Every year from Thanksgiving to Epiphany, my husband listens to nothing but Christmas music. I will get into my car and find the presets to a Christmas music station. The minute he steps in the door after work, he turns it on- this year using some app through his iPhone that works through our computer and plays through our sound system (or as I like to say, by magic). Selections range from traditional (Nat King Cole) to sentimental (The Lettermen) to experimental (Eddie Vedder), but whatever the flavor, Christmas bells are always jingling around here.
We like to do it up right at Journey, too. I know some of my more mainline friends think it’s cheating to sing Christmas songs in church before Christmas Eve (you know, because you are supposed to have to wait to sing them) but I disagree. The kind of waiting we are doing at Advent is hopeful waiting. We are waiting for a baby to be born, and not just any baby, but One who will bring the kind of light that will shine like the dawn and guide our feet into the way of peace. And what, may I ask, do we do when expecting a baby? We celebrate. We shower people, even before the baby arrives.
Or, think of it this way. What do you do when you are looking forward to seeing your favorite band in concert? Why, you spend the whole week listening to their songs, all the way ’till you roll on up into the parking lot with your favorite song now on repeat, giddily dancing around, eager to hear their opening number.
Hopeful waiting gives us permission to sing about that for which we wait– it encourages us, even, because what better sign of hope is there than joyful singing? This coming third Sunday of Advent is generally known as Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of joy. It’s the day we light the candle on the Advent wreath that is a shade brighter than all the others. Its lighter color symbolizes the happiness we feel when we are nearing our concert destination- we know the thing we are waiting for is coming near, and we can’t help but sing about it.
So if you happen to join us at Journey this Sunday, no need to wonder why we are singing Joy to the World already. We like to practice Advent hopeful waiting, Christmas carols and all.