Advent Calendar for Optimists: Day 8
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.”
"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."
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."
Romans 8:31 “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Activity for Today: Infectiously Optimistic Greetings
Try out some new ways of greeting people and responding to greetings.
Instead of saying, "How are you?" Try "What's the best thing happening for you."
Instead of responding "Not bad." or "Not too bad", try a pause... "Thanks for asking, I have just had an interesting..."
Pfefferkuchen is a ginger honey-sweetened cake, biscuit or cookie which is a part of German and northern European Christmas traditions.
1 ½ cups honey
1 ½ cups molasses (Some Canadian recipes substitute some maple syrup)
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar (any sugar will do)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground anise seed
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
½ cup butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons water
6 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
A little cognac or brandy to taste.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, spices and baking soda.
Bring butter, honey, molasses and sugar to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon till it cools enough for you to knead it.
Cover and let come to room temperature and leave for at least 2 hours. If you are in a hot climate, pop it in the fridge but don’t leave it too long or it will get hard. Some people wrap it plastic wrap to help make it managable.
You need to knead and work the dough. Beat the eggs and water together in a bowl. Work this into the dough until it is soft and pliable. You may have to add another egg or a little water.
Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick on a well-floured surface and cut into shapes (generally round) and place on a baking tray on ungreased baking sheets.
Brush with milk or egg or a milk and egg mixture.
Bake biscuits in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees F) 8 to 10 minutes until light brown.
Cool on a wire rack if you have one. And start eating. Some people ice them with cute Christmas patterns.
Music for Optimism
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."
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