excuse for joy.  Joy is not being jovial or festive; it is a deeper feeling that may only manifest itself in a warm smile or bright eyes, but joy does comfort.  Those who are festive this time of year should stop and consider, “am I celebrating the joy of God or am I simply in a good humor.”  The difference is joy comes through an encounter with God and God’s love, which is beyond a warm and festive mood.

Wondrous God, you have provided an opportunity for me to encounter your immense joy, I pray that I would respond to your gift and truly celebrate in the joy of the season and through this find You, in the name of your Blessed Son, Jesus.  Amen.

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