Historically, we don’t know a whole lot about how Advent was observed. We do know that it is an ancient practice. In the very early church the Advent season was about eight weeks long and it was preparation for people joining the church on Epiphany, January 6.
In modern practice, Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas and traditionally the themes are Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. The Sunday of Joy is the only surviving Advent tradition from the early church. Originally it was called “Gaudete Sunday” meaning “Rejoice Sunday.”
This Sunday is marked by the pink candle in the Advent wreath and reminds us that soon we will experience the joy of God breaking into the world once more. Up until this point we have been more about reflecting on hope and peace in internal, spiritual ways. This will change this week.
As we move from Hope and Peace into Joy, we begin to cultivate a kind of joyful anticipation. We invite the Spirit to open us to the ways in which God has already come into the world, and the ways in which God will continue to come into the world. We celebrate the fact that God is with us and is always coming to us in unexpected ways.
As we prepare for Joy Sunday, we must remember that joy and happiness aren’t quite the same. Joy goes deeper, and is much more likely to endure through all things. Joy is most often experienced when we have a sense of our connection, our relationship with the Holy. Where do you experience the Holy in your life? How might you celebrate that in the coming week?
We are nearly halfway through our Advent journey to Bethlehem. There is time to join in if you haven’t quite found Hope or Peace. Joy is waiting for all of us to enter in and celebrate God’s presence and the promise of that continued presence. We are not alone. Through the joy of Christ’s love for humanity we are connected one to another. This is worthy of celebration.
How might you share your joy?
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