Thinking Out Loud

December 8, 2012

Our Journey Back in Time

Filed under: Christmas — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:39 am

Christmas Candle

Last night was weird.

We drove along a road beside the lake that seemed to get narrower and narrower. And darker and darker. No lights. No passing cars. Not even those little reflector things. A land that time, and cell phone coverage, had forgotten; remarkable since my wife and I are with separate carriers. We’ve driven this route in daytime at least 50 times, but on this occasion, it seemed like a scene from Jurassic Park.

And then, just as I was about to give up and turn around, we found the recently restored church. We parked our car next to the building up a dirt road where, I swear, once the car headlights went off, you could not see your own hand in front of you.

The church was brightly lit by generator and the occasional candle. There was no heat. The organ was a pump organ which occasionally had a few stuck notes. Cold, hard wooden pews. Photocopied carol sheets with a little flap stapled into a page where a verse had been left out. Did I mention that there was no heat?

And there, in our trip back in time, we joined about 35 people — none of whom we knew — and sang Christmas songs and carols; requests randomly bouncing back and forth from the religious to the ridiculous. With each new song, I could see my breath as I sang.

A break was scheduled in the middle for hot cider and hot chocolate. We didn’t know that. We’d seen the spread on a table at the front when we arrived and had just wandered up and started munching and sipping. Oh well, we had a head start on everyone else.

A few people spoke to us, but even with the commonality of the Christmas songs, we felt like outsiders. Life in a small town, I suppose, or in this case a non-town; a non-village; a barely hamlet. Some of these people actually live in this middle of nowhere. Maybe we’d simply lost points by descending on the snacks prematurely.

The organist let me have a go at a verse of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. My aunt had a pump organ when I was much younger, and I remembered to keep working the pedals. Great memories.

Lots of good singing, but all in all a rather strange night in a surreal setting.

Did I mention there was no heat?

December 17, 2011

Wednesday Link List on Saturday

List Lynx

I thought it was only fair to give you weekend lurkers a window into what happens here during the week. Maybe W.L.L. can also stand for Weekend Link List.

  • Given the season, we’ll kick off with a feel-good, flashmob video; Deck the Halls as it sounded at the Carlson School of Management.  Don ye now yer gay apparel.
  • Veteran Christian blogger Andrew Jones notes that 2011 was the year we talked about hell. “How can someone say that hell contains literal fire that scorches your butt while heaven contains metaphorical wine that you cannot enjoy? That’s not consistent. It’s also bad news for wine drinkers. And how can all the words for ‘hell’ in the Greek be interchangeable while the words for ‘love’ are highly nuanced?”
  • In response to the child abuse scandals that have rocked on particular denomination, a UK sculptor reminds us yet again in this pixelating piece titled Cardinal Sin.
  • Here’s a 2012 book title that looks interesting: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. From the book blurb:Imagine Matt’s astonishment when he finds out that the guy he knows as Jesus . . . isn’t. He’s an Imaginary Jesus: a comfortable, convenient imitation Matt has created in his own image.” Here’s the video preview.
  • Pastors must love it when parishioners are literally ‘overflowing’ with the weekend message; saying that they “knocked it out of the park.”  Check out Free Will vs. Free Will.  The preacher in this case is Mark Vroegop of College Park Church IN INdianapolis INdiana, IN case you were wondering.
  • Move over Martha Stewart Department: What Christmas table wouldn’t be complete without some Christmas Eve Mice desserts?   Mine, apparently; until I read about them at Daily Encouragement where they’re known as Church Mouse Cookies. Bet the Church Mouse name came first and then it got P.C.-ed. Looks too good to eat, though.
  • While this video was posted to GodTube a few days ago, I think I’ve seen this one before; the one where the little girl either steals the show or ruins the show depending on whether or not you had kids in this particular Christmas production. Note: Earplugs recommended.
  • Christian Week profiles Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes and his summary of Five Ways Porn Warps Minds.  Sample: “It taps into the neuro-circuitry of our brains, making us desire the rush of sexual energy from porn again and again.”
  • Some Evangelicals may not have liked Christopher Hitchens, but the renown atheist kept us on our toes. Hitchens passed away Thursday at age 62.  Doug Wilson offers a Christian reflection at Christianity Today.
  • At Christianity 201, I offer up two videos to try to contrast the difference between apologetics and evangelism, featuring two people who are very skilled at both. Longtime readers here will recognize the first vid.
  • At Stuff Fundies Like, it’s time to reveal the truth about Christmas — and Rudoph — in this classic sermon based on ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  • Lastly, Roger Morris is a Christian in Australia who confesses that his kids have done the whole Harry Potter thing, and then goes on to recommend doing so, “in a controlled and supervised fashion.”  Read his reasoning at Christian Today.

