Advent is my favorite season of the year. It gives me permission to be in both spiritual and religious mode for three to four weeks. My favorite practices are using the Advent wreath, keeping a visual Advent calendar, and reading some kind of daily reflections/scripture passages. Below are the available Advent calendar templates for this year. I have added the Stars calendar since I first posted them on October 27. Click on the words below the calendars to download them. Here is the link to the October 27 Advent Calendar post and ways to incorporate the calendars in your daily Advent practice and experience.
2) An Advent/Praying in Color Workshop
On Wednesday of this week, December 1, I’m leading a free Advent/Praying in Color Workshop via zoom. It is sponsored by St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Providence Rhode Island. 12PM EST, 11 AM, CT. Here is the Eventbrite Invitation and Registration. My version of the invitation says 7PM IST–that’s Israel time or Hebron time, so don’t be confused. It’s NOON on Wednesday.
3) Advent in Jerusalem
Many places in Israel are now celebrating Hanukkah. Where I live in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem and Nazareth, people are are in full-blown Christmas mode. Other than in homes and a few churches. Advent is pretty invisible. When we went to Bethlehem last week, workers were putting lights on the town (200,000 people) Christmas tree in Manger Square. The tree has probably been lighted by now. Pop up Christmas stores are showing up around the cities and towns.
Yesterday was a day of Christmas bazaars and markets in Jerusalem. Lots of nonprofits and women’s collectives displayed beautiful, handmade Palestinian and local gifts. Even I, a terrible gift giver, bought things to send to my family in the U.S. Andy and I walked to the American Colony Hotel to attend one of the markets and for a bit of hopeful Christmas spirit and cappuccino. The American Colony Hotel has its roots in the late 19th century as a place of hospitality for all people. Check out its history and its connection to the hymn “It is Well with My Soul.”
Goods from the markets, tree in the lobby of the American Colony Hotel, and my Advent wreath at St. George’s College reception area
4) Pray for Jerusalem
Please pray for Peace, Justice, and Prosperity in Jerusalem and all over this country. In 2019, there were about four million visitors to this land. In the past two years, just a handful. The lack of tourists and pilgrims has been devastating to the economic welfare of the people here. This is a picture of my oldest friend on the planet (we’ve known each other since babyhood) and me in 2013 waiting behind the pillars to enter the cave where Jesus was born in the now Greek Orthodox Church of the Nativity. Usually these places are packed with people pushing to get a few centimeters closer to the holy destination. It is often a 1-2 hour wait.