Category Archives: advent

Gettin’ My Hopes Up

This started out as a very different blog post. But as often happens, I got stuck, and decided to take a spin around the blogosphere.

Fragments of words came to me, and appeared in comments here and there, and then I said, “Girl, what are you doing messing up other people’s blogs when you obviously have a Word to be giving? Don’t you have your own blog?”

What I see in the blogging world, especially amongst those who are responding to ++Rowan’s Christmas Message (which I labeled tl;dr, the man is getting right up my left nostril lately) is a sense of sighing, of shrugging the heavy burden to the other shoulder and stretching to pick up another weight to add to it.

“Reasonable”. You have to be bloody kidding me.

If we were reasonable people, us Christians, we’d sleep in on Sunday. If we were reasonable people, us Christians, we’d close all those parishes that can’t operate in the black (you know, 85% of them). If we were reasonable people, us Christians, we’d look at society and say, “Yeah, they’re arrayed against us, so let’s quit this silly faith thing and join the rat race festival of Make, Consume, Spend.”

If we were reasonable people, us Christians, we’d reject the concept of the Creator God daring to come to Earth as a wee bitty human baby, who then died, like, totally dead. And after that God died, that God came back to life.

Reason is highly overrated.

I’ve been trapped in the reason-loop myself, folks. I’ve been telling myself with my recent job duties transition at my temp gig to not get my hopes up, ’cause reasonably, Stuff Could Happen.

In Advent, I’ve been telling myself not to get my hopes up. In Advent, people! The time of hopeful waiting! Bad reason! BAD REASON! BAD! GO TO YOUR ROOM!

There are reasonable people out there. They’re using all sorts of reasons and ending their lines of reasoning with, “..and that’s why I’m right and you’re going right to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks you no good, horrible, very bad sinner.”

There is just one way to meet these reasonable people who preach doom, despair and death.

Meet them with an unreasonable hope.

(And I’m not going to shut up about hope, peace, joy, light, and life until the day God decides it’s time for me to take a nice little nap, so you might as well just start doing what I say, y’hear?)

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Remembering my Confirmation

I was confirmed in the United Methodist Church back in 7th grade. It was the culmination of a year’s study, out of which I mostly remember the information about other churches that we spent at least 8 weeks on. I also remember The Confirmation Trip, which is a whole ‘nother story but let’s just say we got kicked out of Grace Cathedral for sitting on the altar.

HEY! We were teenagers and Methodists! What did we know from altars?

But you want to know the one thing I remember the most from my Confirmation? Screwing up the Creed. Because we were all following J’s lead, and J started reading the part on our little cheater cards in the parentheses.

Do you believe in God the Father Almighty?
I believe in God the Father Almighty.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ
(his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.)

The pastor turned kind of pink and she said, “Um, yeah, you’re just supposed to say the first line. Let’s try that again.”

Do you believe in Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ

I remember thinking to myself, Well, that’s kind of vauge there. Almost a letdown.

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit.

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The Baptism of Coffee

Serendipity or silly? You decide.

Who knew that coffee, loved by millions, almost never made it past the censors? The book Coffee notes that when the plant first arrived in Europe in the 1600s, some Catholic priests branded it a “concoction of Satan” due to its mood-altering effects. However, Pope Clement VIII allegedly had a cup and became an instant convert. He resolved the social dilemma by symbolically baptizing the brew, thereby making it perfectly acceptable to start your day with a steaming cup of coffee.

From the McMenamins History, Hotels, and Pubs Newsletter, December 2007, January and February 2008, pg. 15.

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I am by no means a Grinch.

I love Christmas, secular and religious.

I love the dancing Santa Clauses and the Saint Nicholases running around wearing the parish’s second-best cope. I will sing Christmas songs during Advent with the radio and do a little dance, not out of any irreverence but because it’s subversive; when else is it culturally acceptable to sing songs everywhere you go about Jesus Christ coming to Earth to save us all? I am supremely jealous of the IFS worker at the Big Blue Box who worked some of our decorations into a necklace that lights up.  OMG. Baby want! 

But I swear before God and all the Saints in heaven, I will NOT wish every customer who comes through my cash lane a Merry Christmas. Or a Happy Holiday.

When I’m checking you out, my brain’s checked out. Everything I say there is on a tape in my head. Sure, I look at you and make eye contact, and there’s some personal flourishes, but I don’t have to think about it. I’m a trained mouse, pushing the little trigger on the zap gun and receiving my reward: getting you the hell out of my line quickly so I can help the next customer. That cute little joke I make about not being able to judge because I, too, leave my reuseable bag at home all the time even though I know where I’m going? I probably used it on the customer before you and will use it on the customer behind you, and will use it approximately 250 times in an average 8 hour shift. Because we average 250 customer transactions per person per 8 hour shift.

 Repeating something that many times wears you out. It deadens you to it. You are oversaturated, and you forget it even exists.

 I’m not running the risk of forgetting about Christmas.

(And if you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to me in the line, I will say, “Thanks! And same to you!” But that’s a part of the tape, it’s the same response activated when you say, “Have a good night”.

 (Today’s crankiness also has absolutely nothing to do with the fact a customer in an attempt to ‘help’ me adjust the load on their cart, jerked the cart out from under a 60lb desk they had decided to delicately balance on one corner. I jumped out of the way, but it still caught me across both arms with lovely big ol’ bruises that hurt a little bit when I try to type.

(After the desk hit the floor with a resounding thump, the customer decided she didn’t want it any more. So I  had to shift the damn thing out of the way so she could get her cart out.

 (I’m getting too old for this shit.)

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The Time I Wasn’t Baptised

Welcome to Advent, which here at the OSI means it’s time to start thinking seriously about What Baptisim Means To Me.

Yeah, I got nothin’ really so far.

But there was a time in the recent past where I was hanging out at a nondenominational Pentibapticharismatic church. That’s what they called themselves (I guess because Chariscostist sounds funny). And I dove into the whole thing head first.

That’s right, I spoke in tongues. Interesting experience. Not the point.

As such churches do, as soon as they get a live one on the hook who’s signed off on the Sinner’s Prayer, they start throwing you into Beginner Christian classes. The point of these classes is threefold:

  1. Explain the important Biblical concept of Ministry.
  2. Explain the important Biblical concept of Tithing.
  3. Explain the important Biblical concept of Believer Baptisim.

I went in head first, remember? Yes! Yes! I can exercise my ministry of being a pray-er and a sing-er and a do-er and a teach-’em! Yes! Yes! I will gladly give a tenth of my income, give abundantly of the rest of my income.

But I balked at being baptized again. I had a godfather and a godmother, I’d been going to church for years and participating as a full member until I stepped through the doors of this particular church, I’d even confirmed the vows made by my godparents when I was a wee atheist of 12 years old. I knew in my heart I was a Christian, I didn’t understand what all the fuss about taking another bath was about.

And that brought my inclusion into that church to a screeching halt. Everyone else in my Beginning Christian class was baptized within two weeks and moved on to claim their ministries in that church. I kept attending faithfully on Wednesday nights, and kept going to the Monday night Prayer Team meeting even though I wasn’t allowed, as an ‘unbaptized’ member, to lead in prayer. When we were blessing the new building, I was assigned to bless the bathrooms.

Well, hell, you folks know me better’n the pastor. I thought that was the best thing ever and I blessed the holy shit out of it.

(Last Vestry meeting, my priest said that you can say ‘shit’ in church just so long as you put ‘holy’ in front of it.)

I knew I was in trouble when I was called to the bishop’s office. The bishop sat me down and said, “Child, why won’t you be baptized?”

“I was baptized,” I said. “As a baby.”

He made a tch noise. “That wasn’t baptism.” And the Bible came out and I got preached at for twenty minutes. At the end, the bishop said, “When can we get you baptized into God’s family?”

“I’m sorry, bishop,” I said. “I’ve prayed over this a lot, but I think I’m already covered.”

He told me to go pray some more. And I did. And about six weeks after that, after my infamous slip of the tongue in Prayer Team meeting, I was tossed out of that church for being an unrepentant sinner.

So this leads me to the most basic belief about baptisim that I hold: Baptism is a one-time deal.


I’ll tell you when I figure it out meself.


Filed under advent, baptism

The End is Seriously Damn Nigh.

You’ll only get the joke if you’re a rather hardcore Buffy fan.

Which I am. Heeeeee.

Anyway, Advent’s one of those seasons that the preacherly and more mystical amongst us adore, because it’s full of the inherent contradictions that send them into lyrical, liturgical, and pretend I found another L-word here that means ‘wordy’ spasms. The end of death comes with a birth. The darkness is shattered by a bright light. The Blood is the Key. Wait, that was Buffy again. Why does Advent make me think of Buffy? Buffy only did one really crappy A Very Special Holiday episode. And it was actually a fairly decent episode, if I have to say that, I just really really hated Buffy and Angel’s relationship. Actually, I really hated Buffy and Angel. I watched for my sekrit boyfriends Giles and Xander and my sekrit girlfriend Willow. Ah, Willow, you won our adoration with your delightfully shy bookworm ways and you won our lust with that abso-bloody-lutely fantastic leather Evil!Willow getup….

*ahem* ANYWAY, for the rest of us who aren’t preacherly or more mystical (and who can stop thinking about Alyson Hannigan FOR ONE MINUTE, geez, brain, you’re getting a good scrubbing when we get home) , we can also rejoice because Sara at Going Jesus has once again favored us with It Came Upon A Midnight Weird – The Calvacade of Bad Nativities II: Electric Baby Jesus Boogaloo. As of right now, we’ve got a leprechaun Nativity, a snowglobe, and for the Star Wars fan in your life, a Jawa nativity.

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Advent and Christmas Songs I F’n Love

UPDATE 12/6/07 – Who knew a post about Advent and Christmas songs would be a top Google hit? Not me! So for those of you looking for, you know, the WORDS to these songs, try the 1982 Episcopal Church Hymnal. Also please to be seeing companion post Advent and Christmas Songs I F’n Hate

This list is going to be rather larger.

  • God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen: It says it all in the first verse. No, really, I mean it says it all in the first verse

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
Was born upon this day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy!

  • On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry: It’s pretty. What? I need a better reason?
  • Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus: It has the same trouble with tied notes as The First Noel but doesn’t succumb to the dragging as much. *shrug*
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear: Bing Crosby, imo, did the best version of this.
  • On This Day, Earth Shall Ring: I will ‘fess up, I love this song for the ‘i-de-oooo!” part in the refrain.
  • Good Christian Men, Rejoice: You cannot slack on this one. You have to sing it like you believe it. And even if you’re not feeling it, there’s no way you can sing this song without believing, just for a few minutes.
  • Go! Tell it on the Mountain!: I know, I know, that’s not how it’s punctuated in the hymnal. BUT THAT’S HOW IT SHOULD BE PUNCTUATED!
  • Joy to the World! The Lord is Come: Hah! That IS how it’s punctuated in the hymnal. Also, a descant that’s easily accesible to all voices. YAY! INCLUSIVE DESCANT!


Filed under advent, music, singing

What I’m Thinking About During Advent

“But Mary Sue! Advent don’t start for another couple of weeks!”

Our Orthodox bretheren and sistren started fasting yesterday, the more strict Franciscans amongst us started on Nov. 1st, and the Big Blue Box put up its winter decorations on October 3rd, so if I want to talk about Advent, I’ll talk about it all I want!

Today when wandering around some blogs I came across the oft-beloved phrase “living out our baptismal promises.” And it got me to thinking. The 23rd of December marks the 28th anniversary of my baptisim. If you’re doing the math, you’ve probably figured out I was all of 3 months old at the time, so I can’t really tell you anything about the event except the fact that it happened. Some people made some promises on my behalf, I’m told.

28 years old is way beyond time to start taking care of my own promises, nu?

So this Advent, I’m going to be tracking down those promises, seeing what exactly those folks at the baptismal font so long ago got me into.

And I’m taking you with me. Bwahahah.

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For Those Who Dwell in Darkness

O Key of David,
O royal Power of Israel
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

 There will be 8 hours and 42 minutes of daylight where I live today.

Crap! Does that mean this actually pertains to me? I’m dwelling in a cubicle at the moment, but the shadow of death is real enough, more so than usual with the funeral coming up. It was dark when I left the house, and it will be dark when I return, and tomorrow will be more of the same, as will the next day, and the next. It’s always been this way, and it always will be.

You say someone’s coming to free me?
You promise?

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Day Late, Dollar Short

If I was alive during Jesus’ birth, I’d be the shepherd who came out from behind the privy bush, readjusting my tunic and looking around wondering where everyone else had gotten off to.

That’s my way of saying I didn’t go to church yesterday.

And everyone’s shouting “Happy New Liturgical Year!”* and laying out their plans for Advent devotions and disciplines… and I’m trying to figure out if the coffee creamer has gone bad before I pour it into my Lilo and Stitch coffee mug.

Really, how prepared can we be for the foundations of the world to shake and crack, for reality to change forever? Can we ever get our human minds around the concept of the Greatest Power in the Universe becoming like us, coming into the world as weak and frail as we did, a teeny, tiny buck naked lump utterly dependent on others for survival? Too much to think about, especially before coffee– and I can’t have my coffee until I determine the viability of my creamer.

Looking into the bottom of my coffee cup, I wonder how long it’ll take me to get to work, with the cold weather and the Monday morning drivers (all as caffeine-deprived as I am). The newspaper is open on the counter to a two-page spread about a soldier, who gave his life to save the rest of his squad by throwing himself on a grenade in Iraq. I look out the window to the still dark, pre-dawn sky to see if it’s raining, which would add more time to my commute.

There’s no angel talking to the young girl next door. There’s no man in a camel-hair outfit on a diet worthy of Fear Factor walking by. There’s no star burning brightly where no star has been before. My iPod is plugged into my ears as I wander around the kitchen, gathering things. Billie Joe Armstrong and Bono are singing together.

I cried to my daddy on the telephone, how long now?
Until the clouds unroll and you come home, the line went.
But the shadows still remain since your descent (your descent).
The saints are coming, the saints are coming.

*Except our Eastern Orthodox bretheren and sistren, who point out that 1) their new liturgical year started in September, and 2) they’ve been fasting since Nov. 15th.

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