Eight Maids a-Milking

A job apparently suited for unmarried women?I’m gonna miss milk in March (I didn’t man to alliterate). I know I can do soy and other substitutes, but I doubt I can afford it so much, and it’s not quite the same. Especially for a coffee drinker like myself.

And, I just thought of this while writing this, but, my birthday is in March. I mean, no ice cream (although I’d be OK with some Trader Joe’s Soy Cream) and I don’t even know what to do about cake – though I prefer pie anyway.

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Seven

Seven is commonly understood to be the number of completion, at least in Christian mythos. Fitting, as this day is the beginning of the New Year. Which, come to think of it, is why the arbitrary choosing of the New Year is a week after the for-whatever-reason choosing of December 25th for Jesus’ birthday.

Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe since they needed to Christianize Winter Solstice celebrations, they decided to make the Christ Mass then. But since January 1st is a fixed date, that would be the beginning of the new year. Rather than Christmas being ten days before the new year (on solstice), it would be seven days. Thus the 25th.

Obviously I’m stretching. But I really haven’t heard any theories to explain these rather random placements of these holy dates that quite satisfies me.

However, I’m starting to think the choice was a good one. Winter Solstice is an acknowledgment (well, in the Northern Hemisphere) that the sun is coming back, that the days are getting longer, that hope is alive, that things WILL get better. The Christ Masses made a point to emphasize that Jesus’ birth signified light coming into the world, a new dawn has appeared, a new hope is on the horizon.

And isn’t that what New Years is really all about, Charlie Brown? A time to collectively mourn, reassess, and reconsider and all that last year had for us and regroup and generate new hopes for the next year?

I pray that we can garner new hope as this new year begins and work towards meaningful and lasting and maybe even substantial happenings in our lives.

Here’s to you!

Six Geese a-Laying

Phenomenally wealthy. This was NOT a common family.

Speaking of huevos, I’ve been planning on going vegetarian through January. I’m figuring that it’ll be easier to ease into vegetarianism, and hence realistic and acheivable. Especially for this broke dairy-lover. It’ll give me some practice to prepare to a Lent-period fast of the vegan (no animal or animal products – dairy, eggs, cheeses, yogurts, milk, um… ice cream, or anything else that might have come from a productive animal and that was deliberately taxing for them).

Hopefully, I can figure this thing out a bit over the next month and go, like most of the “developing” world, meatless for quite a while. Speaking of which, I’m thinking of doing a series during this fast on the deadly sins and corresponding virtues, starting with gluttony. If you want to participate in that, shoot me a response. Thanks!

Five Golden Rings

In my head, at least, I’m always read that to say, “diamond rings.” And that of course brings me to Kanye’s collab with Jay-Z and, unwittingly but fortunately, Lupe. It also reminds me of that pretty decent social commentary/White guilt movie, Conflict Diamonds.

These jewels shine, you see. And they cut with precision. And people die and are enslaved over their possession. And profits are used to buy weapons and futher enslave entire regions under war chiefs. But they’re also as fragile as a leg lamp. All of which means that diamonds are extremely useful, as a metaphor for human and, particularly, rich people greed.

On the contrary, though, gold is quite utilitarian. For example, you can use it as a conduit for electricity. And… Look, it’s shiny!

Golden rings

All of which makes the assertion that we need to return to a gold standard as silly, arcane, Euro-centric and obsolete as some medieval song about giving birds and trees out for Christmas.

Four Calling Birds

Four Calling Birds
Get it?

Bought some brown rice and beans for next week. In the meantime, I’ll be finishing the calling bird in my fridge. Until

I can say one thing. It’s hard to be a vegetarian on the West Side of Chicago. I haven’t seen a fruit market out here, and the closest supermarket, Dominick’s, is prohibitively expensive. So I have to go back into the city to get some fruits and veggies or grains.

Which wouldn’t be so bad. But it doesn’t make me curious in the least why the local Church’s Chicken becomes so popular on 35¢ Thigh Tuesdays. Nor why obesity and obesity-related health problems are such a way-of -life in these under served neighborhoods.

