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©2001 The Society of
Archbishop Justus, Ltd


Hallo again to all.

Tonight at our own parish church there was a Service of Advent Lessons and Carols. It was lovely, it was traditional, and the sun set behind the stained-glass windows a few minutes after it began.

We remember vividly that last year we invited a friend to attend, knowing that the choir had been practising for weeks and that the service would be drenched in the tradition and beauty that are, to us, the hallmark of Advent Lessons and Carols. Our friend disliked it so much that he actually left early, and when we saw him at the office the next day, he said 'I didn't know or recognize a single one of those so-called carols. That was the darnedest collection of music I ever heard. Don't you Episcopals know what Christmas Carols are?' He didn't actually use the word 'darnedest'. In further conversation, we discovered that he didn't understand the difference between Advent music and Christmas music, and didn't want to. He told us that he thought the right thing for the church to do during Advent was to rehearse the congregation in Christmas Carols, so that when 25 December came, we would all be singing on key and would know the words.

There's a lesson in this. Not a carol, we're told, but a lesson. What we might think of as traditional and beautiful, others might experience as alien and distant. As another example, children raised in the USA find traditional English fruitcake to be more or less inedible, and several of our English friends will politely decline a second bite of the cinnamon-walnut coffee cake that their North American friends devour quickly. Yet both of these are cakes, and are called cakes, and are accepted as cakes.

As we savour our traditions during Advent and the Christmas season this year, perhaps we should do our best to see that they are traditions that welcome and bring in others—or to which we welcome and bring in others—rather than exclusive traditions, which alienate others and make them feel like outsiders.

Anglicans Online offers prayers for the soul of Elaine O'Sullivan.

See you next week.

Cynthia McFarland's signature
Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 9 December 2001
URL: http://anglica