This morning I am working on setting the Entrance antiphon and verses for the third week of Advent. Traditionally, that third Sunday is known as “Gaudete” Sunday and features pink vestments and candle in the Advent wreath. Gaudete is the Latin word for “Rejoice,” and the antiphon of the day is Philippians 4: 4-5
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed the Lord is near.”
I think that is a well known and beloved scripture line, but I love the wisdom of the ages that pared it with these verses from Psalm 84:
You once favored, LORD, your land,
restored the captives of Jacob.
You forgave the guilt of your people,
pardoned all their sins.
You withdrew all your wrath,
turned back from your burning anger.
Restore us, God of our salvation;
let go of your displeasure with us
Will you be angry with us forever,
prolong your anger for all generations?
Certainly you will again restore our life,
that your people may rejoice in you.
Show us, LORD, your mercy;
grant us your salvation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning,
is now and will be forever, Amen.
What struck me about the psalm was God’s amazing mercy and love in the psalm. Along with forgiving guilt and pardoning sins, it uses the words “restore” three different times! God is always there, always constant, and will restore us. Maybe not in the exact way we were before, and maybe not like Dorothy tapping her ruby slippers together and saying “There is no place like home.”
Anyone who has restored an old piece of furniture, or a house, or a painting knows how much work goes into the process. Some of it may be overall gutting the place, and big rough steps, as well as mundane things that are just part of it, and fine details.
Perhaps God will restore us, but we need to make difficult amends, or major changes in our lifestyle. Perhaps we need to ask for help, or acknowledge failings. We need to trust and believe that God can do these things, but then we need to do whatever we can to help accomplish them.
It is not time to sit back on our hands and wait for the magic to happen.
As the psalm says, “Show us your mercy, and grant us your salvation.” Teach us O Lord the way we should act.