Advent is a season of watching, waiting, and preparing for the coming of the Lord. (The Latin “advenit” means “he arrives”.) In early Advent, the emphasis is on the parousia (arrival) as the second coming of Christ, as described in Matthew 24 and elsewhere. By late Advent, the emphasis is on recalling Christ’s first Advent as Jesus, the child of Mary. But because God exists eternally (i.e., outside our conception of time), the season of Advent more broadly contemplates the paradox of “already and not yet”, that Christ’s presence and victory over death already are accomplished, yet we experience them as works in progress.
There is more than one valid and appropriate interpretation and observance of Advent in the tradition, and the fact that we choose a particular emphasis is not intended as a rejection of others. At St. Margaret’s, for example, we focus on anticipation and expectation, and not on repentance, which is emphasized in Lent. Various colors have been (and still are) used throughout the church. The eastern church, for examples, uses red and sometimes gold. Purple often is used as a sign of Christ’s royalty and of repentance. Our use of “Sarum blue” reflects the eighth century Mozarabic tradition and the custom of Salisbury Cathedral, where the color recalls the deep and dark winter sky into which the light of the world is born. A rose (pink) candle is used in some traditions to mark either the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete or “Rejoice” Sunday, when pink flowers are appropriate), or the readings of the Fourth Sunday of Advent that emphasize the role of Mary, the Theotokos, or God Bearer.
The Advent wreath (with four blue candles) is displayed on the platform near the altar on the north side. Prior to the opening acclamation, a volunteer reads a very brief prayer. Since 2011.
The aisle candles are installed between the Last Sunday after Pentecost and the First Sunday of Advent. Since 2011.
“Greening the church” refers to the placement of evergreens in the church during Advent, and not to Christmas decorations. Greens are appropriate with dark blue ribbon, but red and white Christmas decorations are premature.
A large evergreen tree can be displayed, but is not lighted. Optionally, the tree can be decorated by children and others as a “Jesse Tree” (Isaiah 11:1)
Preludes and postludes are used in Advent.
The Kyrie Eleison is used in place of the Gloria or Trisagion. Proposed for 2013.
The Agnus Dei is used at the Fraction.
The seasonal Advent blessing from the Book of Occasional Services is used.
The Opening Acclamation is “Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. / And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.”
The Opening Acclamation is “Blessed are you, holy and living One. / You come to your people and set them free.”
Vestments are blue.
Flowers are not used, evergreen plants may be used.
Last updated: September 10, 2018 at 19:32 pm