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Gaudete – Joy Sunday – St Nick’s News Dec. 14, 2023

Full St. Nick’s News for December 14, 2023

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday or Joy Sunday. This Sunday marks a midpoint in this Advent season and points us to the joy of Christmas. The word “Gaudete” comes from the Latin word for “rejoice.” We are reminded on this 3rd Sunday of Advent to “Rejoice in the Lord Always.”

We will hear that in our New Testament reading -1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 –

Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.  Avoid every kind of evil.  Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

I found myself thankful that this was one of the biblical texts to study this week. Actually, they are all fantastic and worth a look. Anyway, on Monday, I was at the store and met a woman who reminded me of my mother. And as I turned away from her with eyes welling up with tears, I caught a glimpse of Peep Marshmallow Trees. I couldn’t stop the tears – they were my mom’s favorite. And no, I wasn’t crying because she has such bad taste in candy. Ha! I was crying because a wave of grief washed over me and I couldn’t hold it back. Even after all these years, I couldn’t hold it back. And as the tears flowed with sadness, as I let it out, I also found a wave of love and thankfulness for her life and my time with her came too.

As I studied this text and the Isaiah text for this week, I kept bringing God my grief, sadness, hope, and love. I’ll be honest, some moments I felt relief and some moments I grizzled at God to make me feel better. This whole week has been a roller coast ride of joy and grief. I’m guessing that some of you reading this note are experiencing your own roller coaster ride of feelings. The weeks and days leading up to Christmas and New Years are full of all the feels.

I invite you to pray this text, the text from Isaiah, and other scriptures, prayers, and poems that bring you comfort and a sense of God’s presence. Or listen to the songs that make your heart sing, or walk in the cool air to clear your head and your heart. In addition, you can always text me and I will send you a prayer of peace and comfort. Sometimes it’s enough to feel (even if it’s just for a moment) that you are not alone. You can also check on one another. Remember those in your life who are feeling all the feels too. I am sure a heart or two will be comforted by your efforts to comfort and share God’s love.

This Sunday we have three different worship offerings to help you connect with God – no matter how you are feeling. 8:30am outdoors, 9:30am traditional, and this week a 6pm Lessons and Carols service. Our Lessons and Carols are blessed with a Jazz band led by Darren Kuper and Barry Brake. Darren is our main guitarist and Barry is a great friend to St. Nick’s. Our Jazz Lessons and Carols makes room for you to listen to readings, prayers, and music and simply feel your feelings – whatever they may be.

St. Nicholas is a place where we can come just as we are. God knows what we are feeling. Seriously. God knows what we are feeling. God in Christ Jesus our Savior has experienced those feelings himself. That is comforting. In the darkness, in the quiet, in the car, at the store, with our families, at our church… God knows.

May we feel the presence of God in Christ Jesus as we journey towards Christmas. May God’s spirit guide us through any and all stress, distress, sadness, grief, joy, love, and hope.

God’s Peace, Love, and Blessings,