Advent is my favorite time of church year. A new beginning. And who could do with that?
Sadly, the rush to Christmas of society infects us as Christians. We begin singing Christmas hymns and songs even as the house still smells of Thanksgiving delights. Because Christmas overshadows the month of December, it is easy to miss Advent and what that means for us — in worship, in hymns/songs, and even in attitude.
For Series B lectionary, Mark 1:1-8 (Isaiah 40:1-11) dominates as John comes on the scene as the one who will tell the people: “prepare the way for the Lord” (Mark 1:2) That preparation included repentance. And this seems to be a forgotten key of Advent preparation. The rocks and stones and valleys of our sinful lives are dealt with through repentance —confessing the sin and through forgiveness of sins then turning away from the sin. Do we take time to examine ourselves under the microscope of God’s Law? Do we see the imperfections that God’s Law points out? Or are we looking only for the obvious sins to confess? Let us hear anew John’s call to “prepare the way for the Lord.”
I like the older liturgical color of purple (or technically violet) for Advent because it focused on the royal color of mourning (much as Lent does), mourning for our sin, mourning our lack of preparation for the coming Lord. Is it possible that color even affects how we view things? I remember my vicarage supervisor who hated the color purple, anywhere, anytime, any shade. For him, it brought back memories of family members who upon death were prepared at home, and purple was always used to cover the person during that phase.
Advent hymns are among my favorites. Here are some great hymns, with easily learned melodies (making them easier to memorize!):
- “Lift up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates” (LSB 341; LW 24)
- “Savior of the Nations, Come” (LSB 332; LW 13)
- “The Advent of Our King” (LSB 331; LW 12)
- “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” (LSB 344; LW14)
- “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People” (LSB 347; LW 28)
- “Hark the Glad Sound” (LSB 349; LW 29)
Let us not rush to Christmas hymns, but rather sing, linger over, and ponder the truths of the Advent hymns.
For us Advent can be even more exhausting than the longer Lenten season. We hurry to fit in all the “Christmas” activities (all very good), but where is our heart? What is our attitude? Can we just make it through this week? Is one more activity worth it? Does it help me “prepare the way for the Lord”?
The Advent theme helps us to step back and look at life as a continual preparation for our coming King, Jesus. This is a call for me as much as it is for everyone. Let our Advent preparation be truly that. And then the wonder and majesty of Christmas looms as the (super)natural extension of Advent—the King is here!