Christians began keeping the season of Advent from the sixth century, first for six weeks, then for four. However, it took a long time for the season to be given a secure place in the life of the church. In fact it wasn’t until three hundred years later that liturgical books contained the liturgies for Advent.
The Advent Candles, which are lit at the beginning of the Mass and which continue to burn throughout Christmas, represent the four advent figures, the Advent people with whom we share this season. The candles remind us of the patriarchs (and matriarchs), the prophets, St John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The traditional colour for the candles is red, although in some churches liturgical colours are used: purple for Advent 1, 2 and 4 and rose for Advent 3, Gaudete Sunday, traditionally a day of refreshment during this season. In different ways each of these groups of people or individuals point towards the coming of God and the coming of his Messiah. The patriarchs lived according to promise and covenant; the prophets spoke in good and bad times of the one who would fulfil the law and establish the people; John pointed to Jesus and prepared the people for the immanence of the kingdom; and Mary, in her own person, made ready for the incarnation, the birth of the one to whom the fathers of the nation looked, of whom the prophets spoken and for whom John was forerunner.
We too are Advent People. We look in hope to the fulfilment of the promise and with the patriarchs we travel in faith. We have a prophetic message which speaks of the establishment of the kingdom of justice and peace, of inclusiveness and love, here and now. We have a duty to call people from where they are to become one with Christ through the way they live their lives and to share in his life through the sacramental life of the church. We are one with Mary in being ‘God-bearers’ to the world, carrying Christ in our hearts into every situation we go, being people of the word, his broken bread to feed the world.
Fr Stephen is running an Advent Course with 4 sessions of 90 minutes, including coffee and cake – very little happens at St Andrew’s without the help of cake!
Helping unlock the New Testament…Challenging Fr Stephen’s Sunday School!
This is happening twice on four Tuesdays:
- 22nd November, 4pm & 7pm
- 29th November, 4pm & 7pm
- 6th December, 4pm & 7pm
- 13th December, 4pm & 7pm
Choose the time which suits you best. It’s perfectly possible to mix and match times according to your availability. Please bring a bible plus notebook and pens. Designed for all comers. Enough for thinkers…plenty for those afraid!
Compline and Benediction, Sunday 4th December, Advent 2, 7pm
23 of us met for this in November and there was a clear vote to carry on. So we are singing Compline again, worship Our Lord in silence in the Blessed Sacrament and (those who want to) socialise for an hour in the pub afterwards.
Leicestershire Chorale Christmas Concert, Saturday 10th December, 7.30pm
Many will remember their beautiful concerts from the last two years – their Christmas Concert has now become a tradition in our December diary.
De Montfort University Carol Concert, Tuesday 13th December, 4pm
I am delighted this returns to St Andrew’s this year – please join the Vice Chancellor, students and staff for this traditional Carol Service.
Advent Meditation with music and readings, Saturday, 17th December, 4pm
Come along for an hour of music, poetry and scripture readings celebrating Advent and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of St Andrew’s – followed by a drink and a mince pie.
Carols, Beer & Christmas Cheer!
Wednesday 21st December, 7.30pm in the Sir Robert Peel Pub
Join us for your favourite carols with a drink around the piano in the Sir Robert Peel on Jarrom Street. Christmas jumpers and hats are particularly welcome!
Let’s decorate the church! Thursday 22nd December, 4pm to 7pm
Please give us a hand to decorate the tree and the rest of the church and get everything ready for Christmas! Obviously some serious work needs doing, but this is an occasion for all the family. I can also promise an abundance of cake and mince pies for this one!
Christmas Service Schedule:
Christmas Eve, Saturday 24th December, 6pm: 1st Mass of Christmas with Choir
This is a full choral Mass for Christmas, not a service specifically designed for children. Nevertheless, it’s sufficiently short and varied to be suitable for all the family. The service should be over by around 7pm and is followed by a glass of celebratory Prosecco (or alcohol-free Nosecco).
Midnight Mass @ St Mary de Castro, Castle View, Leicester LE1 5WH, 11.30pm
You are most welcome to join St Mary’s congregation for their Midnight Mass with choir. They are keen for people able to support their choir for the night – please have a word with me if you would like to sing!
Christmas Day, Sunday 25th December, 10.30am: Mass of Christmas Day
Please join us for the Solemn High Mass of Christmas Day. As everybody wants to open their presents there won’t be any hospitality offered after Mass.
New Years Day, 1st January, 2023, 10.30am: Mass of Mary, Mother of God
The days following Christmas are crowded with feasts and celebrations – as a parish with a particular devotion to Our Lady we keep the feast of the Θεοτόκος – the Mother of God or the God-bearer.