Of course, if we could all afford Whole Foods I guess this would be less of a problem. But other issues have to do with food education, additive addiction, and equity and access. Yet these problems are deeply rooted in traditions of racism and classism. Unless we deal with these issues, we can’t expect the cost of health care (for instance) to go down.

Unless we complete ignore the problems of the poor and minorities directly in front of us.

But I can’t imagine America doing that… Naw…

Hark! The Herald Angels Evangelize!

I’ve got a shameful confession: As a young adult, I once declared that Black Gospel music wasn’t really about the Gospel because its aim wasn’t to convert people to Christianity. It wasn’t, in my estimation, saving souls from the clutches of hell.

Free Gospel Sundays

I was wrong. Black Gospel Music, far better than nearly any other type of music in the Contemporary Christian market or much anything else I’ve ever witnessed – and I would count evangelists in that – witnessed and proclaimed the gospel.

Allow me to clarify.

The term gospel means “good news”, which any good Evangelical knows. We know that and we think that the good news being declared is the good news that Jesus paid for our individual sins with his death and, therefore, if we trust in him we are removed from the ultimate price of our sins and get to be with God when we die. This is alternately called salvation. The ultimate problem with this, from my perspective, is that we don’t seem to understand what Jesus was attempting to save his followers from, let alone to.

Fortunately, understanding what the gospel entails can help to clarify and round that out a bit for us.

In the era of the Roman Empire, when Jesus was of age, the empire (which consisted of Palestine, where Jesus was born and spent the overwhelming majority of his life) centered around the one person of note: the emperor. Whenever an heir apparent was born or a new one rose to the throne, evangelists (messengers, from which we get the word “angels”) were sent through the kingdom to spread the good news of the coming king.

In fact, they would say, “I bring you glad tidings of good news.”

The birth anunciations of Jesus of Nazareth to the lowly shepherds were then a mocking of the Roman Empire with a different objective. Not only was this announcement about a new king, but about a new kingdom, a new way moving, new rules, new perspectives.

We can see what that new kingdom would look like throughout the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7:22)

The most precise account of this new kingdom presided by this new king may be in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus assessed all of the current political/societal/religious views of the time and found them all severely lacking. He condemned the power-and-violence seeking of the Roman Empire, the violent reactionism of the zealots, the accommodations of the Herodites, the alleged purity of the Pharisees, the hiding and disconnection of the Essenes.

He offered something fresh, creative new, and utterly not-of-this-world. He offered healing and hope for the sick, the downtrodden, the forgotten, the poor, outcasts, the depressed, homeless, victimized, brutalized, oppressed. Slaves, women, children, gentiles – he welcomed them all with open arms and instructed his kingdom-mates to do the same.

So it makes sense that much of Black Gospel Music is about rejoicing in and pushing towards liberation rather than solemnly waiting for heaven (although many songs brilliantly did both). Because that’s what “Gospel” means after all.

Blow your horn, Gabriel. Blow.

The Humiliation of Living Humbly

My new friend David Henson wrote a story about Jesus being born into a migrant family that is worth a good read and meditation. It’s a bit of a pick-axe if you’re like me and you’ve heard Linus’ gospel story on repeat since birth but can’t quite make a tangible or visceral connection to it every year. The original hearers of this particular “gospel” story, after all, were quite shocked by it.

A small distraction from this meditation occurred when David proposed that modern readers tend to think of Jesus’ birth as being a humble affair, rather than the humiliation he believes it was.

For most of us, I think he’s right. We like to imagine being born into wealth, or at the least to rise into wealth so that our children can be privileged. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have some amount of fortune, if not of the wealth variety, then at least enough to find yourself with a computer, internet access, and some amount of spare time. Rare commodities in most of the world. We may pity those without such access and leisure.