December 22, 2009

Creativity and Christmas Worship

I think it was last year, or maybe the year before, there was a lot of debate among worship leaders online concerning “the carols.”  (Quotation marks intentional.)   Some worship leaders were caught up in doing the “latest hot worship song” and didn’t want to interrupt that just because December 25th was looming large on the calendar.

But this year, the church Mrs. W. and I attended for Christmas Sunday did nothing but the classics.   A rhythmic change here.   An extra bridge there.   But there was something missing.   It just didn’t show any imagination when it came to selecting the actual worship material.  It left my heart longing for more.

So at 11:30 that night, I found myself heading over to Fred McKinnon’s blog and clicking whatever it is you click on there to actually open the Sunday Setlist link options and see what others had experienced that day.  (Since that page has the links, you can catch them all there, or this will take me forever to post.)

Turned out a lot of worship leaders were fairly worn out after a long and busy day, and at first not many had posted their weekly list.  But a few had posted some things worthy of mention:

  • First, one I expected to see much more was “Offering” by Paul Baloche; in particular the verse that isn’t normally sung:  Over the town of Bethlehem appeared a star, while angels came to lowly shepherds… (Sometimes called “Christmas Offering”)
  • Mike Ymo suggests that “O Praise Him” by David Crowder has always reminded him of the angels visiting the shepherds
  • Kim Bontrager used “Hallelujah (Light Has Come)” by Barlow Girl
  • Harold Forbis used “Born That We Might Have Life” one of many songs from the number one Christmas album of 2009 by Chris Tomlin
  • David Goodwin, from down under, had access to “His Glory Appears,” from Hillsongs, which as far as I can tell, hasn’t been released here yet
  • Ronnie Burgess (Mando Ron) listed “God With Us” by MercyMe (good choice) but was also in the middle of a U2-theme where they used “Pride (In the Name of Love)” which, when you think about it…
  • Doug Thorsvik listed “Celtic Christmas Blessing” by Keith and Krystin Getty, writers of “In Christ Alone;” though I couldn’t find an audio sample for this one when I wanted to check it out
  • Dennis Arriaga listed some other songs I’d like to try to track down, but also included the ever-popular “How Great Is Our God;” which again, when you think about it…
  • Jim Drake listed “Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)” by Chris Tomlin
  • Bobby Giles lists a Sojourn Music composition, “Glory Be” with a lyric sample that makes me really want to hear the whole song: 
  • Hallelujah! The Lord of life has come
    to reconcile the nations to our God
    Hallelujah! He’s coming back again
    to finish what began in Bethlehem …

  • Gary Durbin lists a couple of songs from Third Day’s Christmas album
  • Barry Westman lists “Glory to God Forever” by Steve Fee Band
  • H. L. McConnel mentions “Joy Has Dawned Across The Earth” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.  Is this the same one Margaret Becker recorded on New Irish Hymns? Or is it the one Bethany Dillon recorded on In Christ Alone?
  • No one listed this, but Brits and Canadians are very prone to use “Meekness and Majesty” by Graham Kendrick at Christmas

I didn’t list everything posted on Sunday Setlists, and there were probably some great songs done the week before (December 13) as there will be the week after Christmas (December 27); but I hope you can see that there’s a lot of creativity out there, and there are many songs to choose from which will cause people to lift up their hearts in an attitude of worship.

The classic carols are great, but sometimes are heart longs to sing a new song.  (Isaiah 42:10)

Check out the Sunday setlists weekly at Fred McKinnon.com and this week in particular at this link.

BONUS ITEM:

Every once in awhile you run across a blog whose title makes a statement. This is Doug Thorsvik's. Click on the image to link.

PHOTO
The image at the top of the page is from the East Wall of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in West Bend, Wisconsin, USA

December 25, 2008

Correcting Christmas Myths

Filed under: Christmas, music, theology — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:23 am

carolers

Christianity Today posts the Top Eight Historically Incorrect Christmas Songs; an article by Ted Olsen.   (Turns out that nobody “saw three ships” because Bethlehem is land-locked.)

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