Advent begins this Sunday! Read to the bottom of this longer-than-usual CliffNotes; you won’t want to miss a thing. Advent and Lent are the two most widely observed seasons of the church calendar. They are both seasons of reflection and quiet in our annual rhythm. They both culminate in massive celebrations (the Feasts of the Incarnation and Resurrection, respectively). They also share an element of self-examination and preparation. Nevertheless, Advent and Lent have some big differences, besides the feasts to which they point.
Lent is primarily a penitential season, looking back on our lives, taking stock, confessing sins, receiving forgiveness and pushing “re-set” through spiritual disciplines. “Advent,” however, means “the coming,” looking toward to the restoration of all things, to the day when there is no more pain or suffering, sorrow or sin. During Advent we are in darkness watching for the light; we are in exile longing for home; we are holding onto promises, waiting for their fulfillment. We endure suffering, hoping for redemption. Watching. Longing. Waiting. Hoping. This is the posture of Advent, on the edge of our seats anticipating the coming of King Jesus. We are watching and waiting, longing and hoping for his return, when He will make all things new.
Advent culminates with the Feast of the Incarnation, when we remember that He did already come, as the longed-for Messiah, and that He will come again. So how do we watch and wait in the meantime? In quietness and solitude. With patient, but tenacious hope. By preparing Him room.
Our Parish Quiet Day this Saturday is set aside for just that purpose (see details below). This is a prime opportunity to live counter to the cultural frenzy that characterizes the month of December. Whether you come for the whole experience, or for part, I hope you’ll join us this Saturday to recapture sacred time.
This Sunday you will notice some subtle changes to our worship and liturgy that kick off the season of Advent. Yes, you might notice adjustments to the smells and bells, vestments and song, but you’ll also notice a weekly focus on an issue of injustice, as we cry out for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done, a kingdom of justice and righteousness.
And then there’s our annual Ceili and Men’s Chili Cook-off! After worship this Sunday we will transform the room for a party. I have three things to say about this: (1) Bring some chili, men. It’s not too late to register your delicious entry; (2) Bring a friend, everyone. This is a great opportunity to bring someone who does not know Christ or have a church home; (3) Get on your dancing shoes/boots.