God’s story is true. We know that God’s story is true because God gave us his Word – that Word who came to us as one of us, and died for us, and descended into hell for us, and rose again from the dead for us, and ascended into heaven for us. The Word became the living truth for us, the only truth that can make us free. Part of that freedom is mortification. Part of that freedom is the Cross, for without the Cross there can be no Resurrection.
When was the last time anybody asked you, “Do I have your word?” Or when was the last time anybody said to you, “I give you my word,” and you knew that you could trust that word, absolutely? How many times in the last few decades have we watched and listened to a political figure on television and heard him say, “I give you my word. . .” and shortly thereafter that word has proven false. In the past year alone, how many people have perjured themselves publicly? Sworn on the Bible, given their word, and that word has been a lie? Words of honour are broken casually today, as though they don’t matter.
Small wonder that when God tells us, “I give you my Word,” few people take him seriously.
“I give you my Word,” said God, and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
– Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock that is Higher
Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come
In your fearful innocence.
We fumble in the far-spent night
Far from lovers, friends, and home:
Come in your naked, newborn might.
Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come;
My heart withers in your absence.
Come, Lord Jesus, small, enfleshed
Like any human, helpless child.
Come once, come once again, come soon:
The stars in heaven fall, unmeshed;
The sun is dark, blood’s on the moon.
I left the house today! I decided to walk down to the local mall to pick up a few things and to get some exercise after not leaving the house at all yesterday. Before I went, I took the opportunity to update my mp3 player to get some Christmas music on there for the walk.
After all of my griping about Christmas carols and how much I don’t want to hear more cheesy music about shepherds and angels, I began to listen nearly exclusively to Christmas music this week (CBC radio still makes up the other bit of my listening). Since my tastes are so picky, you may rightly ask what on earth am I listening to? Wonder no more, here is what is on shuffle in iTunes at the moment (in no particular order):
- Jars of Clay‘s Christmas Songs. This is pretty much my sole shout out to a Christian band’s take on Christmas because, at the risk of being repetitive, I often find them a little cheesy. However, I like Jars of Clay’s arrangements of some classic Christmas stuff and they have a couple of my favourites on there like Gabriel’s Message and In the Bleak Midwinter.
- I’ve been on a Bruce Cockburn kick for the last number of months now, so its not really much of a surprise that I like his Christmas album, simply titled Christmas. He has the Huron Carol on there, in (I’m assuming because I can’t understand a word of it) the original language, plus a number of other carols in other languages. Despite his periodic mumbling sound, it’s Bruce. Enough said.
- At the mall I foolishly walked into a music store. There I discovered that Loreena McKennitt has a full length Christmas album out called A Midwinter Night’s Dream. So I got it. I’ve been listening to her Christmas EP, Winter Garden for a few years now, so it is nice to have a longer album. It is her usual with crazy cool instruments and beautiful voice.
- A new find, but certain to become a favourite, is Advent Songs by Sojourn, apparently a church in Kentucky. Most are new songs, although there are some new arrangements of classics. I don’t normally go for new Christmas songs either (picky, aren’t I?), but there are a few which have already gone on repeat several times and I’m working on figuring out a couple on guitar. That has to count for something! I know this is one I’ll be listening to for the next couple years and possibly even outside of Christmas time.
- I grew up listening to The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album, on LP every Christmas from St. Nick’s in Beaconsfield to Christmas on Bleecker. It is now embedded in my consciousness and no Christmas is complete without it.
- I have enjoyed Steve Bell‘s music for awhile now, and love his Christmasy album, The Feast of Seasons, especially Ready My Heart, The Angel Gabriel, and Coventry Carol. I say Christmasy because there are some songs that have a Christmas or Advent feel to them and others which don’t, yet fit all the same. It is Steve doing what he does best
- Jen kindly pointed out another classic that I believe we also had on LP and listened to without end. I have indeed been listening to a certain Christmas Album by the wonderful Boney M because again, Christmas would not be complete without it (and I need to have a little crazy 80s music going on at times).
Enjoy. I have been.
I went to St. Andrew’s Catholic Cathedral for Lessons and Carols this week. It was the first time I’d been inside of that beautiful building. One of the carols they sang is, for some reason, a favourite of mine. It is not one of the more popular carols and the first verse doesn’t seem to have much to do Christmas other than snow (which we don’t even get in Victoria).
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
I visited a mall yesterday for the first time in ages. It was a bit of a shock to see Santa’s village set up with the elves for taking pictures and then, around the corner, to see a gift wrapping table. Although I’m not sure why I was so surprised, it being December and all.
More Advent goodness from a great writer here.
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait
till heart were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made FLesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wit till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!