This Sunday, the 3rd in Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. The term comes from the Latin opening words of the introit antiphon, “Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always.”
The theme of the day expresses the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration, and reflects a lightening of the tone of the traditional Advent observance. This is why the celebrant of the Mass and the deacon wear rose-coloured vestments (rose, not pink!) on this day, instead of the deeper violet vestments that were typically used in Advent. It is also reflected by the practice of including a pink or rose-coloured candle among the four candles of an Advent wreath.
It will be good to have Fr Gregory Clifton-Smith presiding and preaching in both churches this Sunday, and at All Saints’ he will be wearing the rose chasuble which Fr John bought two years ago. Fr Gregory tells me he’s never worn rose vestments before!
With news of the vaccine starting to be rolled out, plus the fact that Covid numbers on the island are the lowest in the country we can, I think, cautiously start to rejoice that the beginning of the end is starting to come into sight.
Although this has been a very tough year, rejoicing is actually part of what it means to be a Christian. The reason Christians can rejoice, even in times of great anxiety and suffering; even when we “walk in the valley of darkness” (Psalm 23:4), is because of the faith, hope and love which has been revealed and given to us in Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Being a Christian doesn’t offer us a kind of “celestial insurance policy”, but our faith does teach us that we can face trials, calamities and personal suffering, not in our own strength, but through the power which comes from our faith in Jesus Christ.
I found this to be very true when I was chaplain in the hospice, and I’ve no doubt told you before that I couldn’t have done my job there if I didn’t believe that God is with us in our sufferings, and that there’s more to life than this life.
As the writer of Romans says, “I believe that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Roms 8: 38,39)
With my love and prayers,
Lovely to be able to give the rose vestments another airing this morning to celebrate Gaudete Sunday!
A Reflection – sermon by Fr Gregory Clifton-Smith3rd-Sunday-in-Advent-Reflection