Today I celebrate the day my sweet Daddy, at age 64, graduated to heaven in 1964. My Sweetheart was only 63. I think God was giving out “Fast Passes” to heaven for two men that I loved so much. Good for them. They both earned those “Fast Passes”. I am not in sorrow today for either of them because there is just too much joy where they are, and so much joy for me here on this side of heaven. Here’s why. Today is the third Sunday of Advent and it's time we should be singing "Go Tell It on the Mountain"! Well -- not necessarily from a mountain -- that would mean we'd have to go climbing! Perhaps we can start right here on level ground to experience the abundant JOY of Christ's coming to this earth for you and me.
On this third Sunday of Advent, in the Catholic Church, the priest wears a rose colored vestment and the third candle, which is pink, in the Advent wreath, is lit. That pink candle symbolizes JOY and St. Paul referenced that joy when he wrote in Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice.” Can you even imagine that he wrote those words from a dark, cold, damp prison cell? Obviously, he was a great role model for us, because no matter where we are or what we're facing, we can find JOY in the good news of Emmanuel -- God with us -- right smack dab in the middle of our circumstances. That’s why there is no sorrow found in me on this JOY-filled day.
Of course PINK would be the color of the day. Typically, PINK is girly -- we put our little girls in pink dresses or outfits with a pink bow in their hair to declare "It's a GIRL"! (In my case, my little Staci had NO hair so I scotch-taped a little bow on her head -- I know that's hard to believe when we see that massive head of hair she has today! LOL!). Sorry -- I took a rabbit trail from my train of thought about Advent. Back to my thought.....pink isn't just about girls. Hot pink, pale pink, rose pink are all shades of pink that God painted into a sunrise. And, like the various shades of pink, our expressions of joy can be so different. Joy can be exuberant – like that little child jumping up and down at the prospect of something that excites them so much. JOY is also that calm and peaceful experience of God's faithfulness. It can be calm confidence in His sovereignty, or pure delight as He expresses His love. I felt that peace and calmness yesterday as I sat in front of my fireplace, reading my “The Word Among Us” devotional book. I felt it when I wrapped some Christmas presents. I felt it when I watched another sappy Hallmark Christmas movie while I wrapped those presents.
Joy AND pink is also about survival. Oh, the joy we feel when one of our friends expresses "I've just had my last treatment of chemo!" I loved hearing how on this Sunday, when PINK is the color of the day, a church celebrates breast-cancer survivors and women in their parish are given a pink flower in honor of the women who survived and are reminded to be screened regularly. (I just had my screening last week!) That is a beautiful custom to have. Celebration of survival has truly come to be linked with "Pink" in our culture.
Bringing PINK back around to this 3rd Sunday of Advent, PINK is also about a BABY BOY that brought so much JOY to this world. That joy that should never be determined by how we feel, but on WHO God is. The joy of the Lord can thrill us AND it can make us steadfast in the secure knowledge of God's presence with us -- Emmanuel. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to be joyful always and Jesus tells us in Mark 9:24 "With God all things are possible." THAT combination of trust and joy should help us carry on from this 3rd Sunday of Advent to EVERYDAY being JOYFUL!