The third Advent candle – the pink one – is the Candle of Joy. It recalls the angels rejoicing about the birth of Christ and reminds us that the news of Jesus is meant to bring us great joy. He alone is the Joy of the World.
In the church calendar, the third Sunday of Advent (this year is will be December 15) is called Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” means rejoice in Latin. Rejoice in the Lord always is Gaudete in Domino semper. (Phil 4:4).
The candle color changes from purple to pink to lighten the mood and bring encouragement as we prepare ourselves. Pink is a happy, light-hearted color. The waiting and fasting has a joyful purpose!
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)
On a quiet night to a group of shepherds caring for their flock, an angel descended to deliver the most joyous news ever! The fullness of time had come. The God of the Universe had invaded humanity and shattered the darkness. The Great Shepherd had been born.
The news was so magnificent that other angels swooped down to punctuate it. The dark sky suddenly became filled with the heavenly host praising God, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Later, when the star led the wise men to their destination, they also responded with joy:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11)
I lived in Romania when the people celebrated their first Christmas off work, the first one of freedom, in 45 years. Those first few Christmases were beautiful in their simplicity. There were no decorations. Nothing to shop for. No Christmas lights (there weren’t even lightbulbs). There wasn’t much of beauty in those days, and certainly not festiveness. The gray, dull city bore the marks of years of oppression. But every evening during Christmas week, throngs of people trudged down ancient city streets to my church, tucked away between tall, concrete buildings. Inside, people packed the wooden benches, spilling out to stand along the sides and back. The pastor simply read the story from Scripture and we sang gorgeous a cappella songs. We all walked home in the soft, silent snowfall, with a lightness in our hearts. The bleak, barren city was transformed into something of deep reverence.
The response to the good news: great joy. May you experience great joy this Christmas season as you reflect on the good news. The best good news ever!