As the weeks of Advent progress we are invited deeper and deeper into the mystery of our redemption. The Third Sunday of Advent sounds a note of JOY that is impossible to ignore. The first reading from the prophet Zephaniah is remarkable in its joy and image of God;
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exalt with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.
This is one of my favourite quotations from the Advent liturgy. It’s worth taking a moment today to picture this scene in your mind. Notice the thoughts and feelings that arise for you.
Zephaniah paints a scene of great rejoicing when the ruined city of Jerusalem will be restored. It’s so easy to picture the joy and exuberance. I have a sense that dance speaks to our very heart. It says something about what it means to be fully alive. The popularity of Strictly Come Dancing says something too about our shared joy as a nation and the power of dance.
We need to hold onto this joy as we read the somber tones of the Gospel. John the Baptist comes with an uncompromising message of the demands of the kingdom of God.
To be in right relationship with God is to be aware of the demands of justice. For John, God’s kingdom breaks through when every choice and every action mirrors the justice of God. When everything is in right relationship, this is where true joy is found.
The pandemic has certainly highlighted the myriad of ways in which we fall short of God’s vision of justice for our world. This Advent is perhaps a good time to reset our own values and to try to be sign of God’s kingdom to those around us.
Spend some time to day imagining God dancing with shouts of joy for you. And perhaps watch your favourite clip from Strictly and celebrate the talent that you see.