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Advent Calendar for Optimists: Saturday 19 December 2020

In the Centre for Optimism's Advent Calendar, there's a new entry each day with a quotable quotes for optimists, bible verses for optimists in Advent and an activity.  Somedays there music and recipes too.  You may get your daily Advent reminder by email or whatsapp message or social media - email and let us know how you would like to receive it.  

Optimistic Plants and Flowers for 2021

The Sunflower. The Red Maranta Prayer Plant

Nice to see 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, INC. Flower and Plant of 2021 will be "a flower and plant that reflect the #optimism that we see for 2021"  Alfred Palomares, Vice President of the company said, "As we all take a collective breath and look to a hopeful year ahead, it was important that we select a flower and plant that reflect the #optimism that we see for 2021. Chosen for their symbolism of #happiness and $gratitude, the sunflower, which stands tall and radiates joy, and the Red Maranta #Prayer Plant, with leaves that fold like hands in #thankfulness, encourage us to connect with others and make the most of life’s special moments."  Beautifully expressed!

Kay Clancy

"I have always loved sunflowers. My mother-in-law used to give each of us a seed to care for each year to see who could grow the tallest sunflower. Every day we each tended our precious gift, excited and hopeful. Our focus was always rewarded as the flower burst through the shell and stretched ever closer to the sun, first smiling up at us and then smiling down on us as it grew. Our sunflowers served as a reminder of the value of care and the gift of hope and the joy of basking in the smiling and brightly shining sun.

"I have sunflowers all around my home and they always make me smile."

Quotable Quotes for Advent Optimism

His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of the London Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

"As we approach the Great Feast of Christmas, also known as the nativity, the birth of Jesus Christ and the new year as well, I offer to our community and to the world of large, to each and every person, that which the church gives the message of hope. Let us look at the Great Feast of Christmas and celebrate. Some will be from a distance, others will be in the church. Some will be across the seas. No matter where you are, celebrate and rejoice for the message in the church is that Christ is born and give glory or glorify him. But, let us also look to the new year with hope and optimism. Solutions are being found to the problems, including those of the COVID-19 virus. Let us be hopeful that we'll return to the normal pace of life. Let smiles replace the frowns. Let laughter replaced the sorrow. Let joy come into the hearts of all people."

Dr Richard Munang's Adamant Optimism

We must, therefore become adamant optimists. With this, we can not only become solution providers, but we can do what I call stubborn opportunism and where we seize and turn difficulties into opportunities, we seize challenges and turn them into opportunities.

The world becomes a better place as we drive transformational change for people and planet. This is what makes me an optimist. This is what makes me an adamant optimist, and this is what makes me believe in stubborn opportunism.

All of us should become adamant optimists.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron

"We have confidence God is with us, he'll give us strength, he'll reinforce our optimism and turn it into hope."

"My message is that even in the trial there can be a grace, perhaps the grace of new bonds, the grace of finding a new way to connect with people. God's with us and he's never going away again," 

Bible Reading

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

"We Need a Little Christmas"

"The Christmas Chronicles"

Recipe for Today: Fudge

by Amanda Noz and well-tested


Ingredients: 125g milk, 625g sugar, 125g butter, 1 tablespoon of cocoa, i tsp vanilla essence and chopped nuts (optional)

Method: Boil milk and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add butter and cocoa and boil for 20 mins until a firm ball forms when dropped in cold water. Add vanilla and nuts and beat until thick.

Pour into a foil lined tin and when set, cut into squares.

Makes a lovely Christmas gift.

Activity for Today: Try "The Habits of an Optimist"

The "Habits of the Optimist" is one of the most popular part of our workshops on Optimism and Optimistic Leadership.

Through a magic animation, it's now an online course and available for free.  It can take between 50 minutes and 50 years to complete.

Another Activity: Advent Candle Meditation

Pauline McKinnon,  Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre

Christmas is here again, a time to be together, rejoicing in this time of community celebration.   Traditionally, Advent Candles are lit in sequence in the weeks prior to Christmas Day, symbolising hope, love, joy and peace.   As the origin of Christmas teaches simply, profoundly and beautifully the hope of peace and goodwill to all, Christmas will undoubtedly be a time of great celebration in 2020. 

