Fr. Martin on the meaning and practice of Advent

In Advent we are called to a season of refreshment and renewal, of rest and reflection, both to become centered in the Gospel, in God’s peace and purpose, and to prepare for a great celebration – in this time: Christmas.

We need this season because many of us have become distracted by recent events and unfolding news, and are sometimes anxious about what we cannot control. We forget God’s grace and power in our midst. We worry about controlling what we think of as our own possessions rather than being stewards of God’s blessings towards us.

Historically, the season of Advent came about as a season like Lent. It began 40 days before Christmas, around November 11 – the Feast of St. Martin of Tours – and was known as the Lent of St. Martin. Like Lent, Advent is a season for renewal in eager anticipation of great joy to come. It is a re-focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, as an antidote to the commercial frenzy and the anxieties of the holidays. And like Lent every year, it is a gift from God that we need more than we realize.

To observe a holy Advent, I invite you to read one of the four Gospels between now and Christmas. I encourage you to attend Sunday and Wednesday worship services as often as possible, and read our Advent devotional booklet every day. And try to attend our Advent Quiet Morning here on Saturday, Dec. 3, 9:30 to Noon.

Here are some additional resources that we can access at no cost on-line:

1) Archbishop Welby’s course on getting more out of the Bible

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, author, teacher, and spiritual head of 80 million Anglicans worldwide, wants everyone to draw closer to God through the Bible by joining his free online class, “Getting More Out of the Bible with Justin Welby.” The course, which is rich with resources and inspiration, will be offered for free to all for the duration of the Advent season, Nov. 27 through Dec. 24.
“We are living in divisive and complex times where honing abilities to live peaceful, wholehearted lives is increasingly difficult,” according to a press release from ChurchNext, which is hosting the course. “The Bible regularly proves to be the inspiration behind lives of kindness, authenticity, and reconciliation.”
“A key message of the Bible is transformation,” says Welby, “And now more than ever our lives, communities, and society will all benefit from the re-discovery of the Bible as a source of transformation.”

2) Scripture and Recipes for each day of Advent
The resources of Make Ready the Feast are ideal for personal, congregational and community planning and scheduling of Advent observances.
“Advent calls us to a time of preparation and hope as we await the birth of the Christ Child,” comments Mary Brennan, Episcopal Church mission communication officer. “One tangible expression of this call is planning, cooking, and sharing a meal or special dish that brings sustenance and comfort to others and to ourselves. The importance of providing food for both body and soul is found throughout the Bible. Coming to the table – in whatever condition or station of life – is essential to our faith.”
The recipes represent diverse cultures and traditions, demonstrating the strong relationships that cross borders and oceans in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.

3) Daily Advent Meditations from around the world

AdventWord is a new twist on this old theme: it invites people to sign up to receive a daily medita- tion. Recipients are invited to submit a photograph in response on their social media account with the hashtag #AdventWord. The photographs are pulled together in real time to create a living Advent calendar.
The initiative is jointly run by the U.S.-based Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE), a religious order of men in Cambridge, Massachusetts; with the Lady Doak College, a women’s college in south India; and the Anglican Communion Office.
“AdventWord is a wonderfully innovative way to engage people in prayer all over the world,” the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said. “The Bible calls on us to bring prayers and petitions to God. I urge Anglicans everywhere to sign up and get involved in what will be an extraordinary, powerful and global wave of prayer.”