Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898
ADVENT, by Fr. Michael Petty [Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL]
“This Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent, a season of the Church year which consists of the four weeks before Christmas Day. Advent is derived from the Latin word, “adventus,” meaning “coming” or “arrival.” During this season, we have a dual focus in worship: On one hand, we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s historical advent or birth in Bethlehem. One the other hand, we anticipate the Christ’s final advent as the world’s Lord and Judge at the end of history. The celebration of Advent helps us to place ourselves in the context of God’s redemptive purposes. We live after the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah promised to Israel and before the coming of Jesus Christ to bring his work to its ultimate fulfillment.
This season is intended by the Church to help us keep a proper focus during what has become, in our culture, a frenzied time with heavy commercial emphasis. We spend this season most fruitfully, not by counting down the days to December 25, but by preparing ourselves to celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God and by amending our lives in the anticipation of his promised return. Advent is a season to slow down, to reflect, and to meditate on the great mercies of God. To aid in this process, you may find it useful to read Scripture regularly during this Season. Scripture readings for every day of the Advent Season can be found on page 937 and page 939 of The Book of Common Prayer.
The Advent Season comes to an end with the First Eucharist of Christmas, on Christmas Eve. This Eucharist ushers the Church into the Season of Christmas, which lasts until January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany [the Twelve Days of Christmas]. Because we observe Christmas as a distinct season, you will notice that we do not make use of Christmas music during Advent.
Advent has been observed by the Church since the sixth century and, over time, many traditions have become associated with the season. One of these traditions is that of the Advent Wreath, a circle of greenery with four blue candles on the circumference and a white candle in the center. The Advent Wreath is a sign of hope; it is greenery displayed during the winter and candles lit as the days grow shorter. On each of the four Sundays of Advent, a different candle is lit. The first candle is the Patriarch’s Candle, reminding us of the Old Testament Patriarchs who anticipated the fulfillment of God’s promises. The second is the Prophet’s Candle, reminding us of the Old Testament prophets who foretold of the Messiah’s birth. The third is the John the Baptist Candle, reminding us of the prophet who proclaimed Christ’s advent. The fourth is the Virgin Mary Candle, reminding us of Mary’s faithfulness in responding to God’s call to be the Mother of the Messiah. The final candle, the Christ Candle, is lit on Christmas Eve. As the winter darkness gathers, the light of the Advent Wreath increases and reminds us of the Light of God, shining in the darkness. The lighting of the Advent Wreath is an act of lived hope, as the Church remember’s Christ’s birth and anticipates his return in glory.”
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel . . . .”
Some Resources for Advent:
www.ToadilyHandmade.com: 100% beeswax Advent candles [with color!], a suggestion from my daughter, Haley Stewart.
“Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas,” Plough Publication House, a gift from my sister, Susan Blair Hollister.
“All Through the Day, All Through the Year: Family Prayers and Celebrations,” by David B. Batchelder. Augsburg Press.
“The St. James Ecumenical Calendar of the Christian Year,” The Fellowship of St. James, www.fsj.org
P. S. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! I felt well and enjoyed eating a bit of everything! We went to the home of the Bowers Family, in Tallahassee. They have been our dear friends for at least 15 years. How thankful we are for our family and friends, who read this blog and continually pray for us!
Chemo Round 4 is scheduled for December 11.