Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Second Week of Advent (and a Half)

The little advent wreath is so sweet I took pictures of it last week, but obviously haven’t written anything until now.

Today I saw yet another article in some publication about “surviving the holidays.” I read it, and it was a good article with some practical advice. But my main response was sadness and mild frustration.

We have become by choice fairly low-key about “the holidays.” This is probably made easier by our not having children, but I would like to think that even if we had children, we would consider honoring God with a sane life more important than whatever all the things are that make “the holidays” such an unholy time for many people.

I just think it’s sad that so many people look at this as a time they have to “survive,” which has the connotation of just getting by, enduring, hanging on till better times come.

In Italian the word for “survive” is “sopravivere,” which more clearly than the English gives the meaning of “to live above.” (Only because most of us don't realize that "sur" here means "above," same as in surcharge, surplus, etc.) I think that’s what we have to do when a culture gets so crazy. We have to live above the craziness, the materialism, the secularism, the unrealistic expectations that the media and even our friends might set for us. Not indulge in it all and barely come through alive, but choose to live in a way that lets us live above it.

Part of that is the practical stuff. Schedule carefully. Eat healthily. Practice saying no both to others and to yourself. Think through what really matters and let go of the rest. Stop trying to impress people.

But the other part, the biggest part for me, is the advent wreath and what it represents. That our focus is on Jesus, his coming as a human into the world, his presence in our lives day in and day out, and his eventual coming to stop the craziness for good, and to bring “joy to the world” for all time.

The choir I sing with did our service of Lessons and Carols this past Sunday evening. It was glorious. One of my favorite pieces is below. It’s a Gregorian chant, with wonderful old sounds, sounds of light and mystery and dissonance and peace, harmonized by one of our choir members. And it’s the sort of thing that, when you go around with it in your mind, makes it not hard at all to “survive the holidays.”
They become, actually, holy days, to be fully lived and treasured.

From lands that see the sun arise,
to earth’s remotest boundaries,
the Virgin-born today we sing,
the Son of Mary, Christ the King.

Blest Author of this earthly frame,
To take a servant’s form he came,
That liberating flesh by flesh,
Those he had made might live afresh.

In that chaste mother’s holy womb,
celestial grace thus found its home:
So God, in ways beyond all thought,
the means of our salvation wrought.

She bowed unto the angel’s word,
accepting what the Father willed,
and suddenly the promised Lord
that pure and holy temple filled.

All praise, eternal Word, to thee,
whose advent set thy people free;
whom, with the Father we adore
and Holy Spirit, evermore. Amen.

1 comment:

Gioietta said...

Your advent wreath is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouraging us to live out these holy, excited awaiting days for Him, and not for what the world says Christmas is for. Hugs, Miriamx