The First Sunday of Advent

Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898

ADVENT, by Fr. Michael Petty [Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL]

“This Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent, a season of the Church year which consists of the four weeks before Christmas Day.  Advent is derived from the Latin word, “adventus,” meaning “coming” or “arrival.”  During this season, we have a dual focus in worship:   On one hand, we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s historical advent or birth in Bethlehem.  One the other hand, we anticipate the Christ’s final advent as the world’s Lord and Judge at the end of history.  The celebration of Advent helps us to place ourselves in the context of God’s redemptive purposes.  We live after the coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah promised to Israel and before the coming of Jesus Christ to bring his work to its ultimate fulfillment. 

This season is intended by the Church to help us keep a proper focus during what has become, in our culture, a frenzied time with heavy commercial emphasis.  We spend this season most fruitfully, not by counting down the days to December 25, but by preparing ourselves to celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God and by amending our lives in the anticipation of his promised return.  Advent is a season to slow down, to reflect, and to meditate on the great mercies of God.  To aid in this process, you may find it useful to read Scripture regularly during this Season.  Scripture readings for every day of the Advent Season can be found on page 937 and page 939 of The Book of Common Prayer.

The Advent Season comes to an end with the First Eucharist of Christmas, on Christmas Eve.  This Eucharist ushers the Church into the Season of Christmas, which lasts until January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany [the Twelve Days of Christmas].  Because we observe Christmas as a distinct season, you will notice that we do not make use of Christmas music during Advent.

Advent has been observed by the Church since the sixth century and, over time, many traditions have become associated with the season.  One of these traditions is that of the Advent Wreath, a circle of greenery with four blue candles on the circumference and a white candle in the center.  The Advent Wreath is a sign of hope; it is greenery displayed during the winter and candles lit as the days grow shorter.  On each of the four Sundays of Advent, a different candle is lit.  The first candle is the Patriarch’s Candle, reminding us of the Old Testament Patriarchs who anticipated the fulfillment of God’s promises.  The second is the Prophet’s Candle, reminding us of the Old Testament prophets who foretold of the Messiah’s birth.  The third is the John the Baptist Candle, reminding us of the prophet who proclaimed Christ’s advent.  The fourth is the Virgin Mary Candle, reminding us of Mary’s faithfulness in responding to God’s call to be the Mother of the Messiah.  The final candle, the Christ Candle, is lit on Christmas Eve.  As the winter darkness gathers, the light of the Advent Wreath increases and reminds us of the Light of God, shining in the darkness.  The lighting of the Advent Wreath is an act of lived hope, as the Church remember’s Christ’s birth and anticipates his return in glory.”

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel . . . .”

Coram Deo,


Some Resources for Advent:  100% beeswax Advent candles [with color!], a suggestion from my daughter, Haley Stewart.

“Watch for the Light:  Readings for Advent and Christmas,” Plough Publication House, a gift from my sister, Susan Blair Hollister.

“All Through the Day, All Through the Year:  Family Prayers and Celebrations,” by David B. Batchelder. Augsburg Press.

“The St. James Ecumenical Calendar of the Christian Year,” The Fellowship of St. James,

P. S. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!  I felt well and enjoyed eating a bit of everything!  We went to the home of the Bowers Family, in Tallahassee. They have been our dear friends for at least 15 years.  How thankful we are for our family and friends, who read this blog and continually pray for us!   

Chemo Round 4 is scheduled for December 11.



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10 responses to “The First Sunday of Advent

  1. Your sweet and kind spirit shows thru in your entries in the blog. You are to be admired and emulated for your courage and faith. Extra prayers for you as you face the coming chemo. May you be armed with the sword and shield of our Lord as the battle continues.

    • margopayne

      Dear Isabel,

      Thank you for your encouraging words and faithful prayers. Please pray that I do not become weary of this “long obedience in the same direction.” Praise God for the relatively calmness of Chemo Round Four. So true: it IS a battle and sometimes I forget that my battle is not against the chemo but against the cancer. I must endure the treatment even though it zaps me of energy of mind, body, and soul. I know you will continue to pray for me and I appreciate your friendship and empathy.

      Coram Deo,


  2. Kris Bowers

    Dear Margo,

    Just wanted to let you know I visited :-). Praise God for His faithfulness! Praise Him for what He has done through your example!

    May you continue to grow strong physically even as you grow in Him.

    Love you lots,
    p.s. We are looking forward to time with you Sunday!

    • margopayne

      Dear Kris,

      Thanks, always, for reading, commenting, and praying! This Thanksgiving and Advent has provided many opportunities for our families to be together — impromptu and planned — and that has been such a treat for us! We are looking forward to more Bower & Payne Family time together. Thanksgiving Dinner was wonderful, as was the Nutcracker Ballet! Thank you for taking the initiative to include us in these special events and in all the expressions of concern, love, and care for me/us.

      Coram Deo,

  3. Jennifer Feltman

    Thanks for the Advent background. I am making an Advent wreath for the first time this year. I find it such a meaningful tradition.

    With love and prayers,


    P.S. I am meeting your daughter next week to talk to her about our art history dept.

    • margopayne

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank you for your faithfulness, in reading my blog, commenting, and praying! I am glad you enjoyed my Advent blog; I was captivated by that selection of art, which I included, one of those sent to me from Sarah Andyshak. Thank you for meeting Haley for lunch; she very much enjoyed her visit with you! I wish you and she were going to be in town together. Please keep us posted, as you finish your dissertation, defend, and seek a position.

      Coram Deo,

  4. Katja Aivaliotis

    Dear Margo

    I’ve just finished reading up on what’s been going on in your life. I am deeply touched by your courage and your choice to glorify God no matter what the circumstances.

    I pray that the Peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will carry you through round 4 and beyond.

    Be blessed in His Holy Name,

    • margopayne

      Dear Katja,

      How delightful to hear from you! Thank you for reading my blog, for commenting, and, above all, for praying! One of the delightful outcomes of the blog has been the opportunity to reconnect with friends from earlier years! I trust that you and your family are doing well and I would love to get caught up and see photos of your family!

      Coram Deo,

  5. Deborah Trostle

    Dear Margo,

    I think of your often and pray for you. Your story is so genuine. I do remember my chemo days 20 years ago. They weren’t fun but God walked with me and with Jeff every step of the way!

    Thank you for telling us about Advent. It is a time for us to slow down and remember with anticipation who our hope is in – Christ.

    In His awesome grip,

    • margopayne

      Dear Deborah,

      Thank you for your encouraging words! I rejoice with you and your family that you are a survivor of 20 years! I delight in marking and observing the ancient Church Calendar and reminding myself and others of the rythyms and patterns that teach us to pause, reflect, and contemplate the unfathomable riches that are in Christ Jesus.

      Coram Deo,

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