Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
– Book of Common Prayer, 1979
Yesterday was the Third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is the Latin translation for the word “rejoice” or “joy.” The color used to symbolize this theme is rose and the scriptural references pertain to the joy or rejoicing of the coming of the Lord.
This past Gaudete Sunday, I preached at a congregational church in my neighborhood. It was a surreal experience. The day before, I served on the Interim Pastor’s Ordination Council, who is a Baptist. This particular church is a beacon in my community. As a kid, I would go there and receive bread. I would from time to time shop at their thrift store. Being born into poverty, one appreciates the generosity and love of a community oriented church. If one were to ask 7 year-old JM if he would be preaching at that church, he would have been horrified at the idea.
It was difficult preaching to this congregation knowing that there are people who are not joyful because of the life circumstances they are in. It’s difficult knowing that during this Advent and Christmastide, there are people (inside and outside of this congregation) whose dinner tables and living rooms will be missing people who were there in 2015. It’s sad knowing that some people will not have a dinner table or a living room due to events in 2016.
Advent and Christmastide are to be joyous events. We are anticipating the arrival of the Christ child. However, it has been overshadowed by commercialism, selfish ambition and greed. It is my prayer that we can return to the true meaning of Advent. That we reflect on our lives, and the coming of the Lord. Perhaps if we do that, we can save ourselves from missing the true meaning of Christmas or the Mass of Christ.
– Fr. JMH