Today's mix welcomes the liturgical new year, Advent 2011. The next four weeks I'll be sharing many of the ways my family and I are trying to step out of our own tyranny of the urgent and step into the alternate universe of kingdom time. I mentioned in my last post that I'm beginning to feel some of the benefits of the long obedience liturgical formation requires. It seems very much like my experience with going to the gym. Every single time I go to the gym I have a sensation of "wow, that felt good. i need to do that more often." My body informs me with some immediate gratification -endorphins and tiny glimpses of increased muscle tone. But the greater payoff -- the whole point, actually, of exercise -- is when I recognize greater all-around health in my everyday life: I'm sleeping better, I'm not getting winded just walking to the mailbox, I'm emotionally healthier because of all that good adrenal activity, my clothes fit better, I'm not getting sick as easily because I'm not so run down. This is when I know the truest reward of physical formation.
Same thing for spiritual formation. I've always felt immediate enjoyment of the spiritual practices in which I've participated. But now, after three or so years of walking out the dailiness of the liturgical season -- albeit, quite imperfectly -- I'm beginning to feel more spiritually healthy in my core. I have a larger perspective shaping all that is going on around me, I have less anxiety about my purpose here on earth, I feel less responsible to save myself and more able to partake of the daily graces of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I feel less lonely and more part of a whole, I feel more hope about God's work in all peoples at all times for His glory, I feel more equipped to steward the wide gamut of emotions that activate me and the people I encounter. One way to say it is I feel more spacious. Another is to say I feel more solid, grounded, peaceful and purposed.
Normally I don't write so much in a mixtape post, but I didn't want the season to go by without marking this discovery of God's work in me. I am grateful and hopeful.
On to the lovely tracks...
track 1: visual art
|Advent banners made of quilted fiber pieces (cotton, silk and nylon), 31" x 47",
created by Cindy Henry for Union Center Christian Church Endicott, NY
track 2: music
track 3: poetry
If not this year, some year, I want to dig into the "O Antiphons" I've read about in various liturgical texts. Part of the intrigue I feel toward them is that connection to my most favorite Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel". Each o antiphon holds a verse in the hymn which together serve as powerful litany of longing. Before you read Malcolm Guite's sonnet below, go to his blog post which includes the traditional language in both English and Latin for O Wisdom (Sapientia).
I've included the audio widget if you'd prefer to listen to hear the sonnet read by the author.
track 4: my favorite links this week
on the subject of Advent
on the subject of Advent
- First Sunday of Advent at Sing for Joy For Listeners: a lovely narrated broadcast of thoughtful commentary and sacred choral music based on the common lectionary.
- First Sunday of Advent: A Time to Begin Again at Diary of An Arts Pastor: a meaningful post reminding us the value of a counter-cultural subversion of calendar time: "for Christians, the imitation of Christ means everything and therefore we begin where Christ begins: at the Annunciation."
track 5: installation art
Salisbury Cathedral is a medieval English cathedral, situated 1 1/2 hours from London. The Cathedral commences each Advent season with a traditional procession, "From Darkness to LIght." Last year's service included an installation by Bruce Munro, lighting designer and installation artist.
It's so beautiful I can barely watch the video. (via Clayfire Curator)