From Fr. Gary: Oh my, not another one!

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As I write this, plumbers are in the lower level of Good Shepherd repairing a leak in some pipes. The blue in the photo gives evidence of water’s insidious nature; coming from above, it can flow in all directions! What an interruption in the day for us! Dealing with this emergency was not what any of us expected when we entered the building this morning. Fortunately, there is a whole group of wonderful people called “plumbers” who can be summoned to take care of these kinds of incidents. Just like there were wonderful HVAC folks who could come and make sure we had heat in the sanctuary a few weeks ago. The fact that there are wonderful folks who can help us does not, however, mean that we like our routines disrupted.

Interruption is a good description of the season into which we are moving: Advent. “Advent”, after all means the “arrival of a notable person, thing or event, such as ‘the advent of television.’” Even if that “notable person, thing or event” is desired and anticipated, there is an interruption. We need to set time aside to prepare, clean the kitchen, do some special shopping, have the dog groomed, as well as expect to be changed a bit.

Advent at Good Shepherd also means some interruption, a change in the “normal” things. The “long green season” of Pentecost, for example, is known in some traditions as “Ordinary Time” (and it includes the season of Epiphany). “Ordinary Time” are those weeks in the church year that aren’t devoted to “special times,” like Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter. Those times are marked visually, or interrupted, by specially-colored vestments (violet/blue for Advent, white for Christmas and Easter, purple for Lent).  We will shift to blue vestments for the four Sundays of Advent.

Liturgically, too, we will be making some changes. Our Book of Common Prayer provides four different Eucharistic Prayers for use with Rite 2. What we’ve been using for the last several months, however, is none of those, but rather an alternative prayer from a set of liturgies known as “Enriching Our Worship.” Beginning December 2nd, many will recognize a return to the Prayer Book, and the use of Eucharistic Prayer “B” (pp. 367-9). Prayer B emphasizes the incarnation of Christ — an appropriate focus for Advent, as we anticipate Immanuel, God with us.

We will also change the service music —the Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy upon us”), the Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”), and the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”). We will learn (or return to) one of the earliest settings of the service music for the first Book of Common Prayer, composed by John Merbecke in the mid-16th century. The reason for this change is to introduce some simpler music during a more subdued season.

There will be other changes in the liturgy as well, some more apparent than others. For example, we will be changing the ringing of the bells a bit, to be more “in sync” with the liturgical action. Additional alterations will address unnecessary pauses in the flow of the liturgy. While I recognize that these run the risk of being “unwelcome interruptions,” it is my hope that the changes will help us in our corporate worship of God. As always, if you have any concerns, comments, or suggestions, I’m all ears!

Being “all ears” might be a good metaphor for our attitude towards Advent in general:  What might we hear as we wait in expectation, even through the changes?