Sunday, December 05, 2010

Advent Pageant: Lessons Missed

Today's service at ECOOS was a departure from our tradition in that the children of the parish put on an "Advent Pageant." This required some imagination on the part of both the creator, the music director, and the observer to keep us in the spirit of Advent without slipping into Christmas. While the children did a great job with what they were given, and the congregation was pleased with the results, I have to note the omissions that were made to the service because I am left with the feeling that something was missing.

The Psalm was one of the first things to go.  Todays' Psalm was going to be an expurgated version of Psalm 72, so I shouldn't complain too much. According to the lectionary, we should have heard Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 ,
1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

19 Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth.Amen and Amen. 

Nice, but incomplete. Here are the missing verses including, as expected, an imprecatory one,
8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

9 May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust.

10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long.

16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field.
Ah well, sacrifices must be made, but wait, there was another cut made in the reading from Isaiah 11:1-10 which was printed in the bulletin sans verses 3-4, 5.5, and 7-9. Here is how it came out as edited,
1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist...
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
That sounds sweet. I am so glad the children were protected from some of the harsher language. Since most readers of these pages are older, I present the missing verses here,
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

5.5 and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Good thing they left out verse 8 or we might have heard another Freudian slip, but what is wrong with having the kiddos learn a little bit about the fear of the Lord and what happens to the wicked?

Alas, poor Paul, Romans 15:4-13 got cut altogether.
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name’;
10 and again he says,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’;
11 and again,
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him’;
12 and again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am sure we could have editted out that mention of circumcison in v.8.

Gone also was the entire Nicene Creed as well as the Confession of Sins.

I didn't hear any complaints, but IMHO those are so very important that their omission must be noted.

Thankfully, I had a private confession with the Lord before the service, but I always worry about coming to the Lord's table unrepentant.

Apart from that and getting doses of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and "Go Tell it on the Mountain" a few weeks earlier than expected, I should be thankful for the two blessings of today: no sermon, and the service was over in an hour.

Did I miss anything?


  1. What did they do with John the Baptist, calling people "snakes" and talking about burning 'em up?

    FWIW, the RCL did not omit any of those Isaiah verses. That was, uh, local option, I'm afraid.

  2. Hmmm... "And now, BBC Four presents an Advent Service of Excisions and Carols..."

  3. I always worry about coming to the Lord's table unrepentant.

    Very, very true. I think communion without a preparatory time of reflection, confession and repentance, misses the point.


  4. Tim,

    You are correct, Isaiah was gutted using the "local option."

    Lessons and Carols was done later in the evening without excision, but then again, there were no small children present.

  5. ...the joys of experimental liturgy

  6. Cato,

    As with most experiments, in the end, it is the mice that wind up being euthanized.