Now that we’ve wrapped up our brief look at John’s Prologue as an introduction to the themes of Advent and Christmas, I wanted to dwell a bit more on the canticle I used for the compline in the fourth week of Advent, which was unfortunately too short this year. I carefully selected a song by Mike Koop of St. Benedict’s Table fame. John’s prologue is a hymn for Christmas and all year long, and if you wanted to know what an updated song for Christmas and all year long would look like if you wrote it with your head filled with gospel images while staring at the prologue to John (1:1-18), I think I have the answer. It would need to be something written as an epiphany, like John’s gospel — portraying Jesus’ entry into, accomplishment of his task, and exit from the temporal scene with the transcendence of an Eternal God stepping in and out of time at will. It would need to reflect the fullness of both his Godhood and his humanity, in the same breath wherever possible.
For the record, there are twelve days to the Christmastide season… let the feasting continue! We should know this from the famous Christmas carol, yet these days most of us may just scratch our heads as to what, when, and why the twelve days are. It turns out that the 12 days song actually has some relation to a variety of theological themes. Coming to the point thought, we’ve moved out of the Advent season and into the Christmas season. In my Advent book, I have included an extra set of daily offices for use during the Christmas season… kind of a bonus for those who made the purchase. Although the Advent synchroblog has ended, the daily office and the celebration of Christmas go on. The extra office is designed to keep the Christmas themes present in our minds throughout the season. In the book, I introduced it this way:
Well, here we are. The end of Advent, with week four consisting of two whole days this year! This time out, I’ve got the full text for all the readings for the week all laid out for us. Because of the brevity of Advent IV this year, I’m going to cover it all at once… the first set of readings would have been done yesterday if you’re following the book, and the second set would be done today. It’s a bit unfortunate that we get to spend so little time this year with some of this, but perhaps we’ll return next year… and we can continue reflecting on this week’s theme throughout the Christmastide season. The theme for the week is Love. We’re going to dig deep and find rich treasures… I’m going to dust it off and leave it to every individual to polish it up in their own reflections and meditations. One of the blessings from our prayers this week is from Colossians 2:2-3
I’m making a big departure for this week’s selection in my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. I’ve been doing carols for Advent and Christmas connected to my Johannine Advent book and synchroblog, and this week the carol selected in the book wins out over the requirement that it be of my youth. I’ve selected The Huron Carol, and though it predates me by more than a few years, it was never part of my youth; I only discovered the carol as an adult. Most Canadians now will know it from Tom Jackson‘s Huron Carole series of Christmas benefits.
I was surprised to not find Tom Jackson signing this on YouTube. I found a French version recorded in an igloo in Quebec, but the sound wasn’t very good.
Now that we come to the second set of readings for this third week of Advent, we find that we’ve left only one verse of the John’s prologue untouched, and we’ve got a full week left before Christmas. The readings get shorter and end with a flourish, but try not to peek ahead to the missing verse. This time up we’ve got John 1:11&13 plus selections from two chapters in Isaiah. Our texts from John speak of the relationship of the Word to the world around him. The world is his creation, and its people are his own… and yet not his own.
John 1:11, JBP
He came into his own creation,
and his own people would not accept him.
Isaiah 52:1-3, 6-10 (Awake, Zion!)
John 1:13, NEB
…not born of any human stock,
or by the fleshly desire of a human father,
but the offspring of God himself.
The December issue of Next-Wave is out, with features on Advent. Bob asked me if I had something in connection with my book so I quickly dashed something off, not realizing that Advent: Resisting Christmas was going to end up as a Featured Article. Maybe I’d have put in more effort! The piece deals with rediscovering Advent as a part of reacclimatizing ourselves with the historical habits and practices of the church… like the daily office. I wrote it at the end of the first week of Advent, not realizing that the issue would be another week to release, so the prayers I mention in the article as “coming up” were for the week just passed. As we prayed through last week’s prayers, I think I’m not as happy as I could be with how the evening prayers (vespers) in particular came together, but I think there are some gems for the week we’re in now. Book sales have tapered off, probably for the year — thanks to all who made a purchase, it was a real help to our bottom line for the month. I have already thought some about a revised/expanded edition, but I’m deferring too much thought on it until the new year. I’ve still got that missional book to get back to, and I’ve arranged to trade off about half my time to an ongoing project in the next few months (more about that another time).
As we carry on in our Johannine Advent blogging through my Advent Daily Office with the prologue to John’s gospel, we arrive at a pair of fairly significant verses… I might even say favorites, and if the structure of the passage didn’t convince me otherwise I might say that verse 14 is the climax of the passage. Well, in many ways it is the thematic climax, but the main point is yet to come. Verses 9-10 and 14 are linked in their subject matter, both positively and negatively. In 9-10 the Word comes into the world he created but his people don’t recognize him; in verse 14, he “pitches his tent” among his people and at least some recognized him and “beheld his glory.”
As the third week of Advent begins, we have a new theme, and a differently-coloured candle to signify it… the pink candle symbolizes Joy. In my ongoing series, Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth, we continue through the Advent edition with the Christmas carol I’ve selected for this week: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. I’m quite sure that in my youth I must have thought the carol was telling a group of merry fellows to settle down and rest, in the “Silent Night” fashion… but there’s a comma, you see. The song is instructing gentlemen — and let’s include the ladies — to be comforted and take heart… for remember, “Christ our saviour was born on Christmas Day!”