The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Phyllis

This coming Sunday marks the third week of Advent. The candle lit on the Advent Wreath will be pink instead of purple, representing the much needed joy as we wait and prepare for Christ’s arrival.

In Out of Solitude, Henry Nouwen says, "Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can't find words to capture your complex emotions."

I have come to understand joy as actually containing an element of sadness. Unlike simple happiness, joy goes deeper—a kind of depth that is only reached through comparison with unhappiness, anxiety, uncertainty, and perhaps even despair. For me, these "complex emotions" as described by Nouwen blend together with happiness to form joy.

In both of our sons' birth announcements, Mel and I chose the word "joyfully" to describe their arrival. I didn’t understand the depth of this word at the time, but knew it just seemed appropriate.

As this time of waiting and preparation continues, let us embrace the joy of this third week of Advent and look forward to Christmas Day when we all can joyfully announce the birth of Jesus… Emmanuel …God with us.

Advent Blessings,