Showing posts with label Advent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Advent. Show all posts

Monday, December 23, 2013

O EMMANUEL



Antiphon sung by the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars in Oxford.

December 23
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!
Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Text from Fish Eaters.

Philippians 4:4-8
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Reposted from last year, and the year before, and the year before...as a tradition.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

AN ADVENT STORY

A few years ago, when she was in great need of help, a friend told Annie Lamott an Advent story.  Her friend, Tom, is a Jesuit and a recovering alcoholic.
Advent is about the coming of Emmanuel, which means “God with us,” and so as the fields outside our windows go to sleep, we stay awake and watch, holding to the belief that God is with us, is close and present, and that we will be healed.

I want that belief, and that patience; I checked the box on the form choosing that. But it has not been forthcoming. I have instead been feeling a little — what is the psychiatric term? — cuckoo. My mind has been doing a Native American worry chant, WORRYworryworryworryworryworryworryworryWORRYworryworry … It’s not that I don’t have a lot of faith. It’s just that I also have a lot of mental problems. And I want to fix them all, and I want to do that now, or at least by tomorrow afternoon, right after lunch.
Tom's story drew me into the spirit of the season of Advent, my favorite of the church year, the season of the paradox of anticipation and recognition of the Kingdom of God, which is right now and not yet.

With thanks for the link to my friend Paul (A.) of the jokes.  The story is no joke, but rather one of the loveliest of Advent stories.

Monday, December 17, 2012

HOPE IN THE GOOD NEWS

Anchor, Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome
I've heard and read many words about the terrible tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, - many kind and comforting words, along with horrible and ill-conceived responses.  I've hesitated to add more words, thus I've mostly posted prayers and brief tributes to those who died and prayers and sympathy for those who grieve.

Yesterday, I heard a fine sermon preached in my church.  The main message I took away from the sermon is the good news of hope in the midst of tragedy nearly too awful to contemplate.   Since Advent is the season of waiting in great hope for the celebration of the coming of Christ Incarnate as a helpless babe 2000 years ago, I've continued with the traditions of Advent, the season of expectancy and hope, for, at this time, I do not know what else to do.  Words cannot express the depth of my sadness nor my thankfulness for my faith and the prayers and traditions of the Christian community, which anchor my soul to hope in the Good News.

Hebrews 6:19-20
We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.
The time will come for more words and especially for deeds, but not now, not today, not for me.

A Collect for Peace
Most holy God, the source of all good desires, all right judgments, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, so that our minds may be fixed on the doing of your will, and that we, being delivered from the fear of all enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the mercies of Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

O ANTIPHONS


The painting is from the massive Ghent altarpiece, "The Adoration of the Lamb" by Hubert and Jan van Eyck at St. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium. Wiki shows the entire altarpiece, except for the missing parts.
The well-known carol, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” provides just such a passageway linking the old and the new. The carol’s familiar names for Christ are based on the Advent Antiphons—the “Great O’s”—which date back possibly to the sixth century. These antiphons—short devotional texts chanted before and after a psalm or canticle—were sung before and after the Magnificat, the Song of Mary, at Vespers from December 16 through December 23. Each of the antiphons greets the Messiah and ends with a petition of hope. The simple refrain of the carol, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!” sets the tone for this Advent time of waiting and expectation.
From Hasten the Kingdom: Praying the O Antiphons of Advent by Mary Winifred, C.A. (Liturgical Press, 1996).

Over the next several days, beginning tomorrow, I will post a video of the O Antiphon of the day sung by Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars in Oxford.

Note: Reposted from last year with slight editing. Rather than think of the reposts as due to laziness, please regard them as Wounded Bird traditions. Thank you.


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Advent carol) Performed by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge Timothy Brown, conductor

Thursday, December 6, 2012

FROM THE CHURCHLADY - FEAST OF ST NICHOLAS

"The Dowry For Three Virgins"
Gentile da Fabriano

Churchlady (aka Marthe)

The St. Nicholas Clause

Q: I’m really tired of the whole Santa Claus version of Christmas and the pressure to buy our way to bliss.  Why does the church play along with that whole marketing nightmare?

