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Third Sunday in Advent

December 16, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Advent

Passage: Philippians 4:4–4:7

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Philippians 4:4-7
Date: December 16, 2018; Advent 3; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Today is the Third Sunday in Advent and this Sunday has traditionally been called Gaudette Sunday - Gaudette is Latin for “Rejoice!”
  • The first word in the Introit that we chanted earlier is “Rejoice”.
  • You might have noticed that the pink candle in our Advent wreath is lit this morning - this is to set apart the Third Sunday in Advent from the other more penitential Sundays of the season and it serves as a symbol of our focus for today: “Joy”.
  • In the beginning of our Epistle lesson we heard St. Paul’s encouragement, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”
  • We often associate rejoicing or joy with happiness and gladness, with big smiles and laughter.  
  • You see people rejoicing when they hold their child or grandchild for the first time.
  • You see people rejoicing at the airport when they are reunited with a loved one that they haven’t seen in ages.
  • You see people rejoicing when they get the keys to the new house or new car, or when they get confirmation of their vacation on the beach, or when the Edmonton Oilers win.
  • These are wonderful things and there is great reason to rejoice, to feel happy, to be filled with gladness!
  • But the rejoicing that St. Paul speaks of is deeper than this.  It is more profound.
  • It is far more than a simple encouragement to “cheer up!”
  • It is far more than a nice feeling or emotion that we experience when something good happens in our life.
  • Again, St. Paul encouraged us, “Rejoice in the Lord always…” 
  • Rejoice always.
  • It would be a lot easier to rejoice always if we were always experiencing the joys of new children and grandchildren, new houses and cars, vacations, and if the Edmonton Oilers won every hockey game.
  • But this isn’t reality. 
  • We don’t always experience wonderful things - so rejoicing always - doesn’t come easy.
  • In fact, we experience a lot of things in life that can drain our joy.
  • Even this Christmas season that is supposed to be filled with merriment and cheerfulness can be a time that is dreaded by some.
  • The loneliness experienced by those without family is enhanced during this time of year.
  • Financial difficulties can make it tough to give all of the gifts that you wish you could give.
  • Others, because of a death in the family, are spending their first Christmas without their loved one.  
  • For some, rejoicing during this Christmas season is the last thing that comes to mind.
  • St. Paul had little reason to rejoice when he gave us these words of encouragement - he was in prison.  
  • He was suffering because he was proclaiming God’s Word.  
  • He was in prison because of the work the Lord had called him to do.
  • Yet, even in the circumstance of being a prisoner, he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always…”
  • Again, this goes far beyond a feeling, or emotion, or a call to cheer up.
  • Whether we find ourselves in poverty or wealth, in solid families or broken ones, in good health or poor health - for us, the reason for our rejoicing is not to be found in our circumstances.  
  • Our reason for rejoicing is found in the love, grace, and mercy of God.
  • In our Old Testament lesson we heard Zephaniah prophecy, “Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  The Lord has taken away the judgements against you; he has cleared away your enemies.  The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil” (Zephaniah 3:14-15).  
  • We rejoice in the Lord because - in Christ, he has taken away the judgements against us.  
  • The guilty verdict we deserve because of our sin is reversed - and we are declared, “Not guilty!” 
  • Our enemies of sin and death have been cleared away.
  • We rejoice in the Lord because he is in our midst - he has not left us to struggle alone.  
  • The Lord is at hand.
  • Jesus entered this world to accomplish everything that was necessary for our salvation.
  • Jesus entered this world to live a life free from sin, to suffer unjustly, and to die on a cross in order to defeat sin and all of its consequences - including loneliness, poor health, conflict in our relationships, and even death itself!
  • This is God’s promise to the world.  This is God’s promise to you.
  • So, regardless of our current situation, whether pleasant or extremely difficult - we rejoice always!
  • Our focus on rejoicing this Gaudette Sunday points us beyond the transient and fleeting things of this world and life.    
  • Our reason for rejoicing is found in our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus. 
  • Even in the midst of great difficulties in our lives - we rejoice because Christ Jesus has conquered everything that robs us of hope and joy and happiness on the cross.
  • Even in the midst of great difficulties in our lives - we rejoice because Christ Jesus has conquered death and he has promised us an eternal life of love, joy, peace.
  • This truth enables us to rejoice always and it provides us with a peace that surpasses all understanding.
  • It is a peace that is based on the fact that God has reconciled us to himself through his Son.  
  • It is a peace that endures.  It is a peace that guards and sustains us in our rejoicing.
  • All of this is out of God’s grace and mercy, which we receive through our faith in the promises that he has made to us in Jesus.
  • No matter what circumstance or season we find ourselves in, God gives us reason to rejoice.  
  • He is always present, he is in our midst today through his Word, through water, through bread and wine - to forgive, renew, and sustain us - to “quiet [us] by his love”.
  • The Lord is at hand - rejoice in his grace and mercy and promise of life everlasting.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Advent

December 12, 2018

Midweek Advent 2

December 9, 2018

Second Sunday in Advent

December 5, 2018

Midweek Advent 1