The season of Advent is rich in devotional themes. In Advent we are called to repent and get ready for Christ's coming - at the end of time, into our hearts in the present, and into the world as the baby Jesus. In this season we celebrate the biblical saints, John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Our Lord, both of whom point us to Jesus. The historical saints Nicholas (December 6) and Lucy (December 13) also remind us to turn to Christ - in the person of the weak and vulnerable one (Nicholas) and as the light who is coming into the world (Lucy). Advent is a season for interior, personal preparation as well as outer work for social justice.
To mark the season in our congregation we are planning a Sounds of Hope Concert (December 2), Advent Choir Festival (December 9), the annual Christmas pageant (December 16), the Longest Night Service (December 21), and several other children's, seniors', youth, and choir events.
In addition to our own congregational celebrations of Advent, the four weeks and more leading up to Christmas is a cultural time for shopping, baking, decorating, and generally getting ready for December 25.
It's a lot to fit in to just four weeks! I'm tired already just thinking about it all.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to have more time and space to dwell on the great themes of Advent as mentioned already? - the reign of Christ, the call to personal and social transformation, and the incarnation of Jesus.
To give that time and space, and to help people more fully enter in to the true spirit of the season (of Advent!) many congregations are recovering the ancient practice of keeping a seven week Advent. How does this look in practice? The worship space is decorated for Advent (blue paraments) early in November, helping us to remember that this is a season set apart. The traditional Advent wreath includes seven candles. Music and litanies guide our prayers and reflections on Advent themes. The lectionary readings for November remain the same.
I'd like to propose that we at Hope implement the seven week Advent this year. That would mean beginning the season on November 11.
Send me a note to share your thoughts! [email protected]
Peace and Advent blessings to you,