Happy New Year! The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new year of the Church Calendar. The Church marks time differently than the rest of society, and in fact, the Church experiences time differently than the rest of society. That’s what the Church calendar with all its strange nooks and crannies teaches us. On the table in the office hallway is a stack of Church calendars, each household is welcome to take one. It can be a tool to help you experience time differently. Which brings us to one of the many purposes and themes of Advent: preparation. Advent is the season right before Christmas (it is not part of the Christmas season), and it is meant to be a time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, when we celebrate Jesus’ first coming (advent is Latin for coming), as well as a season to remember and prepare for Jesus’ second advent, the future event when Christ will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, and establish a kingdom of perfect peace and justice forever more. Advent is about watching and waiting. It is about preparing our minds and hearts to receive Jesus.
Advent calendars are a great way to help prepare us, and my wife, Deb has handmade Advent calendars for every family in our parish church. The calendar consists of an envelope to open for every day of Advent. The enclosed Scriptures and prayers will be a great tool to help us prepare for Christ’s arrival. If you haven’t picked yours up, it is on the office hallway table.
As the beginning of a new Church calendar year, Advent marks the reset of our cycle of Scripture readings called the lectionary. Our Sunday Eucharist lectionary is a three year cycle: A, B, and C. Today marks the beginning of Year A. You’ll notice throughout the year that Year A focuses on the Gospel of Matthew.
Advent is a special time. I encourage you to shun the almost overwhelming temptation to being crazy busy during this season. Shun the temptation to skip straight to Christmas without spending time to prepare your heart for it. Take time to pay attention, to watch, and to wait. Paradoxically, it is easy to miss Jesus at Christmas time if we aren’t careful to keep our minds and hearts on him, and focus on what is truly important. Advent gives us space to find this focus. May God richly bless you this Advent!