The first day of December marks the beginning of Advent, which is the first liturgical season of the church year. Advent spans the four weeks before Christmas. In Latin, Advent means “to come,” so we look at these weeks as a period of watchfulness, preparation, and hope.
You may have grown up with a beloved advent calendar as a key part of family Christmas celebrations, or perhaps you’ve just seen advent calendars as a fun but optional part of Christmas décor. Some are paper, some have pockets or boxes with windows that reveal a piece of a nativity scene or a sweet treat. At Saint Peter, we offer an Advent devotional. It doesn’t come with any sweets, but you can add your own. These devotionals are available in the Narthex.
Why is it important to be intentional about observing the days of Advent, with or without an advent calendar? Because together we join in anticipating the celebration of God’s coming in the form of the Christ child and the final coming of Christ in the seasons to follow. This sentiment is affirmed as we come together on Sundays to light the candles on the Advent Wreath, adding one new candle each week.
Another way we celebrate Advent at Saint Peter is with our Advent Soup Suppers, of which there are only two this year due to the timing of the holidays and our events. These suppers are a time when we not only fellowship together, but also contribute the cost of a meal to a fund that benefits the needy. The first was before the first Sunday of Advent, on November 29th, and the second is December 6th.
As Christians, we know Christ is already present with us, but we remember the world without Jesus and appreciate the Christmas Story through our Journey to the Manger living nativity. We join in the anticipation of the light of Christ entering a dark world and the joy experienced first by Mary, then at the manger, and finally among the shepherds and wise men. At the end of the trail we celebrate with cocoa and carols.
We also cherish one of our favorite annual musical events during Advent: the Christmas Cantata. Saint Peter fills to the brim (and last year overflowed into the Narthex) as the congregation joins its voice in carols along with the choir in a crescendo of celebration. This is an event not to be missed!
The final celebration is when Christmas officially begins, on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, this is considered to be at 10:00pm, but our Christmas Eve services this year will be 4:30pm and 7pm. Since it’s a Sunday, there will also be a morning Unity service at 10:00am.
When you wake on December 25th, it is officially the first of the Twelve Days of Christmas. And that is a story unto itself.
So welcome to Advent! Join us in anticipation and hope. Join us as we approach Christmas together and in fellowship. Times and dates for our celebrations are available here. You can download a flyer for your refrigerator, or to share with a friend.
*Some content in this article sourced from ELCA blogs.