Worship During Advent

by the Rev. Charlie Dupree

The season of Advent is the first season of our liturgical year and is a season of hope and expectation.  In the ancient church, the season of Advent was similar to Lent. As a time of preparation, it took on a more “penitential” tone. While we do hold on to some of those practices, we primarily use the season as a time of expectation and hope as we await the birth of the infant Christ.

Our worship services at St. Paul’s shift during the season of Advent. At St. Paul’s, here are a few of the changes in our patterns of worship that will help us mark the season:

  • A new set of hangings were made for the season and make their debut! With the guidance of the Altar Guild and clergy, Lyons Burke and Lynn Blankman offered their gifts of quilting and fabrication. The colors reflect the color of the season: blue. The star reminds us of the light that breaks through the darkness and the energetic beams signal God’s presence and creative activity.
  • Music: The text of our opening canticle (song) is taken from the prophet Isaiah. This setting of “The First Song of Isaiah” is new to St. Paul’s and reminds us that we can put our trust and hope in the Lord who has come into the world to set us free from fear and sin. A very familiar call and response setting of the Lord’s Prayer is a St. Paul’s favorite and will be used during the season of Advent.
  • Advent Wreath: The lighting of the Advent wreath is a custom of most churches. The candles represent various themes, and families will participate in this ritual at the beginning of each service. 
  • Side Chapel and Candle Lighting: these spaces, as usual, are there for healing prayers and/or remembrance during communion. 
  • During Advent (as in Lent), there is an absence of flowers. Seasonal greens are in place, capturing the simple nature of Advent. These simple adornments help us to prepare for the bright flourish of flowers at Christmas.

While worship in the Episcopal church does follow certain patterns, it is not intended to be static. Changing our worship practices according to the church seasons allows us to experience the different textures and nuances that our tradition has to offer. I hope that the worship experiences at St. Paul’s during the season of Advent will help us do what the Christmas carol reminds us to do. . . . Let every heart prepare him room. Let heaven and nature sing!

See you in church,