12th December – Andrea’s Letter: Advent 3

13th December 2021

Dear All
Today we gathered to celebrate the third Sunday in Advent which is traditionally know as Gaudete Sunday. Gordon and our singers, namely Helen, Liz and Clare treated us to a Taizé chant “Do not be afraid” during the intercessions.
Notices for this week
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Thursday Holy Communion 10am followed by coffee in Friendship House

Readings for next SundayFourth Sunday in Advent
Micah 5:2-5   Hebrews 10:5-10   Luke 1:39-55

Advent Devotions – I do recommend this from the Ignatius Spirituality Centre – online daily devotion for Advent – this is very good, several of us did it last year. Website – onlineprayer.net

Further news from the diocese and church can be found on the St Andrews website. Click on the link below.


Third Sunday of Advent 2021

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3: 6-18

This year the church of England is competing for a number one place in the Christmas charts. The chosen piece of music is sombre, brooding, obviously in a minor key and based on “See Amid the Winter’s Snow.” I struggle to think how it will catch the imagination of the nation but I may be wrong, it just seems a far cry and such a contrast from the joyful Mary’s Boy Child which was such a great hit back in the late 70’s.

Advent is a season of contrasts: beautiful and mysterious on the one hand but unsettling and foreboding on the other.  The Advent mood is hard to put into words and often captured better by its hymns and music which are generally dark and brooding, sung, indeed, in a minor key.

The scriptures also set the tone at Advent. At the start the lessons all contain prophetic calls for repentance, dire warnings to “wait and watch,” for what is coming. We hear in parables about those who are unprepared for God, tenants who are surprised by the sudden appearance of their long-absent landlord, sleepy bridesmaids waiting with their empty oil-lamps for the bridegroom to come and this morning we have threats from John the Baptist, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Luke 3:7 In short, it’s an expectant season, a season of being primed and warned, and there is a nervous edge to the waiting.

But today the Advent mood changes, on this Third Sunday of Advent the lessons become less dark and more encouraging. Traditionally this Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, which comes from the Latin word for joy, and so it is a day for rejoicing. For this reason, the third advent candle is pink, which is a mix between the purple of Advent and the white of the Christmas suggesting we stand at the junction of where the dark of the past and the hope for the future meet.

On this Gaudete Sunday we are invited to rejoice as we say, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, oh come God, and be with us.

But with the threat of the new variant spoiling our Christmas plans yet again and other various angsts both personally and otherwise perhaps our mood is more like the rest of Advent, darker, more anxious, somewhat unsettled, and perhaps that is why the darker mood of the Advent season speaks to us at times more poignantly than its more joyous mood.

Nevertheless, on this Third Sunday in Advent we are invited to rejoice. And the rejoicing starts in the OT lesson with the prophet Zephaniah

“Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
 Daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away your punishment,
 he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm……
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you
but will rejoice over you with singing.”   Zephaniah 3:14….ff

This is a change of tone from earlier in the chapter. In these few lines we go from judgement to mercy; from wrath to tender forgiveness and from fear to rejoicing. It is clear the God who comes to be our judge is the same God who comes to be our Saviour. This is what holds the waiting and rejoicing moods of Advent together.

In the epistle Paul’s letter to the Philippians is all about rejoicing in God’s love and care. “Rejoice in the Lord always…… The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:4-7

Scripture doesn’t promise us easy lives or lives without pain. But through the love forgiveness and resurrection of Christ it does promise us that those things do not have the last word. So, no wonder St. Paul commands us to rejoice!

But the rejoicing is not just on our part. We are not the only ones rejoicing this Advent. God rejoices along with us because the Christian story is all about love and relationship. It is all about the love God has for us. God wants us for himself. This is the God who heals and saves, the God who gives meaning and hope to all people in all situations of life. God who is worth waiting for, and working for, and praying to and rejoicing with.

And so, this Advent we do rejoice, and we do sing!