What a great idea it might be to light your own reflective candle and sit with it quietly as a reminder of the message within those beautiful ideals.  And as candles symbolise light within darkness, this time can also be a powerful reminder that, most importantly, darkness of any kind is necessary in life if we are gently and gradually enabled to find the joy of healing light. 

Advent Humour: The Australian Story of Noah

Noah in Australia (with thanks to the Holy Cross Mission Newsletter)

In 2020, the Lord came to Noah, now living in Australia and said: "The earth has become wicked again and it is over-populated, and I see that humans are almost at an end. Build another Ark and save two of every living thing along with a few good humans."

God gave Noah the blueprints, saying: "You have six months to build the Ark before  unending rain begins that will last for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark. Noah!," He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed. I need a Building Permit. I've been arguing with the Boat Inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. My neighbours claim that I've violated the neighbourhood by-Laws by building the Ark in my back garden and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the State and Council Planning Departments for a permit. Then the Electricity Company demanded a shed load of money for the future costs of moving power lines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea.

"I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it. Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees. I tried to convince the Environment Department that I needed the wood to save endangered species - but no go!

"When I started gathering the animals the RSPCA took me to court. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space." Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood.

Border Force is checking the Visa status of most of the people who want to work. The CFMMEU say I can't use my sons unless they join the union: They insist I have to hire only Union members with Ark-building experience.

"I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building gang.

"To make matters worse, the Tax Department on the advice of the Federal Police froze all my bank accounts, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.

"So, forgive me, Lord, but it will take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark. Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked, ‘You mean you're not going to destroy the world?

"No," said the Lord. The Government beat me to it!"

Creative Advent Videos

On Advent Optimism

Most Reverend José H. Gomez,  Archbishop of Los Angeles

"Above all, let us try to make Christ present in the hearts and lives of others. Yes, we have to be, each one of us has to be a source of hope and optimism for other people. What a beautiful Advent and what a beautiful Christmas we will have if we really have the joy of knowing that we are disciples of Jesus Christ who came to save us and to make us happy. "

Rev Kenneth Padley

"Hope is optimism. Hope is certainty. And hope is engagement. That is why we hope with expectation of the future, trust in Christ, and patience in waiting. Christian hope is bigger and better than we can begin to conceive. But in Advent, the season of hope, we come close to catching a glimpse."

Rev. Dr. J. Barrington Bates

"Jesus showed an unquenchable, confident optimism—even in seemingly dire situations. And he commanded us not to fear, but live in hope."

St Michaels with St Marys in St Albans  The Advent Wreath on Tour 2020 at Prae Wood School

Fr Dave Austin osa

"Advent opens us to the ‘refreshment’ and ‘renewal’ of the Christmas celebration – two more ‘Christmas words’ perhaps, expressing God’s optimism for each of us in our human living and his gift of hopefulness that we so badly need. On this Gaudete Sunday, St Paul’s words from Philippians 4 should ring in our ears: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.’"

Rev. Rodney Ragwan, Pastor of North Wales Baptist Church

"We embrace this advent season with a sense of hope and optimism. God is starting to allow for the normalcy of everyday living. We are at the cusp of the COVID-19 vaccine but more important is the hope of the Immanuel, God is with us. God is with us with or without the pandemic. God is with us whether we have to celebrate Christmas with family or alone. God is with us whether we can gather as church communities or worship virtually. God will turn our pain for the good, our despair into optimism, and our worry into calm."

Archbishop Mar Meelis Zaia AM, Metropolitan Assyrian Church of the East (Advent 2020)

"After experiencing a difficult and dark year  burdened with trials and uncertainties, here we are coming to the end of 2020,  preparing ourselves once more to celebrate the birth of Christ renewed with hope and optimism.

