Welcome to worship today! Here, on the third Sunday of Advent, the church "stops waiting" long enough to rejoice and give thanks. Paul's writings, even from prison and in the midst of persecution (and no doubt misunderstanding), strike a high note. Rejoice, in prison? Give thanks, in persecution? Gentleness, in the face of hatred and violence? Yes, Paul says, and again he says, rejoice. When he speaks of peace, he also speaks of not worrying. When he speaks of peace, words fail to describe the kind of freedom God gives, something beyond our understanding or imagining. And this peace is rooted in prayer, in taking our concerns and needs to God, and trusting that we will be heard. While our culture tells us what we want, God gives us what we most need, so we can bring our prayers and supplications to the One who waits in the quiet dark stillness of the night. "Rejoice in the Lord always" suggests that we find joy even in the most unlikely and perhaps most surprising situations. May that be our prayer and experience this day and all days!
Reverend Jennie Savage