So here's your lesson ( :) on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556). His genius, it has been said, "consisted of that rare and mysterious virtue, humility." This made him wise which enabled him to survive the treacherous political waters of Henry VIII's court. It was during these years that he - Thomas - began the editorial work that led to the Book of Common Prayer. He was not always in the king's favor, and Henry made the task difficult, but Thomas survived and his work continued because he submitted himself to his king.
When Henry went to his reward (and we'll not take time to consider what that may be, just to say he is fortunate its not my call. I still find it hard to forgive him for his dissolution of monastaries and wife ill-treatment) , Edward VI came to the throne.
In 1548, during his short reign Common Prayer was introduced. It was abolished during the reign of Mary (Cranmer went to the stake under that bloody woman) . Elizabeth I restored the prayer book. It was opposed by the Puritans. Restored. Revived. Not until recent centuries has it been tampered with, watered down in an effort to make the language 'user friendly'. (hateful term which only serves to diminish meaning and richness of language) It is amazing to me that through the centuries Cranmer's work still stands. His prayers and collects still retain the cast iron of truth and language.
There are many fine sources for Advent devotions. Yet, for me, the prayer book with its reminder that this present season is not all glimmer and glitz but rather a time of heart preparation as we glory in the First Advent of our Lord and anticipate the one yet to come.
For each Sunday of Advent there is a collect or prayer but the first is to be included each week of the month. And so I end with this:
Give us grace,
that we may cast away the works of darkness,
and put upon us the armor of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
(in the which thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;)
that in the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal,
through him who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Ghost
now and ever. Amen
Selah. Pause and calmly think of that!