For those who use Advent calendars, Advent starts on December 1.
For those who follow the church year, Advent starts, usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
In the Celtic tradition, Advent started yesterday, November 15.
One resource I read noted that God wanted His people to celebrate and remember their past through festivals such as Passover, Rosh Ha-Shanah, and the Day of Atonement.
The Christian church has created its own festivals: Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.
Each of these festival days is preceded by a period of preparation. Easter is preceded by the 40 days of Lent. Pentecost is preceded by the 50 days of the Easter season. And
Christmas is preceded by Advent, a period of indeterminate length, depending on how you choose to celebrate.
This year I'm doing "Little Lent," the forty days leading up to Christmas. Unlike Lent, where Sundays are not counted, Little Lent does count Sundays, so forty days takes you to November 15.
The devotional book I'm using is Celtic Advent: 40 days of devotions to Christmas by David Cole.
He writes that
"...the Celtic church, during this 40-day Advent, focused on what is called the three comings of Christ. The first was the incarnation, which is what Christmas is all about; the second was the coming of Christ into our own selves...[this] was a continual activity in every part of our lives on a daily basis....this is about Christ being intrinsically involved and interwoven in every part and aspect of our everyday lives. The third coming is the return of Christ at the end of all things as we know it, as described in the book of Revelation."
Hopefully, by starting Advent a little earlier, I can ease into getting things ready, like the Advent candles and the nativity set. Because we travel during Thanksgiving week, I always have trouble getting everything ready for that "first" Sunday of Advent.
Whenever you choose to start your Advent preparations, may you "know the joy of God in the celebrations which surround us all." (David Cole)
- Ann Iona Warner
PS: St. Stephen's is making available a limited number of Advent devotional books for your personal use. You can pick it up at church on Sunday morning, or contact the church office.