02 December 2017

Holy Advent

With the setting of the sun tonight, Advent will be upon us. It is a very short season for Western Christians this year. Just a smidge over three weeks, the shortest possible. What joy to welcome its arrival, though, with the wreath and the growing light and warmth, the many beautiful Advent carols, the extra services where we lighten the long and dark evenings with the Word and prayer, psalms and songs! 

The color of Advent is either blue (more modern, though based on older Swedish and Sarum precedents) or violet. Either way, it is good to remember that it is a season of penitence. John the Baptist figures large, with his constant warning and challenge to us not to settle down into the ways of this world, thus failing to be prepared to welcome God's surprise inbreaking, the joyous arrival of His Kingdom in the flesh of His Son and our Bridegroom. The collect we pray this week reminds us why we need Advent so very much: “rescue us from the threatening perils of our sins.” We have a hard time believing that our sins ARE threatening perils. Advent and St. John the Baptist remind us that they are. They always damage us and unchecked would utterly destroy us. Advent is a time of gracious intervention: God’s intervention. God’s breaking into our hell-bent, death-bent, self-bent lives and world with unfathomable mercy and grace.

Maybe this year in addition to lighting your Advent wreath and saying the prophecy table devotions (see below: Advent Table Devotions), consider adding the Advent litany to your prayers, at least on Wednesday and Friday (the two standing penitential days each week). We'll be using it daily in Chapel at the International Center:

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Jesus, name called Wonderful; Jesus, our great Counselor; Jesus, true and mighty God; Jesus, Father of the age to come; Jesus, Prince of Peace:
We praise and bless Your holy name.

Jesus, Son of David; Jesus, Branch of Jesse; Jesus, Rose of Sharon; Jesus, Lily of the Valleys; Jesus, Bright and Morning Star.
Deliver us from our sins, we pray You.

Jesus, Scepter of Israel; Jesus, Light of the Gentiles; Jesus, Desire of all nations; Jesus, Sun of Righteousness; Jesus, Lawgiver, Priest, Judge and King:
Help us and bless us.

O Jesus hear us,
And prepare us for Your coming.

Gather Your ancient people, the Jews, to Yourself; Cause all the Gentiles to come to Your light and truth; Convert all leaders and rulers of nations to fall down before You and to desire Your beauty:
Hear our prayer, O Lord, and let our cry come unto You.

Help Your messengers to prepare the way before You in every land; Let all the nations fear You as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations; Endue Your ministers with righteousness and knowledge; Preserve all who put their trust in You; remember all who are afflicted or suffering in any way (especially…); and give peace to all Your people:
Hear our prayer, O Lord, and let our cry come unto You.

Prepare us for Your coming.
and save us from our sins.

Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray.
Our Father...

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