Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Advent 17: The Wise Women

Night before last, Husband, Chicago Son, and I went to the traditional Kings' College Choir Service of Lessons and Carols at our church. It's one of the most powerful evenings of music that we share, beginning with that solitary a cappella child's voice singing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City, a hymn that then morphs into the sounds of full choir and congregation and brass. We had all new readings this year, which is how I came up with yesterday's posting of the Denise Levertov poem.

I think you can listen to the whole service from Cambridge
here. The readings there are probably somewhat more traditional.

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of going to the airport to pick up the Lovely Daughter and one of her best friends, a young lady she has known since Montessori first grade, who also goes to college in Oregon. Although they usually drive themselves these days, it was a delight to taxi them home, as I have on occasion for thirteen years now.

And in a little while, both girls will join me at our Service of Womens' Lessons and Carols. I posted about this event last year, so for tonight I'm just going to do a repeat. It's worth reading again.

"Long ago, women of wisdom from all over the earth began to gather together: mothers and grandmothers, sisters and daughters, cousins and aunts. They converged in order to witness and to midwife the birth of a holy little girl-child of mid-Eastern descent . . . perhaps an Iraqi.

This was distressing to the Herods of the earth, who are ever distressed and fearful when women gather together: the male Herods because of their fear that someone might displace them, and the female Herods because someone else might be the fairest of them all. The Herods asked the wise women where the child was to be born: 'Return and tell us,' they said, 'so that we may worship too!' (In other words, give us your wisdom.")

The wise women went on and found the place and helped the birth to come about. And they brought with them gifts -- corn, squash, beans, and bread -- these symbolizing the interconnectedness of all of life, gifts that could be used to feed the whole world.

So instead of the ancient gifts we've been told were brought -- gold for royalty, frankincense for worship of divinity, and myrhh for the embalming of the dead -- these women brought other gifts. Instead of royalty, they brought humility. Instead of worship, they brought partnership. Instead of death, they brought the knowledge of how to live.

And when they had offered their gifts, knowing that they dare not go back to Herod and to the old ways, they made their home with this child. . . and thereby came home in a different way.

Because of that, there was no slaughter of the innocents -- and no Rachel weeping for her children."

(Image: Giotto, 1304-1306)


Carol said...

I am so enjoying these advent posts. Not only are they educational for me since I know very little about Christianity, but they're also quite thought provoking. Thank you for taking the time to write them.

Kathryn said...

I have only been to one Lessons & Carols. dh has been to many and he just mentioned that we need to seek one out next year. I love the idea of a women's session.

Enjoy the visit with your lovely daughter.