Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, is unique among the Sunday’s of Advent. Though part of Advent, it stands out from it. The pink, or more correctly, the rose candle symbolizes joy in the midst of darkness, mourning and sadness and so this week is set apart from all the other weeks of Advent, which focus on things like repentance and Christ’s coming. Gaudete Sunday gives us another perspective and a glimpse of the joy that awaits us.
The word “Gaudete” comes from the Latin word that means “be glad” or “rejoice.” It’s taken from Phil. 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say: Rejoice!” It’s easy to rejoice in the Lord when things go well or when life goes our way. It’s simple to be joyful in the Lord when we have a faithful spouse, good health, obedient children and money in our bank accounts. But we are called to rejoice always. That means that we rejoice even when we lack these things, or when life is difficult.
Gaudete teaches us to repent from finding joy in health, wealth and success. It teaches us to repent from measuring the “growth” of the church through finances, attendance and demographics. It teaches us to repent from doubting
God’s promises and searching for happiness in the things of this world and to find true joy in His Word. Gaudete forms and shapes our understanding of Advent and Christmas by teaching us that true joy is found only in Christ.
Because of this, we can rejoice even in the midst of grief and sadness, even if we are persecuted, even if there is no restoration, even if there is no healing or cure for our sickness or disease. It teaches us to rest from trying to find joy, knowing that joy has found us. The “joy” of this world is for a moment, but joy in Christ is everlasting. Therefore, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say: Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
Pastor Bryan E. Drebes
Pastor Drebes attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, beginning in 1997. He spent the summer of 1999 teaching English to Chinese middle school teachers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. He served a four-month vicarage at St. John Lutheran Church, Plymouth, Wisconsin, followed by eight months at Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas. Pastor Drebes was ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Palmyra, Missouri on August 19, 2001, and installed as Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, Kansas on September 9, 2001. He served Bethany for 14 years. Pastor Drebes accepted a Divine Call to be Senior Pastor at Pacific Hills Lutheran Church in November, 2015.