O Advent!

“It’s the most wonderful ti-i-i-i-me of the year!…”

I love Advent. It’s easily my favourite time of the church year, with its air of mystery and expectation. (And a blessed relief after all those weeks of unremitting green…)

The mood of the season is perfectly captured in the hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Is there a more atmospheric hymn? You can almost see the clouds swirling around your feet as we sing:

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did’st give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Reminiscent of the opening words of the epistle to the Hebrews in the Authorised Version. I understand it’s not the most accurate translation of these verses (contrast the ESV), but there are times when accuracy has to yield to theophany:

GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…

A good season for collects, too. Lutheran Worship’s collect for Advent Sunday is:

Stir up, we implore you, your power, O Lord, and come
that by your protection we may be rescued
from the threatening perils of our sins
and be saved by your mighty deliverance;
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Good stuff, and I do like the way the Lutheran collects for Advent all begin with those words, “Stir up…”. Those words open the Book of Common Prayer’s collect for the last Sunday before Advent, “Stir-up Sunday” – traditionally a reminder to make your Christmas pudding later that day!

And it’s the Book of Common Prayer that wins the Advent collects contest, with this collect (which is then repeated throughout Advent, along with the collect for each week):

Almighty God,
give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,
and put upon us the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life
in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;
that in the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
one God, now and for ever.

That’s what Advent’s all about. I’ll almost be sorry to get to Christmas. 😉

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