How to use The Advent Project

Advent is not a frantic countdown to the stuffed stomachs and broken toys of Christmas. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter; it is a time of both patient waiting and discontented longing that fuels our hope in the coming Kingdom of God. Amidst this season where our time feels so scarce, dashing from party to party and present shopping, Advent teaches us to watch, to wait, and to hope for the appearance of the one who makes all things new.

john the baptistThe Advent season is comprised of three aspects that you will find represented throughout the Advent Project. Firstly, Israel’s longing for an end to her exile. In Advent we join with Israel awaiting the deliverance from their sins, release from their exile, and the return of their King. We join with Israel’s prophets that proclaim this good news, and in doing so, we come to see that the story of Israel’s exile from God is part of the story of the world’s alienation from God.

“During Advent each year, the Christian year teaches us to once again become Israel, recognizing our sin and need, that waiting, longing, hoping, calling, praying for the coming of the Messiah, the advent of justice, and the in-breaking of shalom. We go through the ritual of desiring the kingdom – a kind of holy impatience – by re-enacting Israel’s longing for the coming of the King. We are called to be a people of expectancy – looking for the coming (again) of the Messiah.” – James K.A. Smith

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Introducing the Advent Project

“Modern secularization can be seen from one angle as the rejection of higher times and the positing of time as purely profane.” (Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries)

“Christians are people whose year does not simply map onto the calendar of the dominant culture.” (James Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, 2009)

“The church calendar aims at nothing less than to change the way we experience time and perceive reality.” (Mark Galli, Beyond Smells and Bells, 2008)

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

138px-StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_SimeonThe Christian year is  the counter-cultural response of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church” – Christians around the world and through the ages – to “the problem of time,” the meaningless cycle beginning in chaos and ending in death. Through the Christian year, the Church recognizes the inability of secularism, religion, or philosophy to satisfy our hunger and thirst for God. Thus, the Church seeks to minister to humanity’s absolutely irrepressible need for rest, for feasting, for joy, for meaning, for life by leading us to God – as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ – through a weekly Sunday feast that celebrates his death and resurrection and through seasonal feasts that walk us through the events of his life.

The Christian year refers to Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. These seasons enable the Church to mark time by Jesus and thus shape her life by:

  • Addressing the problem of time
  • Celebrating God’s mighty acts of salvation
  • Teaching the historic Christian faith
  • Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God

Christian time begins and ends in Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8, 17). The season of Advent marks the beginning of the church year and specifically marks time with the narrative of Christ – his coming in the incarnation as the hope of Israel’s desires, and his coming again at the renewal of all things. As James K.A. Smith writes:

“the Christian observation of Advent marks a different orientation to time, particularly when it is recognized that Advent is a penitential season of denial and self-examination rather than accumulation, consumption, and self-indulgence. The distinct marking of time that is integral to historic Christian worship establishes a sense that the church is a ‘peculiar people,’ and the liturgical calendar already constitutes a formative matrix that functions as a counter-formation to the incessant 24/7-ness of our frenetic commercial culture.” (Desiring the Kingdom, 156-57)

This website is designed to help us to do this: to mark time. To produce a habit that is so charged with the gospel that our hearts, minds, affections, wills and bodies long more and more for the for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

In the year of our Lord 2013 advent commences on the first of December. For the proceeding four weeks will be posting prayers, quotes, scripture, images and more to feed our hearts with patience (James 5.8) during this waiting for the Kingdom. Wait with us.