This past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent and the first Sunday in the Christian Year.
Advent comes from the Latin "adventus" meaning "Coming". In this season we celebrate Christ's first coming to us in the Nativity, and anticipate his coming in final victory when he brings the Kingdom of God to its fullness in the end of this age. As such, it is a season of tension, a season of "already" but "not yet".
The season is made up of the four Sundays prior to Christmas. The central character is John the Baptist, and the liturgical color is purple. During these Sundays we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. I like to think of it as a sister season to Lent. In Lent we prepare ourselves for the joy and celebration of the Resurrection, in Advent we prepare ourselves for the joy and celebration of Christmas. Both seasons are seasons of preparation, not celebration.
Loving God, we give you thanks for these days of preparation. Cleanse our minds and hearts. Help us to prepare in the desert of our lives a highway for the Savior. Enable us to remain faithful disciples as we live in the "in-between" times of your first advent and your coming in final victory. This we ask in the name of Christ. Amen.