Sunday, 27 November 2011

From the "already" to the "not yet"

And so, amazingly, another church year has passed, and we arrive at Advent again. It's been a bright sunny day to mark the Church's New Year - but remember late November last year? Brrrrr...
Anyway, the Church messes with time a little in Advent, especially here at the first Sunday. We start a journey towards Christmas, which is in the future, four weeks away. Christmas, however, celebrates something which happened over 2000 years ago - the birth of Christ. So we are looking forward to something which has already happened. Then - we are also reminded that we are moving toward the second coming of Christ.  So we are living between the the two Comings, the "already" and the "not yet", and we are also about to celebrate the "already", but in the future. Hmmm....
I like the image of the spiral stairs that is sometimes used to illustrate religious education in Catholic schools - every year we revisit the same spot but on a higher level each time. Maybe it's the same with the Church's year. We revisit the seasons, ascending a little higher each time, celebrating the birth of Jesus and all the things from the "already", while we slowly reach for the heights of the "not yet", the future that is ours.
The new translation of the Missal is now in full use from today throughout most of the English-speaking world. Here in our 3 Churches we started using the new version of the priest's presidential prayers (the Collect, Prayer over the Gifts and Post-Communion) last week to mark the feast of Christ the King. I'm starting to get the hang of the new version. I read a lot of comments, negative and positive, about the translation, but find a lot of it actually quite prejudiced - literally pre-judged - rather than reflecting on the practical question of "Does it work?" Some seem to be saying it can't be right, because it's from the Benedict XVI world and had such a tortuous history, others say it can't be wrong - for the same reasons. 
I'm finding much of it "works" fine. Sentences are longer, and therefore demand more expression and preparation from the clergy, but that's no bad thing. Words and phrases I still find difficult, but, well, you can't please everybody etc. A few balances have been restored, but run the risk of swinging to the other extreme. And so on. I'm just trying my best to pray it with faith and life, and most of the time, if it's not too everyday a phrase, the new translation "does its job".
Happy Advent!

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