You might be wondering how that could be…doesn’t Advent start after Thanksgiving? But would you believe that it wasn’t like that in ages past? Advent was initially seven weeks, and there are signs of it in our assigned readings that begin just after All Saints Sunday. To quote The Advent Project (a group of liturgical scholars working to restore Advent to its original length), “The proposal for an expanded Advent is rooted in a very simple idea: to make the Advent we celebrate congruent with the lectionary we already have. Everything else is commentary…In its origin, the season of Advent was nearly seven weeks. The Gregorian Sacramentary introduced a four-week Advent in Rome in the seventh century, but this truncated version of the season was not widely adopted in other western churches until the twelfth or thirteenth century. The Orthodox still observe a longer Advent, though in the eastern tradition Advent has not been viewed as the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year. By the time of the 16th-century western reformations, however, though few remembered that Advent had once been longer, the season was clearly fixed as the initiation of a new liturgical year and, in the face of no competition from the Christmas culture until the 20th century, its focus was clearly eschatological.”
Another way to look at it is that it allows us to enter into the a sacred mindfulness before the Thanksgiving to Christmas rush makes that difficult. We are not bound to the calendars of society, but the rhythm of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, it is a fitting point to begin the church new year. Advent is the beginning of the church calendar year. We await the Christ’s return, as we await his birth. We enter into Epiphany and the revelations that await us in that time. Then we walk with Jesus to Jerusalem in Lent, stand at the foot of the cross in Holy Week, and celebrate his resurrection in Eastertide. On the Feast of Pentecost, and in the days of the season of Pentecost, we remember the birth of the Jesus Movement, and the ways in which that manifested itself in those earliest days of the church. Finally, we celebrate on the All Saints (the Sunday Closest to November 1st) those of the church who have gone before us, fulfilling the commission of Christ. How fitting then, that we close the year on that day, and begin anew with Advent 1 the following Sunday.
Join us in this time to experience Advent in a whole new (and yet very old) way.