Friday, December 19, 2014

Wishing you happy holidays and a prosperous new year

"This Is My Wish" - Jordin Sparks

This is my wish
My wish for the world
That peace would find its way
To every boy and girl
This is the time
The time for harmony
Let love be the song
That everybody sings
I hear the sweetest sound
The sound of hope to come
Together we can bring
Good will to everyone."

Day 20: Bells

By Professor Carol on Dec 19, 2014 03:00 am
Bells of St. Nicholas Church at Narikala, Tbilisi, Georgia
Bells of St. Nicholas Church at Narikala, Tbilisi, Georgia
Bells! Now, here’s a beautiful (and serious) topic.
Bells are ancient. They are used virtually everywhere in the world. And they have played important roles throughout history, especially to sound alerts in times of danger. Plus, consider the mechanics and chemistry of casting bells – especially bells that weigh hundreds of pounds!
Let’s think primarily about bells in Christian worship.
Bells were the Christian Church’s first alarm clocks. Our modern word “clock” come from an Old Dutch word for bell – clocke (klok) (Old North French cloque and Medieval Latin clocca). The tolling of the bells was one way that people in earlier history could tell time. And “time” meant time for worship services!
As far back as Medieval France, a set pattern of bell-ringing would announce worship: for example, bells rang to mark the “hours” known as Matins (6.00 a.m.), Midi (12:00 noon), and Vespers (6.00 p.m). These are three of the eight (yes 8!) daily worship services known as Offices that were regularly observed in earlier Christian history (and are still observed by many).
Various regions promoted bells in different ways: Russian Christians (Eastern Orthodox) developed a huge love of church bells and called them “singing icons.” Russian bells ring in patterns, not specific melodies, and they had enormous influence on people’s devotional lives. You can hear actual zvons (bell sounds) here.
Bell-ringing is complicated, too. Here’s a good introduction to “change-ringing.”
Now, let’s think a bit smaller-scale. What about those beautiful polished handbells that are a favorite in so many churches?
Handbell choirs are always a big hit, and they offer a cross-generational opportunity to make music in worship. But they aren’t modern either. Handbells date far back, certainly to 5th-century Celtic missionaries, who placed them in religious buildings. Medieval illuminations (those pretty decorative pictures inside the capital letters in manuscripts) show chimes of handbells. Handbells also helped double the tenor line in choirs.
Finely tuned handbells such as the ones we hear today were developed around 1700. You can explore the anatomy of the modern handbell here and watch an accomplished group of ringers in this video:
Watch the Video
Or, if you’re tastes run to something a little crazier, try this:
Watch the Video
What about “jingle” bells? Here’s another practical bell, better named harness bells. In the centuries when horses were the primary way to move goods (and roads were dark and narrow), harness bells warned other travelers of an approach. In cases of trouble with a wagon, it’s said that bells would be given as a sign of appreciation for aid. To arrive with all harness bells in place meant the journey was safe – one possible origin for the phrase “I’ll be there with Bells on.”
This Advent season, encourage your children to explore bell sounds. Let bells punctuate their favorite poems and songs. Or, try using bells as a community time-keeper, perhaps regulating some of your household activities by the tinkling sounds.
One way or another, let those bells ring!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Today was a success and it would not have been possible without you all! 

We are forever grateful for your generous acts and contributions. Young lives were forever changed today and I believe that this is just the beginning of a great work. 

Thank you all again for joining the love through action movement!

We look forward to working more with you in the future to make a difference in the world around us! 
With Love,
Johnesha Hawkins
(Embrace Grace)

