Friday, December 03, 2010

Advent gifts from the church, ancient and contemporary

El Greco
The Annunciation
This morning, I share with you from the gifts of others: music, words, art.

Advent playlist from Amy at Splendor in the Ordinary.  Especially O Magnum Mysterium -- killing me with beauty while I write this morning.

Words from Walter Wangerin. This is from his preface in the Advent devotional book, Preparing for Jesus.  I find them a perfectly postive complement to my last post.

"Throughout my life it has been my good fortune to experience the story of Jesus with every turning of every  year. The number of the years of my unfolding age is also the number of times I've traveled with my Lord from his birth to his death to his triumphant rising again.
And because the story has been more than told to me; because it has surrounded me like a weather; because it comprehends me as a house does it inhabitants or a mother does her child, the life of Christ has shaped mine. My very being has been molded in him. 
And because my response to this story has been more than an act of mind, more than study and scrutiny; because the story invites my entering in and my personal participation; because I have experienced the life of Christ with deeper intensity than I have my own daily affairs, the Gospel story now interprets for me the world's story. It is through the Gospel narrative, as through a window or a template, that I see all things that I relate to them and come to know them.
In every sense of the phrase: I find myself in Jesus.
As I enter his story, I enter him. As his life embraces mine, he embraces me, and I am his.
But how has this story come to me with such size and force these fifty-five years?
No single person has been responsible, nor only the people of this present age. Rather, it is the gift of a vast communion of worshiping Christians, saints of many ages, many lands, and many tongues, countless talents all expressing the one faith founded upon the life of Christ.
It is the gift of the church, ancient and contemporary.
Matthew Whitney
For the church past has bequeathed to the church present a grand theatric - a drama, as it were - which takes six months to enact, December into May. There is no audience. All are actors. And this play, rather than representing something different from itself, actually contains and communicates the truth, for its protagonist is the Lord Jesus, and the Lord is always present in his Word -- and the Lord is truth.... 
Each Sunday's service, as I've said, involves the people in a new episode; but altogether all the Sundays weave the entire drama of Jesus into something like five acts.
I have been one of those people so fiercely involved. This is the way that I've been shaped. And these are acts that have driven my whole person so dramatically close to Jesus:

Nicolas Poussin
Act 1: Advent
Before the hero enters, people anticipate his coming. Old promises are remembered. New promises are made. Excitement sparks and burns in the hearts of all the players: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, you, me, the children. Daily the excitement blazes hotter and hotter until we can scarcely stand it.
Who's coming? What's his name? What'll he be like? What's he going to do?
People prepare. Christians examine themselves. They clean up their lives, interior and exterior,  making themselves ready to meet the hero at his coming. So kindled are many emotions that good hearts break into song both in heaven and on earth, waiting, waiting for ...
Annunciation Post
Phaedra Taylor
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