Monday, December 21, 2009

Musical Monday

I'm sure I've done this song before, but when I start thinking about my favorite Christmas songs, this one leaps to mind. Hark the Herald Angels Sing has one of the best lyrics I've ever heard. I just can't get over the third verse of this hymn. In those few lines, it conveys the beauty of the Christmas season more beautifully than I can imagine.

For our Christmas Eve service at Chestnut Ridge Church, we're doing the Israel and New Breed version of the song. Not the whole thing (regrettably!), but at least a portion of it. They've added a whole extra flavor to it that is just fantastic, so I'm including that recording here. Definitely take the four minutes to listen! Also, if you're inclined, you can listen to our version of it at noon on WVAQ radio. They have free online streaming, so you can listen to it while you hang out with your family.

I'm not sure if I'll get back here to write again before Christmas. So if you celebrate Christmas, I wish you a joyous day! And if you don't, I wish you a great day anyway!

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Keeping Christ in Christmas

We tend to see that a lot on the interwebs and television before we're even into Thanksgiving leftovers. Ultimately, I think it's a good sentiment. But perhaps not for the same reason that many who are shouting it think.

What does it mean to me to keep Christ in Christmas?

1. Be Generous. I think this is one of the easier ones to remember at this time, though I think we can get caught in the trap of equating generosity with monetary or physical gift giving, when we can all be generous, regardless of our financial situations. Most of us have time to give to serve another. We can open our home to spend an evening with friends. We can donate an unused toy or piece of clothing to someone who doesn't have as much. We can be generous with our smiles, with our patience and with our love.

2. Tell the Truth. The amount of speculation, half-truths and downright lies about what people are doing to Christmas is just astounding. Aside from it being just bad form to spread untruths, these kinds of things can stir up anger and hatred toward our fellow humans. If something seems like a particularly egregious offense, take a minute and see if it's true before passing it on.

3. Laying Down Offenses. The Bible talks quite a bit about choosing to put others in front of ourselves. If I choose to get all worked up because a minimum wage worker at CVS tells me "Happy Holidays" or that a corporation sells "holiday trees," I'm choosing offense over love. Philippians 2:1-11 is one of my all-time most favorite passages of Scripture and I think that it speaks to this pretty strongly. When I keep Christ in Christmas, stupid stuff like a happy greeting that isn't worded the exact way I want shouldn't incite me to behave like a jerk.

What are some ways that you can keep Christ in Christmas?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wndrfl Wrld of Txt

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Jason and I went and updated our cell plan to get a family package. Deborah (now that she's a working woman) got her first cell phone as an early Christmas present and I finally became mobile again. We had a great time picking out phones for everyone and figuring out what plan would work best for our family.

One of the things that we insisted on was a plan that included unlimited text. I realized this summer that children Deborah's age don't communicate in any manner other than texting. She would send emails that would go unanswered as well as phone calls that would be left unreturned. It seemed that the only way she could stay in touch with her friends was to have a phone and the ability to text. Fortunately, she now has the option and has reconnected with several friends from her old school as well as a friend she made over this summer. So far she has been very responsible with not getting into texting until her homework is finished, not texting when we're doing something as a family and not taking her phone with her (or turning it off) when she's interacting with real live humans. I've seen people completely ignore folks they're with in order to take calls/answer texts and it can be pretty crazy sometimes. Hopefully her phone experience will be marked with common courtesy!

All that said, I must admit that I'm quite loving the ability to text again myself. My dear friend Tina and I have been able to have some really fantastic conversations 160 characters at a time. We've talked about silly stuff like our favorite David Sedaris lines and the weather to weightier subjects like feminism and religion. She's able to sit her her tree stand hunting and I can sit at my desk working and we're able to have conversations that would otherwise be unavailable to us. I find it absolutely fascinating that we're able to communicate that way. The two of us were big note passers in high school -- I guess that urge has never quite left us!

As this year is wrapping up, I was looking back on some of the goals that I set in the beginning of the year. I've followed up on some pretty well, some less so. One that was big to me this year was spending more time on relationships and I feel like that has been pretty successful. There are still areas relating to that where I could improve, but overall, I feel like I was able to really invest in a few people and improve the relationships that we had. I'm very thankful that there are people in my life with whom I can be very transparent and honest and who feel safe enough to be the same with me. Thanks to those who have given the time necessary to reach that point. My life is significantly more rich because of you.

And sometimes that richness is found in 160 characters or less.
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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