Harwich Peninsula Churches

Understanding the Christian Year: All Saints to Advent


Sunday 25th November marks the end of the church’s year and Advent Sunday, 2nd December, is the first Sunday of the new church year.

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that as soon as 1st December gets here we are already in the Christmas season and ‘Advent’ is just the few weeks before Christmas when we are ‘getting ready’ for the big day itself. Certainly,

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, but also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The readings and liturgies during Advent not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge us to confront the theme of divine judgement.

The fundamental Advent prayer is ‘Marantha’ – ‘Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16v22) expressing a longing for God to come among his people. Advent is not really about penitence, although, like Lent, church decorations are simple and purple is the traditional liturgical colour. In the northern hemisphere, the Advent season falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas. The lighting of candles on an Advent wreath was imported into Britain from northern Europe in the nineteenth century, and is now a common practice, symbolizing the coming of the Light of the World.

What can we do to make Advent a more meaningful time?

Instead of getting busier during the days of Advent, slow down.

Make time for prayer and dwell in the present moment.

Reflect on the Sunday bible readings looking for God’s word to you and watching for signs of his coming around you.

Come along to the Parish Quiet Day on the 13th December.

Resolve to show acts of kindness every day as a sign of God’s love.