February 22, 2017

Fridays with Michael Spencer: On Christmas Eve Eve

A Classic Michael Spencer Post From Christmas 2008 My favorite piece of liturgy in the world is a sentence in the opening section of the Traditional Service of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast round the world on the BBC. Why is it so moving? Because it is beautiful and true. Each year, as more and […]

Another Look: The Pastoral Nativity

“Luke is interested in the symbolism of the manger, and the lack of room in the lodgings may be no more than a vague surmise in order to explain the mention of a manger. This manger is not a sign of poverty but is probably meant to evoke God’s complaint against Israel in Isaiah 1:3: […]

Sermon Advent IV: “God with Us” – A Challenging Blessing

Sermon: Advent IV: “God with Us” – A Challenging Blessing (Matt. 1:18-25) Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous […]

Advent Pic and Cantata of the Week IV

ADVENT III Bach Cantata 132, “Prepare the Way! Prepare the Path!” • • • BWV 132 was first performed on December 22, 1715. The nature of this cantata is described in program notes at Emmanuel Music: The brilliant and extroverted aria that opens Bereite die Wege, Bereite die Bahn [Prepare the paths, prepare the road], belies the profound […]

Another Look: The Imagination of Faith

What part does imagination play in faith? Can “truth” be communicated through legend, folk tales, poetry, and music? Many Christmas songs have little to do with describing detailed historical facts. Instead, they evoke images from nature, the Biblical narratives, and the cultures from which they arise to help us not only understand but also feel the meaning and significance […]

Sermon: Advent III – A season for doubters

Sermon: Advent III A season for doubters When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the […]

Advent Pic & Post III

ADVENT III Two Bach cantatas are associated with the third Sunday in Advent. Both are “lost” cantatas. The first is BWV 186a, “Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht” (Fret not, O soul), a later version of which is played on the 7th Sunday After Trinity. The second is BWV 141, “Das ist je gewißlich wahr” (This is now the gospel truth), […]

Sermon: Advent II – Sinai’s Last Thunder

Sermon: Advent I Sinai’s Last Thunder In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make […]

Advent Pic and Cantata of the Week II

ADVENT II Bach Cantata 70, “Watch! Pray!” BWV 70 is an expansion of a cantata Bach wrote seven years earlier in Weimar. The music for this earlier work has been almost entirely lost. It was one of a group of three cantatas (BWV 70a.186a,147a) that Bach produced in December 1716 based on texts by the Weimar court poet Salomo Franck. […]

Fridays with Michael Spencer: December 2, 2016

Today, Michael Spencer’s classic post, “Lo, How a Rose:” Experiencing The Power of Beauty. • • • It was Christmas of 1968. I was a seventh grader at Estes Junior High School. School was a huge part of my world. My father was beginning down the road to depression. I was an only child, and […]