Advent IV has been celebrated at odd intervals in the Calendar. Since 1950, there was 11 years, 1961, then 1967, 72, 78, 89 (11 year interval), 95, 2000, 06, 17, then we will celebrate again in 2023, and 2028. This means that we celebrate TWO events of the Advent/Christmas season on the same day! So, on the Sunday, the 24th, we will celebrate with Holy Communion at the 8:00 am service and at the 10 am, Morning Prayer: Rite Two.
Advent IV is the culmination of our month of waiting/expectation/anticipation of the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The Fourth Sunday of Advent Collect of the Day reads thusly in traditional language of the church:
We beseech thee, Almighty God, to purify our consciences by thy daily visitation, that when thy Son our Lord cometh he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Contemporary writing of this Collect:
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The first thing I see is the language difference of petition; “We beseech thee”, addressing the Almighty with a plea…the next part is very similar, “purity our conscience” it is now in the singular, no longer in “community” mode, and the next part I find the HEART of this prayer: “that when the Son comes, he may find IN US, a mansion prepared for HIMSELF”. We hear in scripture that God has prepared a table for us, and a mansion for us in the heavenly place. We are asked to PREPARE our hearts “mansions” for him to dwell in US. That preparation has been the last three Sundays; listening to scripture, hearing a sermon, listening and singing words of “Prepare the way of the Lord”, “Come, thou long expected Jesus”, “Hark, the glad sound! The Savior comes”.
Let us NOT forget to attend this final service of ADVENT. Last week, Advent III, we celebrated our annual “An Advent Procession: A Service of Nine Lessons and Carols”. I trust that we are PREPARED to welcome the Lord Jesus Christ, at the BIRTH of our Savior, Redeemer, Comforter and Sustainer.
Blessings to you as we anticipate the birth of the baby Jesus. The afternoon and evening of the 24th, we will have three opportunities to celebrate. The children of the church will present a Pageant and we will have Holy Communion at 3:00 pm. At 7:30 pm, a FESTIVE EUCHARIST with trumpet, flute and choir, a bilingual service with our Chinese congregation joining in this Eucharist. Then, at 10:30 we will celebrate with a Solemn Choral Eucharist, with strings, in addition to the trumpet and flute in this “Midnight Mass”. THEN, come to the Christmas Day, December 25, Eucharist at 10 am (there is no 8:00 am service on Christmas morning) and sing, “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this HAPPY morning!