O Come

 

Something for the weekend.  Tomorrow Advent gets under way and to rush it a bit we have my favorite version of O Come O Come Emmanuel, which has always sounded to me as if a group of Zealots were singing it.  Emmanuel or Immanuel, “God With Us”, comes from the seventh chapter of Isaiah:

10  And the Lord spoke again to Achaz, saying:

11  Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God either unto the depth of hell, or unto the height above.

12  And Achaz said: I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord.

13  And he said: Hear ye therefore, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to be grievous to men, that you are grievous to my God also?

14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.  

These words, which would find their fulfillment  in Christ, were uttered during a time of calamity for Judah.  The great Syro-Ephramite War was raging (736 BC-732 BC) which set the stage for the ultimate destruction of the Kingdom of Israel by Assyria, the super power of the time in what we call the Middle East, in 721 BC.  Judah would avoid destruction by Assyria in the aftermath of the war, but only by the smallest of margins.

In that time of doom Isaiah began the great cycle of messianic prophecies centered around the messiah, Emmanuel, God With Us.  There is a great lesson for us in this piece of history.  No matter how desperate our situation in this world, God is with us.  Nations rise and fall, triumphs and disasters come our way, and through it all God is with us.  That is the great meaning of Advent.

Published in: on November 30, 2019 at 6:16 am  Comments Off on O Come  
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Handel’s Advent Messiah

Something for the weekend.  The Advent portions of Handel’s Messiah.  The above video is the Overture.

Next we have “Comfort Ye” which is a messianic text from Isaiah 40.

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her
iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for
our God. ” (more…)

Published in: on December 22, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Handel’s Advent Messiah  
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Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: At the Center of History

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“I am a historian, I am not a believer.  But I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history.  Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

H.G. Wells

The third part of our Advent look at Jesus as the greatest Black Swan event in human history.  Go here to read part one and here to read part two.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

“Extreme impact” is such an understatement if used in reference to the impact of the coming of Christ on the History of Man.  Such an outcome would have been considered impossible judging strictly from the facts of His life.  A brief three year preaching ministry in a backwater of the Roman Empire, born a member of a conquered and widely despised people.  Opposed from the start by the leaders of His people and ignored by the Roman occupiers, His movement was strangled at its inception by His death on the Cross.  All but one of His Apostles fled from Him in panic, desperate to deny any connection with a clearly doomed cause.  Few lives seemed more complete a failure than did that of Christ when His body was deposited in a borrowed tomb.  His destiny seemed clear:  to be forgotten by History, not even a footnote.  Then came the Resurrection, His appearances after the Crucifixion, and his movement experienced a glorious dawn.

However, the odds against this movement accomplishing anything of note remained quite daunting.  No powerful supporters; no homeland embracing their faith;  cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospel;  countless other religions which were well-established and intolerant of a new rival;  disputes quickly arising to split the movement, and the list of handicaps for these Christians as they were soon called was a lengthy one. (more…)

Published in: on December 13, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: At the Center of History  
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Immaculate Mary

Something for the weekend.  There can only be one song on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:  Immaculate Mary.  A Lourdes hymn, it was probably first sung in 1873.  No one really knows who wrote the lyrics of the hymn although it has been attributed to  Abbe Gaignet, a priest of Lucon.  The melody is from a traditional Pyrenean song.  It has long been a favorite hymn of Catholics in America.

The belief that Mary was conceived without the taint of original sin had its champions long before it was proclaimed as dogma of the Church in 1854  and some of the supporters, er, are unexpected! (more…)

Published in: on December 8, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Immaculate Mary  
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