Follow along with the church year. Advent is a new year for the church: Year B. December 3rd is the first Sunday in Advent: Advent I. There are four Sundays in Advent. Advent IV is Christmas Eve this year in 2017.
Lectionarypage.net provides the Liturgical Calendar with Readings.
From the December Crosstown: Click here to read the entire Crosstown
A New Christian Year Begins: Welcome to Advent
December 3 marks the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new Christian year. The four weeks leading up to Christmas are a time of preparation and expectation that moves into hope and joy as the birth of Christ draws near. Look around you: the signs and sounds are everywhere. First, notice the colors of the clergy vestments and the altar hangings. Blue is the color for Advent, representing hope, expectation, and heaven. It is also the color associated with Mary the mother of Jesus in iconography and art.
We will light a candle on the Advent wreath at the start of services on each of the four Sundays.
Instead of the “Gloria” on Page 356 of the Book of Common Prayer, which we sing early in the Sunday service at 10:15 a.m., for the second Sunday of Advent (December 10), we will sing the First Song of Isaiah (Hymn 679): “Surely it is God who saves me.” The “Gloria” will return on Christmas Eve. (For the first Sunday in Advent, December 3, our music is a service of Advent Lessons and Carols; for the third, the Christmas pageant; for the fourth, Morning Prayer.)
The hymns we sing in Advent are songs of yearning and hope: "O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel"; "On Jordan's bank the baptist's cry announces that the Lord is nigh." We await the God who is with us; we prepare a home in our hearts "where such a mighty guest may come." We sing, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Our music will be a little more restrained than usual so that — come Christmas Eve — we can burst forth with triumphant organ and song at the birth of our Savior.
In the fourth and fifth centuries Advent was observed for 40 days, often as a time of severe fasting, and was thought of as a "little Lent," without an explicit link to Christmas. In later centuries the deeply penitential aspect of Advent was set aside and the season was reduced to four weeks with a specific tie to the celebration of Christ's birth. During this time we look back to Jesus's original coming into the world; to his presence each day in our hearts; and to his future Second Coming.
Starting with the first Sunday in Advent and continuing throughout this new liturgical year — until Christ the King Sunday next November — we will read from the Gospel of Mark. (In the year just past our readings came from Matthew.) Mark's was the first canonical Gospel, thought to have been written about 70 A.D. It constantly implores us to "Keep awake! Be alert!" in anticipation of Jesus's return.
And the other seasons in the Christian year? Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and “Ordinary Time.” We'll talk about each of these seasons as we enter them. Some Ways to Keep a Faithful Advent Many of us like to observe Advent with Advent calendars or devotionals. Here are some possibilities: * We'll have simple printed Advent calendars, with day-by-day suggestions for prayer and action, at the Welcome table in the Narthex and elsewhere around the building. * Luther Seminary offers its annual Advent devotional, “Joy to the World.” You can download and print this booklet at luthersem.edu/advent, or sign up there to have each day’s devotional delivered to your inbox. * At episcopalrelief.org/advent-toolkit you can download a printable Advent calendar or shop the “Gifts for Life” catalog for gifts that save lives and strengthen communities around the world. At adventword.org, the Society of St. John the Evangelist invites you to meditate on a different word each day, then post an image in response on your personal social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) with the hashtag #AdventWord and the hashtag of the day. This creates a worldwide, crowd-sourced Advent Calendar