In our evangelical tradition (using Advent materials from Focus on the Family), the third Sunday of Advent marks the lighting of the Shepherd Candle. The verse read at Lake Murray this morning was Isaiah 40:8-11:
The grass withers, the flower fades,In the more liturgical traditions, lighting the rose candle symbolizes joy in the penitential season of Advent and also reminds us of Mary, the young girl in the high drama of the manger scene.
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
The Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent (1928 Book of Common Prayer):
O LORD Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.From the InternetMonk's blog today, posted by Chaplain Mike:
We are now three Sundays into the Advent season, the time when Christians prepare for Christ’s coming. Advent is a penitential season on the church calendar. We mark and practice it through lament, self-denial, and repentance. We honestly face the darkness within and around us, and cry out for God’s Light to shine on us. This journey takes a toll. The darkness is deep, and seems to stretch on endlessly before us....
Today is Gaudete Sunday. In the midst of Advent’s long journey, our worship on this day calls us to lift up our eyes, focus anew on our destination, and thus find renewed strength and refreshment from realizing that “our redemption draws near.” To mark this day, the liturgical colors are changed from deep purple or blue to rose-pink. That is why the third candle is different than the others on the Advent Wreath.As I've written enough to probably bore all of you, I adore the Advent Season. The expectation, the candles flickering, shining light into the darkness, the carols sung (greatly out of tune), the prayers and Scriptures read aloud by soft, tentative voices -- the joy and delight and anticipation of the season. Happy sigh. Aaaaahhhhh....