Hunker Down this Advent

Matt DampierCliffNotes

Dear Christ Church,

Last Sunday ended the Christian calendar with Christ the King Sunday. This Sunday our Christian calendar resets as Advent begins. (If you want a helpful, 4 minute video on the Christian calendar this video is very helpful!)

Advent crashes into our world, suddenly. There is a quick swing from the festivity of Thanksgiving to the starkness of advent—from feasting to fasting. Advent is traditionally a season of humility and preparation, a mini-Lent. It’s a season to take stock of our interior life and bring our whole self before God.

As we enter Advent, you’ll notice changes in our worship. The colors have shifted from ordinary green to the more austere purple. We begin each service singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” vocalizing our desires stretched out for our King to come.

Fr. Cliff and I will preach through a series on sin calling us to examine deeper any darkness residing in our hearts. The Confession of Sin, normally at the beginning of the service, will follow the sermon highlighting our perpetual need for grace. We move from the Confession to the Prayers of the People where we will be led to pray for God’s kingdom to come in an arena of justice and mercy.

Keeping Advent will feel out of step with how the rest of the world journeys toward Christmas. One of my favorite preachers, Fleming Rutledge, sermonizes about this difference:

“As we prepare to enter the Advent season, the Church hunkers down. The [Anglican] Church in America has been known for being really scrupulous about observing Advent; it’s one of the best things about us. We don’t decorate the church during Advent; we don’t sing carols; we don’t move to Christmas until the eve itself. Advent is a time for making a fearless inventory of the darkness. This is a call for character and courage…At no time is there a greater contrast between what the church teaches and what is going on all around us.”

I love that line; hunker down. Take stock. And prepare for Christmas by observing Advent.

Grace. Peace.