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Gaudette Sunday Sermon



The Readings


Old Testament

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the LORD.


The Response

Canticle 9   Page 86, BCP

The First Song of Isaiah    Ecce Deus

Isaiah 12:2-6
Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.


The New Testament

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


The Gospel

Luke 3:7-18

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

The Sermon



This is the third Sunday in Advent. It is also called Gaudette Sunday. Gaudete is Latin and it means rejoice. Some also call it Mary Sunday and on this third Sunday we light the pink Mary candle.



When you read the gospel lesson, John the Baptist sounds more like fire and brimstone rather than making a joyful noise. So, lets look at Zephaniah. No one is quite sure when Zephaniah was written. Some say 600 BC and others say 200 BC. The book itself is thought to be a collection of writings from various authors. This kind of blending is not uncommon in the Old Testament. Zephaniah is considered a minor prophet and you can read the entire book of Zephaniah in about fifteen minutes.



The message we get from this portion of the Book of Zephaniah is one of hope. Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem. These are uplifting words. If you read several verses before this reading it is very dark. Basically, it says that God is going to clean house and those who are left will be back in God's good graces.



In the first song of Isaiah the author says: Cry aloud inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy one of Israel.



Paul says in Philippians: Rejoice in the lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.



What I get from these messages is joy and peace for the Lord is among us. All of the authors of these writings convey messages in those writings that can seem troubling but in every case they conclude there writing with a message of hope. And that is what I offer you.



There is no doubt we live in troubling times. There are evil things happening in our world but even in the face of all this evil God reaches out to us with a message that good will overcome evil. God's message is that we must remain true ourselves and have faith.



Have you ever asked yourself the question; What is this world coming to? If God is really in charge, why is the world in such a mess. Why are there mass murders. Why are groups like Isis allowed to even exist? Why did six million Jews get murdered by the Nazis.



There really are no answers are there. I like to think I am a big picture kind of guy but there must be something I am missing. The Hindus have a phrase for all that is happening in this world. They call it the divine dance.



If that is what it is. If we are involved in a divine dance then music you and I are dancing to is our Christianity.



Amen






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