Readings for the 3rd Sunday in Advent

John 1:6-8,19-28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11

     This Sunday is traditionally known for its theme of Joy (hence, the pink candle on the Advent wreath). Can you think of a time when God provided you with an unexpected joy? What joys have you found in knowing Christ?

     The Isaiah reading describes the joy of God’s people through a collage of rapid-fire images that is reminiscent of today’s Instagram feed. A prisoner is exonerated! A person who’d been presumed dead is found alive! A new city emerges out of its former ruins! A bride and groom receive their wedding clothes! Each scene is meant to evoke in us that thrilling sense of joy we experience when God brings hope out of hopelessness, honor to replace our shame, grace instead of judgment. The Anointed Servant who bears this message is Jesus, the Messiah (Is 61).

     In his parting words to the Thessalonians, Paul exhorts them to rejoice always. That kind of joy that persists in all circumstances comes from knowing that our eternal security depends on God’s faithfulness, not ours (1 Thess 5).

     The Gospel reading restates much of what we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel. New is the theme of bearing witness to Christ’s light, something that we all, like John the Baptist, have been called to do (John 1).