The Anticipation of Advent: A New Beginning to the Liturgical Calendar

NOTE: The following is a story I wrote for the local paper, it was published today.  Advent is my favorite season of the year and I am looking forward to a new start in a new liturgical year.

Last year at this time my world fell apart. The love that I thought I had left me and stepped on my heart on the way out the door.

Today, a year later, I am in a better place and if weren’t for my God, my family, my BFF (so many panicked nights of tears and fearful rants!), my church family and for all of YOU, I would not be where I am today.

I have a long way to go, but the ride down that road has stopped being a chore that must be undertaken and has become an adventure filled with love and surprises and hope.

If you are reading this, thank you. I love you.

* * *  .  .  . * * *

The Advent quilt in its first procession. Click the picture to follow the link to the dedication story for this banner.

The Anticipation of Advent: A New Beginning to the Liturgical Calendar

By Kimberly Mason

Halloween is barely over before stores begin to play Christmas songs and string up flashing lights, hoping to lure consumers into a frenzy of buying and wrapping and overspending.

There is no time to fall into the darkness and quiet of the autumn season or to reflect upon the coming winter. The Black Friday that follows Thanksgiving doesn’t merely call, it shouts out to an ever-consuming, overly commercialized society of shoppers eager to shop sales, so eager that they become maniacal over the hunt for deals and bargains. They’ll lose sleep and trample down their fellow man to be the first to grab that Christmas joy.

“Remember the reason for the season” may be a cliché phrase, but it is cliché for a reason. The season has become, in many American households, a season of commercialism in a plastic world of instant gratification. The season has lost its reason.

“We live in an instant culture, where people have lost the ability to wait,” said Pastor Tom Eberle, Chehalis United Methodist Church. “Advent is a time of reflection and anticipation for the birth of Christ. It is a season of spiritual preparation.”

For churches which follow a liturgical calendar, Christmas is not just a day that ends at noon on the 25th of December. It is a season of celebration that begins on Christmas Day and lasts for 12 days, ending at the feast of Epiphany, Jan. 6.

According to Sister Joan Chittister, a nun and writer, “Christmas is not meant to be simply a day of celebration; it is meant to be a month of contemplation. But because Advent has been lost somewhere between Thanksgiving turkey and the pre-Christmas sales, we have lost one of the richest seasons of the year. Unless we can reclaim Advent, the lack of it will show dearly in the way we go through the rest of life itself.”

Advent, a favorite season for many of Lewis County’s local clergy, marks the beginning of the new liturgical year. It is during the four Sundays of Advent leading up to the Christmas season, that the liturgical churches begin to prepare for the Light that is coming into the world.

Pastor Dan Freeman, Peace Lutheran Church, Chehalis, said that Advent is often eclipsed by the coming Christmas season.

“We fight against the co  mmercialization of Christmas that is ever encroaching (into Advent),” Freeman said. “Advent is an extra time of preparation. We have a little extra church, a little extra reflection, a little more focus on what Christ has done for us.”

In the Episcopal Church, the celebration of Christmas does not begin until the eve of Christmas day.

“Back in the ‘70s, the national church made a big effort to restore the season of Advent as a season of expectation and anticipation,” said Father Glenn Totman, St. Timothy Episcopal Church, Chehalis, “foretelling the coming of Christ in both Bethlehem and also the second coming of Christ, as Christ the King.”

Though, said Totman, fighting the tide of commercialism is a battle that must be constantly waged.

The Advent season is marked in many ways. The Advent wreath is a common Christian tradition, the liturgical colors change from white of Thanksgiving and Christ the King Sunday to the purple or blue of the Advent season.

The altar is more austere during the Advent season, the liturgy in the worship service or Mass reflects the journey from darkness into the light and invites God’s people to stop and consider the meaning of the journey.

At St. John’s Lutheran Church, Chehalis, the women of the church have begun a new tradition of an evening gathering for women only.

“It helps us to gather together and take a deep breath, to focus,” said Betsy Faro. “I love (the Advent season and) the slow procession to the manger.”

•••

Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at kz@tds.net.

 

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~ by Kimberly Mason on November 27, 2010.

3 Responses to “The Anticipation of Advent: A New Beginning to the Liturgical Calendar”

  1. Many years ago I heard that part of the reason for our unusual state during Advent is that it’s as though we’re pregnant! So, doesn’t that make the Lutheran women gathering particularly enchanting? May your Advent season be full of all the meaning of pregnancy Kimberly.

  2. Isn’t it fun to look back and see how far you’ve come? Great job this year!

  3. I enjoyed this – thanks for the reminder about the season. I need to dig out my Barbara Crafton Advent devotional.

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