Introduction to Advent
Welcome to the first season of the Church’s year, Advent. In the Christian calendar, Advent covers roughly four weeks before Christmas, starting in late November or early December. Advent, however is not simply a countdown to Christmas. Rather, we might think of this season as a signpost, marking our path, lighting our way, pointing to something beyond itself. Yes, it is a time of preparation for our celebrations of the birth of Jesus, but it also marks a new Church year and a time to start over in our relationship with God and with others.
During the next few weeks, we will meet John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. We will meet Mary as she looks ahead to the birth of her baby and Elizabeth as she welcomes and celebrates this amazing news. In many ways, these characters are an unlikely bunch – a marginalized, pregnant young woman; an older woman unexpectedly pregnant, and an eccentric wilderness preacher – but we read that they were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit.’ They are the first witnesses to Jesus’ coming into the world, and we follow their stories as they announce him to others.
During Advent, we are invited to a real encounter with Jesus. It is a time to wake up and to rediscover our joy in life. It is a time to practice the words of Mary, ‘Let it be’, and to be open to what adventures may come our way. We become more aware of God’s presence in the hidden places of our world, in ourselves and in the people around us. Can we be signposts lighting the path for others? At this busy time of year, we are often caught up in the frantic joys, and sometimes struggle, of the season. The lead-up to Christmas evokes different emotions and memories for each of us. As we enter this new season and new Church year, it is important to take some time to check in with ourselves. The Gospel texts for the next few Sundays offer us the opportunity to go back to the beginning and enter fully into the Spirit-filled days when the advent of Jesus, the Light of the world, is so eagerly anticipated.
Copyright © Triona Doherty & Jane Mellett, “Year of Matthew” 2022.