Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O the strength of infant weakness, if eternal is so young!

Where is this stupendous stranger?

Words: Christopher Smart (1722-1771), alt.
Tune: Rustington

Where is this stupendous stranger?
Prophets, shepherds, kings, advise.
Lead me to my Master's manger,
show me where my Savior lies.
O Most Mighty! O Most Holy!
Far beyond the seraph's thought:
art thou then so weak and lowly
as unheeded prophets taught?

O the magnitude of meekness!
Worth from worth immortal sprung;
O the strength of infant weakness,
if eternal is so young!
God all-bounteous, all-creative,
whom no ills from good dissuade,
is incarnate, and a native
of the very world He made.



Friday, December 19, 2008

A Pennsylvania sense of Advent

Snow in the air, muted woods and stark cattails: all creation waits for the One who will come! We wait in silent anticipation in the glory and gloom of our lives. the day will dawn clear! Alleluia! Enjoy.

True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us

Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming

Words: tanzas 1-2: German, fifteenth century carol; trans. Theodore Baker, 1894. stanzas 3-4: Friedrich Layritz (1808-1859); trans. Harriet Reynolds Krauth (1845-1925).
Tune: Es ist ein Ros

Lo, how a Rose e'er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
of Jesse's lineage coming,
as those of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
when half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
the Rose I have in mind;
with Mary we behold it,
the Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love aright,
she bore to us a Savior,
when half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story
proclaimed by angels bright,
how Christ, the Lord of glory
was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped
and in the manger they found him,
as angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender
with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor
the darkness everywhere;
true man, yet very God,
from sin and death he saves us,
and lightens every load.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fire our hearts with thy strong love

High Word of God, who once didst come

Words: Latin, tenth century; trans. Charles Bigg, 1906
Tune: Verbum supernum prodiens

High Word of God, who once didst come,
leaving thy Father and thy home,
to succor by thy birth our kind,
when, towards thy advent, time declined,

Pour light upon us from above,
and fire our hearts with thy strong love,
that, as we hear thy Gospel read,
all fond desires may flee in dread;

That when thou comest from the skies,
great Judge, to open thine assize,
to give each hidden sin its smart,
and crown as kings the pure in heart,

We be not set at thy left hand,
where sentence due would bid us stand,
but with the saints thy face may see,
forever wholly loving thee.

Praise to the Father and the Son,
through all the ages as they run;
and to the holy Paraclete
be praise with them and worship meet.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A late autumn advent scene

Florida has seasons -- not as pronounced as further north, but enjoyable just the same. Some trees lose their leaves, turning rusty shades of brown and red... and the light -- ah, the light! The light is that advent light of long rays and textured colors: there is no light like advent light! Here, a beautiful scene that captures the late autumn advent sense: trees and light and color and texture. Plus, the imagery of the walkway to the sky, truly an advent sense of the journey to God! Welcome, Abba, welcome Jesus! Selah. Enjoy!

Blessed are the eyes that see this heavenly light

How beauteous are their feet

Words: Isaac Watts, 1707
Music: Camberwell (Cambridge)

How beauteous are their feet
who stand on Zion's hill
who bring salvation on their tongues
and words of peace reveal!

How charming is their voice!
How sweet the tidings are!
Zion, behold, thy Savior King
he reigns and triumphs here.

How happy are our ears
that hear this joyful sound
which kings and prophets waited for
and sought, but never found.

How blessed are our eyes
that see this heavenly light
Prophets and kings desired it long
but died without the sight.

The watchmen join their voice
and tuneful notes employ
Jerusalem breaks forth in songs
and deserts learn the joy.

The Lord makes bare his arm
through all the earth abroad
let every nation now behold
their Savior and their God.



Bethlehem: The inbreaking of light

Where love breaks in

Eberhard Arnold

This is what happens when God’s power breaks in: darkness is cast out. The power of evil spirits is broken and driven away. The Holy Spirit creates a pure atmosphere, one of unity and of peace.

