At one time Advent was thought to be a “mini-Lent”. Just as Lent was a special time for introspection and penance for unrequited sins in preparation for the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Advent came to be a known as a little Lenten period in preparation for the birth of the God-man; hence, fasting, works of penance, and the language of the liturgy was centered on such a theme.
This remained throughout my childhood and it was not until the Church began looking at Advent with greater insight that it was changed from a time of penance to a time of longing – reflecting both the yearning and hope for a Messiah from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) to the immediate preparation for the birth of the God man in the later part of the Advent Season. Our vestments have changed from purple or violet (a sign of penance) to Sarum blue (a reflection of the Celtic Christian ritual of Anglo-Saxon England and blue for longing).
Starting this coming Sunday we have moved from the promise of and longing for the Messiah to the immediate preparation for the birth of the God-man. Hence, the word “gaudate” – “rejoice”. “Rejoice in the Lord always . . . The Lord is near.” (Philippians: 4a & 5b) Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church, including the churches of the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church, many Lutheran Churches, and other mainline Protestant churches.
For the next two Sundays we focus more heavily upon Mary and John the Baptist. John, the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New Testament prophets has become for us the precursor of the Kingdom of the Christ. Mary represents the humble individual who empties herself of self to bear the Christ child.
The question for you and me is how willing are we to: announce the arrival of the Kingdom by emptying self of self that we might more perfectly reflect the Christ who is in us.
Wishing you a blessed remainder of this Advent Season,
Fr. Al Jewson
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.