Happy New Year! While the new calendar year doesn’t begin for another five weeks, we are about to begin the new liturgical year. Usually, a new calendar year brings time for reflection on the year that is ending, and time for setting resolutions for the year ahead. Unfortunately, for many of us in pastoral ministry, we don’t get to start our new liturgical year with the same sort of intentional reflection that is common at the start of the calendar year. We’re in the thick of holiday preparations, we’ve got special rehearsals, Advent lessons and carols, penance services, school programs, family celebrations, and so forth. Further, in the secular world, we’ve already been celebrating Christmas since the end of October.
So, today, we’re providing a brief pause at the start of the new liturgical year. We are sharing two pieces to help frame the Advent season. The first is a reflection on the liturgical year – the importance of time, the meaning of the journey. The second is a comparison of American culture and American worship, exploring how the values of each are complimentary to – or, as often as not, in conflict with – one another.
As you listen to these explorations, I encourage you to listen to them through the lens of Advent. How does our celebration of Advent change when we consider it in the context of the entire liturgical year, viewing it as the first steps on our liturgical pilgrimage? How is our celebration of Advent mired in the competing values of popular culture? In our roles as liturgical leaders, how can we intentionally form our ensembles, our colleagues, and our communities so that the message of Advent might be communicated clearly to all?
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