I’ve asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors to comment upon Advent as an Antidote for Acquisitiveness or Consumerism. Our next pastor featured is Fr. Marc Dunaway of Saint John Orthodox Cathedral, Eagle River.
The rhythm of worship in the Orthodox Church is always one of preparation and fulfillment. Advent, then, for us is a the season of preparation for the Feast Day of Christ’s Birth, Christmas. This preparation includes efforts in fasting and more attention to prayer and to acts of kindness and mercy. Notably it shies away from parties and festive celebrations. These are reserved for the the season of Christmas which begins on December 25 and continues through the days following. This is the time for celebrations and gifts and good food.
During Advent we also remember on December 6 the real Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in the 300’s, and on December 13 Alaska’s own local Saint Herman of Kodiak and Spruce Island, who was one of the first missionaries to come to Alaska in 1794 and who to this day is still venerated by the native people. To make Advent a season of spiritual preparation goes against the flow of secular commercialism, but it is the only thing that will lead to a real and lasting joy: the celebration that God loved us so much He sent His Son to be born among us, as one of us, that He might bear our burdens, free us from death, and bring us into His Kingdom. In the light of this joy we can truly celebrate family gatherings and and the holy days of Christmas.
Practical suggestions for Advent: cut back on celebrations before Christmas, decorate a tree the week before Christmas and not earlier, share gifts for a few days after Christmas, give generously to someone you know who needs your help, read a small portion of the Bible each day, and find a Church to hear the message of Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Then celebrate with us on Christmas Day as we say: CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM![img_assist|nid=163079|title=Fr. Marc Dunaway, Saint John Orthodox Cathedral, Chugiak|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=250|height=375]