ST. GEORGE — Just after Halloween I headed to my fitness center. They were playing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Whether it is Bill O’Reilly ranting about the so-called “War on Christmas” or “Frosty the Snowman” assaulting our ears, the Christmas season seems to move up a few more days every year.
There’s got to be a better way to celebrate the coming of the Savior than the Black Friday madness and Cyber Monday glitches. Fortunately there is. Episcopalians believe in delayed gratification. We don’t celebrate Christmas until it’s actually Christmas. That’s December 25 (vigil services the evening before are the norm). Plus Christmas lasts twelve days. While most Americans have thrown their trees in the gutter, we’re still belting out Christmas hymns and watering our poinsettias till Epiphany on January 6.
Till then we don’t rush into Christmas. We spend time getting ready. Our delayed gratification season is called Advent, from the Latin adventus, which means “coming.” Advent emphasizes three things:
- Looking back to our spiritual ancestors as they longed for the coming of the Messiah
- Looking into our lives today as we prepare for the coming of the Messiah into our hearts at Christmas
- Looking forward to the time when Christ will come again
In short, Episcopalians have set aside the four weeks before Christmas for expectant waiting. One of the most beautiful expressions of our expectant waiting is “Advent Lessons and Carols,” also called “Nine Lessons and Carols.”
Here at Grace, we will have this wonderful service on Saturday Dec. 19 at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday Dec. 20 at 10:30 a.m. Nine lessons are read that tell the story of the fall of humanity, the yearning for the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus. Between the lessons we will sing glorious hymns and carols dating from the middle ages through modern times. You don’t want to miss this service!
Worried about how long it will be? Don’t fret, there’s no sermon! Not even announcements! The lessons and music relate the grand sweep of God’s involvement in human history from the Fall to Redemption. “Advent Lessons and Carols” is the most widely observed Advent service in the world. So don’t miss this joyous and profound way to prepare for Christmas. Bring a friend. The service is ecumenical-friendly and afterwards the hospitality committee will provide light refreshments.
Grace Episcopal Church | 1072 E. 900 South, St George | Website | 435-628-1181
By: The Very Rev. Stephen Brehe
Retired Dean of St. Peter’s Cathedral of Helena, Montana
Assisting Priest at Grace Church, St. George