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.

Labor Day Then and Now

In the midst of today’s devastating worldwide pandemic, if it was reported that the majority of Americans in the United States worked 12-hour days, 7-days a week, would you believe it? Of course not! But during the smallpox pandemic from 1877 to 1977, when 500 million lost their lives and the mortality death rate was as high as 35%, that’s exactly what happened. It was not until 1980 that the World Health Organization declared smallpox to be eradicated. 
Source: Google COVID-19 Alert

As of this writing, there are 6.13 million cases and 186,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. with a mortality death rate of 3%. As of June, 30 million lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns, and some think the real numbers are as high as 40 million.
Source: Wall Street Journal

What is startling about these numbers is the resolve of the working class in the last century. Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. American workers dedicated 12 hours a day, seven days a week to their jobs just to make a living. Even children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills and factories to help make ends meet. 

Labor Day Parade, New York City, 5 September 1882

Like the protests of today, workers protested, sometimes with violence. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers made their way to New York City to march from City Hall to Union Square — the first American Labor Day Parade. Eventually labor unions were formed to protect workers from unsafe conditions and their influence caused employers to raise pay and reduce working hours.

Today we still celebrate the American worker on the first Monday in September, thanks to the workers who stood up for fair pay for a decent day’s work, and President Grover Cleveland who signed into law Labor Day as a legal holiday.

As you celebrate this weekend with backyard BBQ’s and picnics, face masks and social distancing, think of the men, women and children whose labor inspired this holiday.