by Will Searcy
Today is a special Sunday. We are all well aware that Christmas is right around the corner. As with every year, this time comes with its annual traditions, festivities, and a certain level of stress. For some of us, its nostalgia can strike old wounds at just the wrong note, often at just the wrong time. This is what makes this Sunday so important. Today is Gaudete Sunday, which means it is the Sunday for rejoicing.
This time of year, we might not feel much like rejoicing. Unfortunately, we can be tempted to let the stresses of the season outweigh its joys. Especially this year with how travel plans, plans to attend church, and even plans to gather with family have been strained, rescheduled, and sometimes cancelled, the stresses of the season are all the more poignant. After all, we have been shopping since Black Friday, decorating our homes since the beginning of Advent, and listening to Christmas music so much that the notes dance through our minds as we try to get some much needed sleep.
We all feel the daily anxieties such as these to varying degrees, which is why it is so important to focus on what truly matters about this season. Since the start of this Advent season, how much have we allowed our hearts to hope? Have we fallen prey to despair in these trying times and forgotten that, while our earthly hopes may not seem to be coming true, the greatest hope of all already has? Have we paid attention to our faith? Amidst the hustle and bustle, have we made time for our soul? What have we done to grow closer to God and to deepen our faith? Have we prepared the way to our hearts for His coming at Christmas? Will the “stables” of our souls be found swept clean and tidy, with a straw-filled manger awaiting Jesus’ arrival on Christmas day?
In case the answer to some of these questions may be adding more anxiety rather than relief, please remember what today is all about. Today, we let all of that anxiety go, because on Gaudete Sunday, we rejoice. We celebrate that our Savior has come and that he will again! We lift our hearts and our prayers to Heaven, to our God who loves us and sees us right where we are. He is the one who knows, who understands, who forgives. And today, we celebrate our God. We celebrate our Lord and Savior, who in his infinite humility, love, and kindness, lowered Himself to take on the form of a helpless infant, born into poverty in the humblest surroundings. We acknowledge that He did all of it so that He could be with us, so He could be close, and so that He could save us.
So, this Sunday, let’s take a break from the stresses of the season, and let’s open our hearts to His love. As He pours it abundantly into our hearts, let us lift our spirits and sing, “Hallelujah!” Christ, our Savior, has come, and He will come again!