FRANCISCO-fact: I know that when Thanksgiving comes around, that Advent must be near. When does Advent start this year? Will we be making Advent Wreaths at the church this year? What can I do to embrace Advent in my home?
You are correct, Advent is near and begins on November 27, the same weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving. The move to Advent means that we begin a new church year, with a focus on the Gospel of Matthew. More will be said about this Gospel, its themes, and its characteristics as the year progresses.
On November 27 the church will change colors from green to purple, place of our Advent wreath in the altar area, and change the Eucharistic Prayers and Proper Preface to emphasize the coming incarnation of Jesus. Our blessings at the end of each service will mark our progress to the Feast of the Nativity, as will the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath.
To support our families in their homes during this time, we are ordering greens and materials to make Advent wreaths for in home use to mark the season as a center piece for family dining rooms, kitchens, or front halls (sign-up on our website, http://www.stfrancisgreatfalls.org., or on the sign-up board in the Narthex).
Each night when lighting the candle or candles for the week, the readings below can be read out loud with the collect, or alternatively, a family or household may use the Forward Movement website for daily readings from the Bible for the season of Advent to inspire and inform your spirits: https://prayer.forwardmovement.org/daily-devotions. Remember, the lessons from the BCP are anticipatory, like the season of Lent. By and large, the stories assigned do not have the name of Jesus, Mary, Elizabeth, or Joseph until just before December 24, but they do talk about the Jewish longing for God, a savior, and a restoring of creation. For the very ambitious, An Order for Evening Worship is available in the BCP from page 109-113 with notations for Collects and Prayers to be used in Advent—it is a short form.
Week of 1 Advent: Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
A Collect for the First Sunday of Advent
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Week of 2 Advent: The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
A Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Week of 3 Advent: As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
A Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Week of 4 Advent: In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Luke 1:39-42)
A Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.