First Advent: Hope

Today, with the start of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year—a new cycle of sacred time that anticipates by a month the beginning of a new secular year. During Advent we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth while also stirring up our longings for the time when he will come again. Along with the traditional identification of this Sunday with hope, this double expectation makes Advent a good time for new beginnings. Unlike the secular new year, Advent gives our resolutions a clear focus: Christ. Because he came once, he can come again—and, more importantly, he can be with us now.

This Advent, we can hand over the clay of our lives to the master potter, who can work things which no ear has perceived and no eye has seen with our souls. The coming year may feed us with the bread of tears, but as we eat it we can keep our hope firm in our divine shepherd. If Advent reminds us that we remain in expectation in so many ways, not knowing the day or the hour of our relief, it should also anchor our souls in the memory of whom we expect.

Advent should not just be about our individual hope, though, but about our hope as a community. Paul, writing about how we have been blessed with every spiritual gift as we await the coming of the Lord, says also that we have been called into “the fellowship of Christ.” We must not, and indeed cannot, await him alone. Although our souls are of great worth in the sight of God, each of us flags in our remembrance from time to time. We need each other to keep the blooms of our hope fresh and flowering. This we do by pointing each other back to Jesus, which we do through every kind act that restores our hope and belief in each other—for we are the body of Christ that Jesus was born to establish and which he will come again to redeem in the end. May we therefore prepare ourselves by kindling the light of expectation within ourselves and then by sharing that light in love and service toward others.

mormon_lectionary-100x100px-rgbaMormon Lectionary Project

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV); Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18 (Common Worship psalter); 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (NRSV); Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV); Ether 12:4-9; D&C 18:10-20

The Collect: O God, Father of all our hopes, who sent thy Son Jesus Christ to be our anchor and firm foundation: grant that we thy children may know how to strengthen each other in hope; light in our hearts the flame of expectation, that we may join together to engulf the world in one holy fire of love, one people as thou, Father, art one God with Jesus Christ thy Son and with the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen.

For the music, here is Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s setting of “Ad te levavi animam meam,” the traditional introit for First Advent:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INgSlG9fVLM]

Comments

  1. Thanks, Jason, for this fitting reminder to remember Christ and all of those surrounding us.

  2. As an institution the LDS church doesn’t celebrate advent to the extent that, say, the Catholic church does. For us Mormons who don’t have the ritual observance of Advent as much at the forefront of our minds, it’s a beautiful reminder to celebrate Christ and to look forward to Christmas with anticipation all season long.

  3. I have always enjoyed remembering and thinking about Christ during December leading up to our Christmas celebration. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  4. I’m still finding my way around the liturgical calendar. And finding a way to worship better, to glorify God better along the way. This post helps. It’s really lovely. And especially this: “May we therefore prepare ourselves by kindling the light of expectation within ourselves and then by sharing that light in love and service toward others.” Beautiful.

    O, come, o come, Emanuel
    And ransom your captive, Israel…

  5. Once again, I will point those who are interested to my Seasonal Blog, where I have posted ideas on how LDS families can adapt Advent by using not only the traditional scriptures and carols, but also restoration scripture. Feel free to check out the intro post at http://huntsmanseasonal.blogspot.com/2013/11/celebrating-advent.html and my First Advent: Hope post at http://huntsmanseasonal.blogspot.com/2013/12/first-advent-hope.html.

  6. Thanks for sharing that link, Eric. You’ve done so much to enhance LDS celebration of Advent and Easter.