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Advent devotion: Joy

“Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the LORD, the King” (Psalm 98:1-6).

Why is the third candle pink? That is probably the most asked question about the tradition of the Advent wreath. The story is a bit complicated, so we will focus only on the basics of these devotionally symbolic colors.

In recent decades, blue, a symbol of hope, has become a more common color for Advent. Purple previously was, and in many churches still is, Advent’s predominant color.

Advent candles Joy with prayerRepentance, traditionally symbolized by purple, is one of Advent’s several themes. Think of John the Baptist’s repentance message heard in worship on the second Sunday of the season: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).

On the Third Sunday in Advent, several of the Bible readings and commonly sung hymns exude a joyful tone. Repentance-purple doesn’t seem like the right color. The color pink, a symbol of joy, captures the joyful expectation or anticipation proclaimed on the third Sunday of this season.

Sometimes anticipation makes us impatient. Sometimes it makes us anxious. But anticipation also can bring us joy. That’s not hard to imagine when Christmas is just a handful of days away. Think of a child’s excitement as Mom and Dad help their son or daughter count down the days until Christmas on their family wall calendar. Think of the joy children have decorating the tree with family, trying to guess what’s in the presents that begin to appear under it, wondering if their most hoped-for gift will be inside one of those colorfully wrapped boxes.

How much greater joy is there in the hearts of believers who know, with childlike faith, that the greatest Christmas gift they could ever receive will be unwrapped in a matter of days! What joy to know that our sins will soon be taken up by the holy and innocent Christ Child! What joy to know that our rescue from guilt and the grave is coming not in a beautifully wrapped box but in a miraculously sent child named Jesus! What joy to know that our greatest need will be satisfied by the greatest gift God could give to humankind: his own dear Son from eternity, who became one of us and one with us in time.

The anticipation of these days before Christmas brings joy to children of God of all ages! Rejoice that a Savior came for you once and will come for you again!

Watch students from Martin Luther College sing the suggested hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, You Mighty Gates.” 

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates #98-3986, setting by Jonathan Kohrs © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. Used with permission. under license 23:11-5.

Author: Johnold Strey
Volume: 110, Number 12
Issue: December 2023

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This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Advent 2023

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