A Note on Today’s Readings | Third Sunday of Advent – Year C.

Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.

In our readings and in the Collect for today, the major themes of biblical, prophetic religion come together, deepening the preparation ofGod’s faithful people for the approaching Christmas festival. We praythat God will “stir up his power and come among us” and we are giventhe paradoxical message of fearful judgment and joyful anticipation.

This message is given first in Zephaniah’s announcement of “theDay of the Lord” when God will come to draw all people into a savingand life-giving community. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst.” “Sing aloud… Rejoice… Exult.”

For Paul and the church in Philippi, the Lord has indeed come inJesus’ death and resurrection. “Rejoice,” Paul says, and be partakers inthe peace of God, which is our true guardian and protector.

But first, we hear the harsh words from John the Baptist, warning that we must be prepared for that coming if it is indeed to be a time of rejoicing. Repentance is the key to that preparation. However, repentance must be more than a feeling, and it must be deeper thanoutward rituals such as water baptism, or tracing one’s descent fromAbraham. That repentance must bear fruit in social righteousness—in self-giving and concrete actions of love and mercy toward others.

The Lord is in the midst of us, and so we sing out joyful Alleluias as he comes to us in his Word, and again as he comes to us in the breaking of the bread.

Happy Sunday.

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