Thank you for those wonderful introductions! Ms. Wavyarms tells me most of you know one another, but as a newbie acquaintance, I am happy to meet you all in the on-line sense. In case my introduction got lost in the comments section, I will restate it. I am an Irish Roman Catholic and a sacred music major at Westminster Choir College. I work at a Catholic church as the music director for one of the weekend Masses and at a Methodist church as the youth music director. During the summers, I am in a second masters program in Pastoral Liturgy and Music at a Catholic school. I am also new to the Live Journal/Blog community, so forgive me if I make mistakes. :)
That said, Ms. W and I have decided to continue our quest to "start at the very beginning" by assigning the Christmas story next. Matthew Chapter 2 and Luke 1:26-2:35 encapsulate this tale, though I have stretched the Luke assignment a bit to include the Magnificat and Canticle of Simon. Those of us who are musicians are probably quite familiar with those texts, as they are frequently and beautifully set to music.
A few questions you might want to consider about these passages are
1. How does this reading of the Christmas story relate to your understanding of the Christian aspect of Christmas? If you have not read this part of the Bible before, what surprised you? For instance, people who know the We Three Kings carol are often surprised that the Bible never specifies the number of kings, etc.
2. This portion of the Bible (and a bit before and after it in Luke) contains the Five Joyful Mysteries of Mary (a meditative focus in the praying of the rosary), the Hail Mary and the Magnificat. What is Mary's place and importance in the Christmas story and in Christianity? Why do you think people of some denominations (like us Catholics) venerate Mary and some do not? Why do you think some cultures (like Mexican Catholics, who greatly venerate the Virgin of Guadalupe) focus on Mary more than others do? What do you think of Marian veneration?
3. What do you think of the famous texts -- the Magnificat, Canticle of Simeon, Gloria and Hail Mary -- that come about in the reading? Why have they lasted so long and with such importance? The third major canticle -- that of Zacharia -- is also in Luke 1. Why are all these important texts so close together in the Bible? Why might people have turned to music to express their joy at the birth of Christ and St. John the Baptist (in the case of Zacharia)?
4. Do you have anything else to add?
I look forward to reading your responses!