Friday, 13 December 2013

Rejoice in the Lord always....

The 3rd Sunday of Advent
Year A
Philippians 4:4-6                                                                                        


"Rejoice in The Lord always.  
Again, I say, rejoice."

This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday and the candle in the Advent wreath will be pink instead of the usual purple.  So why?

Advent and Lent are easily mixed up.  In both seasons there are serious reflections about the path humanity is taken and the need to return to the straight and narrow.  Lent (in the period leading up to Easter) is more strictly a penitential season where Advent (leading up to Christmas) the emphasis is placed more on expectation and anticipation rather than sorrow and regret. 

Instead of ruminating about our shortcomings we are asked pointedly about our hopes.

The traditional Introit sung at the beginning of the service of Holy Communion in churches across the ages took as its text the words of St Paul in Philippians 4:4

Gaudete in Domino semper:  iterum dico, Gaudete

Rejoice in The Lord always:  Again, I say rejoice!    

The future is an unknown terrain.  It contains all the necessary transformations which might spell trouble for us -  loss, change and uncertainty.  But it contains everything which could be the making of us as well.  How we look at the future is important and Paul in Philippians 4:4-6 prescribes rejoicing as the proper stance.  Rejoice!  Rejoice that God is in that future, and that love is there as well - community, friendship and new projects.

This Sunday we are saying goodbye to three of our key parishioners - David, Kathy and Sara - all of whom have been important members of our parish and our community of friends.  We feel and will continue to feel their loss.  They, themselves, have no certain knowledge of what awaits them but we have more than enough reason to suspect that in their future too, God will be there and love as well - community, friendship and new projects.

The same congregation which will witness the departure of these old friends with our blessings will include families who are only now beginning to find their way among us as a Christian family.  We still confuse their children's names after many weeks.  The shoes that David, Kathy and Sara leave behind them will, in time, be amply filled by others. 

The candle is pink because the future which is dawning is good. 

Rejoice!  God will take care of us.