I don’t need any research to convince anyone that we actually enjoy imagining the life of the glamorous, the fabulous, and the wealthy. Those are what most movies and television shows portray. The roots and bark of hip-hop culture comes from poverty but bloom wealth fantasies. We play the game of watching the thrones. We like to envision ourselves as masters of fate, as having dominion and persuasion, luxury and attractiveness. The greatest crimes are being ugly, or poor, or weak, or humble, or servile.

But Jesus took the opposite approach. A later book in the New Testament said that the Christian God “emptied himself.” A result is that he was, “of no stately appearance.”

By our standards, it’s safe to say that he may have been ugly, but he surely wasn’t a sexy, strong stud.

David is right in that we gloss over the full revolution that Jesus’ birth signified. But if we suggest that a position is humiliating, we must recognize that it is only that for those who are unwilling to be in such a position.

Angel
Such a humble birth – one amongst the beasts and belonging to street-level commoners in a strange land – may be humiliating for the apotheosis and divine cult of the Caesars. These are men who (and let’s consider that empires and autocratic states have not changed their essence within the last two thousand years) were conferred the proof of their godness upon the state of their “superior” birth and measured by the tools of their wealth, accumulation, access, and power. The Roman emperor becomes a god to continue the oppressive system and keep the power base faithful. As long as he is faithful to the good of power accumulation – and hence exploiting all those and all that which can be used for the good of the power accumulation – then the god of power is served.

The Hebrew god becomes a man to “confound the wise”, “shame the powerful”, and turn the world freakingly upside down.  For a god to become man, or man-like, would require that he or she becomes man, and therefore is in tune with what it means to be human, not just become human. And when that god comes in the form of the lowliest of people (which is to say, most of them), then that god can not look down with pity or disgust at the “lowly”. That god – Jesus – identifies with the common man because he is the common man.

Christians have a horrible habit of hagiographing everything we respect even though our holy book does not. If Jesus didn’t look like the star from The Passion, then he we typically see him as otherworldly. Jesus would have never been tempted to cheat on a math test because he knew all the answers. He would never have struggled with lust, because that’s what sinners do. He wouldn’t have cried when his friend died, because Jesus knew that his friend was with God… No, wait.

It is nearly impossible for us to imagine our dear Lord and Savior being actual flesh and blood. And often when we do, we middle class Americans like to figure him as one of our own.

But he wouldn’t be. Not in the least.

To be sure, if Jesus were born this generation, it’s likely that he’d have been born in a ravaged part of the world – say, occupied Palestine or just-“liberated” Iraq. North Korea. Or in the slums of Calcutta, Johannesburg, or Warsaw. Or any number of war-savaged post-colonies throughout Africa and the Americas and Asia.

But if he was born in the US empire – and David makes a good point that Israel/Palestine was in the furthest reaches of its time’s super-empire – then it’s likely he would have been born to a migrant family, or to homeless vagabonds, or WalMart associates, or to out-of-work coal miners.

His angels would have likely spread their message (“gospel”) to AIDS patients, dope fiends, prostitutes, hospice guests. The birth could’ve happened in a back alley, in North Lawndale, the projects, the Appalachian back roads…

All of which may be terribly shocking for those of us who secretly or openly aspire to be wealthy and beautiful and powerful and who therefore expect that god also worships the wealthy, the beautiful, the powerful. But to the god who became one with humanity, then it only follows that that god is enchanted by the outcasts and misfits – which is to say, all of us.

Lazy Sunday Readings (Christmas Edition): The Word Made Flesh

The following is from a sermon delivered by theologian/pastor/historian NT Wright on Christmas five years ago.

