Sunday, December 2, 2012

Preparing the way ...

Today is the first Sunday in Advent as celebrated by Western Christian churches, specifically Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Methodist, and Presbyterian.  It marks the beginning of the liturgical calendar for these denominations.  For believers, it is the time to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ.  Bright, vibrant colors are used in the church, and there is a spirit of hope in the air.  Here's a link if you want to learn more:

I was raised Methodist, which became United Methodist during my childhood.  As an adult, I switched to Presbyterianism.  The two are similar enough, though I'm sure someone would love to discuss the finer points  that divide and differentiate the two.  Quite frankly, both have redeeming qualities, though I no longer attend church anywhere.  However, I do miss some things about attending church -- the music, the cadence of a well-read verse, the responsive readings & chants from the Methodist church, the occasionally inspiring sermon, the people (some, not all).

One of my favorite hymns of all time is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, the music of which I recently learned was arranged by Thomas Helmor from a 15th century funerary processional by French Franciscan nuns.  The words date from as early as the 9th century.  The tune as sung in Methodist and Presbyterian churches is so haunting, and redolent of the mourning of the exiled Israelites as they await their messiah, their deliverer:

O come, O come, Emmanuel, 
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

The historic and current applications of these words to the state of affairs on this earthly plain remain relevant.  Whether you believe in God, or Christ, or any particular faith or creed, to hear this hymn well sung is deeply moving.  We have all felt lost at some point in our lives, waiting for deliverance, hoping for rescue, desiring relief . . . lost . . . waiting . . . mourning the darkness . . . praying for peace and light in our lives.

We have work to do.  We must prepare the way.

1 comment:

  1. this is one of my faves too Janet. i've also been touched (struck) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Christmas Bells, which is the carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.... the personal story behind it was (I think), he was dealing w/ his son's serious war injury (Civil War) and his wife's death by accidently catching herself on fire (while melting wax, to use to secure the ends of her daughter's braids, that she had just cut off, to save them). (run on sentence-sorry-please don't
    i agree... we have work to do, prepare the way, and it's called This Crazy Life. love you!