Tag Archives: beautiful

Christmas Music for Everyone (#BestOf)

Christmas Music for Everyone

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 14, 2013

I hear Christmas music on the cd player as I write this. Choral, a capella. Complex chords and harmonies. These aspects of the music make my heart sing. The winning combination of beautiful music and meaningful words helps my heart to worship, too.

Since I am a classically trained musician and have a bachelor’s degree in church music, music has been and still is an important feature of my life. My avocation and my deep joy, as well as an aid to worship. Sometimes music can bring me to tears, and the next minute can lead me to worship and praise. Especially at this time of year.

A great deal of Christmas music was written with the church in mind, or at least, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew. (I know there are some fun songs, secular songs, but I’d like to focus instead on the sacred music.) Composers and songwriters in many diverse cultures have tried their hands at writing Christmas music—and Advent music, too. Diverse songs like “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming” (German, Michael Praetorius, 1609) to “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (Traditional West Indian Carol, popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1958).

Different cultures portray the Holy Family in contexts that are familiar to them, too. Many people are familiar with the olive wood nativity scenes, carved by Palestinian Christians and imported all over the world today. But I’ve also seen a Kenyan nativity set with animals native to the Kenya bush. And a Peruvian nativity with everyone dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. And—to me—the familiar Advent calendars with the northern European features.

One more recent Christmas carol comes from the mid 20th century. The words by Wihla Hutson evoke the differences in how children all over the world see the baby Jesus. “Lily white,” “bronzed and brown,” “almond-eyed,” “dark as they.” The Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born into this world to identify with us. And we can identify with Him, just as much.

This Advent period is a period of waiting for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. However we may see Him, however the Holy Family is presented in our culture or setting or church tradition, we are to wait with eagerness. With quiet and prayer. With expectation in our hearts. And in one of my favorite ways, with music to assist us in this waiting time.

Let’s pray. Dear God, Gracious Lord, this Advent waiting time is a time of expectation, but it’s also a time of preparation. Help me to prepare my heart to receive You. Forgive me for closing the door on others who don’t see You in the same way as I see You. Forgive me for being so narrow-minded and thoughtless. Thank You that You came into this world for everyone. For each child, for each adult, for each senior. Help me to look on those who are different from me with Your eyes. Emmanuel, God with us, all of us. Thank You, Jesus.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

A Day’s Review, in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 17, 2015

God hears prayer

A Day’s Review, in Prayer

It was a typical Sunday. For me, that is. Work in the morning, a lot of people contact, a piano lesson, a walk in the forest preserves in the afternoon.

A beautiful day, from start to finish. A lot for me to be grateful for.

At the end of the day, it’s important for me to talk to God and thank God for everything I have received. I’ve found a brief prayer form of St. Ignatius, the Daily Examen, or daily inventory. The second part of the inventory has to do with being grateful. Here’s a brief description from a handy Ignatian website:

2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.” [1]

“Focus on the day’s gifts.” Gifts! What have I received today? Each day I received something good. Something worthwhile. Whether it’s friendly words, or deeds of service, or gifts of kindness, any or all of these are fine examples to me of good and gracious gifts from above.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the gift of the Daily Examen. Thanks for the honesty and openness it takes to assist me in receiving these many things from You. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/how-can-i-pray

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 11, 2015

bluebird and lilacs

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

My prayer guide was specific today. Check out nature.

Watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. (It was cloudy and overcast today, so no luck there.) Or, contemplate the waves of the ocean, a mountain lake, a waterfall. (Sort of difficult to do, seeing as I don’t live by either the ocean or the mountains. I could have gone to Lake Michigan today, but it was really blustery, and the temperature was dropping. It will be in the single digits overnight.)

Another suggestion was to look closely at a tree, a leaf, a beetle, or an animal. I did the next best thing, on this windy and chill and blustery day. I looked at a bird’s nest. My son had found a bird’s nest on the grass under a tree some two years ago. He still has it in a drawer in his room. So, I looked at the nest closely.

My instructions? “As you contemplate God’s creation, try to come to a better appreciation of God’s beauty, power, goodness, love, wisdom.”

I examined this nest—this creation of one of God’s creatures—with great interest. I’ve always been interested in birds and their nests, ever since I found one up in the cherry tree in my mom’s backyard in Chicago. (I found a nest, I mean. Not with a bird in it.)

This particular nest is in excellent condition. I suspect it could be used by any bird of the right size this coming spring. Just looking at it, the nest seems to fit a bird about the size of a robin. (I know smaller birds use smaller nests.) Marvelous construction! Larger branches are used at the bottom. Mid-sized branches and twigs daubed with some kind of mud hold the whole thing together. Plus, swirled, dried grasses line the inside of the nest to make a soft cushion for the eggs, and afterwards, the newly hatched chicks.

I am reminded of where Jesus talks about birds of the air in Matthew 6. He mentions that God the Father watches out for them, just like with this nest. Yes, I am in awe at this nest. This home for a bird, and resting place for eggs, and later, baby birds. Such a wonderful method of construction, and made with economy of materials. I would like to see humans make as functional a home for a bird in such a neat, tidy and well-made way. (Kudos to all of you, birds!)

God, You said You would watch out for me just as much as You watch out for all the birds. I know I have nothing—well, very little—to complain about! But Lord, please, help me to have faith in You. Give me the patience, hope and perseverance to keep on keeping on. And, thank You for such a marvelous object lesson from a bird’s nest.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.