On Gaudete Sunday, a traditional celebrant will wear a rose vestment to symbolise joy.
I wrote about this particular Sunday at length last year. Readers might find the origin of Gaudete Sunday — and the earlier beginning of Advent centuries ago — useful:
Gaudete Sunday: readings for the Third Sunday of Advent — Year B
This Advent, the beginning of the Church year, we are in Year C.
Most churches will probably only select one of the following readings — including the Epistle — followed by the Gospel.
Emphases mine below.
Zephaniah foretells the deliverance of Israel and prophesies that salvation — via Jesus — is coming.
3:14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
3:15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.
3:16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.
3:17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing
3:18 as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it.
3:19 I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
3:20 At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.
The reading from Isaiah is similar to that of Zephaniah in that God will grant His faithful eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
12:3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
12:4 And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.
12:5 Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.
12:6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Paul exhorted the Philippians to be joyful, as the Lord was with them. Verse 4 is the default recessional blessing in Anglican — including Episcopalian — services, a favourite of mine.
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
4:5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.
4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The reading from Luke is about John the Baptist’s ministry in anticipation of Jesus, calling for repentance and charity, both of which characterise Advent.
3:7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
3:9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
3:10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
3:11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”
3:12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
3:13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”
3:14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”
3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,
3:16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
3:18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
Christmas nears. Joy increases in people’s hearts. The Christ Child is about to be born. The world will soon rejoice.