Advent has been observed as a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus as far back as the 4th century and is identified by the 4 weeks preceding Christmas. It is a time of preparation, expectation, and reflection; a time to renew our connection to Christ.
The readings this season begin quietly with the lesson of the fig tree and a warning to “keep alert.” We are then directed to “Prepare the way of the Lord” as John the Baptist enters the scene and begins to baptize in the Jordan River. Finally, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to announce God’s plan for her and proclaims the impending birth of the Son of God.
Advent is also the beginning of the church year which identifies and provides directions for the observance of principal feasts, Sundays, Holy Days of Special Devotion, and Days of Optional Observance. The Lectionary uses a three-year cycle and this year we begin Year B. You will find the Gospel readings during this cycle to be predominately according to Mark.
The frenetic pace of the holiday season is a striking contrast to the quiet reflection and patient waiting that characterize the days of Advent. The balance between the religious significance of Advent and the consumerism of secular Christmas can be very difficult to find.
This season take time for quiet reflection.