The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

Advent, Nouwen, and a Song by me December 3, 2007

Filed under: advent,public theology,Songs — Joel @ 12:21 am

Margaret Anne led our community in an advent liturgy last thursday and i was surprised at my surprise! I had been so caught up in the preparation for the different Christmas events here at the school ( that i had forgotten my anticipation. i put together a set of readings every week to help us step into a more monastic rhythm in our prayers, so one would think i would be more on top of church calendar stuff but alas, my protestantism shows, and it’s lumpy…

anyways, below is a prayer by Henri Nouwen used for Advent meditation. a couple years ago, i would have only seen a typical western Christian culture application (privatized) of this prayer but now because of God through books like “The Powers That Be” by Walter Wink and “The Gospel In A Pluralist Society” by Leslie Newbigin, i have come more alive to real-time, real-history applications of the gospel. the gospel must be both public and private, spontaneous and strategic.

Where before i associated prayers about ‘dark and light’ as relating to the state of my inner spiritual status whereas now i see that it also speaks powerfully and necessarily to the darkness and light in systems, in ways of thinking that affect the commonwealth, for good or for ill. If an idea like that is new to you, try fitting the prayer below into a practical issue that’s more systemic and communal rather than immediate and personal. for instance: the spiritual pride of certain insitutions, certain goverments and the negative consequences that flow from that systemic “dark”

Let me know what you find!

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” 

whilst Ry and I contemplate the future of our AWOL album, i’ll put a song (linked above) of mine up with my weekly posts, should be fun.

This track is called “Splanixomai” which means ‘compassion from your gut’ in some form of greek. I am singing lead vocals and playing the ukulele; Ry is singing the harmony and playing guitar, enjoy!

the song is about the idea that this kind of compassion is not something that comes easy to most of us, we have to fight for it while at the same time recognizing and accepting our own imperfections in this area. so it is important to seek to be more compassionate, to look for models that can guide us into a compassion that would make us groan, one that we can feel. but it also important to seek it in a way that does not crush our spirits, they are fragile enough as it is.


6 Responses to “Advent, Nouwen, and a Song by me”

  1. bdl Says:

    Thanks for sharing! Good stuff.

  2. lunch lady Says:

    So – I’ve never posted on a blog. It’s a bit scarey putting one’s thoughts out there for all to see, but here goes.

    My question is, does one really develop compassion from a model? I think of compassion as being something that is a visceral response after we have looked long and hard at our own “log” and been met by Jesus there. I think we may err if we either remain too insular and personal, (when our own personal experience of suffering results in prideful despair) or too public and external (separating ourselves from ourselves). True connection, compassion, community and change comes from a heart that has been healed by compassion and then risks by extending that.

  3. masonmusic Says:

    i hear ya mum and i agree in one sense, compassion does need to be visceral. but that doesn’t mean that we can’t draw closer to that fire of viscerality by a model.

    because we are an individualized society (and this has good and bad connotations) we need a path to take us to a starting place for compassion whether it’s another person’s life, some practical tips, or some other way. these models can’t be the compassion per se, but they are a neccesary helpmate for us to point our ships in the right direction.

    i think of those who marry without love but with a model of commitment and hope for a love in the future, many of them begin to find love through the model they entered into, marriage. perhaps this applies to your question, let me know.

  4. masonmusic Says:

    also, i love this thought (did you write it?)

    True connection, compassion, community and change comes from a heart that has been healed by compassion and then risks by extending that.

    so good, i’d love to hear more what you mean by that.

  5. lunch lady Says:

    I did write those words!

    From my own experience I have found that when I act compassionately it is because I have been personally impacted by human to human connection. I didn’t just decide to be compassionate because it made moral, ethical or intellectual sense. My heart and eyes cried with the professional woman my age dying from a brain tumor who told me about her unmet life dreams. It resonanted with my own longings and spurred me on to keep living today and responding to urges to help others live out their raison d’etre. That may most surely also involve systemic challenge and chanage. Seems to me that most people who are real champions of systemic change are so because of some initial very personal experience of suffering.

    I guess this is partly about – how do we stir one another up to good works? Perhaps I’m saying that we need to get close enough to each other to feel what makes each other’s heart beat (and bleat).

    love chatting with you.

    By the by – do you know where my name came from?

  6. roflyer Says:

    I really love this, Joel. As soon as I get a moment I’ll give a real comment. I just wanted to let you know I’m loving the blog so far – I’m just really busy with papers…

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