Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Psalm 25:1-10, Nehemiah 9:6-15, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
We begin a new season on Sunday, as well as a new year. The Church calendar begins with the first Sunday in Advent. It is important to remember that Advent is not “pre-Christmas”, but is a season in its own right. It is a season of reflection, preparation, and longing for the coming Savior. The first two weeks focus on the second coming of Christ, while the last two weeks focus on the incarnation.
The secular Christmas season is already in full swing. Buying things we cannot afford, asking for things we do not need, eating things we are not supposed to be eating, the same secular Christmas music being repeated ad nauseum... Is this why we fall in a heap on December 26th, utterly sick of Christmas? Must we follow along like cattle to slaughter?
Or can we celebrate Advent until the evening of December 24th, making sure to savor Advent in all its contemplative glory, saving Christmas for the actual Christmas season? Is it possible to use Advent as a time of preparation and anticipation for the coming of Christ? Could it be the church Fathers were right after all, that maybe getting into Christmas too early ruins the experience and all the joy?
Let’s keep Advent this year. Let’s not allow the secular Christmas to sneak into church. Let’s take time to slow down the hectic pace and focus on Christ, who has come, and who will come, and who comes now. Let’s prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming – both at the Day of the Lord and as an infant, holy and innocent.
Take some time to ask God how you can keep Advent. You may find the following prayer helpful:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have given us this time every year that we might anticipate and prepare for the coming of Christ: Grant us grace that we might not follow the rest of the world, but that we might set ourselves apart to follow and serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.