In unsurprising news if you follow this blog…it’s the 3rd Sunday of Advent! Unlike the previous two Sundays, we will light a pink candle instead of a purple one this morning. It is “lighter and brighter” as you might say and represents the joy of the season.
It is Gaudete Sunday, when we are called to rejoice.
I have many things that make me rejoice. Like when the internet servers AND my EMR system at work are running smoothly at the same time. (Can I get an amen!) Or when Amazon packages arrive on my porch filled with paper towels or toilet paper just in the nick of time saving me a trip to the store. Some of my best rejoicing comes when I get to take a long nap or eat ice cream after the kids are in bed or the Pastor has started my car and warmed it up for me on the coldest of days. Oh, and shoes. There is much rejoicing over new shoes in my house.
But the original meaning of the word rejoice was to “cause joy to.” I was struck so deeply by this. It is a radical transformation of what our first thought is when we hear the word rejoice. Creating joy for others. To spread joy as far and as wide as humanly possible. To see the sorrow around us and do something to make the world more joyful. Honestly, I don’t think it would be that difficult.
What if, every time we thought of being generous, we were more than generous. What if, every time we thought of saying a kind word, we said that kind word and a dozen more. And beyond that, what if we tried, in just a few ways each day, to be as gracious and merciful to others as we expect for ourselves. Imagine the joy created if we managed to just give away from ourselves once a day. Once. I believe we are content to stay safely in the confines of what makes us happy. To make someone else happy is a risk. The Pastor and I like to talk about the “myth of scarcity.” Living our lives believing there isn’t enough to go around. We must choose to live in the kingdom of abundance. Where there is not only enough for us, but more than enough for everyone around us. Enough recognition to honor not just ourselves but the people who work with us. Enough food not just to feed our family but to fill the bellies of a family in need. Enough money to meet our needs as well as the needs, wishes and wants of someone else we know. Enough grace to extend it to your enemies as you extend it to yourself on your worst day. This is rejoicing.
As I see that pink candle glowing this morning I am challenged to live a life that brings joy to those around me. And I don’t just mean my family and friends. Bringing joy to my kids is wonderful, but bringing joy to a dark world is remarkable. I am struck by the words of Richard Rohr in his Advent devotional “Preparing for Christmas.” He writes “The darkness will never go away…we have to surrender to the fact that the darkness has always been here and the only real question is how to receive the light and spread the light.” Let us move out of a passive season of advent into one where we see that bright light of the pink candle as a call to make the world rejoice. Spread joy my friends. There is enough to go around.