The Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day (Dec 25), which is the Sunday nearest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24).
If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.
The word Advent means “Coming” or “Arrival.” The Advent as a Church season is used to refer to the Coming of Christ.
The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Christ in His First Advent, and anticipation of His return as the King in His Second Advent.
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolises the spiritual journey of Christians as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power.
The acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people.
So, the Advent calls to mind God’s breaking into history in the Incarnation and the anticipation of a future consummation of that history for which “all creation is groaning, awaiting its redemption.”
The anticipated Advent carries a dual theme of threat and promise. In view of this, Advent has come to be a time of preparation marked with prayer.
While Lent is characterised by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advent’s prayers are ones of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness that are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isa 9).
The spirit of Advent is expressed well in the parable of the bridesmaids, who were anxiously awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13). There is profound joy at the Bridegroom’s expected coming. And yet, a warning of the need for preparation echoes through the parable. But even then, the prayer of Advent is still:
Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel!
Jesus is coming soon. It is going to be great. But it calls for preparation. Are you prepared? To prepare is, as we pray, “to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light.” It is only when you are prepared that you can truly pray: ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come.
Worship And Lectionary For The Advent Sunday
Liturgical Colour – Violet
Sentence: Look up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near (Luk.21: 28)
The Advent Collect/Prayer
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which Your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility, so that on the last day, when He shall come again in His glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through Him, Who is alive and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
NB: This Collect is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Eve.
Old Testament: Isa. 2:1-5. Psalm 122. Epistle Rom. 13:8-14. Gospel Matt. 24:36-44
Post Communion Sentence: The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11
Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector,
Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.