Advent is "a time of waiting, but it is not a time to sit around and wait for someone to do something," The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, says in her seasonal message.
The American Anglican leader is urging individuals and congregations to take time during the reflective period of preparation for Christmas to reach out with compassion to families and to strangers, in particular.
The Presiding Bishop's video Advent message, taped on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St John The Divine in New York City, is available on the home page of The Episcopal Church website.
In the liturgical calendar, Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent was 29 November 2009.
"Advent is a time of expectation and hope," she said. "We are in a time in the world's history when we are in a great deal of darkness."
She declared: "It's a time to remember those who are suffering, around us and far away. I urge you to remember those who are at war, those who are returning from war and their needs."
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori concluded: "You have an ability to make a difference. We live in expectation of a world that is healed."
The Presiding Bishop's video Advent message will be posted on YouTube and Facebook.
The Episcopal Church has 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations and is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church webiste is at: www.episcopalchurch.org 
Ekklesia Christmas charity gifts online: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/lifestyle/gifts/charitychrismasgifts