My friend Father Who, a Catholic priest, has a teeny bit of an issue with the vestments used on the third Sunday of Advent. They are, according to him, not pink. They are rose. Because he would not be caught dead wearing pink, mandated by the Church or not.
Last year I told him, “Rose by any other name would look as pink.” He was unamused.
Gaudete Sunday was always my favorite part of Advent, growing up. I loved the pink candle. I loved how it told me we were almost to Christmas, but not quite. I loved the idea that suddenly, in the midst of preparation, we were supposed to celebrate joy.
I didn’t really get it then, of course, or for a long time afterward. Children who’ve been through trauma often emerge with a rigid need for control, because if you can control everything, then you can make sure bad things never happen again. Not being in control means that bad things are right around the corner, waiting. Don’t turn the corner! You can imagine, holidays tended to make me a wee bit anxious. The only way to stave off the anxiety and desperation was to get everything exactly right–the best presents I could find, perfect cards mailed early, all my ducks in a row and cookies baked and i’s dotted and tinsel and lights. I loved Christmas but I couldn’t enjoy it. I had to be ready. I had to be prepared. Also, if I quit preparing and started feeling, I would drown.
Gaudete. In the midst of preparations, remember joy.
Of course being in control is a myth. We could claim that God is in control, except then, does God bring the bad things? Instead we learn the harder lessons, of trust and empathy and love. Emmanuel, God with us. God walking beside us, not metaphorically but actually, in human form, divine. We will never be in control. We will never be alone.