A: The Church, Gentle Inquirer, doesn’t endorse Santa Claus and hasn’t had much effective control over daily life for a very long time. You must be longing for some “good old days” that exist mostly in myth and, as much as we sympathize with your yearning for simpler days and a focus on the actual birth of the Saviour, any attempt at de-mythifying Christmas (yes, we know that’s not a real word – humor us) is highly unlikely to succeed. Look anywhere in the world and you will find people who cling to their myths and legends with fondness and perpetual vigor. The Church does endorse peace, generosity and expressions of good will to all (which includes tired, cranky, reluctant shoppers).

Q: Can’t we at least ditch Santa Claus and stick to St. Nick? That at least suggests some religious tie to the real meaning of Christmas.

A: We are sorry to disappoint you, but St. Nicholas is an Advent (the season of anticipation, beginnings, hope) saint, celebrated on the 6th of December, not a Christmas figure, and his very existence is disputed by some scholars. He is said to have been Bishop of Myra (currently part of Turkey), renowned for his generosity to children, and an attendee of the Council of Nicea (325 ad) although there are no mentions of him on the surviving documents from that important meeting. The patron saint of sailors, early images showed him arriving by ship or traveling on a white horse to deliver small anonymous gifts to sleeping needy people.

Sinterklaas
The Netherlands
Q: So modern marketing guys morphed him into a fat guy on a reindeer powered sled arriving on the
wrong day?

A: Basically, yes, but let’s not put all the blame on anyone; as vile as modern advertisers may be, they didn’t invent popular culture or myth making! The early church sainted quite a lot of fairly normal, admirable people to be examples and role models for believers. The stories of their lives got bigger and saintlier with every re-telling, eventually including miracles to qualify for sainthood. Surely, this tendency to embellish stories doesn’t surprise you, now does it?

Q: Maybe not, but isn’t it just wrong to keep feeding our children silly stories that kind of scare them into thinking that if they aren’t “good” they won’t get presents?

A: While Gentle Inquirer’s instinct to avoid manipulating children with threats is laudable, most parents will laugh (a hearty ho, ho, ho!) at the notion that one must not use tangible incentives to encourage positive behavior. Do we detect disappointment of your own in your tone? The pony never materialized? The fire truck with all the bells and whistles never arrived despite your sincere efforts to stay out of trouble? These aren’t reasons for canceling a whole season that encourages peace, good will toward all people and the sharing of gifts as a remembrance of God’s gift to us of a Saviour, no matter how garish the packaging of the message may have become. Celebrate without Santa or the Grinch if you like, but do celebrate the Christ child’s birth with all the joy you can muster!

Pictures from Wikipedia.

Note: St Nicholas is also remembered for being generous to poor virgins in need of dowries.  Padre Mickey has a splendid post on St Nicholas, which includes the story of the three virgins depicted in the painting at the top left.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ADVENT - EXPECTANCY OR PENITENCE?


The holiday season is officially upon us. I don't care for the hustle and bustle of getting and spending and shopping associated with the commercial aspect of the season, but I'm immensely grateful for the church season of Advent, which is my favorite of the church year.

Centuries ago, Advent was a season of fasting and penitence, though lesser in severity than Lent, in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. We've pretty much moved away from the practice of penitence fully into the spirit of expectancy, however the wonderful readings in the Lectionary during Advent are not all sweetness and light. Does not preparing the way of the Lord in a spirit of expectancy include taking stock of ourselves and our lives to see the ways we are ready, and, still more, the ways we are unready to celebrate anew that God came down to be one of us, fully human, with the same joys and sorrow, the same pleasures and struggles common to the human family?

In her post titled 'The tender branch', Elizabeth Kaeton says:
It must be the Season of Advent.

I've been having a conversation with a male clergy colleague about Advent. He's a good guy. Truly. One of the best. Intelligent. I learn so much from him. Votes on the side of the angels in terms of all the justice issues.

We disagree about lots of things. Advent is one of them.

He sees it as a mini-Season of Penitence.

I see it as a Season of Anticipation.

He wants Liturgical Purple (the coming of Royalty).

I want Liturgical Blue (the color of Mary).
Please read all of Elizabeth's post, because it's very good.

Why must Advent be one or the other? Why not both Penitence and Anticipation? I'm with Elizabeth in regarding the Incarnation very highly. For me, Christmas is the greatest feast day for without the Incarnation, none of the rest of the Jesus story would follow. The children have it right. I remember being reminded by the nuns in my Roman Catholic school that Easter was the greatest feast in Christianity, but most children I know never took the lesson to heart. And I suppose I've never taken the lesson to heart.
2 Peter 1:1-11

Simeon Peter, a servant* and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by* his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual* affection, and mutual* affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
Pictured above is my church, St John's Episcopal Church, beautifully dressed for Advent in Mary blue, to match the window, which I freely admit I prefer to purple for the season.

