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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Advent 2017: What we're reading

The season of Advent, an annual rhythm of longing and hope.

For an excellent overview of the season, check this post on the Serge blog.  The author begins with what I consider to be the one of the most frightening verses in the Bible:  God gave them what they asked, but sent leanness into their soul (Psalm 106:8).  When we spend this season, this life, pushing and scraping and demanding and striving for what the world tells us is necessary, for what we imagine might make us happy, God may eventually let us have it. But the cost is too high.  Every year we need seasons of re-orientation, so we long for what is truly good, long to be in God's story, and even if our Christmas is lean, our souls will be fat.

For several years, our family has reveled in Biola University's Advent and Lent projects.  You can return to the portal daily, or sign up to get an email link sent to you daily.  This site combines art, music, poetry, scripture, and a meditation for a uniquely rich Advent experience.  In yesterday's post I alluded to the Dec 4 offering, which I am still processing.  Over the last few seasons this has ushered in new poets and new artists to our awareness, a huge plus when living in isolated circumstances.

And this year, I bought on Kindle a book of daily Advent meditations by a Dean and professor in Duke's Divinity School, Luke Powery, called Rise Up Shepherd!.  We heard him speak at one of our kids' commencements and resonated with his spirituality and wisdom.  Here he takes a different traditional Spiritual, the songs of the enslaved, and juxtaposes them with Scripture, bridging the liturgical traditions of the Duke University Chapel with the reality of impoverished people of color.  If possible I search for the Spiritual on Spotify and listen as we read.  A beauty of combining the Bible readings, the Biola portal, and the book, is that patterns jump out in new ways.  For instance, the Dec 4 poem and meditation on Biola talked about God rushing in like a flood.  The Dec 4 Spiritual in Powery's book was about "the old Ship of Zion" singing "Ain't no danger in de water" . . . yet this music comes from a people for whom ships meant death, so many flung into the sea.  Taking them together, can we see that even in a flooded death there is no danger, because God is there?  Even as we long for Jesus to come, for the Shepherd to Rise, we tremble that the Day of the Lord is called great and terrible, but hold onto the faith that ultimately all shall be well?

Lastly, throughout the year our family uses the Lectionary App from the Church of England's publishing arm for daily readings.  We have found the tradition of putting the story of the Bible into the pace of the seasons of the year to be helpful to us as creatures living in bodies on earth.  Many of the readings overlap with the two other resources above, and frankly it's a bit much to try to keep up with all three, so in this season I sometimes let this last one drop a bit.

And since we just spent 24 hours in the car, here are a couple of Christmas albums.  I like my Christmas music a little bit gritty and loud and Heaven and Nature Sing, so here are two with a lot of overlap from TobyMac:
New one for 2017

Old one with other artists

If you like your Christmas music a little more "all is calm all is bright", which we also enjoy, this one was great (a recommendation from one of our kids) by Josh Garrels.

Feel free to comment with your favorites, and let's live this season fully, in community and hope.


Amanda K. said...

Thank you for the recommendations!
If you haven't listened already, Rain for Roots has an amazing Advent CD called "Waiting songs"
It's INCREDIBLE. Beautiful music, encouraging message, perfect for the season.

Hahs Household said...

We love Still by Nathan Clark George for a calm one. We like Rebecca St. James for a gritty one.