The World Is about to Turn – Rejoice!

Three of the readings for the third Sunday in Advent refer to good news and joy. Isaiah, celebrating the fall of the neo-Babylonia Empire, proclaims that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to give those who mourn a garland, instead of ashes. The Psalmist, referring to the same historical event, declares that when God restored the fortunes of Zion, their mouths were filled with laughter and with shouts of joy. Those who sowed in tears, now reap with shouts of joy.

But while Isaiah and the Psalmist shout for joy because their suffering is drawing to a conclusion, in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he commands them to rejoice even in their suffering. They are to be joyful in the midst of affliction, without the evidence of fulfillment. Is there a way we can hold these two ideas together? Can we rejoice when justice is fulfilled and still find ways to rejoice as an act of justice, when justice seems far from realized? Listen as Pastor Melanie Vaughn-West reflects on these questions.