Dec 15, 2015
Rejoicing in the mysteries of God
The third Sunday in Advent is called "Gaudete Sunday". The introit quotes Philippian 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice". The Latin words are "Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete." We lit a reddish-pink candle on our Advent wreath in addition to two blue ones.
The basis of this tradition is that while the Scripture readings for the first two Sundays in Advent are rather grim lessons about Christ's purpose for being born in Bethlehem (to suffer and die on the cross) and His second coming in glory and judgment, in keeping with the idea of Advent as a season of repentance and reflection, on Gaudete Sunday the mood shifts more toward joy and hope as the celebration of the Nativity draws near.
We certainly had cause to rejoice on December 13, 2015, as Maria Gabriela Rosales was baptized, and Elias Montoya and Yaneth Torres were confirmed and received their first communion. My sermon text was the epistle, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, which speaks of the ministers of the church as "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." What are the "mysteries of God" but the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, which we recognize, along with the preaching of the Word, as being central to our worship. You may read the complete English text of my sermon here.
Truly we rejoice in these young people and pray for them: Dearest Lord, we thank You that in the sacrament of baptism you bring new birth and life, making us members of Your holy family. We recall with gratitude our own baptisms, and pray that you would preserve Maria and us in Your baptismal grace. Help us to live in this world as Your redeemed children, serving You and our neighbors in love and devotion.
As You have made us all Your children in holy baptism, You have brought Elias and Yaneth through study of Your holy Word to know the meaning of their baptisms, and confess Your name as the only true God in Whom we have life eternal.
Always renew the strength of these young people that they shall rise up with wings like eagles. Grant them the faith of young Isaac; the vision of young Joseph; the obedience of young Samuel; the vigor of young David; the tenderness of young Jonathan; the wisdom of young Solomon; the courage of young Daniel; and the zeal of young Timothy. Deliver them from the temptations of youth, from unbelief, from forgetting their baptism, and losing the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Hear us for the sake of Your Son, Who redeemed us by His grace. Amén.
(Adapted from the "Lutheran Book of Prayer", Concordia Publishing House, 1970.)