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.
Morning readings: Luke 1:46b-55, Micah 6:6-8 , and Hebrews 10:5-10
Evening readings: Isaiah 9:2-7, Psalm 96, Titus 2:11-14, and Luke 2:1-14
Everything in its time, everything in its season.
It has been difficult to remain faithful to our Advent challenge. There have been many opportunities, both within and without our local churches, to slip into Christmas too early. Many of us have been listening to and singing Christmas music for weeks now. There have been Christmas parties to attend, shopping to be done, gifts to wrap. Our homes, workplaces, and churches are all decked out with Christmas trees, lights, wreaths, and other holiday decorations. While none of these things are wrong, they too easily encroach upon and drown out a season which is very helpful for our spiritual growth. Many of these things are unavoidable; most people, especially those who aren’t believers, would object to having a workplace Christmas party “after Christmas”. Even among Christians this “Advent thing” is unpopular. Churches have allowed Hallmark to set the calendar and seasons far too long.
Some of us have worked hard to celebrate Advent in its own right. Once the cat is out of the bag, putting her back in will be next to impossible. But we’re called to be counter-cultural anyway, to do things differently on purpose, to reject “because everyone else is doing it” as a reason. Perhaps a few people being intentional about saving Christmas for Christmas will raise awareness in our churches and help each other find ways to keep Christmas from coming too early.
If you’ve been keeping Advent as a season in its own right, what have you learned this month? What has been the hardest to resist? Do you think it has been worth the effort?
If you haven’t kept Advent as strictly (or at all), why did you choose not to? Was it because of obligations that you felt were incompatible, or was it because you’ve always kept Christmas a certain way and don’t wish to change?
Please consider leaving a comment with your answers.
May you have a very merry and blessed Christmas.
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.