From Friday, 01 December 2006:
Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:
1) Do you observe Advent in your church?
Yes, and during my years in the Church (meaning late teens into adulthood, since I didn't grow up in the church) I always have; the congregation where I first became involved was liberal American Baptist that was beginning to adventure into a somewhat liturgical lifestyle. One of the earliest recreational activities I attended there was an Advent Wreath (and Candle) workshop.
2) How about at home?
Yes, but not intensely or intently.
3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn?
BOTH!!!!! The first lesson from Year B, Isaiah 64 (RCL, of course):
1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. ...Lots of hymns, but for now I'll mention «Macht hoch die Tür»—"Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates." From Volume I, Erste Teil (of course, Christmas and Advent) of his Großes Orgelbuch I love Ernst Pepping's big organ version of the hymn with cantus in the pedal; the hymn is lots of fun to play on the organ accompanying congregational singing, though I haven't done so for a long, long time. By Georg Weissel; here's Catherine Winkworth's elegant translation:
1. Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates!4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.)
Behold, the King of Glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near,
The Savior of the world is here.
Life and salvation He doth bring,
Wherefore rejoice and gladly sing:
We praise Thee, Father, now,
Creator, wise art Thou!
2. A Helper just He comes to thee,
His chariot is humility,
His kingly crown is holiness,
His scepter, pity in distress,
The end of all our woe He brings;
Wherefore the earth is glad and sings:
We praise Thee, Savior, now,
Mighty in deed art Thou!
3. O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes!
The cloudless Sun of joy He is,
Who bringeth pure delight and bliss.
We praise Thee, Spirit, now,
Our Comforter art Thou!
4. Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple set apart
From earthly use for Heaven's employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.
So shall your Sovereign enter in
And new and nobler life begin.
To Thee, O God, be praise
For word and deed and grace!
5. Redeemer, come! I open wide
My heart to Thee; here, Lord, abide!
Let me Thy inner presence feel,
Thy grace and love in me reveal;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on
Until our glorious goal is won.
Eternal praise and fame
We offer to Thy name.
A pastor I served with always described pink as "a diminutive of purple"—the feminist in me dislikes almost anything "ette" or "ita" meaning smaller and less significant than the larger, but I'll draw on my mixed memories about serving that church, because my experience there convinced me to go to seminary. Okay, "The Mary Candle," or "Mary's Candle," one of the usual explanations, still has currency.
5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen?
It's not especially funny or kitschy, but I like the one with orange cats I got a few years ago at the on-campus bookstore of one of the local churches.