Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Luke 2:1-12

Factum est autem in diebus illis, exiit edictum a Cæsare Augusto ut describeretur universus orbis. Hæc descriptio prima facta est a præside Syriæ Cyrino: et ibant omnes ut profiterentur singuli in suam civitatem. Ascendit autem et Joseph a Galilæa de civitate Nazareth in Judæam, in civitatem David, quæ vocatur Bethlehem: eo quod esset de domo et familia David, ut profiteretur cum Maria desponsata sibi uxore prægnante. Factum est autem, cum essent ibi, impleti sunt dies ut pareret. Et peperit filium suum primogenitum, et pannis eum involvit, et reclinavit eum in præsepio: quia non erat eis locus in diversorio. Et pastores erant in regione eadem vigilantes, et custodientes vigilias noctis super gregem suum. Et ecce angelus Domini stetit juxta illos, et claritas Dei circumfulsit illos, et timuerunt timore magno. Et dixit illis angelus: Nolite timere: ecce enim evangelizo vobis gaudium magnum, quod erit omni populo: quia natus est vobis hodie Salvator, qui est Christus Dominus, in civitate David. Et hoc vobis signum: invenietis infantem pannis involutum, et positum in præsepio. Et subito facta est cum angelo multitudo militiæ cælestis laudantium Deum, et dicentium: [Gloria in altissimis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

From here on out, my major problem with Christmas isn't the anticipation. In some ways, I could really use the season being over, for God's sake. Every Sunday in Advent brings another church function that I really need to be at after Mass, or one that I need to come back for, or one where I show up at 8 am and leave at 6. There are opportunity for spirituality every week during the week and on the weekends. There is shopping that needs to be done, social obligations that I really should find the time to go to, and somewhere in there, I'm supposed to work at my real job.

Then there's my 8:30.

Going to it is often a struggle, because I've gotten home, eaten, petted the cats...It's cold outside, and dark, and do I really want to leave my house again?

At 8:20, I find my coat and keys and walk over to the church. Michael's usually there before me, marking our books with the page numbers. His partner will show up soon if he's not there already. The priest's husband comes. A couple other people trickle into the lighted warmth.

The service of Evensong and Compline in Sapentiatide reminds me why I struggle. In this season of dark and cold, there comes light and music. The waiting is almost over. There is something to wait for, and I know it. The prayers are deep in my bones, I *have* to pay attention to what I'm saying because it changes slightly everyday...there is no glossing inattentively. And with the attention, with the pacing of the service slowly and with deliberation, I hear what the words tell me about myself and about my God to be incarnate.

Michael gave me the gift of the sung service a couple years ago, and when our relative schedules went wonky, it was one of things I missed most. I still try and do Compline occasionally by myself, but it is not the same without two people. These are services to be done in community, and they remind me of my own.

To thee before the close of day
Creator of the world we pray
That with thy wonted favor thou
woulst be our guard and keeper now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It's the Third Week of Advent, and y'all know what that means...


Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Also, a not-so-proper collect for the week:

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, as we stir our bowls. Let us have sufficient butter, sugar, flour, and eggs, let our ovens be hot and compliant, and may the cookies come off the pans. Help us to remember, O Lord, the sheet we left in the oven and the pot on the stove as we also remember why we bake; through Jesus Christ, who called us to be as children. Amen.

(And yeah, I know it's Wed, but the collect is for the week. Have you made your Christmas cookies yet?)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sacred Places

Eden is doing a seminar with Sacred Places, an organization dedicated to helping pastors and congregations preserve their older church buildings and making them still feel both usable and sacred. (Jan 6-7, check their website under events)

It looks like I may get to go, which I'm really looking forward to. I'm hoping to learn about resources for St. John's, and more generally, resources for the wider church.

In some ways, this dovetails with an idea planted by discussion I had at church this weekend. What is it that makes it a sacred space?

Right now, I think it's the liminality of a church. There is an aspect of it being God's space, but all space belongs to God, so that's not all of it. There is also an aspect of it being a place for a congregation to gather. Mostly, it feels like it's about the space between those two, where we meet God and God meets us.

To walk into a church or into any other dedicated house/place of worship is to cross a boundary between the mundane and the divine...though, because we're still human, we are still bound to the world even in such a space. Stuck between. The table seems to be even more so, being the stuff of the earth made by human hands, and yet it's God's table, the bread and wine representing holy substance for the nourishment of our souls, and Jesus, being fully human and fully divine, is the ultimate liminal being.

