Tuesday, December 24, 2019

December 24

Christmas Eve is the feast day of our first parents, Adam and Eve.  They are commemorated as saints in the calendars of the Eastern churches (Greeks, Syrians, Copts).  Under the influence of this Oriental practice, their veneration also spread to the West and because very popular towards the end of the first millennium of the Christian Era.  The Latin church has never officially introduced their feast, though it did not prohibit their popular veneration.  In many old churches of Europe their statutes may still be seen among the images of the saints.  Boys and girls who bore the names of Adam and Eve (quite popular in past centuries) celebrated their "Name Day" with great rejoicing.  In Germany the custom began in the sixteenth century of putting up a "paradise tree" in the homes to honor the first parents.  This was a fir tree laden with apples, and from it developed the modern Christmas tree.

--Francis X. Weiser

A very modern Christmas tree!

Farewell, Advent, Christmas is come!
Farewell from us both all and some!

1. With patience thou hast us fed,
And made us go hungry to bed;
For lack of meat we were nigh dead;
Farewell from us both all and some!

2. While thou hast been within our house,
We ate no pudding nor no souse, [pickled pork]
But stinking fish not worth a louse -
Farewell from us both all and some!

3. There was no fresh fish, far or near,
Salt fish and salmon was too dear;
And thus we have had heavy cheer;
Farewell from us both all and some!

4. Thou hast us fed with plaices thin,
Nothing on them but bone and skin;
Therefore our love thou shalt not win;
Farewell from us both all and some!

5. With mussels gaping at the moon
Thou hast us fed at night and noon -
Just once a week, and that too soon!
Farewell from us both all and some!

6. Our bread was brown, our ale was thin,
Our bread was musty in the bin,
Our ale sour before we did begin
Farewell from us both all and some!

7. Thou art of great ingratitude
Good meat from us for to exclude:
Thou art not kind, but very rude -
Farewell from us both all and some!

8. Thou dwellest with us against our will,
And yet thou givest us not our fill,
For lack of meat thou wouldest us spill [want to destroy us]
Farewell from us both all and some!

9. Above all things, thou art so mean
To make our cheeks both bare and lean.
I wish you were at Boughton Blean!
Farewell from us both all and some!

10. Come thou no more, here nor in Kent,
For if thou do, thou shalt be shent; [ruined]
It is enough to fast in Lent;
Farewell from us both all and some!

11. Thou mayest not dwell with none estate,
Therefore with us thou playest checkmate;
Go hence, or we will break thy pate!
Farewell from us both all and some!

12. Thou mayest not dwell with knight or squire,
For them thou mayest lie in the mire;
They love not thee, nor Lent, thy sire,
Farewell from us both all and some!

13. Thou mayest not dwell with labouring man,
For on thy fare no work he can,
For he must eat both now and then,
Farewell from us both all and some!

14. Though thou shalt dwell with monk and friar,
Canon and nuns once every year,
Yet thou shouldest make us better cheer,
Farewell from us both all and some!

15. This time of Christ's feast natal,
We will be merry, great and small,
And thou shalt go out of this hall;
Farewell from us both all and some!

16. Advent is gone, Christmas is come;
Be we merry now, all and some!
He is not wise that will be dumb
In ortu Regis omnium. [At the coming of the King of all things]

--English Carol, 15th century

It is strange that the gospel read at the beginning of the time of preparation for Christmas is that of the end of the whole history of the world.  Yet that is not really surprising.  For what is afoot in a small beginning is best recognized by the magnitude of its end.  what was really meant and actually happened by the coming, the "advent", of the redeemer is best gathered from that contemplation of his coming which we rather misleadingly call the "second coming."  For in reality is it the fulfillment of his one coming which is still in progress at the present time.

--Karl Rahner

Marana tha.

--1 Corinthians 16:22


  1. I find that thinking about the end of all in God is the key to understanding so much about now, about why time does not go backward about why all passes back into God (on days I think of it that way) of, as I learned from Brueggemann) so much of scripture is a warning not to try to hold on to the past but to anticipate newness. It isn't that those things that pass don't exist in the now and into the future, it's that the form they took in the past has gone on as we all do. I look at my beloeved nieces who I took care of most days they were children and see them as young adults (and it scares the hell out of me) and I might long for the days I'd wait with my dog for them to get off of the school bus but I know it would be as unfair to them to make time go back as it would be for my mother to long for the days I got off of it - which I would rather die than live through again, especially jr. high.

    I look at the Genesis narratives, how God found it good, how the humans mucked it up against advice, how they were told that even in their folly they were still beloved. I find that not believing in Adam and Eve, there's a lot to be learned from their story.

    Love that dowel tree. I'm going out to see what I've got in the shed.

  2. I have 2 of them now (the trees). One is built to disassemble. This one stays up year round, and is my favorite.

    I know what you mean. I've emphasized the mystery of Advent in my personal meditations, and found the challenge of parish ministry caught up in change and tradition in tension with each other.

    "Tension" is something else Brueggemann taught me. God is not peace and contentment; God is struggle. Then again, so is love. One kind of struggle is life affirming; the other kind is death.

    That's the trick of Xian wisdom.