Sunday, 30 November 2008

An adventurous Advent

I love Advent!  And I really miss being a minister in a local church at this season of the year. So, I ensure that Advent practices continue to happen. 

When I was at theological college, the Principal, Paul Beasley-Murray, fired my imagination with his practice of Advent Teas and so, since before our sons were born, we've made Sunday tea (or dinner if it's in the evening) special during Advent by lighting candles and remembering the particular focus of that Sunday in Advent with a simple liturgy.  We have a bright red Swedish Advent candle holder which holds four candles in a line, and this together with Advent music playing quietly adds to what has now become a well-established and much-loved tradition.

The music we listen to consists of a number of versions of 'O come, O come Immanuel', including a fairly straight version, one by the King's Singers, and one that comes from what was called 'The Late, Late Service' and is best described as 'alternative'. 'Wait for the Lord' from Taize, is on the play list, as is Bernadette Farrell's Litany of the Word, which we sang every first Sunday in Advent for fourteen years in churches where I served! 

During the season I also listen to James Mac Millan's Veni, veni, Emmanuel which though not to the taste of the rest of the family is a brilliant concerto for percussion and orchestra, written for Evelyn Glennie.

Poems are another dimension of Advent. Denise Levertov features, as does Luci Shaw.  For other reading, I enjoy journeying with a particular author and last year Maggi Dawn's Beginnings and Endings was a gift. This year I have David Coffey's Joy to the World, and Stephen Cottrell's Do Nothing Christmas is Coming - An Advent Calendar with a Difference. I've also got Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan's, The First Christmas, What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus' Birth.

Two years ago we attended the Advent Carol Service at St Alban's Abbey which was fantastic and definitely to be repeated, commitments permitting. There is something about the liturgy of this season which draws me.  This morning I used this prayer, and with it was the sense that Advent had begun:
Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all, 
to you be praise and glory for ever. 
In your tender compassion the dawn from on high is breaking upon us 
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day, 
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will, 
that the world may rejoice and give you praise. 

'Happy Advent' doesn't sound quite right. I like the suggestion, 'An adventurous Advent'!

1 comment:

Catriona said...

'And also with you' - is that the right liturgical response?! Have an adventurous and blessed one anyway.