"The event of the birth of Christ over 2020 years ago was the bright light that pierced the dark night of Bethlehem enlightening the hearts and souls of those who awaited God’s salvation. He still, even today, is the light that shines in our hearts and gives us hope for peace and tranquillity."

William Willimon

"For some, Christ's [second] coming is terrifying. Old verities give way at his arrival. Those who make their living by the status quo do not rejoice when the status quo is threatened. Caesar trembles, empires topple, and the earth shakes. For those tied to the old age and its gods, its armies, its delusions of immortality, its false securities, the arrival of the Son of Man is bad news. `Apocalypse now,' cry the prophets of doom. Let us put away these prophets, close our eyes and speak optimistically of tomorrow. But those who have watched, who have heeded the signs, who have never made peace with the status quo, who have lived as if there were no tomorrow prick up their ears, straighten, stand on tiptoes. The Anointed One comes, their redemption is near and the world's doom becomes their deliverance".

Thomas Merton

"The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen."

Monsignor Sabino Vengco Jr.

"Our present life is a matter of what is still to come. At no point is it everything already, nor is everything there. Our life is about birth, growth, and maturation; there is even fullness expected in the end of life, in death, into what is eternal. There are depths and dimensions in one’s life and in the world at large still to be discovered and explored, forces to be unlocked so that life can be brought to its full potential. Creation is in progress and its plenitude and completeness are waiting: an optimism that is an essential component of Christian faith."

The Very Reverend Dr James Rigney

"John the Baptist blends simple moral instruction on how to live in this climate of expectation, with words about the coming of the more powerful one. John is the route to Advent optimism."

Gerald Ogle, Psychologist, CatholicCare Social Services

"What is normally a joyous time spent celebrating with friends and loved ones has in many instances been replaced with emotions such as fear, anxiety and loneliness.

"Many individuals may find their mental health under strain, having deteriorated as a result of all they have experienced this year. But despite these challenges, we can hope for better days, and, with mindful planning and preparation, approach this Christmas season filled with hope and optimism.  Indeed, this festive season can herald the advent of a new dawn for our mental well-being."

Michael McKenna

"Take the opportunity to show joy, hope and optimism. And have a merry Christmas."

ADVENT REFLECTIONS 2019 Notre Dame Catholic Church Kerrville, Texas

"God imbued us with some innate desire to look to the morning sun, to find optimism in the new leaf, and through it all to know that He loves us and will never abandon us."

Galen Holley

"Charles Dickens’ timeless novella, “A Christmas Carol,” has been brought to life in several cinematic incarnations. My favorite is the 1984 version with George C. Scott. Like all great literature, the story never gets old and its enduring truths are as applicable to life today as they were when Dickens penned the story in 1843.  It’s fitting that one of the central emotional figures in “A Christmas Carol” is a child, the loveable Tiny Tim. He represents a children’s everyman, a pure soul who never complains about his predicament but continually inspires those around him with his generous spirit and unwavering optimism."

Billy Graham, Evangelist 

"I am an optimist not because I blindly hope - all evidence to the contrary - that somehow everything will work out all right. Nor am I an optimist because I believe in man's unlimited ability to solve his problems. I am an optimist ultimately because I believe in God." 

Bishop Les Tomlinson (Christmas Message 2014)

"It is during difficult times that one can realize the set of values a child or person possesses. Children must be taught to stick by their values and principles no matter whether the situation is good or bad.

"In order to educate in the family, it is necessary to step out of ourselves and be with our young people, to accompany them in the stages of their growth and to set ourselves beside them.

"Give them hope and optimism for their journey in the world. Teach them to see the beauty and goodness of creation, but above all, with your own life, be witnesses of what you communicate.

Robert Masters, LFPRIA, Chairman of The Centre for Optimism

"The Joy of Christmas is much more than that.  One of the best things about Christmas is the joy it brings to people. In fact, it is as intrinsically linked with Christmas as love, giving gifts, decorating, shopping, and eating good food. Yet, it is more than that… come to think about it, it is the spirit of being optimistic. And when we look at an optimistic spirit, we know that scientifically the benefits extend beyond joy to happiness, active longevity, better health - including lower risks of cardiovascular disease - better sleep, greater resilience, stronger relationships and increased self-mastery. So, this Christmas I encourage you to extend that optimistic spirit to each day of your life and to spread it around - the world needs it. Merry Christmas!"

