Third Sunday of Advent – Joyful Readings and Prayers for Lighting the Candle

short advent-candles white purple and pink for third sunday of advent joy

The third Sunday of Advent in 2023 will be on Sunday, December 17th. There is so much comfort to be found in the practice of pausing to read, pray, and reflect over the course of the Advent season in which believers eagerly anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth. The third Sunday of Advent gives us the opportunity to prepare in our hearts a sense of holy anticipation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus as well as for his promised second coming. We can study the Scriptures as a reminder of the ways God has been faithful to us through the fulfilment of prophecy—and find hope in the promises of God that are laid out in his Word.

The third Sunday of Advent we are invited to reflect on the joy we have access to because of our faith in Jesus. One of the defining characteristics of Christ-followers is their joyful demeanor. Let’s not allow the struggles of this year steal from the great joy we have because of Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-5 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

Over this Advent, would you pray that the joy of the Lord would be evident in your heart and home? May God’s spirit transform the days leading up to Christmas into a time of holy anticipation; preparing our hearts, as we joyfully await the chance to celebrate the arrival of our king.

Third Sunday of Advent Meaning and Symbolism.

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Advent in the 4th and 5th century was a time of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. Christians would spend 40 days in prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration that accompanied the baptism of new believers.

Over time, advent was connected to the coming of Christ. Originally, Christians used this term to reference Christ’s second coming, but by the Middle Ages, Advent was connected to Christ’s first coming that we celebrate at Christmas.  Today, we celebrate Advent over the four weeks leading up to Christmas each year. 

Advent season is an invitation to set your mind off the stresses of the year. We can take our focus off of the crazy hustle of the season and the sadness that could accompany the different ways some of us may be choosing to observe the holiday season this year. Even when things feel chaotic we can find peace in Jesus. Advent is a chance to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe.

The tradition for the third Sunday of Advent includes lighting a third sometimes pink candle that is a symbol of joy. This third Sunday of Advent we read, pray, and reflect on the joy that God’s plan gives us (foretold by the prophets and fulfilled by the life and death of Christ), and we meditate on the promise of Christ’s coming glory-filled return.

The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice, and this Sunday is the time for us to rejoice because Jesus came and died so that we may live forever with him!

Amanda Idleman