This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday. The word “gaudete” is Latin for rejoice. It is the Sunday in Advent where we light that very out-of-place pink candle. The pink color is supposed to remind us of the colors of dawn. As Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesies, “the dawn from on high shall visit us” (Luke 1:78). Jesus is the Light of the world that has dawned on us, already. So even in the midst of waiting and preparations we cannot ignore the reality that the incarnation is an event that has already come to pass. In Advent, we aren’t playing a massive pretend game, like Jesus wasn’t born 2,000 years ago. The Light has already conquered the darkness. The Light has already come into the world. It is already early morning. And because of this fact, we cannot help but rejoice. Gaudete Sunday is a marker in Advent that acknowledges this deep truth. Out of our rejoicing, we give gifts to one another. We remember the greatest of all gifts given in Jesus Christ and celebrate by exchanging gifts.
While I was at Diocesan Synod a few weeks ago, I had a sort of divine appointment. I stepped outside to take a phone call. Just as I hung up the phone, I caught the eye of a young priest whom I immediately recognized but couldn’t place exactly. He called out to me and even knew my name. We started chatting (no surprise if you have spent any time with me!) and he asked me about Trinity. As I shared with him various things, I mentioned that one of my top priorities for the next year was establishing a long-term, recurring overseas missions partnership. He started laughing. The priest, Brandon Walsh, is currently serving as the Ambassador for Archbishop Onesophore Rwaje, who leads the one million member Anglican Church of Rwanda. His primary task is cultivating long-term partnerships between Anglican congregations in Rwanda and the United States. To that end, he founded an organization within the Anglican Church of Rwanda called Hope on a Thousand Hills (http://www.hopeonathousandhills.org/). Each Advent, he produces a gift catalog so that American Anglicans can be a blessing to their Rwandan brothers and sisters. I have placed copies of the gift catalog on our information table or you can go to their website. I can’t say for certain that the Lord is calling us to a long-term partnership through Brandon’s ministry, but I can say that giving a gift to a Rwandan brother or sister is a worthy way to celebrate our Savior’s birth. Would you consider giving a gift to a Rwandan through Hope on a Thousand Hills this Christmas? 100% of the gifts go directly to Rwandan Anglicans.
Similarly, our indefatigable Peggy Corbitt works tirelessly to match up members of our congregation with children in need through our Angel Tree. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the undeserved gift of Jesus than blessing our neighbors. Would you consider selecting a child’s gift from our Angel Tree?
Come, let us adore Him and rejoice!