Readings for the Third Sunday in Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 7:18-28

     What brings you joy in life? Perhaps it’s the time you spend in the company of good friends or pursuing a favorite hobby. You may recall certain moments of intense joy such as the birth of a child or grandchild, a good report from the doctor, or finding out you got the job that you’d applied for. 

     Joy is the traditional theme for the third Sunday in Advent, and that is reflected in all three readings. An important part of our walk with the LORD is that we learn to find joy in those things that bring joy to Him. John the Baptist is having trouble seeing beyond the bars of his prison cell. Jesus invites John nevertheless to rejoice that the poor, sick, crippled and even the dead (!) are experiencing God’s saving power in a new way (Lk 7). So let us also rejoice when we see people at the bottom of life’s ladder being exalted by God.

     Both Zephaniah and Paul invite us to rejoice in God’s closeness to His people. God turns our grief to joy by defeating death through Jesus. God turns our guilt to joy by canceling the debt of our sins through Jesus. God delights in drawing near to us (Zp3), so let us also learn to delight in those opportunities we have to be in His presence (Ph4).