Advent A Time Of Preparation | The Rev. Susan E. Hill, Associate Rector

12.1.17 | Community, Pulpit Posts, World

This Sunday we begin the season of Advent, the time of preparation for both the feast of Christmas and the final coming of Christ in power and glory, as well as the start of the new liturgical year. The calendar this year gives us a short Advent season, just three full weeks, since the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on Christmas Eve.

You might be surprised to learn that of all the observances in our liturgical year (including worship on Sundays, Easter and Eastertide, Lent, Pentecost, Christmas, and Epiphany), Advent was the latest season to emerge in the early Church. Moreover, its origins are unclear. It might have come from late 4th-century Spain, when a council reminded the faithful to go to church, especially during Lent and during the period from December 17 to January 6. Or it might have originated in late 5th-century Gaul with the practice of “St. Martin’s Lent” – a time of fasting three times per week from St. Martin’s feast on November 11 until Christmas. Or it may have come from one of the quarterly Roman fasts, the “fast of the tenth month.” In any case, by the middle of the 6th-century, Advent was well established in Rome.

You might also be surprised to learn that in the 7th-century Gelasian Sacramentary, Advent was put at the end of the liturgical year, while Christmas was at the beginning. In this scheme, Advent wasn’t related to Christmas at all – it just came before it chronologically. This might be why so many of the Advent texts are about the end times.

As we prepare for the festivities of Christmas, it can be jarring to hear these readings about end times and fear and judgement – readings we might think of as “texts of terror.” But the readings contain seeds of joyful expectation as well, making them also “texts of promise.” Our understanding of Advent today finds both views held in a tension that is slowly resolved as we get closer to the hopefulness found in many of the Christmas readings.

But until then, for the next few weeks of Advent, we will live in this in-between place. We are preparing for the coming of Christ, but he is not here yet. In our scripture readings and indeed in the world around us, we live in both a place of fear and even terror as well as in a place of hope and promise. The challenge of the season is to take both seriously, and to sit quietly with the contradictions without rushing to resolve them too quickly. It is time to both rest and to keep awake.

May we accept the challenge of living in this place of tension, in this time of being betwixt and between. And may we all have a deep and meaningful Advent!

Rev. Susan Hill

Rev. Susan Hill


Stay current on activity at the Soup Kitchen, guest stories, thoughts from Clergy, news and events.

Subscribe to receive the latest news, events, volunteer opportunities, and more — right to your inbox.

Church of the Holy Apostles

We are an open, inclusive Christian Church celebrating in the Episcopal tradition.

Sunday Service is held 11AM (on site and via livestream). Weekday services are held on Zoom.


For Newcomers

Learn about our faith community and explore ways to connect with our work and worship.


Reflections on Holy Scripture from our Clergy.


Founded in 1844, with a focus on social activism and the desire for social justice.

Clergy, Staff & Vestry

The Vestry is the governing body of the Church of the Holy Apostles.


Music commands a strong presence at the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Space Rental

Host your next meeting or event in our landmark building.

Soup Kitchen & Pantry

Nourishing hungry New Yorkers since 1982 in an atmosphere of respect and hospitality.

Daily meal service

Serving a free, nutritious meal every weekday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Meal outreach

Distributing bagged breakfasts and lunches throughout Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

About the soup kitchen

Learn more about our mission, our history, our performance, who we are, and what we do.

Pantry Program

Providing fresh and nutritious groceries to food-insecure New Yorkers.

Sunday Supper

Bridging generations and building community over a monthly family style meal.

Social Support

Meeting basic needs, stabilizing lives, and supporting individuals and families to achieve their goals.


Addressing the needs of the whole person through basic needs, counseling, and referrals.


Offering learning and skill-building opportunities.

Community Partnership

Partnering with others to expand the services offered to our guests.

Get Involved

Holy Apostles is a great place to channel your time, talents and generosity for good.


Make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and hunger.


Join our efforts to serve others and provide for people who are vulnerable.


Your gift provides food, community, and hope to New Yorkers in need.

The Latest

Stay up-to-date on all happenings at Holy Apostles.

Food For The Soul

The official blog of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Voices of Our Community

Guest stories, poetry, and more.


See our calendar of events.

Church Pulpit Posts

Read weekly meditations written by our clergy.


Holy Apostles in the news.