What is this Word?  ‘In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was made flesh.’  We are so used to it, to the great cadences, the solemn but glad message of the incarnation; and we risk skipping over the incomprehensibility, the oddness, the almost embarrassing strangeness, of the Word.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness didn’t comprehend it; the world was made through him but the world didn’t know him; he came to his own, and his own didn’t receive him.  John is saying two things simultaneously in his Prologue (well, two hundred actually, but let’s concentrate on two): first, that the incarnation of the eternal Word is the event for which the whole creation has been on tiptoe all along; second, that the whole creation, and even the carefully prepared people of God themselves, are quite unready for this event.  Jew and Gentile alike, hearing this strange Word, are casting anxious glances at one another…

That is the puzzle of Christmas.  And, to get to its heart, see how it works out in the rest of John’s gospel.  John’s Prologue is designed to stay in the mind and heart throughout the subsequent story.  Never again is Jesus himself referred to as the Word; but we are meant to look at each scene, from the call of the first disciples and the changing of water into wine right through to the confrontation with Pilate and the crucifixion and resurrection, and think to ourselves, this is what it looks like when the Word becomes flesh.  Or, if you like, look at this man of flesh and learn to see the living God.  But watch what happens as it all plays out.  He comes to his own and his own don’t receive him.  The light shines in the darkness, and though the darkness can’t overcome it it has a jolly good try.  He speaks the truth, the plain and simple words, like the little boy saying what he had for breakfast, and Caiaphas and Pilate, incomprehending, can’t decide whether he’s mad or wicked or both, and send him off to his fate.

But, though Jesus is never again referred to as the Word of God, we find the theme transposed, with endless variations.  The Living Word speaks living words, and the reaction is the same.  ‘This is a hard word,’ say his followers when he tells them that he is the bread come down from heaven (6.60).  ‘What is this word?’, asks the puzzled crowd in Jerusalem (7.36). ‘My word finds no place in you,’ says Jesus, ‘because you can’t hear it’ (8.37, 43).  ‘The word I spoke will be their judge on the last day’, he insists (12.48) as the crowds reject him and he knows his hour has come.  When Pilate hears the word, says John, he is the more afraid, since the word in question is Jesus’ reported claim to be the Son of God (19.8).  Unless we recognise this strange, dark strand running through the gospel we will domesticate John’s masterpiece (just as we’re always in danger of domesticating Christmas), and think it’s only about comfort and joy, not also about incomprehension and rejection and darkness and denial and stopping the ears and judgment.  Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything’s all right.  John’s gospel isn’t about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying ‘Of course!  Why didn’t we realise it before?’  It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations, and the darkness not comprehending it.  It’s about God, God-as-a-little-child, speaking the word of truth, and nobody knowing what he’s talking about.

That is the puzzle of Christmas.  And, to get to its heart, see how it works out in the rest of John’s gospel.  John’s Prologue is designed to stay in the mind and heart throughout the subsequent story.  Never again is Jesus himself referred to as the Word; but we are meant to look at each scene, from the call of the first disciples and the changing of water into wine right through to the confrontation with Pilate and the crucifixion and resurrection, and think to ourselves, this is what it looks like when the Word becomes flesh.  Or, if you like, look at this man of flesh and learn to see the living God.  But watch what happens as it all plays out.  He comes to his own and his own don’t receive him.  The light shines in the darkness, and though the darkness can’t overcome it it has a jolly good try.  He speaks the truth, the plain and simple words, like the little boy saying what he had for breakfast, and Caiaphas and Pilate, incomprehending, can’t decide whether he’s mad or wicked or both, and send him off to his fate.

But, though Jesus is never again referred to as the Word of God, we find the theme transposed, with endless variations.  The Living Word speaks living words, and the reaction is the same.  ‘This is a hard word,’ say his followers when he tells them that he is the bread come down from heaven (6.60).  ‘What is this word?’, asks the puzzled crowd in Jerusalem (7.36). ‘My word finds no place in you,’ says Jesus, ‘because you can’t hear it’ (8.37, 43).  ‘The word I spoke will be their judge on the last day’, he insists (12.48) as the crowds reject him and he knows his hour has come.  When Pilate hears the word, says John, he is the more afraid, since the word in question is Jesus’ reported claim to be the Son of God (19.8).  Unless we recognise this strange, dark strand running through the gospel we will domesticate John’s masterpiece (just as we’re always in danger of domesticating Christmas), and think it’s only about comfort and joy, not also about incomprehension and rejection and darkness and denial and stopping the ears and judgment.  Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything’s all right.  John’s gospel isn’t about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying ‘Of course!  Why didn’t we realise it before?’  It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations, and the darkness not comprehending it.  It’s about God, God-as-a-little-child, speaking the word of truth, and nobody knowing what he’s talking about…

