Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent — A Needed Time of Preparation | The Rev. Peter J. Van Hook

Every year, during the first part of December, somebody will approach me and ask why don't we sing more carols during Advent. The curmudgeonly answer, of course, is: “Because it's Advent; not Christmas. Christmas doesn't start until December 25th.” Although this is technically correct, it's not a particularly helpful response to the question, nor is it entirely correct. The more accurate answer is, “Because I believe that the Church stands for something different and offers something than the world offers, and at this time we are offered a time of reflection and preparation for the Celebration of Christ's coming.” 

(As a footnote Consider that the three Sundays following Christmas are some of the least attended services of the church year. If you like singing Christmas music, these are the Sundays to sing it.)

American culture has evolved—or we should say devolved—into a mad dash for immediate gratification. Advent, as does Lent, reminds us that important things require preparation, consideration, contemplation, and most of all good judgement. One of the things that the Anglican tradition has stood for is the centrality of a few core beliefs and actions over against a long and detailed list of rules and expectations. One of those essentials is the value of patient judgement, which requires us to slow down and prepare—that is, to be considerate and thought-full.

As the one responsible for leading this congregation’s worship I hope to instill a discerning heart and a thoughtful mind in our members. The music of our worship is meant to support our prayers and beliefs. We need time to discern and contemplate what Christmas means for us and our families. That is the purpose of Advent.

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