Bill wonders why the joyful Advent season is so much shorter than the sad season of Lent, but offers hope and balance as he introduces the Advent sermon series: Advent Practices for the Shortest Days and Darkest Nights.
Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church, and this is Doogie, my assistant minister.
As you know, a week from Thursday is Thanksgiving and that means that the season of Advent can’t be far behind. The season of Advent traditionally begins this year on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 29.
As you know, the word Advent is a Latin word which means “to come toward.” And so during the season of Advent, we anticipate the coming of the Christ child into our world once again.
As you also know, Advent is one of the two purple seasons of the liturgical year. The other is Lent, and whereas Advent culminates in the high holy day of Christmas, Lent likewise crests with the church’s other of the two high holy days, Easter.
As you know, Advent is traditionally four weeks long and Lent is six weeks long. This has caused some Christians to ask about the imbalance and unfairness of that. Why is the season of Advent, the happy season of joy, two weeks shorter than Lent, the sad season of penitence?
One answer to that question, of course, is that penitence is harder than joy and requires more work and takes more time.
Still, some Christians have been trying to rectify this imbalance by lengthening the Advent season from four Sundays to seven Sundays. This project is called the Advent Project, and it was begun in just a very small number of Episcopalian parishes just a few years ago.
We’re going to try that here at Kenilworth Union Church this year. We’re going to extend our Advent not to seven weeks, but five weeks, which means that we’ll begin one week early, next Sunday, this coming Sunday, November 22.
And so that means that if you count Christmas Eve, our Advent season this year will have six parts. And that will give your preachers a chance to preach a six-part Advent sermon series called “Advent Practices for the Shortest Days and the Darkest Nights.”
Because as it turns out, the gospel nativity narratives give us six nice strategies to deal with this time of year when the days are short and this time in our lives when we’re challenged by a pandemic.
There are six parts to this sermon series. First, friendship. As in, Mother Mary and Cousin Elizabeth’s comparing notes on their overlapping pregnancies.
And a second strategy is “song,” as in Mother Mary’s Magnificat.
And the third strategy is sleep and dreams, as in Joseph the beautiful dreamer.
And the fourth strategy is to look up at the night sky, as with the shepherds and the magi.
And the fifth strategy is to practice wonder as with Mother Mary pondering all these things and keeping them in her heart.
And the sixth and last Advent strategy is darkness, because Christmas happens at night.
Don’t tell anybody that we’re extending our Advent season this year at Kenilworth Union Church. I’m counting on you to keep this a secret as if it were the sanctity of a confessional booth, because if the liturgical police found that we were messing with the sacred season of Advent, they would take my ordination away. So I’m counting on you to keep quiet about this.
So God bless you, and I will see you this coming Sunday, November 22, on the first Sunday of our extended Advent at Kenilworth Union Church