Thanksgiving Day is next week. From whence did that come?
I feel as though we just finished our All Saints' Day and Remembrance Sunday celebrations. And now it's Thanksgiving.
In my profession, some colleagues have called this upcoming church music season the "All Saints' to Christmas Uphill Mad Dash to the Manger."
As Thanksgiving Day in the United States always is the fourth Thursday of November, the holiday this year is the earliest that I can ever remember. The first Thursday of November this year was actually November 1, which also happened to be All Saints' Day.
Often the fourth Thursday of November is also the last Thursday of the month. But with November 1 being a Thursday this year, there are five Thursdays this month.
In many years, the First Sunday of Advent occurs on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but this year we have one more regular Sunday, Christ the King Sunday (November 25), before the Advent season begins.
The best news about Christ the King Sunday coming immediately after Thanksgiving is that the resplendent harvest decorations at the high altar and in the chancel will remain for the following Sunday.
This makes me personally very happy, as I believe our nave never looks better than when it is adorned with sheaves of wheat, cornucopia, gourds, vegetables, fruits and flowers.
"Colonial Williamsburg at prayer," as I like to say.
Are we confused yet? Here is another interesting liturgical twist.
With the four Sundays of Advent beginning on December 2, this means that the Fourth Sunday of Advent will be December 23, followed immediately by three big Christmas Eve liturgies on Monday, December 24, and then a 10 a.m. Christmas Day service on Tuesday in Quilling Memorial Chapel, per our regular Christmas celebration parish practice.
(And by the way, there are no choir rehearsals on Wednesday, December 26, this year. You're welcome!)
For those of us who are regular church-goers, these liturgical celebrations, through which we relive the life of Jesus Christ each year, punctuate our lives.
Christmas is only as good as we faithful are at keeping the four Sundays of Advent, those Sundays we mark the Christ Child's approach into the world by prophesy, tradition and imagery, both in scripture and in song.
We know all the wonderful Advent images: keep your lamps burning, stay awake, the voice crying in the wilderness and the child leaping in the womb, followed by Mary's proclamation, "My soul doth magnify the Lord."
So, keep your liturgical calendar out and check it twice in this holy season.