Advent 2019, Week 2

It’s the 2nd Sunday of Advent, 2019. I’m reviewing moments of my church life. I do this every time we pray the confession of our sins, where we are supposed to say, “We do humbly repent,” but as a teenager I inadvertently said, “We do humbly repeat,” and my sister and I burst out laughing. After that, my mother separated us, made us sit on each side of her on the pew. Apart, out of mischief’s way.

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I arch my eye. The lyricists of the hymns use words that appear to rhyme on paper but, in the real world of pronunciation, do not. In church on Sunday’s, my mother held the lyricists’s feet to the fire. She made the words rhyme. I do the same, especially when the lazy lyricist doesn’t even try. I sing “load” as “lod” because it was meant to rhyme with God.

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I go to church for lots of reasons. One is because passages I’ve heard all my life will suddenly twist, and I’ll see them in a brand new way. This new insight rarely has to do with anything the preacher is saying (unless that preacher is my brilliant godchild, then she invariable offers a new way to hear it.) But, like today, in the reading about Jesus returning with his winnowing fork to separate the wheat and chaff, I realized the entire reading is about fruit (Bear fruit worthy of repentance; the tree that doesn’t bear good fruit will be cut down). Unlike the normal reading of this passage where Jesus is coming back to throw sinners in the fire, the passage isn’t about burning the godless. Wheat is fruit while chaff is not. Jesus is separating the fruit from the residue, saving what’s good, burning what’s not. Every passage doesn’t have to be read through the lens of vengeance.

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In most churches, the choir sings while everyone goes to communion. This song is called the communion hymn. I sang it out today, loud and proud. When it was over I leaned into my husband and said, “If they didn’t want us to sing it, they shouldn’t print the hymn number in the bulletin.”

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I’m doing an Advent practice on Facebook. You can follow it here. Each day, I’m posting sightings that encapsulate the complex run-up to the birth of the Christ child. The postings are not the expected. But you already knew that, right?

The traditional Christmas peacock

advent 2019, Advent Practice, how to celebrate advent

Comments (8)

  • Several years ago a family in Madison, MS was asked by the mayor to remove the garish blue peacock from the roof of their home. It was a crazy diversion from the true meaning of the season. Oddly, another neighbor had a wooden cut out of the Grinch, stealing Christmas. That seemed to be perfectly acceptable. Go figure. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I love your observations. Hope we can connect in NO later this week.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      I had heard about those peacocks! Mine are a Walgreens find. I saw them sitting on the shelf and thought, what in the everyloving do blue and pink peacocks have to do with Christmas? So, being a true fan of the absurd, I bought them. Neon and all. We now plug them in every night in the Hobbit Hole. I would never last in Madison. 🙂 Hope to see you soon, e

  • In the Catholic tradition, there has been a renewed emphasis on the congregation singing during communion. I, as someone trained in liturgy and music love it, but some people can’t seem to cope, preferring to think of communion only as a personal experience, not a corporate one. Communion, though, is a corporate word, so I’m glad you are singing out, sharing in the music as well as the sacrament.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      Isn’t that interesting! I’m not sure how you can kneel elbow to elbow after praying “us” prayers and consider communion a personal experience. That’s why I LOVE to hear what other people think—-because half of it would simply never occur to me.

  • For Catholics, part of it goes back to the pre-Vatican II days when the mass was in Latin and when reception of communion by most congregants was infrequent. People in the pews would often be saying their own prayers, such as the rosary, during mass. When the liturgy changed inviting more direct participation in the vernacular, depending on the clergy in your geography, you might or might not have been educated about or welcomed into full participation. For some Catholics, that meant that they remained observers rather than active participants. During the long papacy of John Paul II and his successor Benedict, some of the Vatican reforms were de-emphasized, so these patterns persisted. Francis is trying to be more responsive to both Vatican II and current global conditions, so there is some hope of positive movement.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      I find that so fascinating. I’ve been Episcopalian all my life, and our liturgy, so similar to the Catholic, has always felt so participatory to me. Thanks for sharing that.

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