And before anyone says it, I know that biblical scholars conclude it is nearly certain that the apostle Peter did not write the letter from which I quote.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

WHAT IS ADVENT?


From J. KAMERON CARTER:

What is Advent? What is the hope into which we enter during this season as we move towards Christmas—not Christmas the commercialized phenomenon on the nation’s calendar, but the interruptive event of Emmanuel, God-With-Us?

It is the hope of Christ’s coming, that in him God meets us and that therefore we are not God, not the lords of the earth. It is the hope that in his coming to us, our will to mastery, our will to Lordship, our will even to good intentions, our will to usurp the position that only God can occupy, the position of the Judge and thus our willing to judging is overturned. For the narrative of power, in God’s coming in nakedness and as a helpless and vulnerable child and in strangeness, is what the naked Christ delivers us from. In short, salvation has come.

Amen!

Carter's words followed upon his finding a "wonder passage" in a letter written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his cousin in which he describes his conversion. Bonhoeffer's words may be found at the link above.

Carter continues:

Bonhoeffer’s conversion narrative proves to be a Christmas narrative, a narrative that turned him from himself, from power and mastery, from bourgeois comfortability, and toward the weak and vulnerable, the “wretched of the earth” as Franz Fanon put it—toward those who in a world bent on the worship of power and security, wealth and prestige, are the despised and rejected.
....

Christmas, or the coming of God-with-Us as the man Jesus, is liberation—liberation first of all from the will to power and mastery that dogs us all and liberation in the world. God-with-Us means we are free to be for another, for their good, for their flourishing, for their well-being. In this sense, Christmas is liberation, which is love.

To me Carter's words are wonder passages, too.

J. Kameron Carter teaches theology and black church studies at the Divinity School at Duke University.

Thanks again to Ann V.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT



A Song of the Wilderness

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
It shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weary hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to the anxious, "Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God, coming with judgment to save you."
Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf be unstopped.
Then shall the lame leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert;
The burning sand shall become a pool
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.
The ransomed of God shall return with singing,
with everlasting joy upon their heads.
Joy and gladness shall be theirs,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


(Isaiah 35:1-7, 10)

Collect: Second Sunday of Advent

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Image from Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT


Canticle: A Song of the Spirit

"Behold, I am coming soon," says the Lord,
"and bringing my reward with me, *
to give to everyone according to their deeds.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, *
the beginning and the end."
Blessed are those who do God's commandments,
that they may have the right to the tree of life, *
and may enter the city through the gates.
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you, *
with this testimony for all the churches.
"I am the root and the offspring of David, *
I am the bright morning star."
"Come!" say the Spirit and the Bride; *
"Come!" let each hearer reply!
Come forward, you who are thirsty, *
let those who desire take the water of life as a gift.

(Revelation 22:12-17)

Collect of the Day: First Sunday of Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your 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 living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Advent is my favorite of the seasons of the church year. I love the Psalms and the Lessons, the sense of quickening and anticipation that precedes the holy day when we celebrate the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ to dwell amongst us.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Antiphons


The painting is from the massive Ghent altarpiece, "The Adoration of the Lamb" by Hubert and Jan van Eyck at St. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium. Wiki shows the entire altarpiece, except for the missing parts.

The well-known carol, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” provides just such a passageway linking the old and the new. The carol’s familiar names for Christ are based on the Advent Antiphons—the “Great O’s”—which date back possibly to the sixth century. These antiphons—short devotional texts chanted before and after a psalm or canticle—were sung before and after the Magnificat, the Song of Mary, at Vespers from December 16 through December 23. Each of the antiphons greets the Messiah and ends with a petition of hope. The simple refrain of the carol, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!” sets the tone for this Advent time of waiting and expectation.
From Hasten the Kingdom: Praying the O Antiphons of Advent by Mary Winifred, C.A. (Liturgical Press, 1996).

Over the next several days, beginning today, I plan to post the "O Antiphon" of the day.

Note: Reposted from last year with slight editing. Rather than think of the reposts as due to laziness, please regard them as Wounded Bird traditions. Thank you.