Advent

Pepper Spray and Peppermints: How to Occupy Christmas without becoming a Grinch

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.

Christmas Favorites from SoJo's Christmas Favorites: Bruce Cockburn

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.

Great Expectations: Obama, Bieber and Baby Jesus

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."

Hit the Hallelujah Button: Banjo Ben Yahu

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."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hit the Hallelujah Button: Sing it, Mr. Sister!

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.

President Obama Keeps the “Christ” in Christmas

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.

Progress, Proof, Promise: Advent Expectations for the End of AIDS

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.

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