John’s Prologue by its very structure reaffirms the order of creation at the point where it is being challenged today.  John is consciously echoing the first chapter of Genesis: In the beginning God made heaven and earth; in the beginning was the Word.  When the Word becomes flesh, heaven and earth are joined together at last, as God always intended.  But the creation story which begins with the bipolarity of heaven and earth reaches its climax in in the bipolarity of male and female; and when heaven and earth are joined together in Jesus Christ, the glorious intention for the whole creation is unveiled, reaffirming the creation of male and female in God’s image.  There is something about the enfleshment of the Word, the point in John 1 which stands in parallel to Genesis 1.26–8, which speaks of creation fulfilled; and in that other great Johannine writing, the Book of Revelation, we see what’s going on: Jesus Christ has come as the Bridegroom, the one for whom the Bride has been waiting.

Allow that insight to work its way out.  Not for nothing does Jesus’ first ‘sign’ transform a wedding from disaster to triumph.  Not for nothing do we find a man and a woman at the foot of the cross.  The same incipient gnosticism which says that true religion is about ‘discovering who we really are’ is all too ready to say that ‘who we really are’ may have nothing much to do with the way we have been physically created as male or female.  Christian ethics, you see, is not about stating, or for that matter bending, a few somewhat arbitrary rules.  It is about the redemption of God’s good world, his wonderful creation, so that it can be the glorious thing it was made to be.  This word is strange, even incomprehensible, in today’s culture; but if you have ears, then hear it…

Listen, this morning, for the incomprehensible word the Child speaks to you.  Don’t patronize it; don’t reject it; don’t sentimentalize it; learn the language within which it makes sense.  And come to the table to enjoy the breakfast, the breakfast which is himself, the Word made flesh, the life which is our life, our light, our glory.

I really didn’t want to steal the whole sermon. I think, even in reading it, there are some gaps that need to be filled in. But if you would like to read more by Wright, a good place to start would be NTWrightpage.com, which has many links to speeches, sermons, interviews, and even chapters that he’s written. One of his most recent books, Surprised by Hope, is another great primer and one of my favorites.

Lazy Sunday Readings (Christmas edition): The Word made flesh

The following is from a sermon delivered by theologian/pastor/historian NT Wright on Christmas five years ago.

What is this Word?  ‘In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was made flesh.’  We are so used to it, to the great cadences, the solemn but glad message of the incarnation; and we risk skipping over the incomprehensibility, the oddness, the almost embarrassing strangeness, of the Word.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness didn’t comprehend it; the world was made through him but the world didn’t know him; he came to his own, and his own didn’t receive him.  John is saying two things simultaneously in his Prologue (well, two hundred actually, but let’s concentrate on two): first, that the incarnation of the eternal Word is the event for which the whole creation has been on tiptoe all along; second, that the whole creation, and even the carefully prepared people of God themselves, are quite unready for this event.  Jew and Gentile alike, hearing this strange Word, are casting anxious glances at one another…

That is the puzzle of Christmas.  And, to get to its heart, see how it works out in the rest of John’s gospel.  John’s Prologue is designed to stay in the mind and heart throughout the subsequent story.  Never again is Jesus himself referred to as the Word; but we are meant to look at each scene, from the call of the first disciples and the changing of water into wine right through to the confrontation with Pilate and the crucifixion and resurrection, and think to ourselves, this is what it looks like when the Word becomes flesh.  Or, if you like, look at this man of flesh and learn to see the living God.  But watch what happens as it all plays out.  He comes to his own and his own don’t receive him.  The light shines in the darkness, and though the darkness can’t overcome it it has a jolly good try.  He speaks the truth, the plain and simple words, like the little boy saying what he had for breakfast, and Caiaphas and Pilate, incomprehending, can’t decide whether he’s mad or wicked or both, and send him off to his fate.

