Observing Advent

Advent can seem to be defined by what it isn’t: a time of waiting while everyone else has started the party. In our services we don’t even sing the Gloria.

But the Church doesn’t leave us with nothing to do – there are many customs, ancient and modern, which can help us get into the Advent spirit. It’s a time for fasting (this could be something like getting off social media or not snacking between meals); almsgiving; and prayer As Lent is preparation for Easter so Advent is a time of preparation   for Christmas. You may look to some private devotion on a regular  basis, for example there are short Advent devotions included in this magazine based on the ancient  O Antiphons – usually said before the Magnificat in the days leading up to Christmas Day.

How about the solution to a common dilemma? Put up the Christmas tree at the start of Advent, perhaps with only white lights and purple ornaments until Christmas Eve – then make the change to a brighter and more varied decoration.

Why not write a letter or a fuller Christmas card and  then wait for the New Year to post it. Include in the message  the reality of prayers said in December for them and the beauty of receiving it in the dark days of January. (See the back page for another letter suggestion)

Think about joining the conference call morning prayer at 8.30am or evening prayer at 4pm. The morning is a varied modern service and the evening uses  the Book of Common Prayer.  Both are available in book form or if you have a computer by typing in google ‘Daily Prayer Church of England’. Each day it offers prayers through the day for you to follow. Alternatively, you may download the app onto your phone called ‘Daily Prayer’. Within the app there is an option to switch between contemporary and traditional versions.