So if a sacred space is the place between, that doesn't mean we're just talking about churches or about buildings. It also means the spaces inside us where we shove enough of the 'real world' aside to listen to God and maybe to hear God. It's also everything about our journey in God/with God, through life, because we're on our way between places, times, identities, states of being.

And there was the Eureka (damn it)! moment, going "bong!" in my head. If the sacred space is the space between, and I feel like I'm on the road to Ninevah or lost in that famous desert, that's where I need to be, because it's the space between that is most important and sacred and special in it's own right. (Eventually, I will get why "it's the journey, not the destination" is such a koan if God pounds it into me enough!)

Of course, this is what I'm thinking this week. After two days of listening to experts, expect a post on the same general topic, going a different direction, because I know it will happen that way. It usually does.

But as I think about it, God seems to frequently have a more felt presence in liminal spaces, at boundaries of time (at the Beginning and in the End, at our births and at our deaths), at crossroads of life and the world, the borders of reality, waiting to open doorways (just knock!), or on roads. It's not that God's *in* Damascus or Tarsus or even Ninevah, it's that God is on *the road to.*

And now that I've processed that all out, I'm going to go smack myself in the head for not getting it sooner, that this situation counts just as much as any other I've ever dealt with.

Priest Noir

Ok. I know I'm a geek when it's making me squee to give someone Apocolypse Door as a Christmas present. (again. Gave out two copies last year.)

But really, these stories are like the Urban Fantasy version of what Dan Brown should have done, only with a lot more wit and humor.

Peter Crossman is a Templar and a Priest, and that Order Militant is still alive and still guarding those treasures which are too dangerous for humanity, and guarding humanity from the minions of Hell, acquiring the powerful objects which aren't yet possessed by the church before Hell takes advantage. In this book, he is sent to find a group of UN observers who seem to have gone astray, been traced as far as New York, and then disappear. His partner is a Sister of the Poor Clares who is far too knowledgeable about weaponry and bespoke Italian leather suiting (she's been sent to kill him). There are also aliens, holy occurrences that in other circumstances might be termed "magic", and walk-ons/drive-bys/drop-ins from various other pieces of the Christian mythos.

I will say the book feels like it suffers "first book" syndrome (a little stilted, the pacing isn't quite right), but that may be because I have read a lot of the author's later works and enjoyed them immensely. But this is perfect for anyone who geeks out about history, church legend/mythology, and likes some humorous fantasy.

On the other hand, if it sounds really good, please don't buy it before Christmas?

(yes, this is the source material for my character for Bel Noir. It's so much *fun* to play her!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Isaiah 6

Sometimes, God whispers our name to the wind, and sometimes he hits us upside the head with a weighted clue.

Isaiah ended up on the "more obvious" end of the scale.

I think Isaiah 6 has the most neglected call and response between God and Man. It's read at ordinations, but why just then or when it comes around on the guitar of the lectionary?

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty: and the hem of his robe filled the temple...Then the Lord said, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" and I said, "Here I am, send me."

Vocation is a funny thing. What is God calling us to do? Is it to be more involved in someone's life? Make friends with a homeless person? Work in a hospital? Change jobs, change careers, change our lives? He's sending us all somewhere (often somewhere uncomfortable, somewhere that pushes us past our boundaries). And when we became Christian, we answered this very call - maybe not those words, but similar ones. By saying "I am a Christian," we acknowledge that God called us and sent us forth again, to be representatives of Christ in the world.

Isaiah had a dream, with God and thrones and angels and coals to burn away the sin. I had a quiet church, being stripped of its bones. And what about you? What does it take for you to hear the call? Does it have to involve fire and trumpets and a personal appearance? Or will you hear what He is asking of you when he whispers it in your ear?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sometimes, all someone can do is repost someone else's writting. Slackavist wrote about the question "Do you believe all paths lead to God?"

This needs to percolate for a bit.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

stuff and things

I am happy to say that I've been too busy making religious stuff to write about religious stuff. I've gotten three sets of Advent vestments out my door as well as a small rosary and I'm still working on the lectern/pulpit/altar dressings for my own church.

On the other hand, I went to the Messiah sing along concert today. We only did the "Christmas" portions of the piece, but it is still one of those experiences...Hundreds of voices, praising God at the top of their lungs, proclaiming the coming of Christ and shouting Hallelujah. It's one of my favorite things to do in the season.

And being incredibly geeky: I picked up an illuminated Pater Noster calligraphed and gilded on vellum yesterday at a charity auction. It is designed after a 14th c. book of hours, and is now hanging in the center of my wall rosary (the steel nut/copper pipe fitting/nails on braided cable industrial one), because the juxtaposition was just too good to pass up.