Caring for Creation during Advent

Two Sundays ago, the season of advent began again for the year. We know Advent is a time of preparation before Christmas 🎄, and it also marks the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Church 🗓. Advent has a fascinating history that we might not be aware of! Read on to find out more about Advent, and how we can care for creation during this season.

 

Photo by Laura Nyhuis on Unsplash

 

What is Advent?

Advent is derived from the Latin word, adventus, which signifies a ‘coming’. It also translates to the Greek word, parousia. The season of Advent usually starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts for four weeks. This year, the first Sunday of Advent begins on 28 November 2021!

 

History of Advent

While the origin of Advent is not well documented, we have some records of how it was celebrated centuries before. During the fourth and fifth centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent served as a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. In preparation, Christians would spend forty days in penance, prayer, and fasting. Originally, it seemed that there was little connection between Advent and Christmas.

Stained Glass in the Holy Trinity Church
 
 

By the sixth century, Roman Christians had associated Advent with the coming of Christ. However, rather than the first coming of Christ in the manger in Bethlehem, they had in mind his Second Coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. The Greek word parousia, which is related to the word Advent, is usually used to refer to the second coming of Christ in the bible.

Mosaic from the north transept of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
 

It was not until the Middle Ages that Advent was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas. By the Middle Ages, the meaning of advent was extended to include Christ’s first coming through his birth in Bethlehem. The length of four Sundays of the season also became fixed, with fasting and repentance during that time.

Today, Advent services include symbolic customs related to all three of the “advents” of Christ:

  1. His coming through his birth in Bethlehem
  2. His future coming at the end of time, and
  3. His presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit.

To balance the two elements of remembering his birth and anticipating his Second Coming, the first two Sundays in Advent look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays look backwards to remember Christ’s first coming.

As we focus on the significance of Advent, we remember His incarnation and anticipate His Second Coming. We are not a people who merely look to the one moment God broke into history. We await his coming again in glory when the King’s reign shall be on earth as it is in heaven.

How can we care for creation during Advent?

As we wait expectantly for our Lord in this season of Advent, here are twelve ways we can care for creation as we celebrate!

1. Gift experiences, not material gifts

Try gifting experiences instead of physical presents this year! Support our local attractions by buying vouchers or entry passes for your friends and family.

 

2. Shop locally

If you’re more traditional when it comes to gifts, try buying locally-made gifts! Not only are you supporting local businesses, but this also reduces the heavy carbon footprint that comes with air and sea transportation.

 

3. Try plantable cards

Like to write letters to your friends during this season? Try getting plantable cards this time around – zero-waste, they can be planted by your friend and grown into a plant if they wish!

 

4. Don’t buy live gifts for others

That said, don’t buy live gifts for others. A pet (or plant) is a long-term commitment. Unless you’re sure that they really want and can commit to providing for a pet or plant, don’t make that choice for them.

 

5. Reuse spare paper as wrapping paper

Rather than purchasing new wrapping paper (that is single-use), why not reuse spare paper that you have for wrapping gifts? It reduces the paper we use and will probably be the most uniquely-wrapped gift your friends will get.

 

6. Use LED Christmas lights

Get energy-saving LED Christmas lights instead of incandescent ones to reduce your electricity consumption, and turn them off when you leave the house or go to sleep.

 

7. Get sustainable Christmas decorations

Purchase decor that you can reuse annually, or consider upcycling spare materials lying around to DIY your own decor.

 

8. Eat less meat this season

Meat is really unsustainable, and the meat industry has not had the best track record for animal welfare. Give an animal a new lease of life by committing to consuming less meat this season and beyond!

 

9. Cook or eat out instead of ordering in

Tis’ the season for feasts with friends and family! If you can, cook or dine out instead of ordering in to save on disposable waste.

 

10. Watch out for over-ordering

While we might want to over-order to make sure there is enough food to go around, the best way to prevent food wastage is to order appropriate amounts of food. If you feel unsure about ordering less than usual, remember that you can always order additional food later on if need be. Another solution to reduce food wastage is to try bringing out your own containers to take the leftovers home.

 

11. Donate to charities that do the work of caring for creation

Consider giving to charities in Singapore and around the world that do the work of caring for creation – both people and nature.

 

12. Share why you care for creation

As you meet your friends and family this creation, share with them why you care for creation. Share why Jesus’s coming is important, and how He will come to restore all of creation to its full glory.

 

And that sums up the twelve ways that you can care for creation during the season of Advent! If you do try out any of them, feel free to tag us on @creationcare.sg on Instagram. We are excited to see what you have tried!

 

This was originally posted on our Instagram during the season of Advent in 2020, and updated for the website in 2021.

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