"When we find the space to be in God's presence, we enter into that peace that passes all understanding," says Bishop Hughes. "And imagine what it would do for all of your holiday celebrations. It changes not only you, but it changes everyone who is around you." (Time: 5:01.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. It is November 1st, and a series of celebrations began last night with trick or treaters arriving at our doors, or with us preparing trick or treaters to go out, that continues on today with celebrations for All Saints and tomorrow for All Souls, and in some churches will celebrate All Saints on Sunday with baptisms. Those celebrations that we have this week will continue on as we head to Thanksgiving, and then Advent and then Christmas, and then the first of the year, and then Epiphany – it is the season of celebrations.
And I want to offer something to you, as you think about preparing. And that is this. In a very simple way, one of the gifts that the Church gives us all is the season of Advent, a way to approach Christmas with a sense of joyful expectancy. And it can be an incredible blessing to be in the Advent season, and actually really be with your family and friends. To really experience who they are, to pay attention to what's happening around you, to be peaceful in the midst of all of the activity that is happening, that that goes on in this season. And to look for the gifts that God might be bringing to you or to other people. Sometimes it's a word or a phrase, sometimes it's a series of coincidences, but it takes being able to have the space and the time to do all of those things, to notice the messages that are coming to us.
And I think right now, we really do need those messages. In particular, because we've been watching so much tragedy happen around us, not only the mass shootings that happen with such great regularity in this country, but the acts of aggression and terrorism and war that we've seen in Ukraine, in the Holy Land, in Haiti, in Ethiopia, in different countries around the globe. It's disturbing and hard to see and to watch and to know how to even help. And in the midst of all of that it can become even easier to get lost in so much activity to take our minds off things. And I want to encourage us, rather than getting ourselves completely lost in activities, is to take this time before Advent, to prepare for Christmas, and to prepare for Thanksgiving, so that when Advent arrives, we actually can be in Advent.
You have 28 days, if I remove all of the Sundays or whatever day you want to call your Sabbath, remove one day a week, we are 32 days away from the beginning of Advent. So take four away for Sabbath. You observe Sabbath however you want to observe it and what day you want to observe it on. And that leaves 28 days. Now you may not be able to get everything done for all of those holidays. But it gives you a chance to strategize about what needs to get done and when and who you need to have help so that it's not just all on you. And it also keeps it from all bunching up right there at the end. Meaning that Advent is really one more hectic season heading into Christmas.
This year, I think not only would it be a blessing for us to actually be in Advent, that we might be a blessing to other people. Because here is the thing. When we find the space, to be in God's presence, wherever we are, whether that is with other people or on our own, we enter into that peace that passes all understanding. And imagine what it would do for all of your holiday celebrations. In every single gathering every dinner, every bit of the travel, all of the cooking, imagine that in all of the shopping, imagine that in all of it, you enter into it with God's peace. It takes some preparation to get yourself ready to do that. It changes not only you, but it changes everyone who is around you.
So I encourage you take this time, do a little bit of extra preparation now. Do a little bit every one of those 28 days, so that when Advent comes, you really can be in that posture of joyful expectation.