Most years, in the United States, Advent begins on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, giving us four full Sundays before we celebrate Christmas.

Every few years, though, through a twist of calendaring silliness, Advent IV falls on the same day as Christmas Eve. This is that year. Church staffs everywhere quake in fear. When will we have the wreath workshop? When will we have the pageant? Shall we even celebrate Advent IV or just pretend it didn’t happen? Our own dear organist has been dreading this cruel joke of the calendar gods since January.

At Christ Church, we have decided this year to have an Advent IV service of Morning Prayer at 10:00 a.m. on December 24 in addition to our regular Christmas Eve service schedule.

There are many ways in which nodding to the presence of that half-day of Advent IV is a little bit pedantic. I am certain that we will have people who show up at the 10:00 a.m. Advent IV Morning Prayer expecting to sing “Angels we have Heard on High”. They will be disappointed.

We need Advent. We need the promise of the newborn Christ Child, but we also really, really need Advent. We need to savor every minute of this great gift of a season, even if it means holding off on the carols for six more hours.

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In this spoiler-alert, delivery-by-drone, always-connected world, Advent is the season that says “NO” to fast, easy answers. Advent says “NO” to “gimme,” “mine,” and “want.” We are not used to hearing “NO” in this day and age. It is good for us to hear it and to know that limits and boundaries to our egos can help us grow and develop as loving children of God.

Advent also says, “yes.” Advent says “yes” to not knowing all the answers. Advent says “yes” to hearing the ancient stories yet another time and listening for new meaning. Advent says “yes” to slowing down and recognizing that the time we have here is short and precious. Advent says “yes” to closing our eyes and seeing where the light seeps into our darkness.

That is a lot of “yes.” It is up to us to be courageous enough to say “yes” in response to this quiet, powerful season. See you on Advent IV.