Our culture promotes the days leading up to Christmas as a time of spending, acquiring, cooking, partying and decorating–of giving our time, money and attention over to the pursuit of something called “getting ready for Christmas,” with the goal of a rather unrealistic fantasy of what the day will be for ourselves and our families.
As Christians, we approach the season before Christmas quite differently. Advent is a time of reflection, study and prayer, in preparation for receiving Christ in our hearts and in our lives.
Advent is the first season in the church’s year. John N. Wall in his Dictionary for Episcopalians writes, “traditionally regarded as one of two penitential seasons (the other being Lent). But Advent is better thought of as a season of solemn preparation for remembering Christ’s incarnation at Christmas and for anticipating the eschatalogical fulfillment of his promise to return in power and great glory. The season’s biblical readings focus on the end time and on God’s promises for the people of Israel and the church of Christ.”
The Advent color is violet or blue, so in order to distinguish between this season and the penitential season of Lent, we use the bluer hues during Advent, for this season has a 2-fold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas and Christ’s coming in time and as a season to direct our minds and hearts to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Advent is then a period of devout and joyful expectation.
Advent Gift Giving Program
St Andrew’s Annual Advent/Christmas giving program is a wonderful way for you to spread the good news of Christ’s birth. There are several ways that you can join in giving gifts to others during Advent and Christmas. As has been our tradition, you can give to:
1) St. Anne’s Institute in Albany which serves a residential program for young women 12 -21 and offers therapy promoting social and emotional growth.
2) The Albany Maritime Ministry at the Port of Albany which has welcomed visitors from around the world to its Seafarer Center providing for their personal, spiritual and practical needs.
Lists of suggested gifts for St. Anne’s and The Maritime Ministry will be available during the Advent season. The Maritime gifts of personal items are to be packed in a gift wrapped shoe-box and for St. Anne’s women in a gift bag. Gifts may be brought to church and put in the large baskets at the front of the church. Thank you!
3) Gifts for Life- Episcopal Relief and Development helps to provide families around the world and in local areas affected by natural disasters with food, clothing, clean water, skills in gardening and raising livestock among other things. you can even give a goat this Christmas! For more information click here.
4) Christmas Cards for Haiti You can help to send Christmas Greetings to our Haiti partnership parish of Christ the King and St. Jacques School. Details available in church at the beginning of the Advent season.
Christmas! The waiting and preparing all leads us to the joyousness of Christmas!