December 4th Newsletter
Welcome to the Advent season. I thought I would take a few lines here to explain what the liturgical seasons and Advent in particular mean. And then I’ll say a word or two about how we might honor this season throughout the week.
Advent is the first season in the church’s liturgical calendar. Beginning four Sundays before Christmas, Advent is a season of preparation and anticipation for the coming of the Lord at Christmas and for all of God’s redemptive work in the world. The posture of Advent is: God, we need you. Come quickly, Lord. While Advent is a preparation for the celebration of the coming of the Lord at Christmas, its themes are just as much, if not more, on the return of Christ, the second coming. As you can see, everything in Advent is looking forward. As we said on Sunday, Advent begins in the dark, seeking the light. That’s where we begin and we’ll continue for the next four weeks.
Advent ends on Christmas Eve. In our Christmas Eve service, you can even hear and see the turn from Advent to Christmas, as we turn from the prophets to the Gospels. The Christmas season lasts until Epiphany on January 6th and then we’re off into the year with readings from the life of Jesus and the stories of Israel’s life with God in the Old Testament. Other seasons follow—Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time, until we come again to the end with Christ the King. And then the year begins all over again.
Each Sunday in the year has scripture readings from the Revised Common Lectionary which we follow. The readings are planned to reflect the liturgical season. So as we follow the readings and seasons of the year, we move full circle from darkness to light, from our need for God to the glory of God in Christ. It’s a beautiful rhythm to follow. You may also like to know that daily readings complement the Sunday readings. There’s a link to the daily readings in the newsletter each week.
So here we are now in Advent, a season of preparation and anticipation for God’s coming. Obviously it's a season for pies and cookies, too! I don’t mean to take all of that away (far from it), but I would like to point out (for myself as much as anything) that Advent is traditionally a penitential season like Lent. In fact, it used to be called Lent and what we know of as Lent was called The Great Lent. It still is in some places. Anyway, what would it mean to let Advent work on us as a kind of Lent? Does it mean giving up all sweets this month? Maybe, I suppose. But it could be something even simpler. It could be just adopting some kind of discipline, some practice by which you remember your great need for God’s grace. Christmas should come with a burst of light and joy. It is the feast to Advent’s fast like Easter is the feast to Lent’s fast. This will be totally counter-cultural and perhaps counter-intuitive for this time of year, but try it. I think you’ll experience Advent more fully and Christmas more richly.
However this season does its good work in you, you are in my prayers and you are in God’s heart. I hope you may be able to join us tonight for Hanging of the Green. We’ll prepare the sanctuary and even sing a little Christmas ahead of time. And then we’ll share a meal together. The mission tree is up and ready for you, too. On the tree are opportunities to meet specific needs of some of our ministry partners.
Blessings on your week,
For more news and other information, click HERE for the December 4th Newsletter.