Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent 3 Sunday II: Rejoice?

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 4:4-7

This was the epistle provided by the Revised Common Lectionary for today, the third Sunday in Advent. It is a gorgeous word for this Sunday, whose watchword is supposed to be Joy. But I find I am more in tune with this passage, from a book by Gertrud Mueller Nelson:

It is Advent and, along with nature, we are a people waiting. Far out of the south, the winter light comes thin and milky. The days grow shorter and colder and the nights long. Try as we may, we cannot fully dismiss the fundamental feelings that lie deep at our roots, a mixture of feelings dark and sweet. Will the sun, the source of our life, ever return? Has the great light abandoned us? We are anxious from the separation and feel an obscure guilt. We know there are vague disharmonies that keep us at odds. But our longing for union is passionate. This year we want our Christmas to be different.

"A mixture of feelings dark and sweet" is a more accurate assessment of my disposition these days. "An obscure guilt." A sense of unease.

This is ironic, because on December 1 I passed a significant marker: that day marked 90 days since my regional denominational body had given the OK to my continuing as pastor of my church. My denomination has a 90 day statute of limitations on certain kinds of judicial actions. Essentially, if someone in my denomination wanted to prevent me from remaining in this position, they had to file a case within those 90 days. No one did.

So this is a kind of victory. I expected to breathe a big sigh of relief after that date had passed. I did, sort of. But not really. Unease.

I have been listening to this fantastic new disc of Christmas music... that's not accurate, actually. Some of the music is themed to the religious observance attached to the birth of Christ. But much of it is about winter, and the cold, and estrangement, loneliness.

I awakened the other night at about 4 am, with this music running through my mind. Dark and sweet.

O my deir hert, young Jesus sweit, Prepare thy creddil in my spreit, And I sall rock thee in my hert And never mair from thee depart.

But I sall praise thee evermore With sangis sweit unto thy gloir; The knees of my heart sall I bow, And sing that richt Balulalow!

The knees of my heart sall I bow, And sing that richt Balulalow........


Sara said...

I can relate to that feeling. I realized the other day that the Christmas songs I prefer are all in minor keys.

It's great that the 90 days are over. Rejoice!!

Choralgirl said...

Soul cake, a soul cake
please, good missus, a soul cake...

Yeah. :-)

Glad you're 90+! You've come a long way, Baby!

Cecilia said...

Thank you Sara and Choralgirl.

And Choralgirl.... is the album not FANTASTIC?

knittinpreacher said...

That is my new favorite music. -- I'm with Choralgirl on loving Soul Cake.

Praise God for passing 90 days.

dogearedpreacher said...

Gotta love Sting! I don't buy CDs much any more, but when I saw this was coming out I thought I gotta have it.

His music is so dark and sweet at the same time!