We began a new year on November 29th, with the “Hanging of the Greens.” Advent is a season of prepara-tion and expectation. It is true that the signs of Christ-mas come earlier each year. It’s difficult to set aside the many voices that drown out Advent, but, for the church, Advent is essential. It is a reminder that John laid the foundation for the ministry of Jesus. As John put it, “I baptize with water, but he baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” Both are important. The water symbolically washes away the accumulated “stuff” that prevents us from fully experiencing the realm of God, while that baptism with the Spirit that Jesus brings empowers us to be agents of wholeness.