Four weeks from this Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent, and I’ve got a wonderful, grinchy idea.
In preparing for the Nativity Fast, I’ve discovered something that I think is worthy of sharing, and I offer it to you as an early Christmas present. As Orthodox Christians, we spend 40 days before Christmas fasting. The rest of the world, literally, is feasting during this time of preparation. Of course, feasting is a good thing, but only when it follows preparation.
Orthodox Christians – your parishioners, if you are a clergyman – are by and large left out of this, and have much less time to ‘celebrate’ with family and friends who are not of our faith. So, I have something I’d like to offer to every Orthodox Christian, clergy or lay, as a suggestion. Why not celebrate the Sunday before Nov. 15th as “Foretaste of Christmas” Sunday?
On this Sunday, which is normally the Sunday in my parishes when we ‘green’ the Church with festive Christmas decorations anyway, why not bring in Christmas fare for fellowship hour/coffee hour /potluck? Christmas treats, egg nog, spiced cider, holiday punch, cookies, fruitcake, pastries, sweets and treats for all. Have a family favorite? Bring it! Share it with others.
In other words, why not make this Sunday a ‘foretaste’ of the celebrations to come?
I submit, this might be a happy, popular and joyful way to usher in a time of fasting together. It might even encourage fasting with the parish and help those afflicted with chronic holiday depression to do something different about it and overcome it – through united effort, prayer and fasting with the parish. I don’t mean turn it into a crazy ‘Mardi Gras’ for Advent, or an early gift exchange, but a happy, sober event of treats of the sort we will be fasting from for 40 days.
Follow this with the “Greening of the Church” and you”ll have a broader participation in that event as well, as the spirit of the season will inspire more help to clean, prepare and decorate the nave and narthex for the holidays.
Bring plenty so that no one may go away hungry! And you’ll have several days to finish up what’s left over to take home before the fast!
Would you participate in a designated Sunday like this? Would your parish leadership get behind it? Ask your priest!
What do you think?
(P.S. I’m partial to Swiss Colony Petit Fours myself)