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Bishop Rickel’s Advent Message

Happy New Year, everyone! It may seem a bit early to you, but in the church, Advent begins the New Year. That’s when we say, “Happy New Year.” Advent marks the end of the longest “season,” if you will, in our church year, Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time is just nearly half the entire calendar year, about six months long.

By now you know, I really like the rhythms of our liturgical calendar. We have Ordinary Time, where we still hear the Word of God, but we don’t really follow the life of Christ in pattern and chronology. And then Advent comes. Advent is the beginning of the story of Jesus Christ, not only told, but as the church can in this day and age, re-live it. We literally attempt to walk and live into the life of Christ.

Advent is that time of anticipation, waiting, reflection, preparation for Christ to come into this world. The Hallmark commercialized world has every year of my life, I think, moved Christmas more and more out of its place, and earlier and earlier, too. This year was no different. I saw my first Christmas commercial this year about three weeks before Halloween. There was a lot more debate, I saw, raging this year than in the past about how early this is all starting, and if it’s right or not. I’m not even gonna get into that.

Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

But I will share with you once again what our Christian pilgrimage each year intends. It intends that Advent be the beginning of the watching and the waiting. The anticipation of the birth of Christ. While the world becomes frantic and busy and stressed, the intent of the Christian calender is just the opposite. To be calm, to be reflective, to prepare. Not just your home with decorations and buying gifts, but to prepare yourself, through prayer, meditation, reflection, and even quiet time. Which most of us do not find much time for during this time of year. But I’m here, urging you to do it.

I’ve shared with you that my family has practiced getting all of our shopping done before the first Sunday of Advent. We pretty much stayed away from Christmas parties during this time, because,
well, it ain’t Christmas. And instead, focusing on each other, time together, having all of that finished. However that might work for you, whatever little steps you could take to make Advent truly Advent, I’d urge you to try even little things. You can build on it every year. Be counter-cultural. Don’t cave into the commercialized version of Christmas. Instead, practice the faith of the ancients, and those that have gone before us, and walk the pilgrimage of the life of Christ now and in all the seasons that follow.

We have some resources on how you can do this on our website, and I’m quite certain your local parishes are focused on the same.

So blessings to all of you, and may you have a more quiet, reflective, warm, and comforting Advent preparing for Christmas.



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