Blog #98: Advent - a Time to Wait!

December 8, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
Advent is in full swing: The third Sunday is already around the corner, and 16 days are left for us to get prepared for Christmas. Last year, the Living Light Blog took the opportunity of Advent to bring you ideas and tips for environmentally friendly approaches to celebrate the most joyous season of all. This year, we will take inspiration from liturgy instead, offering suggestions for honoring the respective liturgical dimension of each of the Advent Sundays through actions that celebrate, reflect on or put us more in touch with God’s creation. One of the overarching themes of Advent is time - it is a special time, a time that is there for us to get ready. And so, true to this theme, each of the blogs will all offer ideas and tips on how we might want to spend some of this very special time in light of the Anglican Fifth Mark of Mission, safeguarding the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
Most of us know the third Sunday of Advent as the Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday - the one when we light a rose-coloured candle on the Advent Wreath, reminding us of the upcoming joy of Jesus’ birth as well as of the joy of having made it half-way through Advent, transitioning from the initial repentance onwards to celebrations soon to come. Well fitting this transition, the big liturgical themes on this third Sunday of Advent seem - to me - to be about patience and waiting. Reading the Epistle for the day, we see James call on us in 5:7-10 to “be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord”. And he gets practical in his examples: “The farmer waits for the precious crop form the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains, You also must be patient”.
 
Foto: Why not practice patience and waiting - pointed to by James in 5:7-10 - in an environmentally inspired way this and look to eat only in-season and locally sourced produce this week?
For those of us who care for how we treat our planet and its resources, James' instruction is so very meaningful! In much of today’s society, we rarely take the time to “wait for the precious crop” - instead, we look for the agricultural industry to produce for us whatever we like whenever we like it. Strawberries in December, or broccoli in June, and the list goes on: Year-round availability of produce is what consumers in rich countries of the world have come to expect.  Yet, doing so creates an immense carbon footprint - because produce needs to be raised in (heated) greenhouses, stored and cooled or frozen, and often imported from far-away countries or regions. Research done - in terms of what is called Life-Cycle Assessments - of the carbon footprint of fruit and vegetables is clear: The best produce is what has been “grown outside and during their natural season without much use of additional energy and consumed in the same country or region. These have environmental benefits because they use less energy for artificial heating or lighting, for refrigeration and storage and avoid losses during storage, which generally helps to produce less GHG emissions, compared to fruit and vegetables that are grown under protection, are imported or stored”.
So: What about eating only seasonally and locally grown produce - just for the week starting on the third Advent Sunday? On my end, I have just begun such a week myself and wanted to invite you to join me in doing so. It’s both fun and tasty - and it will remind you of how easy environmentally conscious eating can be! December brings some of my favorite vegetables, starting with potatoes of all kinds, through carrots, cauliflower, celery, parsnips, pumpkin, turnip and so on. In fact, whether you are on the market or at Hofer’s, you find all of this there - even though, when making sure that you truly buy locally, you might be better of to check out your local Bioladen, order from one of the various Biokisterl (Local Produce Box) services available, or go to your next market.

Foto: One of my dishes this week - as I have vowed to practice patience, environmentally inspired - along James’ suggestion in 5:7-10 and eat only in-season and locally sourced produce. Here I had a tray of delicious and easy-to-prepare roasted pumpkins with carrots and fennel.

What to cook this week then - will it be a week of potatoes? Well, I started there, of course, being the potato-lover I am, but then I moved on to a delicious tray of baked pumpkin with carrots and fennel and thereafter tried my luck with a warm and tasty broccoli-and-cauliflower soup, subsequently moving on to various forms of beetroot-salads. The list of wonderful and healthy recipes that consist only of seasonal and local foods is virtually endless - at least if you enjoy googling them - but you’ll find plenty of books also in the stores. And even if you worry that purchasing in-season and local produce may be more expensive than the alternative: If you leave out the meat and focus only on the veggies, you’ll find that the price difference is bearable. Plus, of course, there is the bit health-bonus of Eating in Season: Produce that has just been harvested is higher in nutritional value simply because there are typically affected less by pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, and because they containmore anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, folate and carotenes that would have otherwise rapidly declined when stored for longer periods of time.
Let's go and celebrate this year’s Third Sunday in Advent with God's creation in mindLet’s take time for - environmentally inspired - waiting! Let’s exercise patience and look exclusively for in-season and locally harvested food this week. Let’s use this precious time during Advent as a way to get ready - for Christmas, yes, but also for the practices that we will all want to adopt more of - so that, as the Anglican Church’s Fifth Mark of Mission says, we can help “safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth".
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