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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 4th day of Christmas: Christmas unwrapped, Christmas leftovers

12/28


We gather on the first Sunday after Christmas. It’s good to see Aaron and Teresita, who were part of  the Sanctuary community that worshipped here for two years, back for a visit. Teresita has also become part of the Dzieci company and was a fool last week in their Fools’ Mass. Their voices ring clear and true. It’s a Sunday to share our Christmases, sing any songs we haven’t sung yet.

I remember the Christmas back in Oakdale when Christmas fell on a Sunday. I made it a come as  you are Sunday. We came casual, made hot chocolate, sang carols. A warm family feeling. Going for that today.

We open with the new words to Hark the Herald that came from a women’s liturgical group that Jeremy knew.

Our first lesson is ISAIAH 61:10-62:3. I lift up especially these words:
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, 
          and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, 
     so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise 
          to spring up before all the nations.
And then we sing the traditional Away in a Manger. Psalm 148: 1-14 is a celebration of creation and Jeremy has written a setting for a response: God reigns on high,let the heavens rejoice.

Our Gospel is Luke 2: 22-40, where Simeon has seen the child and can now go in peace. And Anna the prophet has her own songs of praise. We sing together the Song of Simeon to the tune of Land of Rest.



As a musical reflection, I sing John McCutcheon’s  Christmas in the trenches. ( and John R asks if that’s based on a true story and I describe the Christmas Truce of 1914 and that it is important to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the massive acts of human resistance whereby the soldiers in the trenches collectively willed a 48 hour truce up and down the trench line in France. There is McCutcheon’s song. And the French movie Joyeux Noel that tells the story from the French side.


 There’s even a surprisingly moving  shirt film by a chocolate company.  Most of the details come from the diaries of soldiers.  It only lasted awhile, nut as my friend Barney Oursler from Pittsburgh’s Mon valley Unemployed Committee said of the 9 days the Homestead strikers held off the Pinkertons, It was only awhile, but sometimes awhile is important. Maybe John Lennon was not so far off when he said War is over if you want it…

The Luke passage speaks of the circumcision of Jesus and his pinyat ha ben, IE,  the symbolic redemption of the first born, going all the way back to Abraham and Isaac. I remembered the 1980’s Art Treasures of the Vatican exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum and their reliquary of the circumcision of Jesus, apparently all that he left here on earth in a massive gold container. Somehow when Simeon sees  the child, he knows the victory is won. And so does Anna, the only female New testament prophet, perhaps dismissed as crazy. Something had changed and would never be the same…

And so we talk of our Christmases, what was good, what filled us, blessed us. We take requests for carols, We Three Kings (coming again  next week), Angels we have heard on high….

And for one last musical gift, Jeremy and I do our medley of Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming and Bette Midler’s the Rose . Jeremy remembers Lo how a rose ..from German in Switzerland and I recall how it was the opening  music for last year’s Bread & Puppet 50th Anniversary production, the Shatterer of Worlds..

Our closing song is the Taize nunc dimittis, Simeon’s words:

Let your servant now go in peace, O lord, Now go in peace according to your word.( )
We gather in our circle to sing Amen. Little Xavier has joined us. Somehow this has become an essential part of his week. And mine, too.

Let your servant now go in peace,



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