Third Sunday in Advent (Rolf Olson)

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let everyone know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

The Bible passage selections for this third Sunday in Advent include the Old Testament prophets Zephaniah and Isaiah as well as Luke, the ‘doctor disciple.’  Those passages all connect with the expectation of the Lord’s ministry.  The passage from Luke covers John the Baptist’s efforts to prepare the way for Jesus (Luke 3:7-18).  The passage from Isaiah looks forward to the coming Savior; because of him, Isaiah tells us that “with joy [we] will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).  These passages capture the “come Lord Jesus” aspect of our Advent journey very effectively.  As our daylight wanes and night lingers longer, we continue our expectant waiting.  Sometimes waiting is fraught with anxiety.  Our expectant hearts can lead us to imagine all sorts of disasters that could keep our hopes from realization.  This is why Paul’s letter to the Philippians is so important for us as we wait.  Paul reminds us that “the Lord is at hand.”  Jesus is always near, and certainly wherever “two or three are gathered together in his name” (Matthew 18:20).  Beyond this already empowering and motivating point, Paul focuses on an attitude of joy in this waiting.  We are to be patiently joyful and let people know it.  This patient joy allows no room for the anxiety that often accompanies waiting.  More importantly, Paul doesn’t leave it at that.  He reminds us that beyond patiently joyful, anxiety-free expectation, we should thankfully “let [our] requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).  Now, God certainly is fully aware of our requests even before we make them, so what Paul is emphasizing here is the power of airing our concerns and recognizing our needs in conversation with God through prayer.  And finally, our hearts and minds firmly in Christ we will notice the gift of “the peace of God, which passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).  May you rejoice in the attitude of expectation this Advent season, and may you rejoice always in the firm knowledge of God’s infinite love and grace.


Dear God of love and grace, thank you for your presence in our lives and your listening ear. Help us to remember joyful patience even in these anxious days.  Through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord,

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