It really seems kind of ironic that Gaudete Sunday, known for its Bible readings with an especially joyous focus, fell just two days after one of the most mass shootings in US history. There is so much sadness, anger and other raw emotion that it’s easy to forget we’re a mere week from Christmas.
In light of Friday’s events, John the Baptist’s message in Luke 3:7-18 may seem more appropriate for the times. After all, when tragedy hits, it’s in our nature as humans to want to see some sort of justice served. While punishment can’t be served on someone who is now dead, we can use our anger and pain in a constructive way, to help those who are hurting.
Zephaniah 3:14-20 speaks of restoration that only God can provide. Everything that Jesus taught during his earthy ministry points to restoration and reconciliation with God. This timely message from the Hebrew Scriptures nicely prefigures that.
Don’t forget about Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-9, either. Paul and the other apostles lived during a time that didn’t seem to offer much to be joyful for. Yet, these words are some of the most powerful words of encouragement in the Bible. Maybe we need to take Paul’s advice to heart: to think about those things that are good, and let God’s peace be with you.