But, though Jesus is never again referred to as the Word of God, we find the theme transposed, with endless variations.  The Living Word speaks living words, and the reaction is the same.  ‘This is a hard word,’ say his followers when he tells them that he is the bread come down from heaven (6.60).  ‘What is this word?’, asks the puzzled crowd in Jerusalem (7.36). ‘My word finds no place in you,’ says Jesus, ‘because you can’t hear it’ (8.37, 43).  ‘The word I spoke will be their judge on the last day’, he insists (12.48) as the crowds reject him and he knows his hour has come.  When Pilate hears the word, says John, he is the more afraid, since the word in question is Jesus’ reported claim to be the Son of God (19.8).  Unless we recognise this strange, dark strand running through the gospel we will domesticate John’s masterpiece (just as we’re always in danger of domesticating Christmas), and think it’s only about comfort and joy, not also about incomprehension and rejection and darkness and denial and stopping the ears and judgment.  Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything’s all right.  John’s gospel isn’t about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying ‘Of course!  Why didn’t we realise it before?’  It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations, and the darkness not comprehending it.  It’s about God, God-as-a-little-child, speaking the word of truth, and nobody knowing what he’s talking about.

That is the puzzle of Christmas.  And, to get to its heart, see how it works out in the rest of John’s gospel.  John’s Prologue is designed to stay in the mind and heart throughout the subsequent story.  Never again is Jesus himself referred to as the Word; but we are meant to look at each scene, from the call of the first disciples and the changing of water into wine right through to the confrontation with Pilate and the crucifixion and resurrection, and think to ourselves, this is what it looks like when the Word becomes flesh.  Or, if you like, look at this man of flesh and learn to see the living God.  But watch what happens as it all plays out.  He comes to his own and his own don’t receive him.  The light shines in the darkness, and though the darkness can’t overcome it it has a jolly good try.  He speaks the truth, the plain and simple words, like the little boy saying what he had for breakfast, and Caiaphas and Pilate, incomprehending, can’t decide whether he’s mad or wicked or both, and send him off to his fate.

But, though Jesus is never again referred to as the Word of God, we find the theme transposed, with endless variations.  The Living Word speaks living words, and the reaction is the same.  ‘This is a hard word,’ say his followers when he tells them that he is the bread come down from heaven (6.60).  ‘What is this word?’, asks the puzzled crowd in Jerusalem (7.36). ‘My word finds no place in you,’ says Jesus, ‘because you can’t hear it’ (8.37, 43).  ‘The word I spoke will be their judge on the last day’, he insists (12.48) as the crowds reject him and he knows his hour has come.  When Pilate hears the word, says John, he is the more afraid, since the word in question is Jesus’ reported claim to be the Son of God (19.8).  Unless we recognise this strange, dark strand running through the gospel we will domesticate John’s masterpiece (just as we’re always in danger of domesticating Christmas), and think it’s only about comfort and joy, not also about incomprehension and rejection and darkness and denial and stopping the ears and judgment.  Christmas is not about the living God coming to tell us everything’s all right.  John’s gospel isn’t about Jesus speaking the truth and everyone saying ‘Of course!  Why didn’t we realise it before?’  It is about God shining his clear, bright torch into the darkness of our world, our lives, our hearts, our imaginations, and the darkness not comprehending it.  It’s about God, God-as-a-little-child, speaking the word of truth, and nobody knowing what he’s talking about…

John’s Prologue by its very structure reaffirms the order of creation at the point where it is being challenged today.  John is consciously echoing the first chapter of Genesis: In the beginning God made heaven and earth; in the beginning was the Word.  When the Word becomes flesh, heaven and earth are joined together at last, as God always intended.  But the creation story which begins with the bipolarity of heaven and earth reaches its climax in in the bipolarity of male and female; and when heaven and earth are joined together in Jesus Christ, the glorious intention for the whole creation is unveiled, reaffirming the creation of male and female in God’s image.  There is something about the enfleshment of the Word, the point in John 1 which stands in parallel to Genesis 1.26–8, which speaks of creation fulfilled; and in that other great Johannine writing, the Book of Revelation, we see what’s going on: Jesus Christ has come as the Bridegroom, the one for whom the Bride has been waiting.

