This week is the Third Sunday of Advent… Sometimes referred to as Gaudette Sunday. Where does that name come from? In Latin, gaudia means joy… from Latin, gaudia became joie in Old French (“joie de vivre”)… and in English became joy. The third Sunday in advent focuses on JOY.
And joy seems to be the emotion most clearly associated with Christmas. The excitement of decorations, gatherings, presents. And the expectation of joy maybe the thing that makes Christmas so hard for so many… because of hurts, grief, loss. Is the joy of Christmas only for some? No… its is for all people!
We here this in the announcement of the very first Christmas:
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the shepherds went down to find this child,what did they see? They saw exactly what would expect them to see: a new mother with her baby. But the shepherds heard the proclamation about this child:
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…
This child is the savior… savior from what? Corrupt Jewish Leaders? The Roman Empire? This savior will deliver us from sin and death… the real enemies.
Hence he also carries the name of Christ… derivation of the Greek word, chrio… to anoint… the anointed one; Greek word for messiah! The one who would deliver God’s people from sin, judgment and death! There is joy in hearing about deliverance!
Think of the joy of hearing the insurance company will pay.
Or: the test came back negative!
Or: you are cancer free!
Being delivered from danger… even death… is a profound kind of joy. This is good news!
If the birth of this baby can deliver me from my mortgage… or some deadly disease… I would be joyful in that deliverance. But this child will deliver me judgment… from death. He will deliver me from the grief of the losses in this life:
My father… my brother… and he will undo all the grief you have … you will experience.
We ask “where is God?” in our loss because he seems absent… “if He were here, we wouldn’t experience this pain.”
But it is because we experience pain that he came… to undo hurts. I still may have the dread of experiencing the grief… like the dread of the root canal… but all things will be put right!
That is a joy that may express itself in excited expression but the joy of deliverance is also a deep and moving thing… a satisfaction and peace even in grief.
And if we thought God was awesome before… WOW! The deliverance of God is a joyful and glorious thing. This Christmas as you reunite with loved ones… and grieve the ones missing this year… I pray that even in the midst of it all, you may know the joy of God’s deliverance. Because the Christ child came, all things will be put right.