Advent begins Sunday November 29 this year, and in the words of our friend (and Canon Theologian for our diocese) Emily McGowin: “This is shaping up to be the most Advent-y Advent we’ve ever Advented!”
Our theme for Advent this year is “The Weary World Rejoices,” which is a line from the Christmas carol “O Holy Night.” 2020 has brought a new level of weariness for many of us. From a relentless global pandemic to the acute painful awareness of ever-present systemic racial injustice in our country, this year has brought us face to face with suffering that we can’t easily “fix.”
Which is why we need Advent so badly this year! Advent is a season of longing and hope, but hope is not a Pollyanna-esque optimism that expects things to just get better… Hope is rather, in the words of Henri Nouwen, “the trust that God will fulfill God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom.”
So Advent is a season of lament and longing for God to come and do what only God can do. As we anticipate the celebration of the coming of Jesus as an infant to the Virgin Mary, we also, in the midst of the chaos and evil of the world, cry out for Jesus to come again to set the world right and make all things new.
Advent reminds us, as Fleming Rutledge puts it, that “to be a Christian is to live every day of our lives in solidarity with those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, but to live in the unshakable hope of those who expect the dawn.”
Praying the Kenyan Rite during Advent
One small way we’ll be practicing this kind of solidarity during Advent is by using “The Kenyan Rite” for our Eucharistic liturgy on Sundays for worship. This liturgy comes to us from our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Kenya. It’s based on the historic structure of the Anglican liturgy, but the Kenyan church contextualized it for its congregations, which in turn is helping congregations around the world gain a deeper understanding of the mysteries of our faith.
Praying the Kenyan Rite together is a way for us to recognize our connection to the global church and receive the hard-won gifts of de-colonization from our African sisters and brothers, who have crafted a new liturgy that is both thoroughly biblical and authentically African, both faithful to Anglican tradition and refreshingly creative.
Our kids ministry is also helping families engage in some storytelling during Advent. You can tell these stories at home, view them on our Vimeo channel (recorded by fellow Table folks), or join in a live storytelling evening online (schedule TBA). A supply list and Advent Stories booklet are now available for download. It all starts Monday, December 1!
I’m looking forward to celebrating and lamenting with you this Advent, facing with you whatever darkness the end of 2020 brings us, confident that we can glory even in our sufferings, because “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom 5:3).
Grace and peace,