During the third Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Joy. And this year is no different even though we will be meeting virtually – one of the families of St. John will lead us in lighting a candle, the reading of scripture and prayer.
Traditionally (although not with my Advent wreath in my basement), the color of the candles used on the Advent wreath are symbolic. There are three purple (or blue) candles, a pink (or rose) candle and a white candle. The white one in the center is the Christ candle and we will come to light that on Christmas Eve. But why is there a pink candle?
Advent is a time of year whereby we, as Christians, spend time in preparation; a time of reflecting on the birth of Christ and looking to his coming again as we concentrate on reminding ourselves of the real meaning of Christmas. As a season, Advent is what we would call penitential – that is concentrating on our need to repent and believe the good news – to confess our sins and to be reminded of God’s love and forgiveness.
Having spent time over the past few weeks reflecting on themes of hope and love, before we move onto look at peace, we find ourselves at a halfway break from that mindset with an injection, a reminder, of what it is that Christ brings to our lives. This is why the third candle of Advent is pink – it is the liturgical color for rejoicing
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
The JOY we have is beyond expression. It is so immense that it can often leave us speechless. It is not simply, as wider society defines it – a sense of happiness, but far deeper, and more intricate than this. It is a permanent possession, not a fleeting feeling.
In knowing Jesus, you know joy. It is part and parcel of the covenant identity of a child of God. There are so many references in scripture that emphasizes this, with no better place to turn than the Psalms. If you want to dig into this more, then a Bible study on joy is a great place to start.
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.” (Psalm 5:11)
“You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
“Let those who desire my vindication shout for joy and be glad, and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant.”” (Psalm 35:27)
Joy is a gift from God – and those of you that know him will know joy. It is, as I wrote above, a permanent possession. And so, as we continue in this Advent season my prayer for you is that of Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”