advent one 2016...

Today worship felt like church for me: tender, quiet, honest, humble and filled with
beauty within our respective sadnesses and fears. This isn't always the case, right? Sometimes it is just my job - a peculiar and sacred one, to be sure - but sometimes still a job. But today there was a depth and verve to our singing that was palpable. Today there was a gravitas to our prayers that went beyond eloquence and approached truth. Today there was a self-conscious awareness that we need one another. As one person told me after the liturgy:  I found a safety pin on the floor near my seat after worship last week - and it was broken. I took it and now it is at my place of work reminding me of all the brokenness around us...


After worship both Di and I said almost simultaneously: Let's go get some candles and make an Advent wreath!  We haven't had one for the past five-plus years. Who knows why? But this year we were both moved to want such a small symbol of prayer and hope in our house. The nursery right down the street from us make beautiful wreaths; so, with a little rearranging, our live Advent wreath is resting in our quiet living room. It will be a place to ponder the way of the Lord's coming in these strange, anguishing, holy and all too human days.

We won't have family around us this year - other commitments and other travel plans - so we're doing an "adult Christmas" at chez Lumsden/De Mott. It is more candle filled than present oriented. It is more a minor key ancient chant than reworked jazz standards, too. Yes, we will spend a few days next week in "Louis-ville" caring for the little man while his parents celebrate a milestone birthday. But after that, it will be liturgy and soft hymns for a change. Shortly after our Christmas Day Eucharist, I will retreat for a bit of solitude before we head to Montreal together for Christmastide - and New Year's Eve!

This morning I began worship using the collect for the first Sunday in Advent from the Book of Common Prayer. ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in 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.

The words of this day - a broken safety pin at work, the works of darkness, singing like angels, let's make an Advent wreath this year - each and all are filled with promise. In an essay I have been working on for the past week, Walter Brueggemann writes that our dominant culture believes that "bread must be guarded and not shared; that each must live against all, with no ground for community; and that silence can authenticate the status quo."  To which Professor B adds:  the preacher cannot subvert the status quo with equally bold and loud ideological slogans; rather, she must share small acts of compassion that feed hope and ask others to do likewise. "Then, these local cherished memories seed or reimagine our reality outside of the killing fields that our (dominant culture) takes as normative."

Today, we shared bread and wine - we embraced one another and sang with gusto and beauty. Today there were young and old, gay and straight, male and female, rich and poor, savvy and intellectually challenged, kind and fearful all together. Tomorrow, perhaps, this blessing will be multiplied with another act of tender sharing by one who remembers. That is my hope - and that is my Advent prayer.

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