It is the first Sunday of Advent which means it is the first Sunday of a new church year. As I have mentioned enough times to make you tired of it, I really like the church year. I am glad that I get two New Year’s Days instead of just one. I am glad that I get to think about the year ahead from two different but very complementary perspectives. I am also glad that Advent is here just by itself.
I grew up in a church tradition that did not follow the church calendar very much. There is nothing wrong with that because there is nothing “holy” or “sacred” about the church calendar; it is just a thing that some churches do and some don’t. One of the things that did come into my early church experience for which I am very grateful was Advent. My mother was raised a Lutheran and she brought Advent back into our family from her tradition, when I was young, I have no idea how old I was and my mother is now far too busy in heaven to answer any questions. Advent has been part of my winter for a long time now and while at one time the most important part was a chocolate filled Advent calendar, it has slowly become not just a part but an important and treasured part of my life.
Advent gives us some time to prepare for Christmas. Prepare ourselves spiritually and in other ways. Christmas is such a lovely time that it is too bad if you feel you have to pour all of its wonder into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Advent lets us spread the wonder over days and days and, because Christmas joy and happiness is not a zero-sum game, it actually increases the joy of the season.
The first Sunday in Advent is the Hope Sunday and this year what I was gently led to preach about was the greatest hope for the greatest number, namely Jesus’ promise that the race of humans would not disappear from the earth before he had finished his plan, which is still under way.
Knox Presbyterian Hope in what? Hope for what?
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Hope in what? Hope for what?
I hope your season of Advent is the best yet and that it prepares you for Christmas and the rest of the church year.