Some Thoughts on Advent as we begin the new Church Year

December 2009 – Rector’s Ruminations

In the Christian calendar, Advent marks a period of preparation for the coming or arrival (Latin: adventus) of Christ in the flesh at Christmas (incarnation) and his second coming (parousia) in the future on the “Day of Judgment.” The season originally consisted of six Sundays, now four, and continues through the day of Christmas Eve. In the Middle Ages, the emphasis during Advent was placed on Judgment Day and wrath to come, making Advent a penitential season and often dubbed “little Lent.” Currently, the emphasis is that of joyful anticipation as we remember in word and sacrament the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem. A balance of penance and anticipation serve to see this season as one of preparation for the coming of Jesus from the past and in the future. As such, we prepare for his coming as a people who “live between the times…”

Certain customs and special traditions surround Advent. Liturgically, we shift from the color of green to purple or rose in Advent symbolizing the fact that this is a penitential season. Second, we mark the season in two ways; a circle of greenery marked by four candles representing the four Sundays of Advent and one candle is lit as each new Sunday is celebrated in Advent. A white candle at the center of the wreath known as the Christ Candle is lit on Christmas Eve. The candles may be blue, purple or lavender with some Advent wreaths using a rose-colored candle on the third Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) so named because the antiphon “Gaudete in Domino Semper” (Rejoice in the Lord Always) is sung during the liturgy.  This Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday and marks the transition from purple to the white of the Nativity.  Second, in addition to Advent wreaths, Advent calendars (available in the Church office) are used to mark each day of Advent with appropriate scriptural readings.

A new offering will be a First Sunday of Advent worship service and dinner at the Church at 5 o’clock the evening of 29 November sponsored by the Rector’s Forum group.  Mark your calendars and plan to attend.

Another tradition which we will observe at 5 o’clock on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, 20 December, is a Festival of Lessons and Carols to commemorate in word and song the two-fold coming Christ.

A concluding liturgical bit of information; as we begin the new church year, we shall be using “Year C” of the Eucharistic Lectionary (lessons for each Sunday) Book of Common Prayer, pages 911-921, and “Year Two” of the Daily Office Lectionary, Book of Common Prayer, beginning on page 937 ff.

May you, who rejoice in the first Advent of our Redeemer, at his Second Advent be rewarded with unending life.


By Bishop Craig B. Anderson

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