Advent is a season of waiting: waiting in uncertainty, waiting in hope. Amid the questions that this 2020 Advent brings, Chris de Silva (Associate Director of Music Ministry) reminds us that God's movement never ceases, and that the journey toward peace and healing continues.
Chris de Silva (Associate Director of Music Ministry, Campus Ministry)
Earth grown old, yet still so green,
Deep beneath her crust of cold
Nurses fire unfelt, unseen:
Earth grown old.
We who live are quickly told:
Millions more lie hid between
Inner swathings of her fold.
When will fire break up her screen?
When will life burst thro’ her mould?
Earth, earth, earth, thy cold is keen,
Earth grown old.
- "Earth Grown Old," Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)
For the Northern Hemisphere, this week bears its darkest days as the earth approaches the winter solstice. Yet, hope lies hidden between these days of darkness and unwavering light. Our Advent waiting in hope has turned into a much longer period of questioning – questions folded into additional layers of loneliness, confronting injustices, curing diseases, controlling pandemic and pandemic’s burn out. And all through this, the Northern Hemisphere tilts back toward the Sun. God’s movement never dies.
A certain sense of uncertainty dwells within one of Christina Rosetti’s Advent poems, Earth grown old. It brims with mystery, ever ancient and ever new. The poetic form itself is circular in yearning for completion and fullness. Rosetti presents an Advent reflection on the mystery of life and waiting for Parousia, for God’s promise and redemption which yields more questions and reveals a struggle of knowing and unknowing. Might there be a fire within the core, an unnoticed warmth inside us that settles down into deeper contemplation or perhaps bursts forth coursed with hope and healing? O Come, Emmanuel, God always with us.
As a liturgical music minister in this unique season of worship, preparing for prayer takes shape in a discernment of different ways in which to kindle or rekindle a fire of hope and beauty amid the absence of singing, music making and breathing together. How to counteract our pandemic burn out and bring hopefulness within a pandemic-scarred liturgy? From the ancient church the O Antiphons of Advent offer perspective and illuminate pathways of resilience and renewal leading us onward to Bethlehem – O Wisdom, O Leader of the House of Israel, O Root of Jesse’s stem, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn, O King of all nations, O Emmanuel.
In this year’s certainly uncertain Advent time of waiting in hope, God is still speaking. The Bethlehem sky shines for all those who journey toward peace and healing. Emmanuel shall come.
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