Endurance in Christmastime

Advent, the weeks leading to Christmas, is a time of anticipation- remembering the Israelites awaiting the Messiah and acknowledging our own waiting for his return.  It’s a season with enough heft and depth to evoke and hold our grief.  We remember the Israelits waiting and waiting for their deliverance.  We remember the massacre of the innocents when word reached Herod of the infant King’s birth.  And, in days such as these, we can’t ignore the incompleteness, the waiting-to-be-restored nature of our world. We also wait.

Most of what passes for Christmas music sounds vapid to my ears after the news from Connecticut.  Instead, I’ve been listening to the beautiful and sad album from Hymns from NinevehEndurance in Christmastime.  This is Advent music.  Here’s the title track, with lyrics that seem tragically prescient .

We’ve lost our fathers. We’ve lost our mothers. We didn’t quite think it would be this hard to endure the christmas time. We’ve lost our siblings. We’ve lost our children. We didn’t quite think it would be this hard to endure the christmas time.

Who can defeat the time we live in? Who can defeat the time we die in? Where shall we go with all the memories of you in the christmastime?

We’ve lost our story and we’ve lost our glory. We didn’t quite think it would be this hard to endure the christmas time. So we carry our heavy load-lights and hang them on the tree and we didn’t quite think they could shine so bright so bright in this christmas time…

Endurance in Christmas Time

The Christmas album I’ve listened to the most this year comes from  Hymns from Nineveh, the project of Danish musician Jonas Petersen.  Unlike so much Christmas music, there is nothing precious about  Endurance in Christmas Time; these are songs of exile and longing, with occasional whimsy and celebration.

I know there’s only a few day’s until Christmas, but this album will be relevant long into the new year.  Here’s one of my favorite songs, “Christmas is Here,” which ends with this lovely refrain:

You are still here
And I’m still there for you.
And Christmas is here,
And swans appear
like snow in the air.
And suddenly we hear,
The kingdom is near
And Christmas is here…

Christian Seasons Calendar

The Christian Seasons Calendar is now being offered with free shipping.  When ours arrived a couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of Advent, we spent a few minutes looking through the beautiful artwork that will mark the church calendar for us this coming year.

I love the idea behind this calendar and recommend it highly.  Thanks to the folks at University Hill Congregation in Vancouver for making such a beautiful resource available widely.

“…the question of revolution…”

The priority agenda for Jesus, and for many of us, is not mortality or anxiety, but unrighteousness, injustice.  The need is not for consolation or acceptance but for a new order in which men may live together in love.  In his time, therefore, as in ours, is the question of revolution, the judgement of God upon the present order and the imminent promise of another one, is the language in which the gospel must speak.  What most people mean by “revolution,” the answer  they want, is not the gospel; but the gospel, if it be authentic, must so speak as to answer the question of revolution.  This Jesus did.

John Howard Yoder, Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.