The past few days have been non-stop activity. Good stuff, this busyness: Good Friday and Easter Services to plan and lead, the highlight of the year for us with the transition from grief to celebration. We feasted around our table on Sunday afternoon with friends, delicious food, a lot of laughing, and an egg hunt in the back garden for Eliot and his friend. As good as these days have been there’s been little time to stop and, as I told Maggie and Michael on our way to Lincoln Hall last night, I’d been intensely looking forward to Monday evening with friends at the Lianne La Havas concert. I wasn’t disappointed. And if the smiles, nods, and enthusiastic commentary around our table was any indication, neither were the rest of our small party.
The coming days hold more good activity. I’m especially looking forward to the Wheaton Theology Conference and the three-anniversary of our young church on April 14. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and celebrate with us. We’ll have a piece of cake with your name on it.
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 Nineveh, Endurance 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…
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…
How about another video edition of this weekly post? Have a great weekend.
Our local CBS station ran a story, “A Talk of Two Black Churches,” that highlights a trend I’ve heard folks talk about in Bronzeville, where our new church is located. Many in the African American community are alarmed that congregations of older black churches are dwindling. The churches that sustained the community for generations.
The good people at Leadership Journal are pulling together some video clips that show some of the different viewpoints within evangelicalism of women in church leadership: part one (Rose Madrid-Swetman), part two (Bill Kynes), and part three (N.T. Wright).
Here’s a video advocating “The New Tithe” that I mostly disagree with and find really interesting. This may make an appearance during Sunday’s sermon.
And finally, to make sure this entire list isn’t about church, here is the video for “Ghost Woman Blues” from the new album by The Low Album.