– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney
Yesterday morning, I lit the rose-colored candle in our Advent wreath as my husband and I worshiped via Zoom – the candle of joy. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday – the Latin word gaudete means “rejoice.” In many churches, these words from Philippians 4:4-6 were sung or read: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Rejoice! How do we rejoice when 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment?
Rejoice! How do we rejoice when drug overdoses in the U.S. continue to rise, having tripled over the past two decades?
Rejoice! How do we rejoice when women in our community continue to be abused and trafficked?
Rejoice! How do we rejoice when people of color continue to suffer from the ongoing effects of generations of racism in this country?
Rejoice! How do we rejoice in the midst of a global pandemic as loved ones suffer and die?
Rejoicing is an act of defiance. Rejoicing is way of resisting the temptation to give into hopelessness. Rejoicing takes spiritual discipline.
The writer Alex Haley was known for saying, “Find the good and praise it.” Perhaps we could modify his words and say, “Look for where God is at work and praise God.” We must learn to pay attention – reasons to rejoice remain present in our work and in our world.
We can rejoice because women continue to come to TND seeking treatment for their addictions. We can rejoice because lives are being saved as God works through us. We can rejoice because women are safe in our care.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we can rejoice as we light the rose candle. Kate Bowler observes, “Though it seems that joy is in short supply and despair reigns supreme, this candle suggests that there is something more for which you were made. It is the oxygen that makes it possible for you to keep going.”
“Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12
Published on December 14, 2020