Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chapter II: Twelvetide - Childermas

Today is the Commemoration of the Murder of the Holy Innocents as told in Matthew 2:
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out, and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men. Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying,
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
     lamentation, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children;
     she wouldn’t be comforted,
     because they are no more."

          -Matthew 2:16-18

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chapter II: Twelvetide - The First Day of Christmas

Today is the beginning of Christmastide and the First Day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (also known as Twelvetide or, in some traditions, Nativitytide). Christmastide will include Epiphanytide after the end of Twelvetide for a full 40-day celebration (so don't start putting away your Christmas tree and holiday decorations just yet!) and ends on 2 February.

To celebrate each of the Twelve Days, I've decided to reflect on some of my favourite Christmas carols. I have decided all twelve, so if you'd like to make a suggestion on what your favourite carol is, please let me know!

Chapter I: Advent - Christmas Eve

Tonight is the night of Christ's birth. Traditionally, it has been observed with a vigil, at least through midnight. It is a hopeful, celebratory time, comparable to the moments (or hours) of a waiting family while a new mommy is in labour. Indeed, that is an excellent comparison, for that is exactly what we commemorate on this eve.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: King of Nations

The Sixth of the Great O Antiphons

Chapter I: Advent – The Candle of Love

Today, the final anticipation Candle was lit in churches around the world: the Candle of Love. This Theme is not as quickly understandable in light of the Themes of waiting and yearning as those of Hope, Peace, and Joy. We contemporaries tend to think of love in terms of here-and-now. We make this error in two opposite extreme ways.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: Morning Star

The Fifth of the Great O Antiphons

Chapter I: Advent - Ember Day III: St. John the Baptizer's Preparation

[...T]he word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. He came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for remission of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
      ‘Make ready the way of the Lord.
Make his paths straight.

     Every valley will be filled.
Every mountain and hill will be brought low.
      The crooked will become straight,
      and the rough ways smooth.

All flesh will see God’s salvation.’”
-Luke 3:2b-6

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: Key of David

The Fourth of the Great O Antiphons

Chapter I: Advent - Ember Day II: The Visitation

Today marks the second of the Winter Ember Days.

Praise Yahweh, Jerusalem!
    Praise your God, Zion!

He gives snow like wool,
    and scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
    Who can stand before his cold?

           -Psalm 147:12 & 16-17

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: Shoot of Jesse

The Third of the Great O Antiphons

Chapter I: Advent - Ember Day I: The Annunciation

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. -The Introit for the First Advent Ember Day (taken from Isaiah 45:8 & Psalm 18:2).
So begins the three day period of Winter Ember Days.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: Wisdom

17 December marks the beginning of the Great O Antiphons.

Chapter I: Advent – The Candle of Joy

The Magnificat
My soul magnifies the Lord.
My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior
For he has looked at the humble state of his servant.
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
For he who is mighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down princes from their thrones.
And has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things.
He has sent the rich away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy,
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and his offspring forever.
                                                -Luke 1:46-55 (WEB)

I'm posting this a few days late because the past few days have been filled with whirlwind travel. As I'm finally settling in for 10 days with family for Christmas, I'm getting a moment to write about my reflection on last Sunday's Advent Candle.

The church I attended Sunday did not have an Advent Wreath, but I thought their service was still very appropriate for the day. The main 'Advent' event was the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The sermon was on Hebrews, and the pastor pointed out how much of the Old Testament role of Priest Christ fulfills. The thing is, this role is still being completed by Our Lord.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chapter I: Advent – The Candle of Preparation (Peace)

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.
- Collect for the Second Week of Advent from the Book of Common Prayer
In our world so filled with political activism, court cases, and psychotherapy all designed to bring 'peace' and 'justice' to the world, we often lose sight of what Peace has traditionally meant to the Christian. For this reason, I have noted that the primary theme for this week's candle is Preparation with Peace in parentheses.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chapter I: Advent – Pearl Harbour Day

Today marks the beginning of U.S. involvement in the worst war to ever befall the world. It was the second global war, but it dwarfed the Great War by the sheer magnitude of destruction. The battle fields stretch across Europe, Asia, Northern Africa, and the South Pacific. It ended in the most horrific way possible.

By the end of the War, whole countries disappeared and others were born. Many proclaimed that it was the death-knell for Western Civilisation, and that still may yet be true.

For anyone who has talked to a grandparent, relative, or friend who was an adult during the War, it is obvious modern Americans know nothing of how tough it can be to survive through bad times. A trip to Europe’s battlefield and memorials and a chat with a European who actually lived through the War will confirm: we have no idea what a Hell this earth can really be.

Chapter I: Advent - Reflections on St. Nicholas

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Nicholas. Like many Americans, I know St. Nicholas better in his incarnation as Santa Clause. Unlike most Americans, I never believed that Santa Clause was real. In our family, we considered Santa Clause a game – something for my grandparents to be silly with and have some fun. My mom, in particular, disliked the jolly old elf, and by the time I was 10, he was fairly well banished from our festivities and Christmas décor except for the few gifts which my grandparents signed “from Santa Clause!”

This didn’t scar me. I’m actually quite glad my parents never messed with the foolishness of trying to make us believe Santa Clause was real. Not only would it have taken away from the real meaning of Christmas, it also would have taken away from the fun of the game with my grandparents.

Until yesterday, I had no real knowledge of what St. Nicholas’ Day was. Oh, we listened to the
Adventures in Odyssey episode featuring St. Nick every year, and I think my German roommate after college gave me a little gift on 6 December. In fact, I thought the real Saint Nicholas was from Germany and had lived in the Middle Ages! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Link

Three posts in one day? Well, this third is just to note the inclusion of a new link on the right of this website to an interactive Advent Calendar created by Biola University. I have no idea what they will end up doing with it, but I've loved the first three entries.


Chapter I: Advent – The Candle of Hope

Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent as signified by the lighting of the First Advent Candle in many churches across Western Christianity.

This candle, the Candle of Hope, specifically represents the Prophets and Patriarchs who foretold the coming Messiah. The Promise, about so much more than just whether we live in Heaven or Hell after we die, was first given in Genesis 3 and reads as follows:

Chapter I: Advent - The Advent Fast

Advent is finally upon us! And I’m again posting this a day late. I came down with the flu Saturday evening – perhaps just the normal flu or, as one of my friends pointed out, perhaps some exotic disease foisted on me by one of my students. Whatever it was, I seem to be on the mend and, after spending literally all day yesterday either in my shower or in my bed, I’m somewhat on my feet again (though I did call in sick this morning to work).

Advent has begun! And this, of course, means the Advent Fast has begun.

The Advent Fast, unlike the Lenten Fast, is not especially a time of repentance, though it will undoubtedly include that. It is a time of looking forward, a time of anticipation of the First Coming of our Lord. The goal of the Fast, then, is not specifically for penance but for clearing our minds and souls so that we can see how much we really desire His coming.