The little stable in Bethlehem was a place where God’s love broke in. While on earth, Jesus expected God’s kingdom to break in. His expectation was that light must break in upon this darkened earth. He saw that death had heaped up a barrier so that light could not come into life on earth. Therefore he sacrificed his life so that in the area of death an opening might be made; so that there might be a rift in the layer of gloomy fog around the earth – an opening through which the light of God could come in. If a house has even only one window where the sun shines in, it can no longer be dark inside the house.

If Jesus opens a breach in death then God’s kingdom comes down to this earth. This was the faith that the early Christian church had when they waited for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They were determined to wait until the flame of the Spirit, like the star over Bethlehem, should come down at this one place. And this did happen; it came.

From the place where a stream enters, it pours out into the entire world. Where love breaks in, all other forces yield. Jesus was victorious on the cross, not by a greater force, but by a greater power – the power of love – in comparison with which all force is nothing. No human force is able to achieve anything in comparison to the power of love.

The birth of Jesus is the in-breaking of the power of love.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Florida autumn and Advent light

The seasons do change here in Florida. The light changes, the temperature, and even some leaves... some trees lose their leaves, turning in color, and some critters change their habits. Here's one of many recent pictures of Florida beauty in late autumn. Advent light! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A roadway in the wilderness

A favorite photo that captures the sense of the Season: the Journey of Advent!

God will make a way

By a roadway in the wilderness He leads me;
Rivers in the desert will I see.
Heaven and earth will fade,

But His word will still remain.

He will do something new today!

God will make a way
When there seems to be no way.

He works in ways, we cannot see,

He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide,

Hold me closely to His side.

With love and strength,
for each new day,

He will make a way,

He will make a way.


Advent means hope! :-)

Tell her that her sins I cover

Comfort, comfort ye my people

Words: Johann G. Olearius, 1671; trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1863
Music: Psalm 42

Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning 'neath their sorrow's load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

For the herald's voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all men to repentance,
since the kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet him,
and the hills bow down to greet him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain:
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits his holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
now o'er the earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that his word is never broken.



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Pennsylvania field at twilight

This week was the opening of buck season in PA... I was there by proxy through my brother, and these scenes of the fields and woods came to mind. Here is a scene of a field at twilight... this is a staple of hunting days, early light of pre-dawn and late light of twilight, fields tinted in grey and gloaming, woods a barest hint of wonder and promise. Enjoy!

Those unfading flowers round the throne of God

Those eternal bowers, man hath never trod

Words: John of Damascus, eighth century; trans. John Mason Neale, 1862
Tune: St. Alban's

Those eternal bowers, man hath never trod,
those unfading flowers round the throne of God:
who may hope to gain them after weary fight?
who at length attain them, clad in robes of white?

He who wakes from slumber at the Spirit's voice,
daring here to number things unseen his choice:
he who casts his burden down at Jesus' cross--
Christ' reproach his guerdon, all beside but loss.

He who gladly barters all on earthly ground;
he who, like the martyrs, says "I will be crowned;"
he whose one oblation is a life of love,
knit in God's salvation to the blest above.

Shame upon you, legions of the heavenly King,
citizens of regions past imagining!
Why with pipe and tabor waste the hours of light,
when he bids you labor, when he tells you, "Fight"?

Jesus, Lord of glory, as we breast the tide,
whisper thou the story of the other side;
where the saints are casting crowns before thy feet,
safe for everlasting, in thyself complete!


Monday, December 01, 2008

Waiting with mingled hope and fear

Earth was waiting, spent and restless

Words: W.C. Smith (1824-1908)
Tune: Picardy

Earth was waiting, spent and restless,
with a mingled hope and fear,
faithful men and women praying,
"Surely, Lord, the day is near:
the Desire of all the nations --
it is time He should appear!"

Then the Spirit of the Highest
to a Virgin meek came down,
and He burdened her with blessing,
and He pained her with renown;
for she bore the Lord's Anointed
for His cross and for His crown.

Earth has groaned and labored for Him
since the ages first began,
for in Him was hid the secret
which through all the ages ran --
Son of Mary, Son of David,
Son of God, and Son of Man.