Birds of a Feather

Christmas Benediction December 24, 2013

Filed under: Holiday — kcfeather @ 9:59 pm

Merry Christmas Eve from Isle of Palms (where we’re celebrating Christmas this year with my family). We cannot complain about the unseasonably warm temperatures (in the 70s our first two days here). We’re about to head into town for dinner at Magnolias followed by a candlelight service. Tomorrow we’re staying on the island. No gifts this year (too hard to travel with), but we have lots of fun games (Anomia and Tenzi are our new favorites), good books to read, a beach to take long walks on (especially if the sun sticks around), and all the ingredients for a delicious Christmas dinner.

Before I sign off for the rest of 2013, I thought I would share this benediction from our church’s Lessons & Carols service earlier this month:

May the joy of the angels,
the eagerness of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men,
the obedience of Joseph and Mary,
and the peace of the Christ child
be yours this Christmas;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen

 

It is Finished March 30, 2013

Filed under: Holiday,The everyday — kcfeather @ 8:22 pm

Holy Saturday. Almost Alleluia.

Yesterday before our church’s Good Friday Tenebrae service, I finished my Lenten project of reading through the Bible, from front to back. I’ll report some reflections on the process soon, but throughout the past week, I keep coming back to the last words of Christ on the cross. It is finished. (John 19:30)

What a wonderful reality to rest in and to celebrate, tomorrow, and each day. We A very talented musician sang a song by this title at the service, and I thought I’d share. After the second verse there is a *beautiful* bell solo. Stick with it, if only for that. If you use a blog reader, you may have to click through to hit play and hear the song.

It is Finished, the Redeemer Said

Words: Samuel Stennett, 1787, and Michael Van Patter, 2011
Music: Michael Van Patter, 2011
(c) New York Hymns, 2011

It is finished, the redeemer said
And meekly bowed his dying head
While we his sentence scan
Come ye sinners and observe the word
Behold the conquests of our lord
Complete for sinful man

So who shall urge a second claim?
The law now no longer can condemn
Faith a release can show
Justice itself now a friend appears
The prison house a whisper hears
Loose him and let him go

His word divinely finished stands
And oh, the praise his love demands
Careful may we attend
Conclusion to the whole be this
Because salvation finished is
Our thanks shall never end

 

Poetry Corner: Epiphany January 7, 2013

Filed under: Holiday,Poetry — kcfeather @ 5:36 am

Happy 12th day of Christmas!  We’ve just returned from a quick jaunt down to DC to see family and friends. But before we return to ordinary time, I thought I’d share this lovely poem.

Journey of the Maji

T.S. Eliot

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

 

Happy New Year! December 31, 2012

Filed under: Holiday — kcfeather @ 10:07 pm

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We “partied hard” a few nights ago at a wedding, and are thinking that tonight will be a bit more low key – stopping by a friend’s house before turning in early.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

 

Advent: Week 4 December 25, 2012

Filed under: Holiday — kcfeather @ 5:34 pm

Christmas came right on the heels of the 4th Sunday of Advent this year – and in fact, we were celebrating Christmas on Sunday with C’s family out in the country.

In good ol’ East Texas fashion, we set a tree on fire. Literally. There was a dead tree on the land that needed to be gotten rid of, and the powers that be decided it made sense to kill two birds with one stone by making this dead tree the location of the family’s annual Christmas bonfire. The men piled up branches and other shrubs at the base of the tree earlier on Sunday, and then once the sun went down, we all went out and had a grand time watching the tree burn.

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The image of the tree catching fire of course recalls the story in Exodus 3 when Moses encounters God in the form of a burning bush. The Lord says to Moses:

I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

-Exodus 3:7-8

God saw their afflictions and heard their cries and knew their sufferings. And he did not just stand by, but he delivered them from their anguish, he freed them from their captivity.

What a beautiful foreshadowing of the coming of Christ into our world. God sent his son – our Savior, Jesus Christ – into this world because he saw our affliction, he heard our cries, and he knew our suffering. And ultimately, through Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, we are offered a deliverance even greater than the deliverance that came to the Israelites. A deliverance from the brokenness, the fear, and the hurt in this world. A deliverance to peace, to grace – and to life.

That is what we celebrate today, and that is the hope we cling to throughout the year.

Merry Christmas!

 

Advent: Week 3 December 17, 2012

Filed under: Holiday — kcfeather @ 4:00 pm

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We spent the third Sunday of Advent in airports and on airplanes, and so got lots of practice waiting. After a full morning and early afternoon of travel, we arrived in the Big Easy for a few days of fun (and lots of sleep) before heading to Dallas. Neither of us have been here before, but we are finding it to be a great city for exploring and wandering.

Last night, after checking in at our hotel but before dinner, we headed over to Jackson Square in the French Quarter, where we joined with many, many others for a good old-fashioned carol sing. From the Square, you can see the spires of the St. Louis Cathedral, so with all the candlelight it was really spectacular.

The Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, led the crowds in singing O Holy Night (not an easy song to sing well, but he did):

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

After the tragic news of Friday, the words rung so true – we are reminded of how weary we are, how weary our world is – and what great need we have of a Savior. Rejoicing in our weariness, what a strange concept. And yet, we believe that death will not have the final word. We look ahead to the new and glorious morn when Christ will come again and set all things new. And that indeed seems a reason to rejoice.

 

Advent: Week 2 December 10, 2012

Filed under: Holiday — kcfeather @ 7:40 pm

Last night at the Lessons and Carols Service at our church, we sang a new (Christmas?) hymn that I love. Here it is (if you’re using a blog reader, you may have to click through if you actually want to hit “play” and hear the song):

The Son Forsook the Father’s Home

words: Samuel J. Stone
music: Bruce Benedict, 2010
(c) Cardiphonia Music, 2010

The Son forsook the Father’s home
For mercy to lost man,
And did not scorn the Virgin’s womb
To bear the sinner’s ban.
Meekly the Maiden pure believed
The great Archangel’s word,
And by the Holy Ghost conceived
The Saviour Christ the Lord.

The Word made flesh creation sees,
Its mighty God in Man:
Great mystery of mysteries
Since ever time began!
That we might gain a second birth
The Holy Son was given:
T’was God Himself came down to earth
To win us back to heaven.

Lord ! we believe with love and praise
This wondrous truth of Thee:
Thereby in all our troubled days
How strong henceforth are we!
So near art Thou, so strong are we,
For now, if we are Thine,
Our Brother in humanity,
Thou makest us divine!

We see with peace in times of fear
Serene Thy human Form;
Thy human Voice with joy we hear,
Sweet-toned above the storm.
So dread we not the deathly strife,
Knowing that Thou hast died:
It can but bear us into life,
Since nearer to Thy side!