Hanukkah begins today

Day 17: Hanukkah

By Professor Carol on Dec 16, 2014 03:00 am
Dnalor 01 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Dnalor 01 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Growing up in Roanoke, Virginia the 1950s, I never saw a menorah, at least not in my neighborhood. I also didn’t know I was Jewish.
My mother fled Brooklyn and her impoverished immigrant household in 1938 when she married a handsome, guitar-playing Gentile whose family had been dug into the West Virginia mountains for generations. She’d met him during the Depression when his family, like so many others, was thrown into New York City looking for work. I would be raised a Protestant, fully unaware of my own Jewish heritage or the existence of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah begins today. Its most important symbol appears frequently in popular culture these days. Do you remember when menorahs began to be placed routinely next to crèches in school programs or on public squares at “holiday” time? It almost seems that some people critical of Christian practice (or intent on religion-neutral civic life) welcome the Menorah a more acceptable symbol.
Anyone who thinks that doesn’t understand the Menorah.
The Menorah is a power-packed symbol of a significant event in Jewish history when the Temple in Jerusalem was restored for Jewish worship in 165 BC after a period of pagan desecration. Rebuilt after its awful initial destruction in 586 BC, the Temple had become the site of sacrifices to Zeus. Finally, the Jews, led by Judas Maccabeus, launched a rebellion and kicked out the last of the pagans. Shortly thereafter, the process of rededication (חֲנֻכָּה, Hanukkah) was undertaken.
A complex ceremony was necessary to purify the site and restore it to holiness. This ceremony commenced during Jerusalem’s winter season with what seemed an imprudent decision: sacred lamps would need to burn continuously, yet there was enough consecrated oil for only one day’s flame. Still, the first lamp was lit and, marvelously, the oil lasted through the entire eight-day period. That, at least, is the story that is told and retold through lighting the menorah.
Hanukkah became an annual Feast, although a relatively minor one by Jewish standards. Yet it was important enough that Jesus traveled to Jerusalem to take part in it, as we learn in John 10: 22-23:
Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.
A couple of years ago, I was fortunate that my work with the Smithsonian took me for the first time to Jerusalem. People always had said to me that visiting Jerusalem was a life-changing experience. They in no way exaggerated. Walking the streets of that ancient city changed my perception of so many things. Places described in the Bible went from mere names to concrete reality. I can imagine Jesus walking in Solomon’s Colonnade more easily, knowing that it happened within a few feet of where I stood discussing Jewish history with the archeologist who helped us shoot footage for our Early Sacred Music course.
Judaism and Christianity share much of the same history, but that doesn’t mean that menorahs and crèches belong side by side in Christmas displays. Hanukkah makes no sense as the Jewish version of an increasingly secularized Christmas. Quite the opposite, the Maccabees fought to preserve the integrity of Judaism against those who were trying to water it down into something more accommodating of modern trends. For Jews who remember the steadfastness of their Fathers, Hanukkah is a sacred time of quiet rededication. It, like so many Jewish holidays, has much to teach us.
Precisely for this reason, many Christians are reexamining the cornerstones of Jewish tradition. Families who never before lit a menorah are taking up the practice, or finding ways to introduce their children to the meaning of Hanukkah.
You’ll find plenty of scholarship on this issue too. Just get on line and search. You’ll also locate sources for songs, stories, recipes, and traditions of interaction during Hanukkah that can enrich every Christian’s life.
All of this would have gratified my mother, who so long ago made a rash, youthful choice that shut her completely out of her Orthodox Jewish family. Ultimately those breeches would be healed, but it took four decades before I got to know my grandmother or most of the aunts, uncles, and cousins. Perhaps that’s why I particularly rejoice in the momentum leading many Christians to understand the rituals that Jesus himself valued and practiced.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Embracing Grace Project receives Service-Learning YAC $100 Grant

If God gives you a vision I promise he'll put it in your hands..Christmas is coming to F.D. Moon Academy!! 

Embrace Grace would like to Thank EVERYONE who has contributed in any way to making this possible! Special thanks to our Athletes First family, Our Casady Family,and everyone who supported or participated in our Holiday Blowout event!! We Love you all!  Johnesha H.

Advisory makes holiday cards for Wounded Warriors

Mrs. Jew and Mrs. Clay advisory shared heritage snacks and made holiday cards for Wounded Warriors during 12/15/2014 advisory time.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Day 16: Nativity Scenes

By Professor Carol on Dec 15, 2014 03:00 am
My mother called it a crèche. I wondered what kind of a word crèche was, but didn’t ask.
Ours had a rickety wooden stable and an even more rickety pressboard manger. The figures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, two sheep, a camel, two shepherds, and a token wise man were made of soft ceramic. Best of all was a kindly angel who could be hooked and unhooked from the top of the stable. Crouched beneath our Christmas tree, I played with them endlessly. I still have the drastically chipped remnants of those figures.
Nativity Scene
Germany: Baroque Nativity Scene – Andreas Praefcke (CC BY 3.0)
Embracing Grace Project recives Service-Learning YAC Grant
Nativity Scenes are such precious items. Whether yours is an elaborate heirloom, or something made by a child in first grade, they are irreplaceable treasures. And they have a noble history. Let’s take a closer look.
First the name: the French term crèche, comes fromcripia, a low Latin word for cradle. The Germans call it aKrippe, but the Italians use a different root: presepe,from the verb praesepire, which means to “enclose or fence in,” referring to the place where animals were kept.
Nativity Scenes can be tracked to the 7th century, while frescoes of the manger scene date back centuries earlier. But it was a live reenactment of Christ’s birth staged by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 that really put the Nativity Scene on the map. In the Italian town of Greccio, St. Francis used local shepherds, real animals, and a manger to teach the townspeople the sacred story. So if your church or community happens to stage a “live Nativity Scene,” be proud of the fact that you’re continuing a nearly 800-year-old tradition.
Eventually Nativity Scenes became a kind of status symbol for the wealthy. And not surprisingly, the materials varied from wood, cloth, and straw to porcelain, bronze, and silver. You may want to consult the Friends of the Creche.
There are many colorful traditions surrounding the Nativity Scene. The Italians set up presepi on December 8, the Feast day of the Immaculate Conception, although some churches and families wait until Christmas Eve. In an old German tradition, figures are added in each week until Epiphany (January 6), when the Three Kings appear. The Spanish have colorful traditions and one town, Alicante, has a Nativity Scene Movement and boasts a Nativity Scene Museum.
Nativity Scenes are an important form of folk art . . . and not just European folk art. People from every corner of the globe make Nativity Scenes using local material, be it bark, nuts, cloth, or clay. One of my favorites comes from Arizona and depicts Joseph and Mary as Native Americans, surrounded by feathered warriors.
My own revelation of the importance of Nativity Scenes came well into adulthood when I wandered into theDresdener Museum für Sächsische Volkskunst (The Dresden Museum for Saxon Folk Art). I blinked in astonishment to find an entire floor filled with Nativity Scenes. Intricate and complex, some were bejeweled. One had scores of figures winding down a two-foot tall “mountainside.” Several replicated the flora of the Middle East in fine detail.
Advent is a fine time to explore Nativity Scenes around the world. As we do, we will treasure the crèchebeneath our own Christmas tree all the more

