From a post written for Seacoast Worship:
Week three in the Advent season celebration focuses on the word “Joy”.
Traditionally, this has been known as “Gaudete Sunday” coming from the Latin word meaning “to rejoice”. Also, it is customary to light the rose colored candle in the advent wreath representing the shepherds and the joy they experienced in the birth of their Savior as mentioned in Luke 2:7-15.
There is no doubt why we focus on joy during the Christmas season: He has come for us - God with us - Emmanuel! (Matt. 1:23) He is the reason we celebrate - our King - our hope - the personification of love. He is everything we need and the fulfillment of every prophesy concerning the coming Messiah. He saves us from our sins (Matt. 1:21) and is preparing a place for us even now (John 14:1-4). What joy!!
He Is For All Mankind
However, in the midst of all the lights and wonder, it can be a time when we are often made painfully aware of the ‘not so joyous’ parts of the season as well: Hunger. Homelessness. Children without parents. Those experiencing loss. Economic hard times. Physical pain. Despair. Now, before I send you into a tailspin of depression, I want to remind you that it was for these very things that Christ came. It is why He put on skin, left His throne and exploded a Bethlehem sky. It’s why he traded a city of gold for a feeding trough. He didn’t want us feeling like we were ruled by a king from a far off land who couldn’t relate to us at all, instead He wanted to fully embrace humanity, get so close, know us personally. If that wasn’t enough, he went to great lengths to make sure we never felt alone or ever felt like we were the only ones. He was all King and equally all of the ‘not so joyous’ parts of humanity: hungry, homeless, without His Heavenly Father, suffering incredible loss, dirt poor, experiencing unfathomable pain and a man of sorrows. And yet…. he did it all to bring us great joy!! Not only is He accessible to all mankind, He can relate to all mankind. I don’t know about you - but I am comforted in the knowledge that the Savior of the World “gets me” and that I am not alone. That is reason to sing!
Meredith Andrews released a new version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” a few years ago and added a new chorus: “He Has Come For Us”…. I think you’ll listen to the lyrics a little differently in light of knowing that He truly came for us… to be FOR us.
A Reason to Sing
I can’t help but imagine that Heaven joins us in singing the traditional carol each year at Christmas time, “Joy to the World! The Lord has come! Let Earth receive her King!” The earth, all of humanity, cries out for Him. He is our greatest joy, and knows us intimately. For that fact, regardless of our circumstances, we can celebrate knowing He has come for us!
Tara is Greg's girl, mom to two sons of thunder, a hunger fighter, big dreamer and worship pastor at seacoast church.