This week we begin a new Church Year with the season of Advent. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” But who or what is coming? As the old song says, Christmas is coming” and that is obvious – signs of the cultural celebration are all around us and have been visible for weeks. However, Robert Webber captures the true meaning of this season by identifying three Advents:
Christ’s coming at Bethlehem to be our Savior.
The expectation that at the end of history, Christ will rescue the world and establish his rule in the new heavens and earth.
The longing for Christ to come anew into our own lives.
How can we observe a holy Advent?
First, join us in worship. There are only four Sundays in the season, so it goes by quickly. Here are some things you will experience at our services:You will also see the Advent wreath gathering light throughout the season.
The Gloria is not used during Advent so it might burst forth with the joy of angels on Christmas Eve. Instead, we will sing (or say) the Kyrie/Lord have Mercy. This is an ancient cry of our need for a loving God to come and make us whole – a perfect advent song! · Our 10:00 services will include a metrical version of the Benedictus. This is the traditional canticle of Advent. I recommend you read and pray it throughout the season.
We will also introduce an opportunity for you to chant the psalms. Yes, I know that sounds scary, but it is easier that you think and is in keeping with our Anglican tradition.
We will use a common set of intercessions for the Prayers of the People throughout the season. These intercessions are based on the Advent Antiphons which form the basis of the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
As always, we will celebrate Eucharist, giving thanks to God as we remember Christ’s death, proclaim his resurrection, and await his coming in glory. Whenever we gather at the table, we anticipate the wedding feast of Christ at the restoration of all things.
In addition to our Sunday services, you can celebrate Advent with individual or family prayer. Here are some suggestions:
Light a home Advent Wreath. You can use a devotional exercise if you like, but in our home, we simply light a candle right before our evening meal and make it a part of our dinner blessing. You can also pray one of Advent collects and/or the Lord’s Prayer. · Check out the Advent guide, Journeying the Way of Love, by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. There are scriptures and meditations for every day of Advent.
Observe a time of fasting. While no longer considered a penitential season, Advent can be a great time for fasting. You can abstain from some of your Christmas treats and then “celebrate with joy” throughout the Twelve days of Christmas.
Finally, step out and try something different! Come to our Adult Forum throughout Advent to hear Linda Allport share some deeper meanings of Advent. Join our “Pack the Pack” effort to help the homeless. Donate some extra food to the food pantry ministry. And in all you do, remember that Christ is coming.
Prepare the way of the Lord!