Advent: The season of hope and promise

By | November 28, 2012

We are very fortunate in our Catholic tradition to have the beautiful Advent rituals and symbols. In a culture that tends to emphasize the secular meaning of Christmas, we have the opportunity to focus on the true meaning and stay grounded in anticipation and celebration of Jesus our Savior coming 2,000 years ago and at the end of the world. As followers of Jesus and Christian stewards, we are asked to be aware of how much time we spend in faith-filled prayer and consider whether it reflects our gratitude, amazement and joy. Advent is the perfect time for us to take personal inventories and answer the questions, “How have I grown in my relationship with God since last Advent?” “How might I increase my time in prayer?”

 

Advent for many of us is an ongoing look at the young girl and chosen mother of Jesus, Mary. When we view movies like “The Nativity” or “Jesus of Nazareth” we are able to imagine what it might have been like to offer one’s whole life so that God can accomplish wonderful things. Mary is the perfect steward of service in that she is known for what God was able to do through her. It is the same for you and me. When we offer our unique gifts in service to our parishes or communities this Advent, people encounter Jesus through our actions. This is a whole new way of understanding the joy of serving. Do we have a plan for bringing Jesus to others through using our unique talents this season?

Do you still celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas during Advent? The legend of this wonderful saint’s generosity has always reminded us that the sharing of our financial and material blessings can change lives, beginning with the donor. It is interesting to imagine who might have enjoyed the acts of St. Nicholas’ generosity more. At the end of the day, was it the recipient who received the much needed gold coins or St. Nicholas and those who helped fund his beautiful gifts? According to our understanding of stewardship, there was enough joy for everyone! Our church offers us so many ways that we can bless and surprise our parishes and our communities with our financial blessings. Might we consider how we are the St. Nicholas of our day?

As we travel through Advent 2012, there is a way of measuring how successful we have been as stewards of prayer, service and sharing. The measure is the amount of contentment and joy that we bring to the celebration of Christmas and ultimately as we stand before Jesus when he comes again.

As Christian Stewards, “Joy to the World” might just become one of our favorite songs.

Otto is Stewardship and Special Projects director for the diocesan Stewardship and Pastoral Services Department.

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