Gaudete Sunday

“Oh that NZ Lectionary!!!”

The NZ Lectionary that we were assured was put together by people who are “skilled and knowledgeable about things liturgical” who deliberately opted “for variety rather than uniformity”; this Lectionary that assigns Green, Red, White, or Violet to one Sunday, and assigns the new liturgical colour “A” to another (Amber, Amethyst, Aqua, Arsenic, Amaranth, Alizarin, or Any Colour); this same Lectionary does not even make an allusion to the Rose Colour option that can be used on Gaudete Sunday, Advent 3 [Not even on its full page (p.125) expanding on Liturgical Colours! What is particularly “fascinating” (polite word), with the obsession to keep in step with Mother England, is that rose-colour, previously informally observed in Anglican Churches, is now formally noted as an option in the Church of England in the Common Worship liturgical renewal.]

Anyone who spends five seconds on google images for the Advent wreath realises how regularly the third Sunday in Advent is indicated by rose rather than violet.

The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete (“Rejoice”), the first word of the introit of this day’s traditional Eucharist:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob. Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85:1

This Philippians text is in the second reading this year, a wonderful opportunity to look at this special Sunday. There can be a changing of gear to a stronger motif of joy in anticipation of Christ’s coming. There is a shift from adoring “The Lord who is to come”, to worshipping with joy “The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand”.

ps. Whilst I might poke fun at the New Zealand Lectionary 2013 annual publication, I continue to be firmly committed to the three year Sunday Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) which is one of the (many) resources that it includes.

There has been, in different places, discussion about those churches (even when they have agreed to use the RCL, and signed that they will do so) who, instead, continue to do what is right in their own eyes. I have yet to find any such concrete scheme that is better than our shared international, ecumenical commitment to the Revised Common Lectionary. Here are the readings chosen instead of RCL for the last five weeks in one such large nearby contumacious community:

John 3:16 – John 3:21
Mark 8:22 – Mark 9:1
Acts 2:42 – Acts 2:47
Mark 8:1 – Mark 8:21
Mark 7:24 – Mark 7:37

And the readings for the last five weeks in another noncompliant community:

Isaiah 63-64
Isaiah 61
Isaiah 60:1-22
Colossians 1
Isaiah 54:1-17

I do not like such “boxes”, but I’m told that there are churches that call themselves “evangelical” who use only one out of the three readings and a psalm the lectionary sets!

pps. My favourite recent NZ lectionary story is those whose training and formation meant they used Philemon 1:3-11 when the lectionary had set Philippians 1:3-11.

May there be some mirth resulting from this post in the midst of the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Gaudete!

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