by Rev Don Schatz
Prepare to be Happy!
You can listen to today’s devotion by clicking on this SoundCloud link.
“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues with songs of joy.”
Psalm 126:1-2, New International Version
In the old way of naming the Sundays of the Year, today is ‘Gaudete’ (pronounced ‘GOW-deh-teh’) – Joy Sunday. It took its name from the first word (in Latin) of the Introit, or Entrance Psalm, for the day. On this day the anticipation of Christmas and the celebration of the Nativity spills out liturgically into the worship theme. Like children who can no longer contain their excitement over the growing mound of gifts under the tree, we celebrate in worship the ‘spilling-over joy’ building within us. The candle on the Advent Wreath today is rose colored, the liturgical color of joy in the Church.
In some older liturgical traditions, the organ was not played on Advent Sundays. On Gaudete, the organ was restored to worship. Altars would be decorated. Pastors might wear rose-colored vestments. In ear and eye, the Church would proclaim the heart’s joy.
The ancient Israelites pinched themselves, afraid they were dreaming. Have you ever had that experience? The Lord brought them home to Zion from decades of captivity. What joy!
Wherever today finds you, the Lord’s activity in Christ has brought you home as well. Home to his heart. Home to his family, the Church. Home to his Way. Home. The Lord has made your heart his Zion, and he has taken up residence there. He brings you home, and makes your heart his home all at once.
I hope you still grasp these truths and trust them. Immanuel, God With You, comes to you again today in the words of his Psalmist. Rejoice! Even if you find yourself in a moment (or season) of sadness, the Lord is with you! Joy! It does not ignore your reality, it lifts it and you to the Lord and he breathes again his Spirit of peace and, yes, of joy.
He also sends you into the world as evidence of His Joy! Your presence will bring joy to others today (count on it). God be with you, bless you, and fill you with Joy!
Copyright Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, CO