The Third Sunday of Advent
Readings Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thess 5:16-24; John 1:6-8 19-26
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
Weddings are dazzling displays of love, color, fabric, and jewels. The bride and groom are adorned in garments of praise for each other and the vows of love they make for a lifetime of commitment and fruitful partnership. With all the emphasis on the dress, isn’t it the moment the groom looks at the bride for the first time on his wedding day that we all long to glimpse? That look of devoted love goes straight to the heart.
If you watch the royals in the Netflix show The Crown, you see a painful reveal of a couple obviously not in love. In an engagement interview, The journalist tells the happy couple, “You both look very much in love,” to which Diana replies, “Oh, yes. Absolutely.” Prince Charles, however, quips, “Whatever ‘in love’ means.”
Imagine. It’s quite a different story between Jesus the Bridegroom and his betrothed bride, the people of God—he paid the bride price with his own life. Without focusing on the gender of a bride, imagine yourself being adorned with the finest robe of righteousness and the jewels of great love.
Imagine these words being spoken: “I love you as no human being can possible love you. I give you everything you need. I don’t let your shortcomings stand in the way. I tell you my most intimate thoughts, for you are mine. Let my love satisfy you. Give me your deepest love as you surrender your will to me. Listen today for the desires of my heart. Think of me and let love grow strong. Love me even when you are angry, tired, or depressed. In your dark times I am your light. In confusing times, I am your counselor. In sadness or fear, find refuge in my love. One day I will present you full of beauty before my Father.“
Reflect. During this season of waiting for the Christ Child, we also wait for the coming of Christ, the Lamb of God. We are being made ready, clothed in the purity of our commitment to follow Jesus, God Incarnate. The unconditional love of God is real, delightful, and eternal. What words do you feel rising up in you as a response to the open heart of God. How can you live out your vows of love in your spirit, soul and body until the Lord comes?
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure. Revelations 19:7-8
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 5:24
Pray. Psalm 126. Read the Psalm as a prayer of hope and joy.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
This Psalm echoes Isaiah 61:11, the promise of a day our seeds of commitment will sprout up in righteousness and praise before all peoples. In times of sadness and confusion, it may be hard to imagine great laughter and joy, yet we can start with gratitude as a first step towards joy.
Make this your prayer today: “The Lord has done great things for me, I am glad.”
Add your own personal prayer focusing on what seeds of devotion and hope you can plant in your heart that will bring much needed joy.