‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

[ RSS Readers may need to click through ]

This time of year I always remember an old favourite, an alternate account of “the night before Christmas” and naturally I decided to share.

Christmas eve is when we open our gifts as a family — the extended family is tomorrow and the day after. The kids have certainly been enjoying the Wii in our newly-finished rec room. Upon attempting to start the car to go to church, I discovered that we’ll probably be needing a new battery for Christmas as well. That, and the block heater isn’t working, so it’ll be a trip into the shop as well. Arrggh. Merry Christmas….

Christmas Carol History & Mystery

mommykissingsanta.jpg The holiday season sees my kids and their friends singing versions of Christmas carols that aren’t exactly canon, as we did when we were young. You remember, “Jingle bells, Batman smells…” and “We three kings of orient are / trying to smoke a rubber cigar…” Only now I have to listen to “Dashing through the snow, on a pair of broken skiis / over the fields we go, bumping into trees / I think I broke my head, the snow is turning red…” and others of equal wit.

Today on CBC Radio I caught a bit of a history of “Go Tell it On the Mountain,” which began as a negro spiritual during the slavery era, was popular as a civil rights cry, and now finds life as a Christmas carol. It’s got a clear theme of freedom, and the documentary featured clips of Martin Luther King’s “I’ve been to the mountain” speech.

HoMY 84: Silent Night

silentnight.jpg Today begins the last week of Advent, and therefore marks our last Sunday before Christmas. During the past few weeks, I’ve been populating our Advent space with Christmas carols, as the church where I grew up (the -of-my-youth part) didn’t really observe the liturgical calendar, so I knew nothing of Advent until much later. One of the standard carols which appears each year is one that we’ve already had to sing by virtue of one of the Christmas gatherings where we were in attendance. Taking some notes from Wikipedia,

Silent Night (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol. The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in German by the Austrian priest Father Josef Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1863, John Freeman Young translated the song into the English version sung today. The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber’s original.

An Incarnational Christmas

footprints_snow.jpg “Incarnational” is of course that other word for missional, and the theory behind it. So as I was considering this idea, it occured to me that Christmas is perhaps the chief holiday for missional folk — after all, it’s all about the inauguration of the incarnation of Christ, the sending of the Son by the Father to trod the sod of this earth, as it were.

This got me to wondering, if Christmas is a missional season, what would a missional/incarnational Christmas look like? If we want to walk as Jesus did and engage people missionally, what would that path look like specifically over the holiday season? I know how some churches do this with big programs, but if we’re specifically considering a missional expression of Christmas…. how does one incarnate the celebration of the incarnation?

Just wondering….

Compline, Third Week of Advent

advent-3candles.jpg I haven’t posted much along the theme of Advent during the season this year… quite a departure from what I did last year during Advent. It being already well into the evening now (at least where I’m posting from), I thought I would share some excerpts from the Compline for the third week of Advent taken from my book, That You Might Believe: Praying Advent with the Gospel of John. The book includes some original prayers and many others taken or adapted from a variety of sources, as noted below.

Rather Annyoyed: Over $200 for a Christmas Gift

no-right-turn.jpg Okay, the gift itself wasn’t that much, unless you add in the $190 traffic ticket… about which I’m exceptionally annoyed. We dropped by the MTS Center in Winnipeg today to pick up tickets to “Disney on Ice” for the kids for Christmas. Arrrgh. In this day and age, can anyone explain why they can sell tickets for all kinds of events online — even airline flights — over the phone, or at any one of a hundred remote outlets around the city (or country!), but if you want tickets for Disney on Ice, noooo, you have to come right downtown to the box office at the event venue and get them there. Noplace else will do, they won’t sell them that way. I’m miffed at them first. So we make a special trip downtown and my wife runs in while I circle the block twice. By “circle the block” of course I mean a 6-block radius given the negotiation of one-way streets in the area. At the second revolution when my wife gets back in the car, I follow the vehicle in front of me, turning right from Portage Avenue onto Donald Street to head back toward home.

Christmas Reading List

girl_reading.jpg The Christmas season has become the beginning of my “reading year.” Over the Christmas holiday, I try to find, make, or steal time to do some reading — usually fiction, often something on the lighter side. Not always though: sometimes a well-written easy-reading nonfiction book does the trick just fine. This practice forces me to take time away from the computer and break the normal patterns of daily life at a time when there’s a lot of additional activities and festivities going on, so a little extra disruption can be a good thing as well. The mental break is a fantastic exercise as well, and a good rest for me. It also renews a reading-habit, and if I am able to build up a little “reading-momentum,” I tend to blast through a few titles during January as well.

HoMY 82: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

charliebrownchristmas.jpg This year during Advent, I’m taking an uncharacteristic “Advent break” for the Sunday posts in my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth. During my youth, my church did not observe Advent or much else on the church calendar… so we inserted Christmas carols into the hymn selections in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Typically we would start with only one carol on Sunday morning, adding more as Christmas got closer. This week’s selection is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” written by Charles Wes­ley in 1739. Wikipedia has a good intro to the carol, which explains that the carol was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley and first appeared in “Hymns and Sacred Poems” in 1739. The original opening couplet was “Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings”, while the version commonly known today is the result of alterations by various hands, most notably George Whitefield, Wesley’s co-worker, who changed the opening couplet to the one we know today.