Advent Calendar for Optimists: Day 19
What is Advent? Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year in Christianity and is observed in most Christian denominations as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas. Christmas is a celebration of optimism, faith and hope. Advent is the time of waiting and preparation for Christmas. It is a perfect time to spread optimism around you and restore your own optimism. As Helen Keller wrote, "Christmas Day is the festival of optimism.”
"This year you might be experiencing Christmas time through the lens of the well known carol experience. Bright-eyed children reenacting the birth of Jesus in a stable with sweet smelling fresh hay for a bed. Full of hope and joy. Or you might be experiencing it more like Mary did. Dark. Smelly. Messy and uncertain. Both experiences are real and both are shared. It’s in the honesty of recognising the weariness, the shared discomfort and pain that we are also able to share hope. Hope of change. Hope of community. Hope that we can stand alongside one another and offer love and grace. We might not see it in all it’s glory but we know that there is a hope coming. A hope that we can all take part in. A hope that connects and unites us with our own humanity. A hope that offers a way for us to connect and bring light to the world."
Country Thang Daily on Elvis Presley’s Song “Peace in the Valley”
"The song is about clinging to hope while things are tough. And the Bible serves as a testament to this optimism. Those who are feeling down will find immense comfort in “Peace in the Valley,” and those who have a religious bent will have their convictions reinforced."
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.
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.
It might be a great idea 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.
Christmas Recipe: 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.
Music for Optimism
We All Need A Little Christmas | Mame
I Still Believe (Performed Live on "A Holly Dolly Christmas" TV Special)
Canticle of the Turning - Rory Cooney
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge
Little Drummer Boy (African Tribal Version) - Alex Boye' ft. Genesis Choir
More Quotable Quotes for Advent
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. "
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 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."
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."
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."
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."
Rev Jack Stroman: "On this first Sunday of Advent there is a new sense of hope, optimism, joy and love being unleashed upon us. There is a feeling of great expectation that something significant is about to happen as we sing together that great opening hymn of Advent:
“O Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, and let us find our rest in thee”
Holy Family of Bordeaux: "This first Sunday of Advent speaks the language of hope. Advent forces us to face that serious question: what are we to do about our hopes, ideals and plans? We need Advent in order to be guided by Church prayer and biblical readings. Advent can restore the optimism, vitality and innocent joy of youthful hope. It may be that God will use our sacrifices to shower blessings in another part of the world that we will never visit."
Pastor Peter Ryan, First and Christ United Methodist Churches: "Today, our Advent “word” is hope. What is hope? To me, the word represents that which we long for. It’s a word of optimism. A word that says that while we may not be living in the best of circumstances right now, we believe in a better future. Somehow things will change. There will be a turnaround. Things will be set to right."
Helen Keller: "Christmas Day is the festival of optimism."
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."
Amanda Noz: "The repeating traditions of Christmas make me optimistic. Making the same recipes as my Grandmothers and Great Aunties made creates a continuity that echos down through the decades. Eating Christmas lunch on the “good china”, bringing out the special tablecloth and serviettes and decorations, listening to Christmas music and connecting with friends and family, is all part of the magic of Christmas."
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!"
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."
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."
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."
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.
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."
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."
Some Celebrations and Advent Joy
Advent begins! Hope is present in Jesus. Invite Him in...Hope filled people have more joy, more optimism, more options, more endurance and more life!— Tim Smith (@timsmithsln) December 1, 2019
Advent: three matching readings;a prediction from Isaiah,a wish from Psalm 22 and a miracle from St.Mathew - Jesus feeding 5000; all denoting the OPTIMISM of Faith Hope and Charity Isiah 25 6-10, Ps 22:— focusonprayer (@focusonprayer1) December 1, 2020
and Mt 13: 29-37 Praise the Lord.
Consider how Mary, who belonged to an oppressed people under Roman rule, spoke out with holy optimism and blessed joy —St Oscar Romero, homily for 3rd Sunday of Advent, 1979. Read/listen to the whole homily at https://t.co/EtcDN6Hfrn #Advent #OscarRomero #Joy #Gaudete pic.twitter.com/QeinCnyQK5— The Romero Trust (@RomeroTrust) December 16, 2018
Advent Humour: The Australian Story of Noah
Noah in Australia (with thanks to the Holy Cross Mission Newsletter)
In 2022, 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 ten 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!"
Heavenly Image from 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).