Anticipating Joy–Advent III

More light dawns in this Advent III week! One more candle on the wreath, and the texts from the lectionary begin to rejoice! Some traditions call this Sunday Gaudete Sunday or Rose Sunday, when a pink candle is lighted. For me, Mary, the mother of Jesus, while she retreats with her cousin Elizabeth, exemplifies of this movement of Advent: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”  Far from the crowds, far from the dramatic and apocalyptic prophecies, she anticipates the joy of God in her life and in the world, and she begins to celebrate and sing.

Singing helps me anticipate joy! It allows me to embody hope:

Angels, announce with shouts of mirth Christ who brings new life to earth. Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming. People, look east and sing today: Love the Lord is on the way. 

When I am singing, my entire body believes with an energy that I do not have when I am reciting words to the creed, even saying words from sacred texts. And often my body is willing to trust and move more deeply and widely as I sing than my rational processes can articulate:

The desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose: it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with prayer and singing. 

Mary is anything but settled, comfortable, socially acceptable, living happily ever after. But she anticipates joy, steps into the real possibility of the invitation of the Holy, and lets her body, mind and spirit loose to the cadence of the Spirit of God, for Whom and in Whom she rejoices. She can rejoice and sing, because except for the first two verses of her song, it is not about her. It is the about the Mighty One, the Lord, God her Savior. As in a song choral song by Gretchaninoff from the Russian Orthodox tradition, joy is known by celebrating the Holy One, even in partial light:

Thou art worthy at every moment to be praised by reverent voices. Son of God, Thou art the Giver of Life, therefore all the world glorifies Thee.

As I am making my way through the darkness, paying attention to the reality of the world–its glory and its frailty–on this Sunday of Advent, I can rejoice because of the nature and intended rule of the Light, who has come, who will come, and is present even here and now. I know some of the things ahead of me this week–serious and sacred conversations, tasks and a list of to-dos, school celebrations. I expect there will be things unanticipated, as there have been in the first two weeks of Advent–illness and death, surprise disruptions that take my on a path I could not anticipate, as well as points of light for which I did not dare hope. But, my call this week will be to rejoice always, in the presence of God in me and in the world:

My heart shall bloom forever for you with praises new, and from your name shall never withhold the honor due.

With blooming heart this Advent, I make it my aim to practice rejoicing in God each and every day, no matter the wind or weather, no matter the light or dark, in life and in death.

Here I am…let it be with me according to your word!

 

 

 

About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • Beth Freidline

    I love your comments about singing! So true! Such an overflowing of music for the Christmas season.


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