The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The season of Christmas officially begins on Christmas Day and lasts until the day of The Epiphany, Jan. 6.
Advent is a joyous time of anticipation of the coming of Jesus, "God with us," and it is also recognized as the beginning of the Church Year. Each Sunday in Advent, a new candle is lit as Worship begins, as well as in many Moravian and other Christian homes.
Pastor Ginny Tobiassen discussed the significance Advent in a recent article for our Home Church newsletter, Home to Home:
Why does the church have its own “year”? Because we mark the passing of time by walking through the life of Christ and the church. The church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, with a voice crying, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Then the church year takes us from the anticipation of Jesus’ birth, all the way through his passion, death, and resurrection. Next comes the birth of the church at Pentecost, followed by a long season of celebration and reflection (“Ordinary Time”). The church year ends with Reign of Christ Sunday, celebrating Christ’s sovereign rule and the presence of the Kingdom of God. That’s a lot to look forward to!
And so it begins! Not the hard work of bringing Christmas joy to our many visitors; not the busy schedules of Christmas shopping and social activities; but a real beginning, in which God is making all things new. It begins: God incarnate, breaking into human history. It begins: the walk from the manger to the cross. It begins: God with us, among us, for us. Every step of the church year is a chance to walk in newness with Christ; and it all begins with Advent.
Associate Pastor Andrew Heil wrote this about Advent:
The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year, a season of waiting, filled to the brim with expectation. It is never easy to wait. And yet, our lives abound with waiting moments:
We wait for understanding and clarity. We wait for answers and test results.
We wait for the seasons to change. We wait for the phone to ring.
We wait for opportunity. We wait for tomorrow to come.
During Advent, we await the coming fulfillment of the promises of God. These are promises that were spoken long ago, promises we too have shared, promises that live deep inside the memory of our bones. The promises of Advent are promises that work their way in us slowly and gradually, as our memories and our hopes come face to face with our own present impatience. And believe it or not, this is by design.
The ritual of waiting that we undertake together in the season of Advent is a ritual that prepares us to live our faith, each and every moment. Advent is a season that is rich with intentionality. We do not wait aimlessly. Instead we wait with purpose and anticipation. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us: “Let us hold on to the confession of our hope, without wavering, because the one who made the promises is faithful,” (Hebrews 10:23).
As we gather during the season of Advent, let us pray to increase our heart’s expectation that we might settle into the promise that we have received in the birth of Mary’s son. Let us pray for the grace to respond to that hope in faithful ways. After all, it was Mary, who prayed: “Here I am,” (Luke 1:38). Acknowledging honestly where we are just might be the place to start.
A Prayer for Advent
Son of Mary,
Son of God,
Here I am.
It is enough.
Christmas Eve is celebrated with candlelight lovefeast services. There will be no in-person worship on Christmas Eve 2021. However, there will be video streaming and other activities this year.
Christmas Eve lovefeasts are a time of joyous singing, special choral music, the reading of the Christmas story, an inspiring Christmas message, and the lifting of our lighted lovefeast candles during our final hymn, as we sing:
Praise the Lord, God our salvation,
praise him who retrieved our loss;
sing, with awe and love's sensation,
hallelujah, God with us.
Advent and Christmas are times of many special Moravian and Home Church traditions. Watch this website as the seasons approach for more specifics about activities and events.