The Advent Collect
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor 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, now and for ever. Amen.
Augustine of Hippo
He by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father. The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time. The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He Who fills the world lays in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness.
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.
The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.
John R. Brokhoff
Before the hero enters, people anticipate his coming…Who’s coming? What’s his name? What’ll he be like? What’s he going to do?…So kindled are many emotions that good hearts break into song both in heaven and on earth waiting for, waiting for…
It was not suddenly and unannounced that Jesus came into the world. He came into a world that had been prepared for Him. The whole Old Testament is the story of a special preparation. . . . Only when all was ready, only in the fullness of His time, did Jesus come.
Michael Joseph Brown
God’s movement is often abrupt and unsettling rather than predictable and settling.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.
In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.
And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.
Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and in this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.
Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our fingertips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.
The birth of the child into the darkness of the world made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning – not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”
The Magnificent Defeat
It is the very essence of a festival that it breaks upon one brilliantly and abruptly, that at one moment the great day is not and the next moment the great day is.
Advent means “coming,” from the Latin word adventus, and demarks a season of expectantly preparing to celebrate the first coming of Jesus, while eagerly awaiting His second coming to establish His kingdom, even as we celebrate His presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit.
The church prepares our devotion before Christmas Day with four Sundays in Advent, which bring Christ nearer and nearer to us and remind us that he is coming to enable us by a further examination of ourselves to depart in peace, because our eyes have seen his salvation.
The Showing Forth of Christ
Pamela F. Dowd
God sent a star to light the night for
The Way, The Truth, The Life—His Son.
He sent the Light of Life to prove His heart
so we would invite His Son into our own.
God has given us all the light we’ll ever
need to find peace on earth,
goodwill to men.
Advent is patience it’s how God has made us a people of promise, in a world of impatience.
What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?
He, whom no infinitudes can hold, is contained within infant’s age, and infant’s form. Can it be, that the great “I am that I am” shrinks into our flesh? . . . What self-denial, what self-abasement, what self-emptying is here!
He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace
He came when the Heavens were unsteady
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
He came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
When the year dies in preparation for the birth Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth, Then saving and calamity go together make The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break. Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.
The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion being that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, come into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up with Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.
Just as every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character, so every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation.
We cannot conceive how the Divine Spirit dwelled within the created and human spirit of Jesus…. What we can understand…is that our own…existence is…but a faint image of the Divine Incarnation itself – the same theme in a very minor key.
C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams
Judgment is at hand, promise of judgment and threat of judgment…. It is the same sort of ambivalence which Christians have been taught to recognize in the season of Advent.
We celebrate the First Advent to whet our appetites for the Second. We long for the next coming.
Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.
Brian D. McLaren
Politicians compete for the highest offices. Business tycoons scramble for a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. Armies march and scientists study and philosophers philosophise and preachers preach and labourers sweat. But in that silent baby, lying in that humble manger, there pulses more potential power and wisdom and grace and aliveness than all the rest of us can imagine.
Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.
At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.
The church set aside this four-week pre-Christmas season as a time of spiritual preparation for Christ’s coming. It is a time of quiet anticipation. If Christ is going to come again into our hearts, there must be repentance. Without repentance, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be ‘no room in the inn’ for Christ to be born again.
The Advent story we associate with the joy of Christmas actually begins with deep sorrow and longing [the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah]. But thankfully, in the kingdom of God there is always more to the story than meets the eye.
Eugene H. Peterson
The birth of Jesus Christ is the nerve center of history, a kind of ganglion that connects all the fibers of mankind’s nervous system. His birth brings the past experiences (summarized in Matthew 1:1–17) and the future expectations (“he shall save his people from their sins”) into conjunction.
Every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent, O God. Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise. Every year we roll up all our needs and yearnings and faithful expectation into one word: “Come!” And yet, what a strange prayer this is!
After all, you have already come and pitched your tent among us. You have already shared our life with its little joys, its long days of tedious routine, its bitter end. Could we invite you to anything more than this with our “Come”? Could you approach any nearer to us than you did when you became the “Son of Man”? In spite of all this we still pray: “Come.”
Philip F. Reinders
Advent is a season of expectant waiting, tapping into the sense we have that all is not well, the longing for the world to be made right again. It’s a season for restless hearts and people weary of a broken world who want, with all our being, to know there’s more than this.
Jan L. Richardson
The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
Advent is not about a sentimental waiting for the Baby Jesus.
“Preparing for Christmas” by Richard Rohr, www.huffingtonpost.com. December 6, 2012
The Advent season is that time when we seek to, in a manner of speaking, mute our memory of what has already happened, that we might brighten our joy that it happened. We leave the already of His advent to taste the bitter of the not yet. We, in short, go back, that we might look forward to His coming.
O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. Thou hast been here and I knew it not. I have been blind to Thy presence. Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me. For Christ’s sake, Amen
In the same manner in which we clean and prepare our homes in the anticipation of welcomed guests and family members this Christmas season, let us also prepare our hearts in anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Christ, our most honoured and eagerly anticipated guest, desires to meet with us in a heart prepared for his arrival. So eager is he to meet with us that he offers to help us with our spiritual housecleaning, working with us; creating a resting place for Himself within our hearts.
Walter Wangerin Jr.
God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can you feel it?
Strange, this familiar Father of prodigals whose love, too much for one lifetime, wills that we shall share the feast of forgiveness and joy in the epilogue of eternity. Strange, this daily advent of EMMANUEL.
Early Christian writing has the ends of the world upon it, hence its emphasis on fulfillment, fullness of time: the shape of the world-plot can now be seen.
Our lives are eschatologically stretched between the sneak preview of the new world being born among us in the church, and the old world where the principalities and powers are reluctant to give way. In the meantime, which is the only time the church has ever known, we live as those who know something about the fate of the world that the world does not yet know. And that makes us different.
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our illustrations page on Advent.