Dear Friends in Christ—
This coming Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, is known as Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is the
opening of the traditional Latin introit for this day, and it means “rejoice.” In places where
Advent wreaths have colored candles, this is the week of the pink candle—the week when the
tone gets lighter, when we think of comfort, when we find joy.
But how does that happen?
Joy is the byword of the Christmas season. It comes as a wish on greeting cards, as decoration
for wrapping paper, as the message on my Starbucks coffee cup. It sounds like trumpets and
sparkles with glitter. It comes with vague expectations of happily families and matching
sweaters and contentment and good will—feelings that I don’t necessarily feel on any given day
But this view of compulsory joy is cheap and paper-thin.
I want to suggest you that Gaudete Sunday invites us to different experience of joy—one that is
smaller but more durable.
Joy, in the Christian view, is not something we build or buy. It is the work of the Spirit in us, the
response to God’s quotidian love. I think of one of my favorite poems, “Welcome Morning,” by
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry, “hello there, Anne”
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
And so I wish you, in these short, small days in December, the joy of small things. And I am glad
we have one another for the sharing of it.
Yours in Christ,