Sunday, November 20, 2016

First Sunday in Advent

Year A
First Sunday in Advent


We are the Sign of Jesus’ Coming

Points to note

This is the start of a new Church Year, which we will need to explain this to the children.  If the children get confused over the idea of a new year's day that isn't on Jan 1, here are a few more new year's day that are also not on Jan 1:
·  Chinese New Year is on the day of the new moon between Jan 21 and Feb 20.
·  School year in many countries in the Northern Hemisphere starts in the end of summer.
·  Tax year in UK starts on Apr 6 (interesting story, that one) and other dates elsewhere.
The Gospel reading today is a little difficult to follow but you can lead in with the explanation of Advent being the season of preparation before the reading and discuss being a sign to others of the Coming of Jesus during the dialogue.


Acclamation before the Gospel
Alleluia, alleluia!
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy
and give us your saving help.

Discuss with the children about the new season of the Christian calendar that we are entering.  This is available in the end panel of this leaflet & for a more complete explanation, at

The Lord be with you.
All:   And also with your spirit.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Mt 24:37-44)
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.

‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

This is the Good News of the Lord


This discussion should be kept short as the bulk of the discussions takes place before the reading.

Can you come up with any event that gets a lot of alerts and warning before it happens?  A storm could have a storm warning beforehand.    The Olympics could have the torch runs.  Your school exams could have extra classes and teachers who keep giving advise.  A wedding could have the invitation cards going out.

Advent is the alert notice for which event?  Coming of Jesus at Christmas.  What do we do in Advent to show that we are alert for Jesus’ coming?  Prayers, advent wreath and advent calendar, setting up the crib.

Does Jesus only come at Christmas time?  No, other than the Second Coming, which Jesus has clearly stated will come without any warning, we encounter Jesus everyday at mass, in people we meet, in acts of kindness and mercy.

Sometimes, Jesus comes to people who never knew him, who are not yet his friends or, because of a problem they may have, is far away from him.  Sometimes, Jesus also sneds an alert notice to those people that he is coming.  What kind of alert notice do you think he will send?  It is Ok to let the children be confused and give many strange answers before you lead into your final point.

Do you think you could be the sign that Jesus wants to send out to tell people that he is coming?  Discuss the ways that children can be a sign of Jesus’ Coming to others.  Reaching out to someone who is hurt, physically or otherwise, is a precursor to Jesus’ healing.  Making friends with someone who is lonely opens up Jesus’ love.  Helping others could be Jesus’ way to helping them, using us as his hands and feet.

You should end with a resolve from the children on how they can be a sign of Jesus’ Coming.

This is the period of preparation for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas.  The word Advent comes from the Latin for coming.  It means a period of prayer and penitence before we are allowed to celebrate the birth of Christ.   Advent is also the new year for the church calendar and the First Sunday in Advent is our New Year's Day. 

Being a preparation season, the liturgical colour is purple, meaning the priest wears purple vestments at mass - only the stole (piece of cloth around his neck and down his chest), chasuble (the robe on the outside) or any other decor; the basic vestments underneath remain white.  The church may also be decorated with purple flowers, purple buntings and the like.  Purple is deemed the colour of penitence (It is also the colour of mourning - which is why the priest wears purple at funerals). 

Description: is an exception, though: the colour for the third Sunday of Advent is pink (or rose).  That Sunday is called Gaudate Sunday (Latin for Rejoice): to give us a little break after we pass the mid-point of a penitential season.

It runs for the four Sundays before Christmas day and so the last day is always Christmas eve.  It can be as long as a full four weeks starting from Nov 27 (if Christmas Day is a Sunday) or as short as three weeks and one day starting from Dec 3 (if Christmas Day is a Monday).

The Advent Wreath, with its four candles fixed on a circle of evergreens, has its roots in pagan northern Europe, which the Lutherans first adopted as a Christian symbol.  The circle represents the never-ending cycle of seasons while the evergreens symbolise the persistence of life even during winter.  Christian symbolism differ slightly: the circle represents the the eternity of God while the evergreens tells of Jesus, who death could not conquer.  The four candles are lit one every Sunday, causing all candles to be of different heights by the end of the season.  There are three purple candles and a pink/rose one for the Third Sunday of Advent.  Sometimes, there is a fifth white candle in the middle to symbolise Christ, and is lit on Christmas Day or Christmas eve.

The Advent Calendar that we have today seems to be a combination of two separate customs.  The original advent calendar notes the goals for personal prayer and penitence for the different days in this period of penitence.  This calendar is now merged with the Jesse Tree, named after King David's father and unfortunately a dying custom.  Symbols of saints and Old Testament prophets & patriarchs are hung on the Jesse Tree, one on each day of Advent.

No comments:

Post a Comment