We are now in Advent, which has four strong themes.
- Firstly, it is a penitential season (the same purple liturgical colour used in Lent) when we think about reconciling ourselves with God.
- Secondly, we make sure we are awake and ready for Jesus return.
- Thirdly, we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas time.
- Fourthly, we look at the last judgement and final things.
Why so much to consider in one season? The answer is that our Advent combines two different traditions. Until the 13th century the Roman Catholic Church kept the four weeks of Advent as a celebratory prelude to Christmas, whilst the Gallic Church had a time of penitence, reflecting on sobering themes surrounding the second coming of Christ. From the 13th century, these strands came together so we now celebrate God made flesh in the story of Christmas, but there is also a sense of the darkness of our world, of human wilfulness, self centeredness and the impending judgement.
Advent is, therefore, a season of contrasts, shade, light and deep drama.