Advent as preparation for judgement.

What is the theme of each week of Advent? and What do each of the Advent candles represent? are the sort of questions that illicit a wide range of answers. 

It is probably most common today for the themes of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy to be linked to each of the four weeks of Advent. An older tradition asks us to focus on the four last things during this season: death, judgement, heaven, and hell. Still others would have us focus first on the Old Testament people of God, then the Old Testament Prophets, then John the Baptist, and then finally on Mary. 

On first glance it is hard to find a common link between these various approaches to Advent. But I think you can see how each of these themes are in some way centered around one or more of the three advents of Jesus.

Throughout Rhythms of Habit we will follow the lead of the Book of Common Prayer in suggesting themes of each week of a particular season. More specifically, we will take our themes from the Collects (prayers) for each Holy Day and Holy Season, as well as their assigned Gospel readings.

On each of the Sundays of Advent, I will share the text of the Gospel passage and the Collect for the week, along with a few comments about how these themes can help us faithfully approach each week of Advent.

If you are theme-less this Advent, use those provided by the Book of Common Prayer as your guide. If you already have a theme for each week provided by your church, dive head-first into those themes and use the Rhythms of Habit emails as helpful supplements along the way!

Keep reading below for the First Week of Advent theme and reflection.

The First Week of Advent: Preparation for Judgment

As you read the Gospel passage and Collect below, it is worth taking a moment to consider a few things. I have also found it helpful to pray the Collect below each day of the first week of Advent.

  • Judgement is a good thing. In the end, we want all things to be set right. We feel this sense most strongly when we have been wronged. The problem is that we, too, often find ourselves in the wrong.

  • You will stand before Jesus, and see him face to face. In God’s mercy, we might just enjoy that encounter.

  • Preparation for that Day involves God’s gift of grace in our lives, followed by our own effort. When we emphasize one of these things at the expense of the other we do ourselves a disservice.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:36-44

Jesus said to the disciples, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Collect for the First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.