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 As many of you know, each season of the church year is associated with a colour; red for Pentecost and palm Sunday, green for Ordinary Time, white for big celebrations like Easter, Christmas etc, purple for Lent and blue for Advent. Some of you may even remember… that the colour used for Advent used to be purple, just like Lent and the seasons were considered much the same way.  Advent and Lent were both considered times of preparation…a time for getting ourselves and the church ready for our Lord’s incarnation or resurrection and so both were symbolized a rich, imperial, Purple colour.  Historically this deep purple the most expensive colour to get was Tyrian purple…a deep purple used by emperors and kings.   Another expensive colour was blue.  Made from rare Lapis lazuili. So, either blue or purple were used in the medieval church…the important thing was to get the richest, deepest most royal colour you could.  However, in our days colours are easy to make and indigo isn’t an indication of wealth, so we’ve lost that symbolism.  Now, it is the meaning we associate with the colour that is important and in recent times we’ve begun to apply different meanings to advent and lent… lent remaining highly penitential and advent becoming more focused on hope and anticipation…and so Lent remained purple, and Advent became blue to visually differentiate between the two. Yet…one other colour is included midway in both the lenten and advent seasons…halfway through both is a single Sunday of pink.  A lighter colour, a happier colour, one associated less with discipline and more with Joy.  In lent …that pink Sunday all the normal restrictions and disciplines were slackened, the organ was played, flowers were permitted and the Gloria rang out.  For in both the Sunday in Lent and this Sunday in advent the opening words of the ancient Latin service were “REJOICE”.  Just as we hear in Zephaniah and in Philippians “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”. That is the meaning of the pink candle…it is a symbol of Joy…a sign of rejoicing because the solemnity of the season is past its apex…the time of Christ’s coming  we move liturgically from …Lord is coming, we would say REJOICE the Lord is near!  That is the theme today and in theory we could show that with changing all our hangings and vestments to a pretty rose colour…(not to symbolize Mary whose colour is light blue, by the way) but to symbolize joy!  But we don’t and that’s ok …’cause I’d rather not wear pink anyway   but today we light our pink candle to celebrate Joy. And all our readings reflect that joy…give reason and justification for the joy we feel at the advent of our God.  The Book of Zephaniah was written in an era between two times of conquest.  It was a time of great change and great turmoil and Zephaniah like many of the prophet believes the turmoil is caused by a lack of obedience to God, so he spends the majority of his writing berates the people for turning from God, individually and by name!  However, this judgment is not to be the end of God’s words for us in Zephaniah.  The prophet reminds us that at the end of the waiting, at the end of the judgement, there will be cause for celebration. Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; Shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart!  It is clear that times were and are hard, but it is even clearer that there is space for joy, for pleasure, and for celebration.  The reading today lists all the wonderful victories that the Lord God promises and how the people of Israel will share those victories. So…Rejoice! Again I say Rejoice! Furthermore, in Isaiah’s canticle today we are encouraged to Give thanks, to praise, to exult, to shout aloud and sing for joy!  The epistle as well speaks to this theme of joy and celebration, of jubilation and praise.  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!!!  Why? Because the Lord is near. Even John the Baptist, in his endearingly bold and direct manner, is speaking urgently and without softening his words because he believes that the Lord is near.  The time of God is at hand.  John yelled at the crowds and gave them harsh dictums, but all this was summarized as good news because the time of waiting was nearly over.  The Lord was near and it was time to change our ways.              For us this is symbolized in the advent candles … in the dark, solemn and reflective blue of the night sky changing to the bright and happy, love filled colour of pink.  We have just one candle left after today until we light that Christ candle.  Until we enter the joy of the Incarnation at Christmas.  A joy that is shared by every prophet in the bible, every psalmist and every shepherd in the field.             We all have reason to be filled with that joy.  We all have a share in the joy that Christ brings in his birth and his coming again.  A joy that is filled with hope and faith and love.  The joy of Christmas.  It is the kind of joy that is seen most clearly in the Christmas morning of a child unburdened with responsibilities of adulthood. I recall this joy in my chritmas mornings.  My sister and I sitting in our P.J.'s, cuddling our pound puppies at the top of the stairs…giggling with anticipation, bouncing with faith, and glowing with sheer excitement…delighting in the advent wait of Christmas morning.  Because we knew that until the smell of coffee wafted upstairs it wasn’t permitted to come down…we had to wait.  We had to wait and hope and sit in expectation of what joys were to follow…and sometimes we had gotten up way too early and had to sit a LONG time.             But we knew…knew with absolute certainty from the experience of years past, knew because of the unconditional love our parents had for us and us for them, and knew because of our childlike faith in the mystery of Christmas that the time would come…hopefully sooner rather than later….when the waiting would be over and we would be invited downstairs to participate in the pure joy of Christmas morning.              We are still invited to enter into that joy.  We are still called to live in childlike wonder, amazement, exuberance and absolute trust that when Christ calls, and he will, a great mystery will occur and great joy will abound and the greatest gifts of all time will be before us.  Beyond any stocking stuffers or shiny ribboned boxes…we will receive the gift of Christ before us in person once more.              We live in the time of anticipation…bubbling with the joy of hope…knowing that somewhere just out of sight is the Lord we can feel and hear and sense.  This morning  we are sitting at the top of the stairs...just waiting for the time to come when we can rush into the arms of the one who loves us and experience the mystery revealed.             Today, in advent we celebrate the joy of waiting…at Christmas we celebrate the joy of arriving.             So rejoice in this season of advent, rejoice in the season of waiting,  rejoice that the Lord is near Amen