A reflection by Christina Brennan Lee for December 11, 2022.
We’re at the Third Sunday of Advent already!
We light the third candle in the Advent Wreath as our anticipation and expectation of the birth of Jesus accelerates. However, there’s a notable change. This week, instead of a penitential purple candle or a blue candle of hope, some Traditions use a rose colored (or pink) candle and perhaps even rose vestments and altar hangings.
Why change color in the middle of the season? Advent has traditionally been a penitential season, as is Lent, with somber readings and admonishments to fast and pray to be ready and worthy for Christ’s coming. Yet, historically, the Latin name for this Sunday is Gaudete (gow-day-tay), which translates as “REJOICE!”
We hear the Joy, the Rejoicing, the Hope and the excitement in the readings. We’ll be ransomed from sorrow and sadness, lifted up, healed, beloved, and blessed. When our God in Christ comes, we will walk on the Holy Way, safe from the lions and ravenous beasts, some of which, today, are mostly cultural; that is, getting caught up in the secular advent/coming of celebration with gifts, food, and glittering decorations.
Within a penitential season, on this Sunday, the rose color was and is a symbol of a respite in the midst of serious repentance. (There is, apparently, no truth to the rumor that the rose candle indicates that Mary was secretly hoping for a girl!)
With the Revised Common Lectionary and newer scholarship, there has been more of an emphasis placed on remembering the Joy that is to come – which isn’t to say we should not also be prayerful or repentant as we wait.
Just as a New Year’s Resolution starts well and means well, Advent, the beginning of a new Church year, is the opportunity to be intentional about preparing for and renewing our commitment to Jesus as our Savior. Each season of the Liturgical Year is designed to help us to remember, continuously renew, and re-commit ourselves to our faith and to Christ.
Let our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord and may our spirits rejoice.
There’s still time for shopping, decorating, and hanging the stockings with care, but let us intentionally stop often, breathe deeply, and experience JOY for the coming of our Savior, the true and obvious reason for the season.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services and serves on the SsAM Vestry. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.