ADVENT — TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST
The first mechanical clock on record was built for Dunstable Priory, a monastery in England, around the year 1283. The monks used it to announce the hours for daily prayer.
Christianity has always been interested in marking the passage of time. In the 1600s, four church buildings were the best solar observatories in the world. Built to fix the date of Easter, they also housed instruments that threw light on the geometry of the solar system.
Science has benefited from our interest in time. But the interest itself is chiefly spiritual. Whether we are counting the hours between prayer services or the months between holy days, we are always looking forward with joy – which is the definition of hope.
Advent is a season of counting the passage of time, in preparation for Christ’s coming. The candles on the wreath, the boxes in a calendar and all our other customs are symbols of our long, joyful wait for Christ. Advent, this time of patience and joy, is the season of hope.