Good morning! Today is the first day of the new Church Liturgical Year! Yes, it's the 1st Sunday of Advent. (hang in there with me, non-religious friends!)
huh? what the heck? Jan 1 is New Years, everyone knows that. Well for those of us practicing Christians, our new year begins on the first Sunday following the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle (just so happens to be my patron saint!). St. Andrew's feast is always celebrated on Nov 30th.
Advent: Come from the Latin, meaning "to come, coming." Perhaps you've heard the canticle/hymn "O Come, O Come Immanuel" on the radio, or sung at concerts, in chruch services. It speaks of our longing for Christ's return to us. At Christmas we celebrate (or at least that was supposed to be the idea) the birth of Jesus, the coming of God to earth in the person of His only son, the Christ, our saviour, the Messiah.
"...For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man..." ..."He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end." excerpts from the Nicene Creed, our Catholic profession of faith, what we believe.
This portion of the Creed explains what we're preparing for during Advent, for the 4 weeks preceding Christmas. We spend time in joyful anticipation, reflecting on what it means to be Christian, what we do to live as He taught us in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5 & 6). We spend extra time on ourselves, reminding ourselves that He could return at any time, and asking the question: "am I prepared?"
Whether you're a professed, practicing Christian or not, is it such an awful thing to take the time at the start of the year to reflect, to be sure we're in line with what's right? Does it matter that we take our lesson from a man called Christ, who is God? Would it matter more if we took these very same principles from a book called Alcoholics Anonymous, or a text written by Bill Wilson called the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of AA? It's the same principles for living.
So, I invite my sober family and friends, my Christian brothers and sisters to set aside labels and titles and just make yourselves better, make yourselves ready for what ever may be coming and remember what this time of year is truly all about.
God Bless, and thanks for being my friends! Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, peaceful Ramadan (sp?) and joyful Kwanzaa to you all!