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Sunday, December 14, 2014

12142014 Advent 3 Gaudete Sunday - The Third Sunday of Advent

Gospel Audio
Sermon Audio

December 14, 2014
What joy do you have?
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

When I first arrived here at Emmanuel one of the first church celebrations I had the opportunity to celebrate in the first two months was Christmas.  Not only here in the church proper, but also with the saints at Wheat Ridge.  Since that time I have not only visited and celebrated Holy Communion with the saints both at Wheat Ridge and Good Samaritan, but joyfully proclaimed Christ and Him crucified for many who now make heaven their eternal home.  The reality is each time I do visit Wheat Ridge, Good Samaritan and even elderly members of our congregation, I receive a great joy in reminding them that they are part Emmanuel and especially members of the Body of Christ!  They are part of our fellowship and I have the greatest pleasure to bring the joy of Christ for and to them during every visit.

Today we light the third Candle of the Advent Wreath.  The third Candle is known as the Shepherd’s Candle or the Candle of Joy.  For my family growing up and many others, the third candle was pink on the Advent Wreath.  This candle has special significance because of the reminder of the Joy of the Angels.

Remember in the account of Luke that tells of the sky being full with Angels proclaiming the birth of the Savior.  This is so impactful even listening to it as a child.  The joy the angels and others must have felt when they heralded Jesus entrance into the world.  At a congregation in Western New York, on Christmas Eve there would be from the balcony a trumpet sounding the joy of the moment.  This would not only raise the collective hairs and goose bumps on many people’s necks, but clearly elicit the joy of the moment of the heavens clearly proclaiming Jesus birth.

When I was in Israel as a student, this passage took on new meaning for me personally.  Our tour group that had been in the Holy Land for days and enjoyed visiting the most sacred sites gathered together shoulder to shoulder huddled in nothing more than a cave, an underground cavern.  Very similar to what the shepherds would keep their sheep in to protect them from the marauders of the night.  In that cave, in the dim light, the proclamation of the angels was recited from memory from the King James Version.  And in that one moment all who heard, clearly connected not only with the joy of the shepherds, but especially the joy of the message shared of Jesus Christ birth in Bethlehem for all of mankind.

My question for we who gather here this morning, “What joy do you have?”  As we light this the Shepherd or Candle of Joy, “What joy do you have?”  Clearly we could say, it is the message of Jesus birth, but that was over 2000 years ago our society would respond.  But for we who gather here in the church and light the Advent Wreath, now with three candles, our Joy can have new and greater depth and meaning.

When we look through the lens of the fulfillment of the promised Messiah, just as Joy filled Elizabeth with the entrance of her cousin Mary who carried Jesus in the Womb, we to can have that joy.  For today we gather here to let the joy of Christ overflow from within us.  We look to this wreath of greenery, now with three of the four candles lit, knowing that in ten days we will gather to celebrate Jesus entrance into the World.  We will sing the songs of joy and light our candles and clearly with unmistakable hearts and voices raised, sing “Joy to the World”!

God wants us to not only have the joy, but share the joy!  This morning, we have heard the children singing, telling of the coming Christ and those children are our future.  The children are our joy and we not only have an obligation to teach them the stories, but share the joy God first placed into each of our hearts.  And that joy came in our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  This is the fount of all blessings and the joy that God clearly shares with each and every one of us.

May we who gather here this morning not only come to bask in the glow of the lights of the Candles of the Advent Wreath, but also share in the joy given to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ came into this world in a lowly manger to save all of mankind, including all of us joy filled saints gathered here this Third Sunday of Advent.  AMEN.

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