Creede Hinshaw

"I began thinking about children and waiting. I first concluded that children know nothing about how to wait. But after further reflection, there is another side to this. Children have to wait for almost everything. Accompanying that waiting, at least in terms of their birthday parties and Christmas, is a sense of sheer excitement and eagerness. That unbridled optimism and expectation is often missing once we become adults. Children have much to teach us about eager expectation. As adults it is too easy to grow cynical, jaded or resigned.  One of the Advent themes is that of waiting. But not just waiting for any old thing. The Christian is awaiting the redemption of the world, the coming again into the world of the One born in a manger. Advent is a season to heighten, sharpen and restore that sense of expectation."

Janine Kirk, Chair of Phoenix Australia

"Without faith we have nothing, without hope there is nothing and without love we are nothing. Optimistic leaders create the conditions where faith, hope and love can thrive."

Read more Wisdom on Optimism, Religion, Spirituality, Faith and Hope

Jeff Kerr-Bell

"Putting up and dressing the Christmas tree each year with my wife and sons fills me with optimism. As I reflect on the decorations collected each Christmas, I am reminded of life’s joys and challenges, and how both myself and our family have accepted and overcome them, and are better for them. Given 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for all including me, I am grateful for the people I am surrounded by and the connections and learning I have gained that launch me optimistically into 2021. Be realistically optimistic!"

Jack Quirk

"It is of the essence of the Christian faith that good will triumph over evil. This is the promise of Advent. This is the promise of the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom which, unlike the nation, will not pass away."

Deepa Patel

"Wherever there's optimism, it feels like there is a spontaneous flow of love."

Darlene Zschech 

"As we journey this advent season my heart has never been more aware of the ache, disappointment and turmoil of the soul that many are finding overwhelming as we continually navigate this crazy stretching year. In the face of this, the prayer in my spirit cries out these three words continually: “legacy”, “territory” and “authority”. I’m reminded once more of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. This power invites us to be bringers and carriers of hope, shining like pure light in dark places and announcing joy that defies all circumstances."

Australia's Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC

"I'm an optimist by nature. So when I was going through my career, learning, as you do as a young officer, and then growing up and progressing through the ranks, I'm looking for the positive in situations. I'm looking for the positive in people."

Speaking to students yesterday in The Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership  Summit sponsored by The Centre forOptimism, The Governor-General said, "I will say what I got to say now, not because I'm dealing with the Center for Optimism. I have said it in many, many, many of my speeches as Governor-General and as Governor of New South Wales, that I'm an optimist by nature.

Paula Allen

"What makes me optimistic is I have an opportunity with what I do and what my life brings me to face a lot of challenges. So interestingly enough, the fact that I face challenges. I like to experiment. I like to push limits. And when you do that a lot, you get set back a lot and then you go forward again. So, any kind of a little setback in life I know is temporary. I know I can move forward. I know I can move sideways. I know that there's opportunity, and that makes me optimistic."

Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer of Australia

"While a number of comparable nations are facing renewed virus outbreaks and new lockdowns, Australians are approaching Christmas with optimism and hope."

Melbourne Grammar's Chapel Choir  Singing Once in Royal David's City

Some Optimism Advent Tweets

Heavenly Images

The European Space Agency

"even our planetary neighbors are getting into the spirit – as shown by this perfect pair of festive silhouettes spotted by ESA’s Mars Express. The defined wings of an angelic figure, complete with halo, can be seen sweeping up and off the top of the frame in this image from Mars Express’ High Resolution Stereo Camera, while a large heart sits just right of center. These shapes appear to jump out of the light tan — or, in the spirit of the season, eggnog-colored! — surface of Mars; their dark color is a result of the composition of the constituent dune fields, which largely comprise sands rich in dark, rock-forming minerals that are also found on Earth (namely pyroxene and olivine).

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