November 15/28, 2015
Commencement of Advent & the Nativity Fast
That most wonderful time of the year is again upon us, but what truly makes it sparkle with wonder? As millions of refugees worldwide flee their homelands looking for a place to lay their heads, it is important for us to remember the humble and destitute circumstances chosen by the Lord of Glory for His first Advent into the world. For this reason and many others pertaining to our salvation, the Church has designed these several weeks leading up to our Lord’s Nativity in human flesh to be a time of fasting and increased prayer. But in the rush to hunt down gifts for every person on the planet and attend every holiday party offered, it is easy to forget our eternal destiny and the place where true life can be found. So where can a weary shopper go, besides church, to pray more, shop less, and truly wonder at the condescension of our God?
The concert hall is one such place which at this time of the year is pregnant with divine inspiration. One of my spiritual fathers tells of a time when he was a college student in Boston and received help from a concert hall. He had fled his homeland of Russia with his mother and sister because of the Soviet persecution which had killed his father. Here, in a land not his own, tortured by thoughts of taking his own life, this refugee was handed a ticket on the street by a perfect stranger and ushered into Boston Symphony Hall where he heard the inexpressible beauty of Handel’s Messiah. In that grand oratorio, the words of the prophet Isaiah comforted him with the truth that the Creator of the world had voluntarily chosen his lot and become acquainted with his grief. And the words of the famous Hallelujah chorus proclaimed to him that the kingdom of this world like the one which took his father, “… is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” He left that concert hall knowing that despite his present grief, his light and momentary troubles could achieve for him a glory that far outweighs them all.
So in this time of rush and hurry, let us not forget to look for otherworldly inspiration in places such as this. That the founder of this season, who had no place to lay his head and was acquainted with our grief may deepen our own vision of the world around us and turn our present sorrow into joy. For he did not come merely to be Emmanuel, God with us in our happy times, but also, and especially, God with us in and through our suffering.
Emmanuel, God with us,
In the heart of the night, a flame that flickers,
A dim light in the depth of the winter,
Splinters the cold, control disintegrator.
Behold, time foretold, the plan unfolds,
A crack in the rock, the glimmer of gold
“It’s Christmas, and Oh my God it’s great!
Snowflakes and skates, baby Jesus’ birthday”,
We all sing “Oh come let us adore”,
But are you sure what you’re asking for?
This kid’s gonna grow to have his hands nailed to boards,
War with death, he’s the Trojan horse,
See here’s the things, sin’s got claws,
It’s viral and we’ve all breathed the spores,
My lungs aren’t pure, neither are yours,
And the cure was born as a martyr descending,
Hope secured through premature life ending,
As the world resisted,
Jesus made immigrant in massacre of infants,
War crimes to ‘honour’ his existence.
So this year, while you’re out spending, check your understanding, it might need mending,
The love that the Father’s extending is quiet, no war sirens,
But silent night sparked violent fight,
Boy deployed behind enemy lines,
And while that birth marked the end had begun,
The struggle for hearts in the dark goes on.
Remix of ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ by Beat Convention. Featuring Harri Endersby
More details can be seen here: cumbria.ac.uk/rap
Track, Words and Rap Vocals: Andy & Jon (aka Beat Convention)
Vocals: Harri Endersby
Choir: Carlisle Cathedral Choir
Guitar: Rich Marsh
Strings: Matthew Firth
Cinematography: Ben Priest
Post Production: Rich Tandirerung