Today is the third Sunday of Advent. Preferring symmetry, I always thought the Advent wreath looked a little peculiar with its three purple candles and one pink candles representing the four Sundays of Advent. The purple candles remind us that this is a season of reflective waiting. Today, however, we light the pink candle to remind us to rejoice. Even in a serious season, today we pause to lift up our hearts, to count our blessings, to remember that God is good, to laugh and smile, and to be filled with joy. When was the last time you were filled with joy?
Last Saturday night, my husband Scott and I went to church then straight to the mall to exchange a gift we had bought. It was about 8:30 and we were almost home when we realized that we hadn’t had dinner yet, so we stopped at Sonic and I had a chocolate peppermint shake for dinner. Now this might not sound remarkable, but those who know me well will tell you that I’m one of those people who always talk about healthy eating, I exercise frequently, and I’m constantly calculating carbs. Still, I cannot even describe the amount of joy I felt savoring each heavenly taste. The ice cream in the shake was real, not air-fluffed powdered mix blended with ice. The peppermint was not merely flavoring, but crushed up real peppermint candies that lasted until the final slurp. That was the moment for me when the Christmas season became real, and all of the lights looked a little brighter, and all of the Christmas songs on the car radio sounded a little more cheery.
It seems silly that a Sonic shake would bring such joy, which is why I don’t really think it was about the shake. I believe what really brought me joy was for that moment I let go of being an annoying calorie counter and allowed myself grace. In the Sonic parking lot, God focused my attention on his love, mercy, compassion and grace. We believe, as Christians, that grace is a gift from God, so by allowing ourselves grace we connect with the true joy that can only come from heaven. While my stomach was full of ice cream, my heart was full of God’s grace.
So today light three candles for the third Sunday of Advent, and with intention, allow yourself and your loved ones a little bit of grace. Smile and rejoice in the goodness of God.
Gracious God, open our hearts to your grace today. Help us recognize it in places where we may not have previously noticed. In our welcoming of your Son into our homes and hearts, may we embrace the Advent meaning of this gift you have given us. Amen.
– Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer