November 27 marked the first Sunday in the Season of Advent, 2022. We shifted over from our primary lectionary lessons from Luke in Year C to Matthew in Year A. We have changed from the seasonal liturgical color of green used after Pentecost, to the soothing color of Advent blue. In addition we shifted the Eucharistic Prayers that we use on Sunday. At the 8:00 Rite One service we now use Eucharistic Prayer I, instead of Prayer II. At our 10:30 Rite Two service we are using Prayer B instead because it has a more incarnational tone to it than Prayer A. We put away the Gloria for a few weeks in favor of the Kyrie and at the end of communion in Rite Two we now use the second post communion prayer.
So why is there so much shuffling around with the order of worship? It’s a lot to take in for someone not familiar with the Episcopal Church and our liturgical forms of worship. Can’t we just figure out what works and stick with it Sunday after Sunday? The quick answer to that question is…no.
We are a people of faith where the way we worship is a true reflection of what we believe. In Latin, it is said; lex orandi, lex credendi. We tell the story of our Christian faith by how we worship together throughout the entire year. We are a liturgical worshipping community. We use colors and symbols to enhance how we tell our story to others.
Our story begins with a four-week season of preparation we know as Advent leading to Christmas Day. Like the familiar carol reminds us, there are Twelve Days of Christmas, ending with the Day of Epiphany on January 6th. Depending on when Easter is set, the length of the Season of Epiphany varies before giving way to 40 days of Lent. Easter is determined by the first Sunday after the full Moon that falls on or after the spring equinox. Then of course there are the 50 days of Easter tide leading to Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and the long green season after Pentecost. Which brings us right back to Advent once again.
The foundation of our Christian Story is cyclical. However, the experience of our Christian Story is cumulative. This is why so many of us have our own family traditions connected with this time of year. Certain music must be played while decorating. Special food is cooked and shared with family and friends. People gather to watch classic movies like, It’s a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the Christmas Story, and now this year, the Christmas Story 2.
The point is that telling the story is central to our very being. Certain repetitive acts serve to enhance our understanding of how God became human flesh and lived among us. As we slowly move through the weeks on the calendar, we mark important events and milestones that help up tell the story. When we get to the end of the story on Christ the King Sunday, we pause for a brief moment and then we begin again. The unique narrative of the Christian story is that it is both never ending and one that is constantly evolving.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent – Year A. And so here we are. Let us begin once again.