A message about Advent from our Rector, Father Cole Gruberth:

Advent is not just a countdown to Christmas. It’s not even a time for us to watch the steady and inevitable approach of the feast of the Incarnation, although the word Advent means “approach”.

Advent is not really a time of waiting for the big event. Instead, it is a time of awaiting. Waiting is something we do, or endure; awaiting is a posture of hopeful expectation. We don’t just observe the approach of the Messiah—“Yup, here comes baby Jesus again.” Instead we let hope move our hearts into an expectant plea—“O come, O come, Emmanuel!” Indeed, we can say that hope is the difference between waiting and awaiting.

Perhaps that’s why the appointed Gospel readings for Advent present us with little glimpses of the end times. It’s hard to hear apocalyptic visions without experiencing some dread. Things would be bleak if we thought we could only wait for calamity; worse still if we thought we could count down our remaining days and simply wait for the end.

But from a place of hope, we can stand fearless. We look not for an event or an outcome, but for the inbreaking of God into our daily, earthly, earthy life. Our situation may be joyful, or it may be bleak, but we make our constant prayer, “O, approach, draw near, be once again God-with-us.”

Advent is the season to practice this posture of hope, this always-expectant awaiting, so that we can carry that great gift throughout the year.

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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’ s Advent Message 2013: “It’s a Time to be Still and Listen” can be found here.

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You can receive a daily “Digital Advent Calendar” by email from The Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Oxford, England. Or view their posts on pinterest.

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In her beautiful way, artist Gertrude Mueller Nelson has drawn a nativity scene which can be cut out for children to color.
Good Ground Press offers the cut outs for free, here.
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Christ Church Episcopal in Savannah, Georgia gives these insights  about the Advent Wreath:

Advent Wreath

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Four candles (purple and rose) represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, the sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and good works undertaken at this time.

The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming. Since Advent is a time to stir-up our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide us a way to augment this special preparation for Christmas. Moreover, this tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our homes and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. In family practice, the Advent wreath is most appropriately lit at dinner time after the blessing of the food.

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