In Advent the Church begins her annual journey with Jesus from his nativity to his coming again in glory. During this season we wait with Israel of old for the coming Messiah. As Christians, we know our Messiah has come in Christ, so we are preparing for the celebration of Christmas. At the same time, we pray earnestly for the coming “Day of the Lord,” when all brokenness will be mended and all Evil will be cast out.
As the Virgin Mary submitted herself to the will of God and allowed the Word of God to make his dwelling within her, during Advent we follow Mary’s example and prepare our own hearts to be the dwelling place of Emmanuel (God with us). In our world we are bombarded by false messiahs vying for our allegiance. During Advent, Christians consciously resist these illusions that surround us and re-orient our vision and direction toward Christ.
This is never easy. This time of year is infuriatingly busy for most of us. To help, we have provided resources, suggested music, and practices which you may choose to include in your Advent journey. We are particularly excited about a guide that Kristin has created for family worship and meals during Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. The guide is available by donation. Scroll down for more details.
Our prayer is that each of us would discover ancient and new rhythms that anchor us to hope in Christ. And when we feel like giving up because the weight of the world is more than we can bear, it is in those moments that we pray most earnestly: 'Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!'
Counter-Cultural Practices to Re-orient Ourselves Toward Christ
THE ADVENT WREATH: A wreath made of evergreens into which candles have been placed. Traditionally, it has four candles – three blue or purple, and one rose coloured. In the centre may be placed a tall white Christ Candle. Each Sunday of Advent an additional candle is lit. See Kristin's Liturgical Eating guide for wreath-lighting liturgies.
WAITING: Don't jump straight to Christmas! Spend these weeks preparing progressively for the celebration of Jesus' birth.
DECORATIONS: The colour blue (and/or purple) represents our waiting and preparing for the coming king. How can you add these colours to your home? If you plan to decorate for the season of Christmas, do it gradually as we go through Advent, slowly adding ornaments to the tree or figurines to the nativity set.
FASTING: By practicing an 'ascetical fast' during Advent, our hunger for food and our hunger for Christ are paralleled. An ascetical fast is a “reduction of food” resulting in a permanent state of a certain hunger that is “lived as a reminder of God and a constant effort to keep our mind on Him.”
MUSIC: Advent songs such as, 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel,' and 'Come Thou Long Expected Jesus are great starting points. See the Sojourn Spotify Playlist for good advent tunes.