Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 21 (art meditations + suggested resources for Advent)

"Advent is about learning to wait. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, only that whatever it is, it is of the essence of sanctification for us. Every piece of it, some hard, some uplifiting, is sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life." (Chittister)

During Advent I'll forego my weekly Buy More Art posts in order to share almost-daily meditations of Scripture, hymns, and art reflecting the alternate narrative and subversive time of waiting in hope for the Christ who came, the Christ who will come again and the Christ now among us.

Won't you join me?

Third Friday of Advent: 
"In the first centuries the Church had a beautiful custom of praying seven great prayers calling afresh on Christ to come, calling him by the mysterious titles he has in Isaiah, calling to him; O Wisdom. O Root! O Key, O Light! come to us!"  (Malcolm Guite)
December 21 - O Oriens (O Radiant Dawn, O Morning Star, O Dayspring)

Isaiah 9:1:
 "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown."
Malachi 4:2:
"But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall."

Luke 1:78-79:

"...because of the tender mercy of our God,    whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,  to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The original antiphon in Latin and English (via Malcolm Guite)

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes
in tenebris, et umbra mortis
O Dayspring,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
[the verse from the familiar carol]
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
And drive away the shades of night,
And pierce the clouds, and bring us light!

O Oriens re-written by Malcolm Guite

O Oriens
E vidi lume in forme de riviera Paradiso XXX; 61
First light and then first lines along the east
To touch and brush a sheen of light on water
As though behind the sky itself they traced
The shift and shimmer of another river
Flowing unbidden from its hidden source;
The Day-Spring, the eternal Prima Vera.
Blake saw it too. Dante and Beatrice
Are bathing in it now, away upstream…
So every trace of light begins a grace
In me, a beckoning. The smallest gleam
Is somehow a beginning and a calling;
“Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream
For you will see the Dayspring at your waking,
Beyond your long last line the dawn is breaking".
(Listen to the author's reading of this sonnet.)

CharisMineral Pigments, Gold on Kumohada, 2008
Makoto Fujimura

O Morning Star rewritten by Thom Turner at Everyday Liturgy

O Morning Star
O Morning Star, bright light, eternal dawn, sun of justice,
shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow
of death; be our guide on the path of righteousness.
Come now and show us the light that brings eternal joy.

I discovered this old carol when searching for "Christmas songs about light".  As you can imagine there are quite a few!  Still the simplicity of the petition in Bach's beautiful hymn  -- and the fact that Sufjan had recorded an a Capella version -- made the song perfect for this meditation.  
Break forth, O beauteous heav'nly light, And usher in the morning;
Ye shepherds, shrink not with fright, But hear the angel's warning.
This child, now weak in infancy, Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking, Our peace eternal making.
-- Text: Johann Rist, 1607-1667; st 1 trans. by John Troutbeck 
Music: Johann Schop, c. 1590-1664; harm. by J.S. Bach, 1685-1750 
Tune: ERMUNTRE DICH, Meter: 87.88.77

Suggested Resources for Advent:

The Christmas I Sat Next to a Sex Offender at Good Letters blog: An excellent description of the tension we feel trying to create a perfect Christmas feeling while also trying to remember hospitality to the broken and lonely.

Silver and Gold, Christmas album from Sufjan Stevens

"I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving powers. Our temptation is to be distracted by them. When I have no eyes for the small signs of God's presence ... I will always remain tempted to despair." -- Henri Jozef Machiel NouwenGracias! A Latin American Journal (1983)
 (via Diary of An Arts Pastor)
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