Saturday, December 2, 2017

Dear Friends,
This is the time of year when we are wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving, gearing up for Christmas and TRYING our best to focus on Advent.  Not a small feat, by any means.
This year Advent begins in December, which feels better than the last Sunday of November, or Thanksgiving weekend.  We will begin our celebration of Advent on December 3rd with an Advent Wreath Making activity during Coffee Hour and a St. Nicholas Party later in the day.  The people of St. David’s will be off to a great start.  Also, please check out our new Advent Christian Formation website!
How can one stay centered during Advent??  In her books, Brene Brown  recommends that stress and anxiety can be countered by focusing on gratitude.  When we become stressed, or even fearful, we can consider the gift that we may be overlooking.  Too many Christmas gifts to figure out?? Say a prayer of thanks that you have a life full of people you love.  Too many people coming to dinner?? Once again, a prayer of thanksgiving for family and friends can help.  Worried about your family member who is traveling for the holidays?? Be grateful that you have someone you love so much that you worry about them.  You get the idea.
When we experience stress over the holidays, it is often because we have taken too much on.  An overabundance of good things to celebrate with too many people can be exhausting!
We can also experience stress because of loss and grief; the person we love is no longer there to join in celebrations of family and love with us.  Take time to thank God for the part this person played in your life and for the love you shared.  Grief is a life-long task that we can only “get through”, not “go around”.  Holidays are   particularly challenging when we are grieving.
Unfortunately, Christmas and New Year’s seem to bring many of these stress points to the fore.  Observing Advent as a season of preparation can really help us to stay centered and focused on  the gift of Christmas, not the stress of Christmas.  Can you spend 5 or 10 minutes in the morning before your day begins, sitting with God, spending time with Jesus, giving thanks for God’s presence and love?  I promise you, this can help  you maintain your composure in the face of the                  calendar and daunting holiday preparations.  This is not the time to neglect, our spiritual lives;, Advent’s emphasis on preparation and quiet can literally save us.  Reading the Bible (or a spiritual book) for a few minutes, or keeping a gratitude journal are all ways of fueling our spiritual centers, keeping our “oil lamps filled”. 
Please let me know how you will keep your Advent this year; I pray that each of us finds time to thank God for all the blessings of our lives and our life  together at St. David’s.
God’s blessings, Karin+

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