Many years ago, my Aunt Marion made me this key fob. It's a bit battered and scuffed now from spending so long scraping up against my keys, but I still like it. O gaudete! means Oh be joyful! in Latin, which is a nice reminder every time I unlock my front door. (Pronunciation, by the way, is GOW-to-rhyme-with-cow-DEY-TEY or so I am given to understand, my Latin scholarship extending about as far as et cetera and anno domini.)
The point of all this being that today, in the church calendar, is Gaudete Sunday. All over the world, churches will be lighting a rose-coloured Advent candle instead of the usual purple, and worshippers will be greeted with the words, "Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say it, Rejoice!"
We are just over halfway through Advent, and the tone is starting to change. After slogging through two weeks of words which are basically synonyms for preparing and expecting, I finally get to shift focus to words like imagining, proclaiming and experiencing. Christmas is drawing closer; the fulfilment of the prophecies is near. The discipline of sober preparation is starting to give way to the joyful remembrance of God's coming to Earth. We are not only watching for Jesus' return; we are celebrating that he has come already and is with us always. So today: Gaudete! Be joyful!
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.