Allow that insight to work its way out.  Not for nothing does Jesus’ first ‘sign’ transform a wedding from disaster to triumph.  Not for nothing do we find a man and a woman at the foot of the cross.  The same incipient gnosticism which says that true religion is about ‘discovering who we really are’ is all too ready to say that ‘who we really are’ may have nothing much to do with the way we have been physically created as male or female.  Christian ethics, you see, is not about stating, or for that matter bending, a few somewhat arbitrary rules.  It is about the redemption of God’s good world, his wonderful creation, so that it can be the glorious thing it was made to be.  This word is strange, even incomprehensible, in today’s culture; but if you have ears, then hear it…

Listen, this morning, for the incomprehensible word the Child speaks to you.  Don’t patronize it; don’t reject it; don’t sentimentalize it; learn the language within which it makes sense.  And come to the table to enjoy the breakfast, the breakfast which is himself, the Word made flesh, the life which is our life, our light, our glory.

I really didn’t want to steal the whole sermon. I think, even in reading it, there are some gaps that need to be filled in. But if you would like to read more by Wright, a good place to start would be NTWrightpage.com, which has many links to speeches, sermons, interviews, and even chapters that he’s written. One of his most recent books, Surprised by Hope, is another great primer and one of my favorites.

(Christmas) Songs that Get Us through: Evergreen Jingle Bells

Evergreen – Switchfoot

Everybody Wants to See the Lights – Kevin McKinney

Fruitcake – The Superions

Fur Elise – Vince Guaraldi Trio

Get Behind Me, Santa! – Sufjan Stevens

Goodbye Charles – Over the Rhine

Grateful for Christmas – Hayes Carli

Handel’s Messiah (The Hallelujah Chorus) – Relient K

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – CW Morris; Vince Guaraldi Trio

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Victoria Williams

Here It Is – Over the Rhine

I Believe in You – Sinead O’Connor

I Hate Christmas Parties – Relient K

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

I Wish It Was Christmas Today – Julian Casablancas

I Wish You a Merry Christmas – Bing Crosby

I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas – Yogi Yorgesson

In the Bleak Midwinter – Paper Route

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Frank Sinatra

It Snowed – Meaghan Smith

Jingle Bells – Roger Wagner Chorale

– What songs am I missing on this list? Also, *some* links to come.

(Christmas) Music that Gets Us by: Christmas songs deck the halls

Christmas Song – The Raveonettes

Christmas Song – Vince Guaraldi*

Christmas Time Is Here – Vince Guaraldi

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Christmastime – Stevie Wonder

Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance – Sufjan Stevens

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Sufjan Stevens

Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming) – Over the Rhine

Deck the Halls – Peggy Lee

*Yes, there’s a difference in these songs.

Merry Christmas, from the Great White North

Sarah Palin vs Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, courtesy of the Great Coco!

Is this update fair? Should it have been Bambi’s mom instead?

Speaking of Disney classics, I’ve just been watching (many times, on repeat) Dumbo with my daughter. Most of the Disney films deal with orphaned kids, but in this case, the loving, doting parent is neither murdered nor missing (and we see some tender moments between mother and child. In fact, the whole first fifteen minutes are told through her perspective) but is sent away to solitary confinement, leaving the child to – as all other Disney protagonists do – grow up on his own with the aid of a parental surrogate.

Nothing to do with the previous post (at least not without coffee and a loooot of stretching), but thought I’d share.