Advent Season, Advent Wreath

When it comes to preparation for the Covid Christmas of 2020, we can go nuts on decorating the inside and outside of our house, spend hours shopping online, gain a few pounds baking cookies and cakes, and feel really sorry for ourselves that we won’t be wearing that ugly Christmas sweater to all the usual festivities.

Or, we can put the craziness on pause and prepare ourselves and our families for the annual remembrance of the coming of Jesus Christ through our own acts of charity, personal reflection, honest conversation…and an Advent wreath.

The time between November 29 and Christmas Eve is Advent Season—four weeks of spiritual preparation for the coming of a child that changed the world. For many Christians, it’s a devotional time spent lighting candles on an Advent Wreath prior to the evening meal, a Bible reading, and a small prayer prior to the blessing of the food. Others may use an Advent Calendar to encourage children to count down the days through pictures and items that represent each day of December leading up to Christmas. 

The candles on the Advent Wreath invite us to pause in silence to understand the real reason for the season: preparation for Christ’s coming.

Only if people change will the world change; and in order to change, people need the light that comes from God, the light which so unexpectedly entered into our night on that first Christmas.

—Pope Benedict XVI. Homily at Mass for the Nativity of the Lord, 25 Dec 2008

Meanings of the Advent Wreath

The wreath is a circle signifying continuous life: no beginning, no end; an eternal God; immortality of the soul; and everlasting life through Christ.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. One candle is lit each Sunday until all four burn brightly. Three candles are purple, one is pink.

The Prophecy Candle
The first purple candle symbolizes hope in remembrance of the prophet Isaiah who foretold the birth of Christ. 

The Bethlehem Candle
The second purple candle reminds us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and symbolizes trust in God’s promise.

The Shepherd’s Candle
The third candle is pink. It symbolizes joy that the world experienced with the birth of Jesus.

The Angel’s Candle
The third purple candle marks the final week of prayer and penance as we await the birth of our Savior, much like the shepherds in the field near Bethlehem.

Christ Candle
It’s become a popular tradition to place a white candle in the middle of the wreath to represent purity of sinlessness as seen in the life of Christ. It’s lit on Christmas Eve at evening prayer, and again at morning prayer on Christmas day. What a wonderful way to prepare our mind and heart for the promise of Christmas!

Blessings to you and your family from all of us at the Stewardship Foundation.

Let’s Talk Turkey

We hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. It’s always a special holiday. Rooted in connection, harmony, and unity during adversity. And isn’t this all what we’re going through in 2020? After a difficult first year, the remaining Plymouth colonists in 1621 were just glad to be alive. 

There are many stories of that first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621. The European colonists and the Indigenous Wampanoag tribe gathered in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to share a meal and thank God for a bountiful season of good crops. But historians argue that the first Thanksgiving actually occurred 60 years earlier!

Near the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Florida, Spanish soldiers, sailors and settlers broke bread with the indigenous Timucuans following a Mass of Thanksgiving in June of 1564.

Had it not become the American tradition to celebrate the Plymouth meal, we’d be gathering with friends and family for Thanksgiving in the Summer. There’d be no Black Friday (which was pretty much true this year anyway) and Americans would lack that all-important calendar reminder to start the mad rush toward Christmas with all its gift buying, decorating, cookie making, elf pleasing, card sending, trip planning, do-gooding, and merry making!

We like the autumn Thanksgiving because it’s a reminder for our clients to schedule a year-end review. Celebrating holidays, and having regular financial reviews with your advisor, are both important for our mental and physical well-being. So do both.

Have you had your financial plan review this year? If not, give us a call now before the year runs out. Call (614) 800-7985 or email us.

How the Pandemic Changed Charitable Giving

An elderly gentleman friend of mine is a faithful churchgoer. I happened to run into him recently (not literally of course, we were both out walking and wearing our face masks). He mentioned that he was feeling a bit guilty because he was not placing an offering in the basket at church each week. In fact, he hadn’t attended church since before Easter due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

I mentioned that his church may have an online platform to receive donations. He replied that he not only didn’t know whether it did — he didn’t even know whether his church had a website! “Let’s see,” I said, taking my cellphone from my pocket. His church did have a website, and did take donations online. 

“Oh my,” he continued. “I’ll have to have my grandson come over and help me make my usual donation. I might not be going to church, but the work of the church continues even with this virus. In fact, they may need my stewardship now more than ever!” 

We parted ways, but it left me thinking. What about our church families who may have lost their jobs, or have had extra medical expenses? Who is helping them? How many individuals and families quit giving because they quit going? Who is making the excuse that giving online is too difficult or not safe? 

What I found was heartening. It says a lot about Americans that, according to a study by Fidelity Charitable, most donors are maintaining — or even increasing — charitable giving during Covid.

According to the survey:

  • Volunteer hours decreased as people were urged to to stay home.
  • Most donors are worried about nonprofits’ ability to operate during these times.
  • Donors are likely to continue giving, especially to the same organizations.

The same study mentions that Donor-Advised Fund donors are taking COVID-19 into account in their giving, and most are staying the course and trusting their fund managers to make good choices during this pandemic period.

We find that people long for ways to connect with others during the pandemic. It’s a human motivation that is serving our national interests while making us feel better about ourselves. God “is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow” [Heb 13:8] and His work is never-ending. And it seems that both donors and DAF managers are walking in His footsteps.