No, it’s not the January-December calendar, or your employer’s fiscal calendar, or even the Discordian calendar. It’s the liturgical calendar, and today, the first day of the season of Advent, is the Church’s New Year. Even if you’ve never paid any attention to the church calendar in years past, today can be the day that you step aboard for what can truly be a blessed ride.
The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming.” As a season, it spans the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The color for the season is purple, signifying preparation, and you can see this from the art of the historic Church…
…to the Advent candles you’ll see being lit during worship throughout the coming weeks:
The preparatory purpose of Advent is two-fold: (1) to prepare for Christmas as we remember Christ’s coming in the Incarnation and (2) to prepare for his promised return.
By looking ahead to the future and remembering the past, Advent has a remarkable way of revealing the reality of the present. If we are honest, we must acknowledge our very real needs for rescue and redemption now. The exile is not over. The road through the desert is not paved. War and violence still abound. The devastation of poverty still plagues our world. Injustice still goes unnoticed. Disease still ravages our bodies. We long for the Lord to come and make all things new and to wipe away every tear from our eyes. The Advent cry is,“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
That’s a whole lot to wrap our minds and hearts around in four short weeks, even without all the busyness that our lives tend to get crowded with during this time of the year. This Advent, to help us as a church to really enter into this time of preparation, All Saints once again is working to create an atmosphere of stillness, so that we can wait upon the Lord expectantly.
In this first week of Advent, we will be blessed with a Service of Confirmation (this Thursday, December 2, at 7pm), followed by a Friday night to Saturday afternoon Discipleship Weekend with Bishop Thad Barnum (contact Fr. David Hyman to register, and do it today).
Finally, here is the wonderful and ancient Advent hymn to prepare our hearts for what God wants to do in our midst, a version of which we used this morning as our Gradual–O Come, O Come, Emmanuel: