Monday, December 24, 2007

Advent Vespers at Valparaiso University

A couple of weeks ago we (Mich and our kids) attended advent vespers at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University. I told you I was behind on blogging. It was a beautiful experience. As I'd mentioned before, we don't come from a ritual-rich church background but I feel it's important to experience it occasionally as a way of focusing on God's holiness and on the rich traditions of the Church.

I had never attended any services at Valpo's Chapel so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had spent some time poking around their website which explained the meaning behind the different parts of the church, including the stained glass windows, the baptismal font, and the crucifix. I was eager to see them for myself. Also, this advent vespers focused on using a variety of art forms to express the message of the Gospel. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know this is something that fascinates me. So I was excited to see how this would play out.

Unfortunately, we were late so we didn't get to see the visual arts displayed on the ground floor of the chapel. But the combination of church ritual, candlelight, dancing, classical organ music, university choir, hand bells, and orchestra, along with Scripture readings made for a rich spiritual and sensory experience. Even Calvin remained entranced for the full hour and 45 minutes. I have to admit, when the choir came up to the balcony where we were seated and surrounded us and began singing, I started crying at the beauty of the voices so unique and yet so perfectly on pitch. I was so touched.

Another thing I treasured about the evening was the printed programs. Many of the visual works were reprinted in the Order of Service, along with wonderful quotes about faith and art, and the words to the songs. This is something that I will keep by my desk and refer to often for inspiration.

I think we have found another tradition to add to our Christmas, one that is full of meaning.

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