Happy New Year! For this last Sunday, December 2nd, brought the first day of the Christian year.
Four Sundays mark the opening liturgical “season” of the Christian year, which culminates on Christmas Eve. Advent means the coming or arrival or appearing of an extremely important event. For Christians, this is a time of expectant waiting, of prayer, and of preparing oneself spiritually for the sacred moment which is to come.
What a contrast from what people think of as the Christmas season! Actually, the Christmas season is just the 12 days from December 25th to the holiday of Epiphany (January 6th), which celebrates the visit of the three wise men to the Christ Child. In an irony of history, the time of spiritual preparation and silent waiting has become the busiest, most frenetic season of the year.
In all religions, liturgies and sacred holidays reenact sacred events of the past. The holy days lift believers out of mundane reality and into sacred time; they call us into the divine life itself. For Christians, the Creator of all things silently draws near to the Creation on the Holy Night that dawns with Christmas morning, bridging the gap that has arisen between God and God’s creation. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” St. John writes, “full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14). Hence Jesus, the Christ Child, is called Emmanuel, God with us.
As the Christian year begins on the first Sunday of Advent…read more here.