I love the season of Advent. It is a time of joyful anticipation of Christ’s Coming. During these first few weeks of Advent we focus on Christ’s Second Coming, when he, in the words of one of our penitential tropes, “will come in glory, with salvation for God’s people.” What a time that will be! Then, in Advent’s final days, we turn our attention to his First Coming, at Christmas, when, in the words of another trope, he” came to gather the nations into the peace of God’s Kingdom”. Advent is a time for us to wait in quiet and darkness for Christ’s Coming.
I urge you to enter as fully as possible into this liturgical season. Be patient, and wait! Do not rush the Christmas Season! Enjoy the many beautiful symbols and images of Advent: a pregnant Blessed Mother; Mary and Joseph preparing for the birth of their child; the poems of Isaiah regarding the peace of God’s Holy Mountain; spears being turned into plowshares; the candles on the Advent Wreath; the lion and the lamb lying down with each other, and the child playing in the serpent’s den; John the Baptist, etc. etc.
Then, after four weeks of preparation, and after having made room in our lives for the Child, we celebrate with great joy the Christmas Season. The Christmas Season begins for us at 4:00 PM on December 24, and continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year will be celebrated on January 13! The Season includes many bright feasts, including the Nativity of the Lord; the Feast of the Holy Family; the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God; the Baptism of the Lord; and, liturgically, the brightest feast of all, the Epiphany.
Patient waiting and prayer during Advent will allow us to celebrate the entire Christmas Season with great joy: right up to January 13th. It is my experience that, when we rush the season, and do not prepare sufficiently during Advent, we miss out on much that Christmas has to offer. We get “Christmassed out” (and take down decorations, stop partying, and stop singing Christmas carols) well before the season ends on January 13. (As in the past, our Parish Council and staff Christmas parties will actually be during the Christmas Season, on January 2nd and 4th. respectively.)