The Christian year is divided into various seasons—most of us are familiar with Easter and Christmas on the Christian Calendar. The series of Sundays that lead up to Christmas is called “Advent” (from the Latin adventus: arrival, coming) and aims to mark our anticipation of Christ coming as the child born to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The four Sundays that precede Christmas Day are marked with a tone similar to the Lenten season that leads up to Easter. Anglican Churches use this season to remind us of the feelings of longing and anticipation the people of God experienced as they waited for the Messiah.
Light from Darkness
Our Scripture readings and prayers during Advent are themed around this sense of longing for Christ to come and rescue his people. The Sanctuary is decorated with a penitent purple and a special set of Advent candles is present at the front of the Church. Each week we light one of the four candles as we progressively light the set around the Advent wreath.
For Anglicans who celebrate Advent – we punctuate our Church year with a season that is not yet Christmas. We hold off on Christmas Carol and save our best rejoicing for Christmas and its twelve subsequent days of feasting.
The Advent collect begins with “give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light…” and sets the tone of the Advent season. The Incarnation (when Jesus takes on human flesh) is the light of God entering our dark world. With each candle comes more light as we get closer to Christ’s birth.
How can you celebrate Advent?
Saint Paul’s invites you to join us each Sunday in Advent at 10:30 AM (See events on our Facebook page here). You can experience Advent hymns like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” or “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” and witness the lighting of our advent wreath.
The Book of Common Prayer also offers a wonderful devotion for individuals through the daily office. Each Day in Advent has appointed readings that can become your personal or family devotional. Learn how to use the Prayerbook on Youtube here.
You can even get your own Advent set of candles for worshipping at home – check out this set from St. Andrew’s here.
The Symbolism of Advent Candles
The Advent Candles are three purple candles and one pink candle surrounding a white candle in the middle. Our purple candles represent repentance and anticipation of a royal king coming to set us free from the bondage of our sin. On our third Sunday, a pink candle of joy is lit to signal that the time is upon us. The white Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve as Christ with us is joyously celebrated.
When Is Advent 2021?
The First Sunday of Advent is November 28th, 2021.
Advent II is December 5th, 2021. Advent III is December 12th, 2021, and Advent IV is December 19th, 2021.
Traditional Christians have a set prayer for each week of the Church year called a “collect,” used during Sunday worship and then for the following week.
Here are our collects (prayers) for Advent.
The First Sunday In Advent
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.
The Second Sunday In Advent
BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Third Sunday In Advent
O LORD Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
The Fourth Sunday In Advent
O LORD, raise up, we pray thee, thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.