St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

November 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fr. Antony Portrait

The great and holy season of Advent is quickly approaching. It is hard to believe that November is already here! I dearly love this time of year with its dramatic change of weather and spiritual emphasis.

Talk about the commercialization of Christmas is cliche. You may have noticed that holiday decorations are now popping up in department stores well before Halloween; perhaps an indication of a sputtering economy and consumer insecurity, but also I think of a longing for something to celebrate. Where there is no sacrament and no understanding of God, humanity looks to fill the void that is left and voila! Christmas lights, reindeer and jolly old men in red suits! I do not begrudge those whose lives are brightened, if only for a brief time, by tinself and Bing Crosby. Surely, we Christians can be gracious enough to "laugh with those who laugh" not in a cynical and arrogant way, but with sincerity. No, it is better that we look for the good in all, rejoice when we find it and quit complaining so much.

For us, though, the time for preparation for the Nativity must be different than what we see around us because what we are celebrating is decidedly different. We are celebrating something more than the closing of winter. We are celebrating the birth of God in the flesh and that is something truly unique. That does not mean we cannot enjoy what we see around us in the world, but that we must at the same time most diligently turn our attention to Him whose birth has redeemed the whole universe.

Spend time in prayer, just a little extra time. Don't try to do too much. A little will do. Make small changes. Come to an extra church service particularly one during the week on Wednesday or Friday night. That would be different for most parishioners; but one point of Advent is to stretch out towards God a little bit more than normal. As I always say, be faithful in small things! Be a little kinder, share a little more, give yourself a break from the hustle and bustle and sit a spell. Think a little more, breath a little more deeply, eat more wisely, love more profoundly and count your blessings! Christmas need not be commercialized for us if in our hearts and lives we remember and celebrate the coming of Christ into the world.

I am looking forward to preparing with you for we are all in this together. Love and peace to everyone!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony