Submitted by Jan on Wed, 09/12/2015 – 17:44
Year C (2015-2016)
Bible Book:
Luke / Lukas
Chapter: 3
Verse: 7 – 18

I recently learned that this Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, is called ‘Gaudete Sunday’. Gaudete means ‘rejoice’ and this is the Sunday in Advent when the rose candle is lit. So even in the special and expectant time of Advent, this week seems to be something different – it is a time of rejoicing.

This is also reflected in most of the readings for this week in the Lectionary.

In Isaiah 12 we read:
4 In that day you will say:
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.

6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Zephania 3:14 says;
Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!

Phillipians 4:4 starts:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
So it somehow seems as if our key reading, Luke 3:7-18, is out of sync with the day and with the other readings.
Here we do not hear “rejoice”, but we hear “You brood of vipers!” We hear John the Baptist crying judgement over the people.
We also hear the response – people ask John what they should do to avert this judgement.

His answers are simple, but very difficult!
“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” (vs11)
“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” (vs13)
“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (vs14)

However, if we look at the “rejoice” texts more carefully, we see that there is an extra component in each of these “rejoicings”.
Isaiah rejoices at the things God has done and how God restored God’s people.
Zephania specifically includes the marginalized in God’s vision.
Phillipians reminds us of the link between rejoicing and God’s peace.
The rejoicing we read about seems to ask something – it asks for justice and restoration.
Maybe this is what John the Baptist asked from those who listened to him, and also from us?
As followers of Christ, should we not be the ones who should bring about justice, restoration and the reason for rejoicing?

To Think about: What would John the Baptist ask from you and your faith community today, in a time of HIV?
(All texts from New International Version (NIV))

Author: van Rooyen L (Ms)
Language: English

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