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A Christian community has been observing the Season of Advent at Canterbury since before St Augustine’s arrival in Britain in AD 597. Those early communities connected celebrations of the birth of Jesus Christ, God's son, with the winter solstice and what appeared to be the rebirth of God's sun. The nexus struck early Brits as perfectly poetic.

And poet is a fair description of Jesus Christ, as ancient Greeks and Jesus understood the word poet - a creator who transforms non-being into being. At one of the bleakest moments in his life Oscar Wilde wrote -

Out of the Carpenter’s shop at Nazareth had come a personality infinitely greater than any made by myth and legend, and one, strangely enough, destined to reveal to the world the mystical meaning of wine and the real beauties of the lilies of the field as none, either on Cithaeron or at Enna, had ever done. (De Profundis)

Here in Portland, Oregon, snow whitened the mountains to the east as the sexton climbed a ladder in the middle of the nave of the episcopal cathedral, and lit the first of Advent’s four candles in the big green wreath suspended from the rafters. Daylight is dwindling. The nights are growing longer. A new liturgical year has begun.

We are waiting. Christians are waiting for Jesus, whose advent doth his people free (Winchester New). In the poem of his life, Jesus is waiting for us. We are about to cross a threshold.


Choir of King's College, Cambridge
By kind permission of the Provost and Scholars of King's College, Cambridge
Image: Andrew Houston

The Calendar lists a host of carol services to celebrate the Season of Advent and Christmastide.

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