And we shall rejoice indeed this Sunday celebrating the 250th Anniversary of our worshipping in the Historic Church! And what better day to do this than on the day the Church calls Gaudete Sunday. The Third Sunday of Advent is known for joy and rejoicing and hence the Latin word gaudete which means rejoice. Setting this Sunday apart from the other Sundays of Advent, the candle on the Advent Wreath is pink (actually rose), which is one of the colors for particular Sundays when rejoicing was important. Some parishes use rose vestments and hangings.
The New Testament Reading for the Third Sunday of Advent in the ancient church lectionary/calendar of readings is Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (This is now the New Testament Reading for Advent 3, Year C on the 3-year cycle).
This Sunday is a day for rejoicing as we move closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. The candle is also called The Shepherds’ Candle, because of the joy they found greeting the Christ Child in the stable at Bethlehem after the angels announced tidings of great joy. In former times, Advent was also a season of penitence (which it is not so much now as one of hope, wonder, waiting, and expectation), and Gaudete Sunday was a day to rejoice that Advent was halfway over!
The Falls Church Episcopal is a joyful community of God’s people, not only on this 3rd Sunday of Advent, but always…taking to heart Paul’s advice to the Church at Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord always.” There is so much joy and love known and celebrated here. We see it on each other’s faces when we gather at the Eucharist; we see it in our numerous children when they assemble for and return from Children’s Chapel; we see it and feel it at the Peace and at Coffee Hour! And we will see it and know it anew this Sunday when over 350 of us gather to celebrate God’s life in Christ we have received from and known through this place of worship and mission for over 250 years.
We are a people of joy and rejoicing. Our gentleness and kindness is known near and far. We are a people who give thanks and make prayers and do not worry and fret. Here, if anywhere, the peace of Christ guards our hearts and minds. And so, we not only celebrate a faithful past, we look forward to and celebrate a bright future of what God will yet do. And on this Sunday, today, now, let us rejoice! Thanks be to God.