What is Advent and How Do You Keep It?

For Episcopalians, this Sunday (November 29th) is the first Sunday of the season of Advent.  We are leaving that long stretch of the church year called Ordinary Time (not that it is ever ordinary, in the modern sense of the word) and moving into the half of the year in which we mark the great narrative arc of the Gospel story: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.  It all starts with Advent, the beginning of the church ritual year.  If you are new to celebrating the traditional church year, Advent is the perfect season to enter into the richness of this very old way of understanding time as a gift from God (rather than as a scarce resource).  For Christians who observe it, Advent is a season of waiting and preparation.  Instead of rushing ahead to the end of the story (Christmas!), we read the Psalms and the prophets and practice waiting with the children of Israel in the long dark times when they hoped against hope for a messiah.  Their anticipation is understood as of a piece with (and a model for) our own anticipation, as we wait (sometimes in deep darkness) for the second great coming of Christ.  That is why Episcopalians don’t sing Christmas carols until Christmas; and why many of us do not put up our Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve. We are not being Scrooges! We are practicing the Christian virtue of hope. We prepare our hearts for the coming of the Light, by looking squarely into the world’s and also our own darkness. Then we rest and wait together, trusting that new life and light will always come eventually. If ever there was a year to practice such hope together, 2020 is it! If you are feeling out of sync this season with the forced cheerfulness of Christmas in the world at large, I invite you to into the rest and hope of Advent with us at St. Philip’s. Here are some resources to help you get started.

Brother, Give Us a Word Sign up to receive a daily word for meditation from the brothers of St. John the Evangelist. While you are at it, explore their whole site. These guys are awesome, and you should know about them.

Full Homely Advent Calendar My favorite online advent calendar, which is really just one small part of a much larger and fantastic website. While you are here, click on the links to learn more about Rediscovering Advent;The Saints of AdventThe Hymns of Advent; and Observing the Last Days of Advent with the O Antiphons

Advent Conspiracy If you are interested in pushing back against the commercialization of Christmas, this is your go-to Advent resource: “Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All.” That pretty much sums it up.

Praying Advent
 Lots of general resources here.

St. Nicholas
 A great site for families with small children

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