Advent begins on Sunday, November 27th. It is a season of preparation in the church year, and to many it is the most beautiful, spiritually rich and moving of them all. It is full of candles and greens and children’s wonder and excitement. It focuses on hope, peace, joy and love. It turns our hearts toward the light that shines in the darkness. Advent hymns and sacred music convey a mix of quiet longing and eager anticipation, as powerful in their own way as the awe and jubilation of Christmas music.
Advent is intended to help us pause and savor the quiet darkness, and help us open our hearts wide to prepare for the choirs of angels that will come singing their glorias to celebrate the birth of the light of the world. Advent teaches us how transformative it is simply to wait and watch and pray.
The problem is that our secular society races in the opposite direction. December is overfull of events and obligations and pressures. The spirit of Advent gets lost in the rush to Christmas or in the start of the Christmas celebration a month early.
That is why we are having Advent Preparation Sunday three weeks before the season begins. If we want to experience any of the spiritual richness and benefits, we need to start preparing now. We need to think about the Advent we want and need this year so that we can put in place the boundaries or plan the experiences that can make that happen. Preparation could also help those for whom the primary color of Christmas is not red or green, but blue. What could help us find the light in the long night of loneliness or grief that we may feel while others are celebrating?
This Sunday we will reflect on how to prepare for Advent and we will have a sneak preview of some of the traditional Advent themes, scriptures and hymns. We will hear beloved passages from Isaiah and Luke and sing verses of “Watchmen Tell Us of the Night” and “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” and many other scriptures and hymns. The Choir will sing “Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old” and a setting of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Organist John Atwood will play pieces by J. S. Bach and Ludwig Lenel.
Here is one of the many Advent carols we will be sampling: