Tag Archives: Advent

Advent, revisited.

My poor, neglected blog.  It’s already Advent again, and I haven’t written anything in months.  But, it’s because I’ve been busy – waiting.  But actively waiting – making preparations for a wedding in the new year.  Isn’t it strange how sometimes waiting feels active, and sometimes it feels passive?

I was in a meeting with a staff a couple weeks ago where I talked about the difference between actively waiting and passively waiting.  And I realized, that passively waiting feels most powerless, and it’s where my heart goes when I’m tired.  Anyway, the actively waiting has been very busy – and while I’ve had lots of blog-worthy thoughts, there has not been much energy to write.

But now I’m procrastinating during a seminary paper and thought I’d just put this up here.  I have a thing about Advent, and not listening to Christmas carols during it.  It short-circuits the waiting, I think.  On December 1, someone told me “Merry Christmas!” and that December was for Christmas music.  I beg to differ.  Most of December is for Advent music.  The waiting, sometimes active, sometimes passive – the difficulty, the day-to-day.  Too often our American Christianity focuses only on the easy, the celebration, the triumphant parts of the faith.  And there is so much more than that.

Anyway, to help me remember that, I have listened to my Advent playlist from last year – reposted below, but with an additional song that I added after posting this last year.  Makes me smile, looking back on that late add – but it means more to me than romantic love – in the end, the truest love prevails.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”   (November 21, 1943) – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1. The Laugh of Recognition – Over the Rhine – ‘c’mon boys it’s time to let it go // everybody has a dream that they will never own… it’s called the laugh of recognition when you laugh but you feel like dyin”

2. Bitterness Hotel – Martha’s Trouble ‘well i don’t know how I got here, it’s not where I want to be’ (a lovely band I met in college – they moved from Houston to Birmingham)

3. Long Lost Brother – Over the Rhine – ‘I thought that we’d be further along by now // I can’t remember how I stumbled to this place’

4. Only God Can Save Us Now – Over the Rhine ‘who will save me from myself and the night’

5. Remembrance – Balmorhea my favorite hometown band – I especially love 2:20-4:00 here.
6. The Waiting Room – Sixpence – ‘when will it happen, baby? // it could be near, but then maybe it could be far // here we are in the waiting room of the world’

7.The Cure for Pain – Jon Foreman – ‘I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled’

8. Some Peace Tonight – Martha’s Trouble ‘Let me run and hide from the fear that is in me // My head is spinning and I need some peace tonight’

9. First Breath After Coma – Explosions in the Sky 3:20-4:20 is a great section, but for this playlist, the 4:20-5:30 is right on, and then the melody at 5:30 always sounds a little like ‘o come let us adore him’ to me…

10. Windmills – Mutual Admiration Society (orig. by Toad the Wet Sprocket)‘there’s something that you won’t show, waiting where the light goes // and anyway the wind blows, it’s all worth waiting for’

11. The Revolution Choir – Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band there is a land it is full of giants // but do not lose step and do not be frightened // cuz there is a great fire, it came from the mountains // we wait in the watchtower, just tryin’ to keep it lit //it cannot be too much longer’ (I miss singing this with my Mosaic family.)

12. All is Full of Love – Death Cab for Cutie (orig. by Bjork) ‘you’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of… you have to trust it’

13. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples – ‘got my hand on the freedom plow, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now // keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

14. Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton ‘Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on // But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone …//  oh sweet Jesus if you’re listenin’ keep me ever close to you // As I’m stumblin’ tumblin’ wonderin’ as I’m travelin’ thru

15. Tension is a Passing Note – Sixpence but tension is to be loved // when it is like a passing note // to a beautiful beautiful chord’

16. God Believes in You – Jill Phillips (orig. by Pierce Pettis) ‘when you swear you don’t believe in him // God believes in you… blessed are the ones who grieve // the ones who mourn and the ones who bleed // in sorrow you sow, but in joy you’ll reap’

17. Brave – Miranda Stone Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at me, I’m being brave // Look at you, you’re being brave

18. Up to the Mountain (MLK song) – Patty Griffin ‘Then I hear your sweet voice, oh // Oh, come and then go, come and then go //Telling me softly You love me so’

19.  True Love Will Find You in the End – Daniel Johnston, covered by Mates of State   Don’t be sad, I know you will // Don’t give up until // True love finds you in the end

advent playlist

Confession – I don’t really like Christmas songs.  Yes, there was an altercation (read: throw-down) with Leon after a carol game at last year’s Red River Staff conference.  And then when I was a kid, my sister and I decided to sing all the Christmas carols we knew in the car… in July.

I’ll have to think more about why I don’t like Christmas songs… but suffice it to say I don’t make Christmas playlists.  But I decided to make an Advent playlist – sorta inspired by this Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote about Advent and prison (and he would certainly know).

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”   (November 21, 1943)

1. The Laugh of Recognition – Over the Rhine‘c’mon boys it’s time to let it go // everybody has a dream that they will never own… it’s called the laugh of recognition when you laugh but you feel like dyin”

2. Bitterness Hotel – Martha’s Trouble ‘well i don’t know how I got here, it’s not where I want to be’ (a lovely band I met in college – they moved from Houston to Birmingham)

3. Long Lost Brother – Over the Rhine ‘I thought that we’d be further along by now // I can’t remember how I stumbled to this place’

4. Only God Can Save Us Now – Over the Rhine ‘who will save me from myself and the night’

5. Remembrance – Balmorhea my favorite hometown band – I especially love 2:20-4:00 here.

6. The Waiting Room – Sixpence ‘when will it happen, baby? // it could be near, but then maybe it could be far // here we are in the waiting room of the world’

7.The Cure for Pain – Jon Foreman – ‘I’m not sure why it always goes downhill, why broken cisterns never could stay filled’

8. Some Peace Tonight – Martha’s Trouble ‘Let me run and hide from the fear that is in me // My head is spinning and I need some peace tonight’

9. First Breath After Coma – Explosions in the Sky 3:20-4:20 is a great section, but for this playlist, the 4:20-5:30 is right on, and then the melody at 5:30 always sounds a little like ‘o come let us adore him’ to me…

10. Windmills – Mutual Admiration Society (orig. by Toad the Wet Sprocket) ‘there’s something that you won’t show, waiting where the light goes // and anyway the wind blows, it’s all worth waiting for’

11. The Revolution Choir – Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band there is a land it is full of giants // but do not lose step and do not be frightened // cuz there is a great fire, it came from the mountains // we wait in the watchtower, just tryin’ to keep it lit //it cannot be too much longer’ (I miss singing this with my Mosaic family.)

12. All is Full of Love – Death Cab for Cutie (orig. by Bjork) ‘you’ll be given love, you’ll be taken care of… you have to trust it’

13. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize – Mavis Staples‘got my hand on the freedom plow, wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now // keep your eyes on the prize, hold on’

14. Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton ‘Oh sometimes the road is rugged, and it’s hard to travel on // But holdin’ to each other, we don’t have to walk alone …//  oh sweet Jesus if you’re listenin’ keep me ever close to you // As I’m stumblin’ tumblin’ wonderin’ as I’m travelin’ thru

15. Tension is a Passing Note – Sixpence but tension is to be loved // when it is like a passing note // to a beautiful beautiful chord’

16. God Believes in You – Jill Phillips (orig. by Pierce Pettis) ‘when you swear you don’t believe in him // God believes in you… blessed are the ones who grieve // the ones who mourn and the ones who bleed // in sorrow you sow, but in joy you’ll reap’

17. Brave – Miranda Stone

18. Up to the Mountain (MLK song) – Patty Griffin ‘Then I hear your sweet voice, oh // Oh, come and then go, come and then go //Telling me softly You love me so’

now playing:  see above! 🙂

P.S.  Over the Rhine’s new album The Long Surrender was my soundtrack for a little photographic walk today.  I guess you can see the influence.  Here’s a picture from today.

these are the the flowers in my neighborhood

winter in my neighborhood

day one

It’s the beginning of a new year.  Advent kicks off the church year with the wonderful season of …. waiting.  Not Christmas, but waiting.  We wait for the Kingdom.  We wait with hope.

A few years back my church did an interactive ‘waiting’ liturgy.  It started with everyone being given a number, and then taken in shifts to a waiting room area complete with magazines, chairs, and muzak to wait for your number to be called.  Inside the liturgy space there was time to sit, and places to write things we were waiting for.  Or at least, that’s what I hear.  I didn’t make it – I was on a business trip and had booked my flight to arrive in plenty of time for liturgy.  But my flight was severely delayed.  I had my very own waiting service in the DFW airport.

I’ve told that story before, and felt clever for saying that last bit about my very own waiting service.  But I was thinking about it again tonight and had a new realization.  At first I was just disappointed –  it was a special experiential night I was missing with my community.  It could not be recreated.  Then I was angry – I had planned so well and worked out the flights in order to make it to church.  And finally I was just tired from travel, and wanted to be home, but was stymied by the airline delay.

But I still knew that I was going to get home.  Yes, I’d miss something that I really wanted to be at.  But I didn’t doubt that I’d make it back to Austin – even if it took longer than I thought it would.  There would be other liturgies and more time with community.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to have the long view of things, and not just focusing on the current circumstances.  It’s hard.  Especially when the long view is long like lifelong, or til-the-Kingdom-comes long.  That is a long delay.  And even though my parents did a good job teaching me the concept and practice of delayed gratification, I feel the disappointment, anger, and fatigue today.

But maybe I need to remember that I will make it home.  And what a home it will be.

If you’re interested in more on Advent or the Christian calendar, here are two resources: I’m again using Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God (by my friend Bobby Gross) as a way to sit in this Advent season.  And I’ve also appreciated reading Richard Rohr’s daily meditations.  That link takes you to a subscribe page, here is an example – today’s Advent meditation.

now playing:  The Waiting Room – Sixpence