Education‎ > ‎Adult Study‎ > ‎

Wake Up!

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.
- Mark 13:37
"Master, are you a god?"
"No, brahman, I am not a god....
Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'"

- from the Dona Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya 4.36)
If we live in forgetfulness rather than in mindfulness
— in a dream —
we are creating violence without being aware of it.
The way we live our daily lives and the way we consume
creates a lot of suffering, a lot of injustice.
We think it does not harm us, or others,
but it can be very violent.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, Waking Up the Nation
Peace is the opposite of dreaming.
It’s built slowly and surely through brutal compromises
and tiny victories that you don’t even see.
It’s a messy business, bringing peace into the world.
But it can be done, I’m sure of that.

What does it mean to be "spiritually awake"? We'll consider this question in the context of Bach's Cantata Wachet Auf ("Wake Up!"), written in 1731. This cantata incorporates settings for Baroque orchestra and choir of the three verses of the well-known Advent hymn "Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying", written in 1599 by the Lutheran pastor Philipp Nicolai as part of a collection of hymns to console his congregation after plague killed hundreds of his parishioners. Albert Schweitzer said of Bach's arrangement of the first verse, "Not until Berlioz shall we meet with any dramatic pictorial music comparable to this."
At 9AM on December 6, 13 and 20, we'll consider the meanings of these hymn verses in light of the Revised Common Lectionary Bible readings for Advent, listen for how Bach maps these meanings to music, and try to discern what this means for our spiritual lives as we prepare for Christ's coming here and now. (In keeping with the theme, extra strong coffee and tea will be available in the kitchen at 8:50AM.)