Advent

Cathleen Falsani 12-13-2011
Carrie Newcomer

Carrie Newcomer

In her inimitably lovely way, Carrie Newcomer, the Quaker singer-songwriter, tells the story of June and Emmett and their children gathered at their Christmas table to sing carols and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in her should-be classic, "Long Christmas Dinner." It's a celebration of simple pleasures and the powerful quotidian blessings of family, hearth and home.

It's a quiet, soul-stirring tune with images so vivid and familiar they stay with me throughout the year.

http://youtu.be/MYeIgrYpk8k

We asked Carrie what her favorite Christmas song was and this is what she said...

Derek Flood 12-12-2011
Office Grinch peppersprays the Whos of Whoville. Image via officer-grinch-21501-

Office Grinch peppersprays the Whos of Whoville. Image via officer-grinch-21501-1321977693-24.jpg

Pepper spray.

Those two words bring to mind two very contrasting images from recent headline news: One is the shocking image of University of California at Davis students seated on a pathway, arms linked in peaceful protest, as they are repeatedly doused with pepper spray by a zealous campus police officer. The other is of the equally zealous shopper on Black Friday who sprayed her fellow Walmart customers so she could buy a discounted X-Box.

On the one hand we have an image of the power of nonviolent protest to expose injustice, and on the other an appalling image of consumer greed.

These are the signs of our times.

Cathleen Falsani 12-12-2011
Bruce Cockburn.

Bruce Cockburn.

Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite Christmas song comes from Canadian singer-songwriter and longtime Sojourners friend Bruce Cockburn with his "Cry of a Tiny Babe" from his 1991 album Nothing But a Burning Light. The verse, "Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe," puts a lump in my throat every time I hear it.

http://youtu.be/RlX4cDAkz44

I asked Bruce, 66, who said he's "full of joy and wonder" these days celebrating the birth of his baby daughter, Iona, last month, what his favorite Christmas tune was and his answer is characteristically unpredictable and wondrous.

Cathleen Falsani 12-12-2011
Justin Bieber (far right) sings with the Obama family at the Christmas in Washin

Justin Bieber (far right) sings with the Obama family at the Christmas in Washington Concert Sunday 12/11.

"This is the season to celebrate miracles," President Obama said. "This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than two thousand years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep. He was no ordinary child. He was the manifestation of God’s love. And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world. For me, and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives. It moves us to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive; to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity."

Cathleen Falsani 12-09-2011
Banjo Ben Yahu. http://bit.ly/ry5W6n

Banjo Ben Yahu. http://bit.ly/ry5W6n

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Today's installment comes from a fellow who goes by the handle (pardon the pun) "Banjo Ben Yahu" and, in addition to having an epic beard (someone call the casting director for "Whisker Wars" STAT), does the German composer proud with his solo-banjo rendition of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Sharon Harper 12-08-2011
Image by Steven Depolo via Wylio http://bit.ly/so6atU

"For the Poor Charity Box Basilica of St. Adelbert Grand Rapids December 29, 2010." By Steven Depolo via Wylio http://bit.ly/so6

The 99 percent offers work and wealth

to the commons

with blessing and prayer.

In return

schools, fire stations, police officers,

Medicare, Social Security, and Food Stamps

Are snatched from open hands.

 

 

Cathleen Falsani 12-06-2011
The Turtle Creek Chorale, in their more traditional garb. Via turtlecreek.org.

The Turtle Creek Chorale, in their more traditional garb. Via turtlecreek.org.

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Day 3's installment comes from an unlikely gaggle of nuns — in full habits. They are members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, an all-men's chorus from Dallas, Texas. The Chorale has traveled to Europe, performing sold out concerts in Barcelona, Berlin and Prague; as well as two appearances a Carnegie Hall.

Cathleen Falsani 12-04-2011

Each day leading until Christmas we will post a different video rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" for your holiday enjoyment and edification.

Day 3's installment comes from the Just in Time Vocal Jazz "JOURNEYS" Concert, December 2009, performing their rendition of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Quincy Jones' gospel-infused interpretation of the Handel classic.

Carrie Adams 12-02-2011

Last night we watched the First Family light the National Christmas Tree.

We expected what we get every year: a broad message about generosity and the season of giving. But what we got was so much more.

President Obama’s remarks were encouraging. They were about the Christmas that Christians celebrate as a week of Advent, not just Christmas as a generic feeling or a season. Several news outlets, including CBN, CNN, and The Christian Post covered the story in a tone of support, somewhat surprised at the president speaking from a place of deep personal faith. His remarks were so wholly about the Christ in Christmas that it could have been delivered by a local reverend.

Adam Phillips 12-02-2011
By Reuvenk via Wikimedia Commons (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

By Reuvenk via Wikimedia Commons (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)

The news is hopeful. We have seen both progress and proof:

  • New data shows that an HIV-positive person on treatment is 96 percent less likely to pass HIV on to others.
  • It only costs, on average, $335 for AIDS treatment through PEPFAR (down nearly 70 percent since 2004!).
  • 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced new HIV infections by 25 percent.
  • Clinical trials show that voluntary male circumcision reduces the risk of new HIV infection in men by roughly 60 percent.

Yesterday was truly a momentous occasion. Looking at all the progress we have made, especially in the last 10 years, it is a moment for us to not only celebrate, but in the words of President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, “recommit ourselves,” to end the fight against AIDS totally.

Julie Polter 12-01-2011

Advent loops past the second coming to the first -- and to us, stuck waiting in the mud of existence.

Enuma Okoro 12-01-2011

Reflections on the Common Lectionary.

Ed Spivey Jr. 11-29-2011

Since Advent is often a time of welcoming relatives to the home, make an effort to include them in the family Christmas traditions they missed out on last year, such as loading the dishwasher, making their own beds, and picking up after themselves.

Decorating the outside of your house is a great way to show the neighbors how important Advent is to your family. And remember, it’s not a competition to see whose house is the best on your block, although if your lights are not bright enough to interfere with the navigation of passing jetliners then, frankly, you’re just not feeling the true Christmas spirit.

Duane Shank 04-04-2011
Today is the 43rd anniversary of the martyrdom of Martin Luther King Jr. Although I never met him, I value his life and teachings more and more each year.
Tracey Bianchi 03-23-2011

My family, while I was growing up, was not much for spring breaks. As other families we know flitted about preparing for palm trees and sand, my sister and I would pout and lament to my mother that we had the worst lives on the planet because we were not going to Florida. My Mom (and I now love her for this) really didn’t care. Her basic attitude was that we had more than enough adventure in our lives so suck it up and stop whining. Call another friend who stayed home and get out of the house.

Nadia Bolz-Weber 12-22-2010
In Matthew 11: 2-11, when John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are yo
Jim Wallis 12-21-2010
Sometimes, a friend can send just the right email at just the right time.
Jarrod McKenna 12-21-2010
Many of us are asking how we can "un-co-opt Christmas" from consumer culture. Asking questions like:

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