Saturday, December 1, 2012

starting our Advent journey.....

I can hardly believe that already we are on the eve of Advent. Where have the last few weeks gone? We were planning lots of activity in garden and house, but we have not completed them all! I've taken up knitting more earnestly, completing today a little jacket for an old friend's grand-daughter due in February and I have almost finished a blanket to put on the cot upstairs for any babies who come to stay. And today we have welcomed back our lovely Swiss friends, here to finish the work in their garden before returning to Switzerland for the winter. It's great to see them!
With the temperatures dropping and today a crisp white frost we know that we are entering winter in Burgundy. /
This week we attended a rendezvous with others of the Communaute de communes de clunisois to discuss the planned charging a "taxe de sejour" from next year - effectively a small charge per night for any guests who stay with us. The cost goes towards the maintenance and development of the communities of the area.
I've been aware of the supermarkets stocking special offer wines and chocolates (so many boxes to choose from!), foie gras, and other thoroughly French delicacies consumed at Christmas and New Year, and then special festal meals with different courses to order depending on your budget. I've looked at Christmas cards too, but actually there are none here that have any religious content at all - robins, snow and village scenes all appear though!
But tonight we made an effort to leave our roaring fire and drive up to Taize to begin the journey towards Advent.
As we approached the church it became clear that Advent is well observed and very public.
Right across the rear of the church is an enormous tableau. There is a floor of sand and backdrop of scenes of hillsides and skies. Then on the right - as you can see above, the figures of Mary on the donkey led by Joseph are setting out Lit by subdued light and candles it made an awesome sight in the cold night air.
The prayer this evening was clearly an Advent theme, with the icon of the Annunciation at the front with a candle in front of it lit at the beginning of the prayer and from which our own little candles were lit. We sang - Let all who are thirsty come, let all who wish receive the water of life, come Lord Jesus come. Then we sang in  French an Advent hymn - words below in translation:
Give Lord your justice in true measure to our true Prince of Peace,
May he give righteous sentence ever, and e'er defend the poor.
The humblest members of your people shall find in him their friend
He'll give deliverance to the needy and crush their oppressor.
Long may He reign in every nation and over every sea!
May his great name endure for ever, our only Prince of Peace.
His blessing be for generations on every age and land,
As he creates a new-born people, open to all humankind.
After the 10 minutes silence we followed the brothers outside to stand with them in front of the tableau singing again as we began to contemplate that long long journey that Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem, with Jesus carried in Mary's womb. Somehow I knew as we stood there in the darkness, old and young singing Laudate omnes gentes, that in spite of the world around us, we would journey in  heart and mind towards that stable too, and worship afresh at his birth. I invite you my readers to keep a good Advent!

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