What is Gaudete Sunday? Why a pink (rose) candle?

Dear Maggie,

What is Gaudete Sunday?  Why a pink candle and pink vestments?

Pensively Pink

Dear Pensively Pink,

Ah, me heart sings at the color of a rose; tis the color of joy and that is exactly what we are celebrating on this Third Sunday of Advent.  In this time of waiting and expectation for Christ’s coming, many of us have been a bit quiet, reflective, and penitent.  We’ve been wondering if Christ will be happy with what he finds when he sees our lives and our churches. But just as we were beginning to get a bit blue (pun intended) we remember that Jesus is coming into the world to bring healing and hope where there was once only a desert and wasteland.  This Sunday we live fully into the great joy of Christ’s expectation.

We call this Sunday “Gaudete” because that is simply the Latin word for the verb “rejoice” and most of Western Christianity is drawn from the Latin speaking church of Rome.  This is a Sunday in which we rejoice in God’s work in the world and remember that whatever sorrows come, Christ is coming again to overcome them.  The great Christian teacher Henri Nouwen has remarked that joy is "the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death – can take that love away." 

Take time this Sunday, and the week that follows, to rejoice in the Lord and all the good gifts that come from God’s hand.  Then take some time to open your life, your resources, and your time to others so that they too can join in this joy of Christ’s coming into the world.

Christ’s joy and peace be with ya,