Saturday, December 27, 2008

The World is About to Turn

I was listening to one of the many public radio Christmass music specials last week and heard this song, which I'd encourage EVERYONE to buy on iTunes or seek to work into worship when able. I think it especially appropriate the Second or Third Sundays in Advent (It's a paraphrase of the Magnificat and works in some other Advent passages imagery), or late in Ordinary Time (when discussing the New Reign)

Canticle of the Turning
Lyrics: Rory Cooney
Music: Irish Traditional, Star of the County Down

My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great, And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the one who waits. You fixed your sight on the servant's plight, and my weakness you did not spurn, So from east to west shall my name be blest. Could the world be about to turn?

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears,
For the dawn draws near,
And the world is about to turn.

Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me. And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be. Your very name puts the proud to shame, and those who would for you yearn, You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.


From the halls of power to the fortress tower, not a stone will be left on stone. Let the king beware for your justice tears every tyrant from his throne. The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn; These are tables spread, ev'ry mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn.


Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast: God's mercy must deliver us from the conqueror's crushing grasp. This saving word that our forbears heard is the promise that holds us bound,'Til the spear and rod be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.


The Other Pray-er at the Inauguration

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Only Advent - And I'm Not Giving That Up

Last week my mom said something to Andrew (my youngest brother). He said, "Sounds like someone isn't in the Christmas spirit!" My reply echoed my button, "That's because 'It's only Advent." Mom immediately said, "You need to let that go." I guess that was Sunday night.
Monday afternoon I had my first follow up appointment with my oral surgeon after I'd had my wisdom teeth out. He walked in asking me if I was a seminarian and I told him that I would be next year. Neither of us recalls my telling him those were my plans, and he didn't talk to Mom about it while I was out. No idea how he knew. Anyway, he goes to change the stuffing in my mouth and asks where I'm applying and such.
His wife comes in and asks if I have German heritage. She's also his nurse/first assistant. I tell her no. Then she tells me about how when they lived in Bavaria - which was a Catholic area - there was a sharp contrast between Advent Season and Christmass Season. She was commenting on my button. I told her about how my priest is a big stickler about keeping the two separate. And I said that I agreed and that to skip to Christmas was to miss what the Church has given us as a time of preparation. The surgeon got almost passionate saying that he thought I was right, that liturgy was important, that the Church year is important, and something to the effect of the problem with the American church has been the lack of reference when seeking to encounter the Almighty. Then he said that I wasn't there for his theology but to get my mouth healing.
It's only Advent, still. Christmas might be three days away, but it's only Advent. And I'm not giving that up, even if my mom wants me to. While Advent to the Western Church may NOT be a "Little Lent," it is a time of willful suspension of disbelief. It's a time of mystery, wonder, hope, and (in my mind) mystical events. We pray, "O come, o come Emmanuel" as though we know not that Emmanuel has come, is coming, and will come. The week of Thanksgiving someone had as their Facebook status that they were singing Christmas music. I commented they it wasn't even Advent yet. They reply was that it's never a wrong time to sing about the Birth of our Savior (or something to that effect).
I didn't reply. On the one hand, I think "Yes, there is," for multiple reasons. While it's certainly not bad to give thanks for the miracle of the incarnation, it is not what we remember every Sunday (Sundays being the weekly commemoration of the Resurrection). In the same way that Fr. Jeff suggests that going to church on Passion/Pam Sunday and Easter (but not Good Friday) only tells part of the story (the Triumphal Entry one week followed by the Resurrection the next), I think that jumping so quickly to the Feast of the Nativity only tells part of the story.
The Church has given us major feast days. Just before Advent, at the end of the Church year, we have Reign of Christ Sunday, on which we think about Christ's eternal reign and that miracle of salvation that happened in Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. We think about the day when, in the fullness of time, all things will be put under Christ's subjection.
For most of the church year we, not quite celebrate, but live the mundaneness, if you will, of every day life. Ordinary time. The season after Pentecost. Green time that I get sick of. But life isn't just a series of highs. There are lows and LOTS of in between time during which we grow. To think about Christmas - without preparing ourselves for what it entails - is to jump in life. It's to forget the preparation we need for major events in our lives, like graduating for college. It's also in my mind an encouragement of hastiness and impatience. America...America. Patience is something it would be good for us to relearn.
It's only Advent. It's a mystical time when the weather (ideally) is colder (while it may've been getting colder for months other places, here, it really starts to cool of early in December) which is mystical to me in itself. It's a time of hearing NOT about the birth of Christ, but of a crazy herald who late locusts and honey and railed against vipers broods; who gained a following; who urged us to prepare the way of the Lord. It's a time of hearing NOT about the birth of Christ, but rather those who had to get ready for it themselves - Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth - and what preparations they had to make themselves, from Joseph's not divorcing Mary to her, "Here I am[!]"
It's only Advent. And I'm not giving that up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There's a Wideness in God's Mercy

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.
For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man's mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.