The culture of Advent has come to Ukraine only in recent years. In Ukrainian historical tradition, Christian believers observe not Advent, but the Nativity Fast. It begins on November 28 and lasts until January 6, according to the Gregorian calendar. This time is dedicated to preparing one’s heart for Christmas through spiritual disciplines. Prayer and fasting are combined with care for others and almsgiving; abstaining from loud parties and cheerful music is connected with focusing on serving the community; and repentance with forgiveness is emphasized. Traditionally, fasting also involves following a lean diet. On the last day of the Nativity Fast, January 6, we don’t eat anything until the first star appears in the sky, to commemorate the hardships of Mary’s and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
—Nadiyka Gerbish, “Advent and Christmas in Ukraine,” in Light from Afar: An Advent Devotional from Around the World (Upper Room Books, 2023)
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For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders,
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
—Isaiah 9:6 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
O God, thank you for the light from afar that came into our world when your Son, Jesus Christ, was born. Be with us as we await the birth of the Christ child in our hearts once again. Give us patience in the waiting. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
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(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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