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 eschatological 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.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CARING
The Pastoral Care Department at Albany Medical Center offers Tea for the Soul To Go Bags on all hospital units. These bags are given to doctors, nurses, and other staff who provide critical services. These bags contain a tea bag, a cup with lid, snacks, contact information for Pastoral Care, and some words of encouragement. The department has distributed the decorated bags they have received and needs more. How can you help? a. Ensure that you are healthy and not a COVID carrier. b. During a safe and physically distanced grocery run, procure some 3-dimentional paper lunch bags. c. Decorate the outside of the sandwich bags with something beautiful, encouraging, or inspired—children’s art is always appreciated. d. Write notes of blessing or encouragement, poetry, an appropriate quote, or anything applicable to an interfaith/no faith staff member. Return your bags, each stuffed with an encouraging note, to: Albany Medical Center, Pastoral Care Department, Mail Code 19, 43 New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY 12208. The bags will each be stuffed with additional goodies before being distributed to AMC’s heroes in scrubs.
Advent 2020 begins on Sunday, November 29, 2020.