Preparing in Advent

One candle lit in Nativity's Advent wreathHappy new year! The first Sunday of Advent (30 November, this year) marks the beginning of the Church’s new year. With that new beginning comes some changes–we’ll hear the gospel mostly from Mark on Sunday mornings–but more importantly, the start of the shortest season of the Church year.

Our Advent wreath is up, and each Sunday we’ll light a new candle as we count our way to the feast of the Nativity. This time of year is where we in Canada tend to feel the tension between Church and world most strongly: we’re holding off on Christmas carols, not singing them yet, while all around folk go about with Merry Christmas on their lips. And while we’re not Ebeneezer Scrooge, who reacts grumpily to such things, neither are we there yet.

Instead, Advent’s a time of preparation, of active waiting. We’re anticipating Christmas–and we’re waiting for the fullness of Christ’s presence, and sharing the good news of the kingdom that’s drawn near.

And so, you may be looking for resources to mark your Advent preparation.

Advent Photos from around the World
I’m excited for a joint project of the Anglican Communion Office and the Society of St. John the Evangelist–the building of a global Advent calendar! Everyone’s invited to enjoy the shared images and to share our own: with a theme for each day in Advent,  people will use cameras and phones to capture and share images of that theme. Learn more and see pictures at SSJE’s website!

Audio Reflections
Maybe you’ve already tried listening to some podcasts; for those who’ve wondered what they are, they’re brief audio programs that you can listen to on your computer or a device like a smortphone or tablet. For several years, the Anglican Church of Canada has been releasing podcasts in Advent and Lent. This year’s Advent podcasts, recorded at our own Christ’s Church Cathedral, were made in partnership with our companion diocese of Cuba. Learn more about the series “Sealed in the Spirit” and listen here.

Anglican/Lutheran Reflections on the Readings
Our Anglican Church of Canada partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and its counterpart in the United States, and with the Episcopal Church of the US has led to some wonderful projects; we’ll be printing and including with our orders of service each week a series of reflections on the Sunday readings by the primates/presiding bishops of those four groups. If you want to read ahead, you can see them here.

Praying with your Advent Wreath
If you’re looking for a way to pray with your Advent wreath at home, it may be worth looking at a part of the Book of Alternative Services that doesn’t get much attention–the Home Prayers section starting on page 686. It offers a simple way to say a prayer as you light candles, and offer prayers together as a family. Feel free to borrow a BAS from the church if you’d like, and the rector would be happy to show you the way through the choices you can make about how to use it! (You can find an online copy of the BAS here.)

If you want to share more ideas about how you use the season of Advent to prepare, we’d love to hear them!