The Season of Advent

Introduction

Our age, as a new millennium looms up before us, shows no respect for our Christian culture for our sacred music, art or holy seasons. From September the shops begin a charade of Christmas spirit to open the purse and wallet and ‘drum-up’ trade. The Western Churches generally have given up trying to hold the old standards and, if they celebrate Advent at all, they, too, have slipped into a kind of pre-Christmas euphoria.

It is our recommendation that we take time to consider some of the traditional aspects of this special season and make it a true season of preparation.

Beginning of the Christian Year

The Christian year always begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day, the 25th December. So for four weeks we participate in the holy season of Advent. The word Advent signifies “coming” and it prepares us for the visible coming of the Son of God into this world at two different times. The first of these, of course, was at Bethlehem 2000 years ago, for which the patriarchs and prophets had so longed (Genesis 49: 10; Isaiah 64: 1; and Luke 10: 24.).

The second coming of Christ will take place at the end of the world when He will come with great power and majesty, to judge both the living and the dead.

A Time of Preparation

Christians who feel they may have lost contact with this ancient teaching of the Church in this matter need not feel it is beyond them to become re-connected. The way to do this is simply Prepare! 

Advent is a solemn time, immediately preceding Christmas, encouraging us to meditate on the entering of Christ into our daily human life at Bethlehem, (the Incarnation) and the love, patience and humility he has shown us. Advent also helps us prepare ourselves by sincere repentance for our wrong-doing, by fasting, alms-giving and other good works, for the coming of Christ and His birth in our hearts. Finally we are encouraged to pray for God’s mercy, not just for ourselves, but for the whole of humanity, when He shall come again at the consummation of the world.

If we find this a little daunting, remember our Lord’s most frequent words of comfort, “Be not afraid”. We encourage you to make a decision to do at least some small act of preparation for the Lord. If you would like some prayers to help you:

Waiting Upon the Lord

St Benedicts’s Prayer (AD 520)

O Gracious and Holy Father;
Give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to see you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power of the Spirit of
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

 

Prayer of Patriarch Philaret

O Lord, I know not what to ask you.
You alone know what are my true needs.
You love me more than I know myself how to love.
Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me.
I dare not ask either a cross or consolation.
I can only wait on you.
My heart is open to you.
Visit and help me, for your great mercy’s sake.
Strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence your holy Will and your inscrutable ways.
I offer myself as a sacrifice to you.
I put all my trust in you.
I have no other desire than to fulfill your Will.
Teach me how to pray.
May you yourself pray in me.

(Metropolitan of Moscow 1619-1633)

 

A Prayer From The Anglican Book of Common Prayer (17th Century)

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,
and put upon us the armour of light, now in this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility.
We ask this that when He shall come again to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to life immortal: through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

Advent Prayer From the Church of Scotland (20th Century)

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the “Word made flesh”,
and Teacher of the Faithful.
Let your Spirit over shadow us as we meditate on your Word,
and conform our thoughts to your revelation,
that, learning of you with honest hearts,
we may be rooted and built up in you;
 for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

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