Going Deeper 12/12/18

The 'Psalm' of the Day for Advent 3*...
Isaiah 12:2-6   Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.   And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.  Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.  Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
(*NOTE: Yes, there Psalms found in part of the Bible other than the book of Psalms, such as here in Isaiah, but also in Lamentations and elsewhere)

In many churches, the third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, meaning “rejoice” in Latin and comes from Philippians 4:4... "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (from the second reading for this Sunday).  This theme of joy is prominent in the first three of our readings and we see it represented by the pink candle on our Advent Wreath.

Among the children of God "joy" has a much deeper meaning than mere "happiness," even more than "elation."  Joy has its most meaning when it is held in creative tension with sadness, remorse, and repentance.  The most profound experience of joy can be experienced in the very midst of heartbreak, and it is based on knowing that God is always with us and will never abandon us, no matter how tough times might get.  And it gains even more depth when we remember that God has promised to work all things together for good according to His purpose (Romans 8).

Yesterday's reading from Zephaniah is very similar to this "psalm" from Isaiah.  These texts follow some heavy proclamations of judgment, doom, and gloom.  The writers state that in His justice, God is about to bring punishment upon the people because of their constant forgetting and breaking of the special Covenant God had formed with their ancestors and their ignoring of the warnings of the prophets sent by God.  They refused to repent and are about to suffer the consequences.

It is into these dire circumstances that God's spokesmen speak messages of hope... even of joy.  God's people are to trust that God's mercy and restoration will certainly follow, bringing cause for peace and celebration.  In the light of God's promises, God's people of all time and in all circumstances can proclaim with St. Paul that we will "Rejoice in the Lord always"... even when it is not easy!

With You in Joy,
Mark

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