Vespers for the 4th Wednesday

You can listen to all of the O Antiphons, as well as other carols and lessons by the North American College Choir here. Quite lovely. (H/T millotempore)

Reading:
Stop passing judgement before the time of the Lord’s return. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts. At that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5

Antiphon:
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The morning reading for tomorrow is one of my favorites:

I am the Lord and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
men may know that there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, there is no other;
I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and permit woe;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
let justice also spring up!
I, the Lord, have created this.

Isaiah 45:5-8

Last night, I started reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Bright Evening Star, her musings on the Incarnation.

Do I love it? No…but I like it pretty well, so far. I like this part:

“Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again and the ancient harmonies resumed their song and the angels clapped their hands for joy?”

And she makes a smart analogy, here, in talking about how God “gives away” power in giving us free will:

“When I start a book I know what I want to say, where I want to go, what my theme is. I think about my characters, what they are like, inside and out. But as creator of the book, I give my characters free will. They surprise me by saying things I didn’t expect them to say, rather than what I had planned for them to say. They are frequently far better or far worse than I thought they were going to be. Sometimes they make radical changes in the plot. But in the end the book is far more mine than if I had insisted on knowing everthing ahead of time, keeping control of every little action.

So God does not lose control of the divine plan by giving us free will or by coming as Jesus to show us what that free will is really like…”

These are the things we say:

“There are no accidents…”

“We know that all things work to God’s Glory…”

“Looking back, I see where, had (an event) not happened, I could not have now done this….”

I have no doubt that there is a plan – that a plan has been afoot since the very beginnings, that first “Radiant Dawn.”

And I have no doubt that I have free will…because I have so often used it badly, unwisely, even sinfully and shamefully.

It does seem to me that when I have used my free will unwisely, the One who is Wisdom has given me the grace to – finally – acknowledge my folly. When I have behaved sinfully, the One who is without sin has “turned” me, converted me, as we all convert, over and over. When I have behaved shamefully, the One who took on all of our shame has looked down at me, from the cross, and we have both wept…in grief and helplessness.

But as he arose, he tells me to rise, and I do. And we go on.

Come, O Radiant Dawn…heaven, pour down your water from above, let the Just One descend, open up O earth, and let the savior bud forth…

Do yourself a favor and listen to the Choir do Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – starts with a chant and then goes into the lovely French carol. Chilling…but in a good way.

UPDATE: Vanderleun has a lovely and thoughtful piece on Advent, inspired by Rev. Sensing.

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About Elizabeth Scalia