Isaiah 35:10 and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Today I propose to deal with 3 questions. What is Advent? What is the Pink Candle about? Why we donít sing Christmas carols?

Advent is the time before Christmas, but its not Christmas. The color for Advent is purple, but it is a different purple than Lent. Lent is about repentance. But then the whole of the Christian life is about repentance. We repent of sin, because sin is bad. Sin hurts us, and sin hurts God. We know that God punishes sin. We donít want God to be angry with us. We donít want God to punish us. And so we turn from sin, and return to God, asking forgiveness in Jesus Christ. And that would be enough reason to repent. But God loves us [but not what we do - sin], and because God loves us, there is a second reason to repent, we donít want to hurt people who love us, or whom we love. And although we speak of getting our house in order, and getting ready to meet God, repentance is not the chief thing about Advent.

The chief thing about Advent is hope. Advent is about the hope that is ours that Jesus is coming again. Advent is about the hope, of God sending His Son to be our savior. So Advent is a time when we rehearse all the promises of God, knowing that all that has been promised is already on the way, some of it is already here. Advent is a good way to face the onslaught of winter, for rather than making a show, or covering things up, it reminds us of a very real hope, and of something good waiting for us just around the corner. Advent is about hope and expectation, thatís why many churches have changed the color of Advent from Purple to Blue, for blue is a color of hope and expectation.

And in the midst of Advent, there is one Sunday that is different, it is the 3rd Sunday, the Sunday of the Pink Candle, the Sunday called Gaudate, which is Latin for "Rejoice" - and the name comes because the Introit began with the word "rejoice" "Rejoice in the Lord Always". Now, this rejoicing in Advent is not an early Christmas, but it is an occasion to rejoice because of the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. You must remember that even though we know that Jesus is coming, even though we know all about the baby who will be born in Bethlehem, wrapped is swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, and while this is our hope, heís not here yet. And as fathers do not pass out cigars in anticipation of a birth, but they wait till the baby is born, so we also do during Advent. We remember the hope. We remember the promise. We rejoice that the salvation we long for is coming to us.

And that brings us to the Christmas carols. They are songs of celebration, and once the baby has been born, then it is appropriate to rejoice and to begin the celebration. The carols are kind of like the old time cigars, they are a statement that yes, I have received the good news. I know that we long to hear them, but this is not yet the time of the celebration. This is the time of the hope, and the time to rejoice in the hope, and to be strengthened in the hope.

You see, without the hope of Godís promise, the Christ of Christmas could be any other baby. It makes us glad for a while, but it is not enough. We need to hear about the God who loves us. We need to hear about the God who brings salvation. We need to hear about the God who heals. We need to hear about the God who sets us free from sin death and the devil. We need to hear about the God who sent his Son to suffer and die for our sins, that in His blood we might find forgiveness. Then, when the time is right we will sing the Christmas carols with great joy, for we will have been built up in our hope, we will have been built up in the promises of God we will have been built up in our faith, and we will be able to stand because of the strength that God has poured into our lives.

So for now, we sing of the hope that is in us, and we rejoice in the good news that God has given us, a Savior is coming, a child will be born. It is the foundation of knowing who this child is, that Advent seeks to build. And knowing who this is, when he arrives, we will join the shepherds to see this thing that has come to pass. And when the wise men come, we will come with them to see the savior of all nations, the joy of the world our redeemer.