We are all struggling to understand what to do or say that might help our fellow parishioners, friends, and neighbors who are directly impacted by the government shutdown. If any of you know of families that need additional support, please let me know. We can help with food cards and some additional forms of financial assistance. Many St. Luke's members are ready to help as neighbors. And please know St. Luke's building is available for anyone who wants space to gather with children or colleagues. There are some restrictions, but most days our library, nave, narthex and sometimes the parish hall are available. We have plenty of supplies for coffee and hot chocolate, and we would be happy to try to provide anything else that would be of help.
The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. It takes its name from the first word of the introit for Latin mass for the Third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete in Domino semper - Rejoice in the Lord always (again I say rejoice! Philippians 4:4. And comes from a time when, like Lent, Advent was a 40 day season of fasting before the feast of Christmas, and therefore it was good to have a respite, a rose Sunday, a Sunday for joy, before entering into the final leg of the journey, during the darkest nights of the year.
This week of Advent is a hinge in the doorway between our former lives and the new one being created in Jesus, the prophecies of Jesus coming to save us begin to be clearer, the door to the presence of Immanuel opens further, and we begin to see what repentance is: turning to God and being purified of what happened when we turned away. The second Sunday of Advent is about all the prophets before John, who pointed to God’s unfailing faithfulness and love of his people, and described the devastation that results from turning away from him.
The long litany of Sundays after Pentecost is almost over and with it the beginning of Advent will be soon upon us. Almost too quickly, it seems, as we realize this means we are already nearing Christmas, whether or not we are ready. And with Advent comes that familiar cry from John the Baptist, proclaiming that we need to prepare for the coming of the Lord because He is coming, whether or not we are ready.