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So how are your Christmas preparations coming along? I can hardly believe it’s December already! So, needless to say, I haven’t given much thought to shopping, hanging of lights, decorating, or dinner plans. In contrast, in the sanctuary, trees are decorated and garlands are hanging, the nativity characters are finding their way to the manger, and the Advent wreath is central, adding intention to our waiting, week by week.

Many of us bemoan the commercialization of Christmas. Yet, as Christians, for whom this is a sacred time, what makes our waiting and preparing any different? We do as much rushing, buying, worrying, overeating, and arguing as the next person. How do we make this Advent (the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas) holy instead of just a countdown?
Let me offer a few possibilities:

Make Advent a time for a spiritual practice. If you took up my challenge last month of ending each day by recalling 3 things you were grateful for, why not continue that “attitude of gratitude” through December? Or how about taking time each day (if you don’t already) for meditation?

You might consider gift-giving differently. Do you know that the United Church of Canada has our own gift catalogue? Gifts with Vision has gifts in a range of dollar amounts, as well as for many areas of need (hunger, shelter, education, health, safety, mobility, and more). It supports the work of United Church partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and across Canada. [And it’s not just for Christmas time so you can give a gift for other occasions too!] The website is:

Or, give an additional gift for those you don’t know. The mitten tree is up again in the narthex awaiting contributions of mitts, hats, scarves. We’re also supporting Mary’s Place by collecting everyday items they need for residents: pillows, single bed sheets, blankets, towels, face cloths, dishes, cutlery, mugs, PJ’s, underwear, slippers, socks, toiletries, gift cards
In whatever way you choose to mark Advent as holy time, may you find and be a blessing. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 NIV)