Advent – The Beginning of the Church Year.

I received an email the other day from someone who had never heard of Advent so I thought that it would be a good idea to give some explanation for those who have never encountered the church liturgical calendar before.

For most Western churches the Christian calendar begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas, with the season of Advent.  Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” A this season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in his first Advent 2000 years ago, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his second Advent.   This is meant to be not only a season of refreshment and renewal but also of reflection and refocusing, as we anticipate the birth of the one who brings life and meaning to all we are and do.  We all await the coming of Christ in quiet expectation.  We don’t just await his coming to us as a baby, we also remember his coming as a Savior to any who will receive him, and await in breathless anticipation his coming again at the end of time when God will make all things new. 

 In the Northern hemisphere Advent begins at the darkest time of the year.  As the short days of winter quietly steal upon us God’s creation slows down and seems to sleep.  Under its covering of leaves or snow it rests and waits for the coming of spring and the growth of a new year.  This is the season when plants put down deep roots that anchor them and provide nourishment through the droughts and storms of the coming year

Advent is meant to be a time for us too to slow down, to watch, reflect and refocus our faith.  Like the plants in our gardens we too need to put down deep roots that can anchor our souls through the droughts and storms of the coming year. 

 For people of Christian faith this should be a time to draw aside from the hectic rhythm of our world to wait and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ our Saviour and Redeemer.  Unfortunately it is not easy to set aside time when everything around us is gearing up for the busiest and most commercialized season of the year.  This needs to be a very deliberate action.  Unless we intentionally clear our calendars for a day to reflect on our faith the rhythm of the secular world around us very quickly takes over.

If you are interested in exploring all the seasons of the church year check out The Voice.  It has some of the best resources I have come across to explain the seasons.   



6 Responses

  1. […] of Advent — Christine Sine, Advent – The Beginning of the Church Year… for those less familiar with the church […]

  2. Very interesting that the church calendar developed to begin the year with advent, after the “birthday of the god (Augustus)” (from an ancient inscription) was considered the beginning of the year by the Caesar cult and empire. Against theempire, we begin the year with a reflection of the one who came into the world to overturn the established order and be what Caesar could at best only be a pretender, and at worst a usurper.

    I should have known that, but it’s easy to forget when we’re surrounded by so many other influences.

  3. Jason a great way to put it.

  4. […] is not set by the madness of Black Friday. No, our year begins as we prepare the way of our Lord, as Christine Sine explains in this wonderful post about Advent. The Advent season reminds me that business is not as usual and that I am being called into a […]

  5. […] just started this past Sunday. Read this article written by Christine Sine for more insight into understanding the wonderful tradition of Advent (she also has several other […]

  6. […] season of Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, begins on Sunday and I am once again hosting an Advent […]

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