“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of winter, at the exact midpoint, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.”
Kazran Sardick, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
In some Christian traditions, the third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday.
It means ‘rejoice’.
I wrote on Advent Sunday about the beginnings of a rumour, a dangerous and wonderful muttering that then was just the smallest whisper of a thing that the world barely dared to dream of. The rumour has spread. It’s on the buses and in the shopping malls, in the libraries and the supermarkets, in the pubs and in the train station, in the smallest churches and the biggest cathedrals. It’s in New York and Israel and Rome and Glasgow. The mutters are getting louder. It could be true.
This year, as does happen in those years when Jesus decides to be born on a Sunday, Gaudete Sunday falls in the very middle of this season of penitence and preparation, at the exact midpoint of Advent.
And so it is on Gaudete Sunday that we take a risk. After all, Advent is all about taking risks. The one that Mary took when she said yes and that Joseph took when he trusted her. The risk of the shepherds who had no idea what they might find in that stable and of travellers from the East who embarked on a long and dangerous journey guided only by a star. And the chance that God took on us, willingly risking the life of his Son to save ours because he thought, just maybe, that we might be worth it.
The risk that we take today is to believe that and to hope and rejoice in it. For one moment, to stop and turn and hug, because, today, we have come halfway out of the dark.
In the online service of Evening Prayer that I joined in last night with a small group of people from across Scotland, we said this prayer:
Lord God Almighty,
come and dispel the darkness from our hearts,
that in the radiance of your brightness we may know you,
the only unfading light,
glorious in all eternity.
Tomorrow, we go on through Advent and on with our preparations and our journey. Because we know now that it isn’t a rumour. It’s a promise. A promise that we will make it through the darkness and on the other side of it we will find the light of the world.
Image of the Swedish Ljusbarare that stands in St Mary’s, by GlasgowAmateur.