Good tidings of great joy!
My post a couple of months ago about blogging more regularly seems now like a fuzzy dream. It was not so smart to set that goal, perhaps, shortly before making a three-week trip overseas, coming home to a family wedding, Thanksgiving guests, and then having all the catching up to do with that.
But today is the second Sunday of Advent and a good time to renew that goal, and I've been encouraged by a group of others who are blogging daily in December, so maybe I'll catch some of that energy and keep this going.
That angel up there looks a little like I feel. Not extremely energetic, but doing his part. I'm not sure where the artwork came from, but it's on the front cover of the program for the Lessons and Carols service I sang in tonight. Lessons and Carols is my favorite event of the Advent/Christmas season.
I remember the first time I ever heard these words. It was Christmas Eve in 1994 or '95. I turned on the public radio station and was amazed to hear prayers being prayed and the scripture being read. We had only fairly recently come to live in the States, and public radio was fairly new to me, but not so new that hearing scripture being read didn't seem like a sort of miracle. When I realized it was a cathedral full of people and heard them praying the Lord's Prayer, it struck a place deep inside me.
I kept listening and was delighted to be introduced to the Lessons and Carols service and to the fact that it aired every year. It was such a beautiful surprise, and I recall having tears of wonder and joy in my eyes more than once as I sat on the floor wrapping gifts and listening.
A few years later I was equally surprised to learn that this service was actually performed in our very city, and it wasn't long after that, that I joined the choir so that I could be a part of it.
Perhaps I'll write more later about why this service means so much to me, why it so often brings tears to my eyes. It has to do with lonely exile, gloomy clouds of night, and sad divisions--and the hope of Emmanuel in the midst of all that.
This (above) is the place in the service where I nearly always realize I'm not going to make it much further without a tissue. It is absolutely glorious singing this descant arrangement to "O Come, All Ye Faithful," with the choirs, the congregation, the organ and brass ensemble. If sound could somehow show in the air, I think the whole space would be sparkling with gold and deep blue at that point. It's a powerful beauty that pierces some deep place in the soul, the way only music wedded to words with deep meaning can do.
Of course the air doesn't actually turn gold and blue. So I'll end with another bit of the front cover