Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
FOR THE DARKNESS OF WAITING
For the darkness of waiting
For the darkness of staying silent
for the darkness and the light
For the darkness of loving
For the darkness of choosing
but we still have to take the risk,
for the darkness and the light
Sunday, November 29, 2020
The Collect and Revised Common Lectionary readings for this First Sunday of Advent, Year B, are here.
These are two excerpts (beginning and end) from a sermon I preached on the first Sunday of Advent exactly six years ago (i.e. in the same cycle of readings, Year B) at Trinity Episcopal Church in Canton, Massachusetts, a racially mixed (African American and White, with a few West African members) parish, in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri: the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed, young Black man by a police officer and the announcement this week that the Grand Jury did not indict the officer, followed by outcries and demonstrations of protest in Ferguson and around the U.S.
Difficult for those of us who suffer from depression
WHERE ARE YOU?
GET OVER HERE!
[There followed several paragraphs about staying awake, reading the signs of the times,
mindfulness, vigilance, and faithfulness.]
... We cry, with the Psalmist,
Restore us, O God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
This is not the ordinary light,
not that of electricity,
not even that of the moon and stars,
not that of the sun.
a different light:
the radiant darkness of God
the Word that comes to us when the ordinary perceptions have gone.
This may well be why
we have this earth- and heavens-shaking
entry into Advent:
to return us to a different light.
Our opening collect calls us to “cast away the works of darkness.”
I want to offer us an alternative, which is to cease equating darkness with what is evil
and rather, to embrace the dark. To see the dark as the place where God is with us.
A radiant darkness.
So let us pray, in words given to us by Janet Morley,
God our deliverer,
whose approaching birth
still shakes the foundations of our world:
ay we so wait for your coming
with eagerness and hope
that we embrace without terror
the labour pangs of the new age,
through Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Janet Morley, Collect for Advent Sunday, in All Desires Known: Inclusive Prayers for Worship and Meditation, expanded edition (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1992), 4.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
An anonymous text traditionally used at Vespers (evening prayer) during Advent, "Conditor Alme Siderum" was revised in the 17th century under Pope Urban and became "Creator Alme Siderum" with a different set of lyrics. In recent years churches and choirs --those who use the Latin, anyway-- have returned to the original "Conditor" version. Many English translations exist.
Here is a Gregorian chant version in Latin sung by alternating men's and women's voices. (For some reason, the "Creator" version is used.)
Conditor alme siderum,The latin word conditor has many meanings: it means author, composer, creater, builder, founder, and preserver. So all those connotations are there when we sing "conditor alme siderum." Alme is the same word as alma in "alma mater."
aeterna lux credentium,
Christe, redemptor omnium,
exaudi preces supplicum.Nourishing author* of the stars,
eternal light of those who believe,
Christ, redeemer of all
answer the prayers of those who beseech you.
The above translation from the Latin is mine and is obviously not in verse. It is a more literal translation than the formal poetic translations like John Mason Neale's (from the Episcopal Hymnal 1982):
Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting light;
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear thy servants when they call.
|Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, NASA photo via HubbleSite.org|
Later, the hymn expresses fear, even dread, but also the hope and assurance of protection.
Te, Sancte, fide quaesumus,
venture iudex saeculi,
conserva nos in tempore
hostis a telo perfidi.
Holy One, in faith we beg You,
You the judge of the world about to come,
guard us in this present era
from the weapon of the treacherous enemy.
(My translation again, with a little help from an existing one.)