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saturday of Service: Debate Tournament, Urban Mission Santa's Store


Day 15: Advent III – Gaudete

By Professor Carol on Dec 14, 2014 03:00 am
Gaudete in the original version of the Piae Cantiones 1582
Gaudete! Rejoice!
“Rejoice in the Lord always!” That’s the watchword for this ThirdSunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday. The festive name comes directly from a passage of Phillipians 4:4.
Gaudete in Domino semper iterum dico gaudete.
Rejoice in the Lord. Always I say to you rejoice!
“Gaudete” is actually the imperative form of the verb gaudere – to rejoice. So the text commands us to rejoice. Why does anyone need to be commanded to rejoice?
Because we are in the middle of a penitential season: Advent. By the time this third Sunday in Advent rolls around, faithful Christians in historical times would be eager to hear that command. They had reached the mid-point of a fasting season. Surrounded by sugar cookies and peppermint, we moderns may forget that Advent was, and remains, a penitential season. A season for prayer and fasting. Like Lent? Yes, like Lent.
In fact, if you are an Eastern Christian (Russian, Greek, Ethiopian, Antiochian Orthodox, etc.), then Advent is observed by 40 days of prayer and fasting, rather than the 22 to 28 days observed in the West. But even in the strictest Fasting Seasons, Sundays are the Lord’s Day, and therefore always a day of celebration. Dietary rules were relaxed, and all were called to rejoice.
So today it’s time to light the third candle – the rose-colored one on your Advent Wreath. Not a main liturgical color, rose is called a “subsidiary” color and it always signifies rejoicing.
And take note: the mother of the family traditionally does the lighting of the candles on Gaudete Sunday.
Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
One more thing. From a musical standpoint, the word gaudete has a swingy rhythm to it (gaw-de-tay). Not surprisingly, songs that set this text tend to be energetic. One of my favorite settings is a modern arrangement (1986) of an old chant made by Brian Kay for the wonderful English vocal ensemble, The King’s Singers. We sing this version for our own Lessons and Carols service here in Bowie, Texas and we never get tired of practicing it. That arrangement is sung here rather impressively by a high-school choir.
Watch the Video

You’ll find colorful versions of the carol Gaudete on YouTube: everything from children’s choirs to boisterous renditions accompanied by tambourines, finger cymbals, and drums. You might like this one:
Watch the Video

Maybe your children can come up with their own musical settings of that wonderful Philippians text. Just crank up the spirit and Gaudete in Domino!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Around the Casady Service-Learning Office

Dr. Bishop's Baby Shower
1st graders caroling @ UD Chapel
Our prayers are with Bennett and his family

Day 14: St. Lucy

By Professor Carol on Dec 13, 2014 03:00 am
St. Lucy - Domenico di Pace Beccafumi
St. Lucy – Domenico di Pace Beccafumi
Lucy, Lucia, Lux – it means “light,” and a celebration of light is certainly appropriate to Advent. And nowhere can we find a greater celebration of light than the feast of St. Lucia in Sweden, where winter rules the day with darkness.
Yet, Lucia was actually a young Sicilian girl, a girl from “sunny Italy.” Martyred in the 4th century, most of the art depicting her shows her holding a dish with two eyes on it. Parents with younger kids can research the stories about St. Lucia’s plight, and decide what to share with your children!
Saint Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13. Now if you enjoy math, astronomy, and history, you can figure out when the winter solstice (the darkest day of the year) would have occurred on the oldJulian calendar and how the feast of St. Lucy used to fall on a day even shorter than the 13th.
If you live in the far Northern Hemisphere, say in Sweden, the darkest day of the year is quite dark indeed. The sun will rise in Stockholm at about 9:00 a.m. and set at 3:00 p.m. It’s not surprising that Scandinavians have a particular affinity for Saint Lucy.
So what does Philadelphia have to do with any of this? That’s quite simple, really. Philadelphia is home to Gloria Dei Old Swedes’ Church, founded by Swedish Lutherans in 1646. It is the second oldest church in continuous use in the United States (the oldest being the Old Swedes’ Church in nearby Wilmington, Delaware).
Today, Gloria Dei occupies a peaceful oasis in inner-city Philadelphia. Its rich history attracted me as I was planning my program on American music – Exploring America’s Musical Heritage, but I could not have anticipated finding such a wonderful and generous group of people as we did in that parish. They have several stories to tell in that program, and their celebration of Saint Lucy’s Day is just one of them.
Watch the Video

The post Day 14: St. Lucy appeared first on Professor Carol.