Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

The Second Sunday of Advent

Today I went to service at St. James Episcopal.  I purposely included some Episcopal churches in my church-hopping during the Advent season because I actually enjoy high church stuff during Advent.  This morning, though, I found myself trying to recall what I had meant by that because I am so not Episcopalian.

When I went to Emmanuel Episcopal, I noted that Episcopal liturgy immediately indicates to me that I don't belong, and mari4212 commented that being raised Episcopalian her experience is the opposite.  I was thinking of this during the service this morning when I was feeling so at sea trying to follow along.  It's not particularly newbie-unfriendly, but all the standing and sitting and congregational response is so much less clearly delineated than I'm used to (in large part I'm not used to using the Book of Common Prayer).

Mari said, "I feel very left out in the low-church services where there's no set places for the laity to respond," whereas I would much rather focus on listening and taking notes and processing and responding internally, instead of slipping between books always thinking about what I'm actually willing to say.  (This is of course not so much a function of my low-church-ness as it is a function of my problematic relationship to Christianity and my hardcore intentionality issues.)

It hadn't occurred to me before, for all my calling Anglicanism/Episcopalianism "Catholic Lite," that they probably use the Apocrypha.  The First Reading today as Baruch 5:1-9.  The Second Reading was Philippians 1:3-11, and the Gospel Reading was Luke 3:1-6.  (I continue to prize Scripture over tradition, though I've come to respect [the value of] tradition much more in the past year or so, but the processing of the Bible and all -- and dude, the reverend kissed it after the reading! -- makes me so uncomfortable.)

The homily focused on "preparing the way" (cf. the Luke reading, which of course after Joel's OT class always makes me think of how it's misquoting Isaiah, though I recognize that's not the main point).  He compared it to the work of getting land ready for the construction of a house, and said that one one way of preparing for a great event is living into the dream -- from whence he talked about y'know being good people, though it was the construction metaphors that actually stuck in my mind.

I recited the Nicene Creed mostly unproblematically, which surprised me as I'm used to thinking of myself as having such an antagonistic relationship to the Creed.  It's the Apostles Creed that really throws me, with its Harrowing of Hell bit.

The Lighting of the Advent Wreath didn't say which candle we were lighting, which bothered me.  (Hope was last week, which leaves us with Peace and Joy since I think Love is the pink one.)

The back of the program says:
Though this service of Holy Communion is Anglican (Episcopal) in liturgy and tradition, we are mindful that it is the Lord's table and not ours.  If you wish to receive the sacrament, you are most welcome.  Your participation would enrich our community and make us more fully the Body of Christ.
The reverend said that while it looks like they own the table, they don't, God does, so, "Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, know that God invites you to God's table."  I hadn't been planning to take Communion but decided to.

They tear real bread, which I wasn't expecting, and which made me almost expect grape juice, so the wine startled me a bit.

The back of the program at the bottom says:
Preach the Gospel at all times;
    When necessary, use words.
St. Francis of Assisi
I greeted the reverend in the receiving line after the service and he thought I'd been here before.  "Your twin was here last week."  (Mom, did you go to church in Somerville last week? ;) )  They're having a pot luck on Wednesday, which I think I'm gonna go to, even though I'll probably end up having to explain that I'm not actually Episcopalian (nor am I interested in becoming so) since I never actually said that to any of the people I talked to today (in part because I was feeling really negative toward the service and didn't trust myself to be appropriate in any discussion about denominationality).

I had yummy coffee cake and talked with a few people, and each conversation was awkward, with people wanting to be friendly but not really having anything to say (there were literally moments of just looking at each other in silence) which I wasn't used to.

The guy I talked to the longest, his mother and sister are both Smithies (graduating 35 years apart), and he's a Harvard B.A. and said he thought taking a few years off before grad school was a very good idea, which was comforting to me since I'm currently feeling so incapable of doing upper-level coursework.

*

I went to a 1:30pm performance of the Urban Nutcracker

It opens with a dance-off (flamenco and tap), which was pretty cool.  The background, who also had their own dance segments, were dressed in sweats and included a number of heavyset women which made me happy.  There was also a breakdancing segment, which was very cool to watch, especially the astonishing little boy (he not only did that thing where you fold your body in half, but he also spun on his head).  There was a cluster of older black guys in bright blue blazers whose style reminded me of the minions dancing with Dawn in OMWF (this is not a diss).  I was impressed they included older people in the cast.  The cast was mostly black and white, though there were some Hispanics and a couple Asians.

I read the program beforehand and thus knew what was going on, but some stuff I think I would have missed otherwise.  Like, Clarice's first encounter with Drosselmeyer went too quickly for me to really feel her enchantment with him.  Also, the program says, "Omar, her brother, receives from Drosselmeyer a stuffed toy mouse and uses it to scare the girls.  Omar chases Clarice with the mouse.  When Clarice tries to fend off the toy mouse with her Nutcracker soldier, Omar grabs it and breaks it."  I saw Drosselmeyer and Minimeyer handing out stuffed animals, but I didn't see Omar get one, and I saw him and Clarice chasing each other around one of the adults and then playing tug-of-war with the Nutcracker, but apparently blinked and missed the actual catalyst -- which seems to me an important foundational piece given the fantasy battle.  I did notice how Omar was specifically shown (subtly) as kind of fighting with Clarice for attention.  Also, Clarice hitting the Mouse King with her slipper; I don't know if I blinked or something, but I just saw her pulling at her slipper on her foot and then the Mouse King and the Nutcracker both falling down; it was slightly more clear when she was telling the story to the Sugar Plum Fairy.

I was impressed by how many different backdrops they had, and the costumes in the second half (the dancers from around the world) were great, though I could have done without a passel of girls in red bras and harem pants, and the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe also bothered me.

*

P.S. Mom, one of the ads in the program was for Alvin Ailey at the Wang Center: April 26-29.
Tags: church: ecumenical advent: 2006, church: somerville: st. james episcopal, dance, smith: small world
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