This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent and the theme is Joy. Liturgically this Sunday is called “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is the Latin word for “rejoice!” In the midst of the somberness of preparing our hearts for the coming of the Messiah, we pause on this Sunday to rejoice. Maybe there’s a lesson in that observation. So I decided to preach on Gaudete Sunday a sermon called “The Secret to Living with Joy.”
Later in the week, I took note of the word “secret.” I used that word because I thought that it seems that if you want to get someone’s attention, tell them or make them think what you have to say is a secret. Perhaps if you lower your voice, if you say the word “secret,” if you say things in a whisper … people will respond like they did in the old E F Hutton commercials. Everybody will stop talking, freeze in their tracks, eager to hear what is being said. I only wish that were true and people really wanted to hear “the secret to living with joy” as we prepare for the birth of Christ in new ways into our lives this Christmas and every day.
Now-a-days with 24 hour television, mass media and social media, there seems to be nothing secret anymore. So a message such as “The Secret to Living with Joy,” like everything else tends to get drowned out by anxiety, fear and all of the other stresses this time of year. It reminds me of the story told by teacher Calvin Miller who said:
“There once was a man who wanted to teach the sparrows in his garden to sing. The sparrows knew only how to chatter, they knew no songs at all. So he bought a canary with a beautiful song and hung its cage in his backyard. There, among the chatter of the sparrows was the singing canary. The canary sang and sang and sang, but the sparrows only chattered. And because he didn’t watch closely enough, the man discovered a sad truth a little too late. Within a very short period of time, the constant chatter of the sparrows so discouraged the canary … that the bird lost its song. In fact, he knew only the raucous speech of the sparrows.”
God knows that you and I do not live in a vacuum. God knows that we are surrounded by birds of all kinds, and very few of them know how sing a song of joy. So in the midst of this often difficult season, when we are supposed to be preparing for Christ to come in new ways into our lives, God sends a messenger singing “The Secret to Living With Joy.” If we will take time in the midst of this season to listen, no matter the weather, no matter the circumstance, we will learn to fly and soar, living with joy. And we just might also learn the joy of singing.
So join us in worship at Covenant on this Third Sunday of Advent; this Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Joy. I’ll be the bird singing a message called “The Secret to Living With Joy.” It’s based on the scripture text of “Philippians 4:4-7” and “Luke 3:3-6.”