“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
Growing up, my family’s church calendar included precisely two dates: Christmas and Easter. Let me be clear: we were distinctly not two-Sundays-a-year Christians. The love of Jesus constituted the beating heart of our family. My day-to-day life was drenched in Scripture. My love for Jesus and for the Bible came from them. But as a nondenominational evangelical, I did not even know such a thing as a church calendar existed. By the time Sean introduced me to the Anglican Church, I was relatively more aware of the church calendar. I knew Advent as a season of joyful anticipation: pre-Christmas, if you will. So you can perhaps understand my confusion and surprise when I started to pay attention to the collects and appointed readings for the season of Advent. They are fierce, even fearsome! And some of my Roman and Anglo-Catholic friends referred to Advent as a penitential season akin to Lent, which left me utterly mystified. So what is Advent, exactly? Is it the same as Lent? Is it Pseudo-Lent? Is it pre-Christmas? That’s a question I have been asking each Advent in recent years. This sermon functions as my provisional attempt to begin to work out some of those questions, guided by our collect, epistle, and gospel.