I love all the seasons of the Church Year, but there is something intriguing about Advent. I think that is because the cast of characters is so outstanding. It is as if they have very little time to make a major impact on their world, so they get right to it. John the Baptist thunders in the wilderness and calls us to repentance. It's easy to see why John had a short life. Who in his day could get away with saying, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance." Who in our day could get away with it? Perhaps only in America.
Mary is the star on the Advent stage. At a very young age she had the grace to say "yes" to God and to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to give birth to our Savior Jesus Christ. Considering Mary's delicate condition, that was quite a distance for her to ride on a donkey. Mary surely understood the true meaning of the Latin word "adventus" which means "coming." She cooperated with God in bringing about the first coming of our Lord. This was the whole focus of her life.
During Advent as we are reminded to await the second coming of Jesus Christ, we remember the events that led up to his first coming. Each year we need this period of Advent to get ready for the Christmas surprise: Jesus comes as a tiny fragile infant, dependent upon human parents for warmth and nurture. But when Jesus comes again, he will come with power and great glory, bringing with him all the saints and angels. Advent takes these two themes and weaves them together into a present moment in which nostalgia sets in and hope explodes.
On December 10 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Margaret of Scotland, the church I now serve in Moultrie, Georgia, we will have our second annual Advent Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. This is an ancient form of remembering the events leading up to the birth of Christ. The Scripture lessons begin in Genesis with the Garden of Eden and move on through the prophets to the Gospels. Our choir will be the Colquitt County High School Serenaders, the premiere choral group in the county. Our readers come from St. Margaret's and from the surrounding community.
If you cannot attend St. Margaret's Lessons and Carols service, may I recommend that you check your local TV or radio listings for the Westminster Abbey Service of Lessons and Carols. Theirs is scheduled for Sunday, December 24 at 4:00 p.m. London time in that ancient church which has been the site of every British coronation since 1066.
For those who participate in Advent and slow down to wait for the coming of the Messiah, Christmas is all the more glorious. Watch and wait with us. Savor every moment.
The Rev. Linda McCloud
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek