Daily Archives: December 25, 2011

Christus Natus Est

In Bethlehem
On Christmas Morn
The lowly gem
Of love was born
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Bright in her crown
Of fiery star
Judea’s town
Shone from afar
Hosannah! Christus natus est.
For bird and beast
He did not come
But for the least
Of mortal scum
Hosannah! Christus natus est.
While beasts in stall
On bended knee
Did carol all
Most joyously
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Who lies in ditch?
Who begs his bread
Who has no stitch
For back or head
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Who wakes to weep,
Lies down to mourn?
Who in his sleep
Withdraws from scorn?
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

Ye outraged dust
On field and plain
To feed the lust
Of madmen slain
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

The manger still
Outshines the throne
Christ must and will
Come to his own
Hosannah! Christus natus est.

–Countee Cullen (1903-1946)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

Great Fun for Christmas Day 2011: Straight No Chaser – The 12 Days of Christmas

Wonderful stuff!

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Humor / Trivia, Music

Fewer to Celebrate Christmas in Sudan After South’s Split

Hanging from the wall of Bishop Ezekiel Kondo’s living room ”” a few blocks from a silver-coated dome marking the tomb of Sudan’s 19th-century Muslim leader, the Mahdi ”” are a cross, pictures of fellow clergy members and a photo of him with the former archbishop of Canterbury above a small plastic Christmas tree.

Much has changed for Bishop Kondo, and for the nation, since the holidays last year. Though he presides over one of Sudan’s largest churches, he is more in the minority than ever. South Sudan, with its large Christian population, became an independent nation over the summer, making for a Christmas of mixed emotions.

“This Christmas, since Southern Sudanese have gone, we don’t know what the attendance will be, but I would say people will celebrate with mixed feeling of joy and fear,” said Bishop Kondo, who is the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the former chairman of the Sudanese Council of Churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --North Sudan, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sudan

Archbishop Rowan Williams' 2011 Christmas sermon

There is the question we cannot ignore. It’s been well said that the first question we hear in the Bible is not humanity’s question to God but God’s question to us, God walking in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden, looking for Adam and Eve who are trying to hide from him. ‘Adam, where are you?’ The life of Jesus is that question translated into an actual human life, into the conversations and encounters of a flesh and blood human being like all others ”“ except that when people meet him they will say, like the woman who talks with him at the well of Samaria, ‘Here is a man who told me everything I ever did.’ Very near the heart of Christian faith and practice is this encounter with God’s questions, ‘who are you, where are you?’ Are you on the side of the life that lives in Jesus, the life of grace and truth, of unstinting generosity and unsparing honesty, the only life that gives life to others? Or are you on your own side, on the side of disconnection, rivalry, the hoarding of gifts, the obsession with control? To answer that you’re on the side of life doesn’t mean for a moment that you can now relax into a fuzzy philosophy of ‘life-affirming’ comfort. On the contrary: it means you are willing to face everything within you that is cheap, fearful, untruthful and evasive, and let the light shine on it. Like Peter in the very last chapter of John’s gospel, we can only say that we are trying to love the truth that is in Jesus, even as we acknowledge all we have done that is contrary to his spirit. And we say this because we trust that we are loved by this unfathomable mystery who comes to us in the shape of a newborn child, ‘full of grace and truth’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

The Child is our Salvation. The Pope's Message Urbi et Orbi 2011

The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all. This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2). This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! ”“ Come to save us!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Some Great Christmas Music recommendations from NPR's Tom Manoff

You can listen to it all and listen to his selections.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Music

(BBC) Nigeria churches hit by blasts during Christmas prayers

Bomb blasts targeting Christmas Day church services in two Nigerian cities have left at least 28 people dead, with three more attacks on other towns.

The Islamist group Boko Haram said it had attacked St Theresa’s Church in Madalla, near the capital Abuja, killing 27 people.

A second explosion shortly after hit a church in the central city of Jos. A policeman died during gunfire.

Read it all.

Update: There are some photos there, please be warned they are difficult to see.

Another update: An AP story is here also–read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Violence

Merry Christmas

May I take this opportunity to wish all blog readers a blessed and happy Christmas 2011–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Blog Open Thread (II): Your Reflections on the meaning of Christmas this Year of 2011

Whatever struck you, moved you; whatever part of it which led you, like Mary, to ponder it in your heart–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Blog Open Thread (I): How, Where and With Whom are You Spending Christmas 2011?

Try to be as specific as you can as it will help readers enjoy it more–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Dorothy Sayers on the Incarnation

…[Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”””he was God.

Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is””limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death””he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.

Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company,1949), page 4 (with special thanks to blog reader and friend WW)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

Alister McGrath on the Incarnation: He alone is the mediator

This mediator must represent God to humankind, and humankind to God. He must have points of contact with both God and humanity, and yet be distinguishable from them both”¦.the central Christian idea of the incarnation, which expresses the belief that Jesus is both God and man, divine and human, portrays Jesus as the perfect mediator between God and human beings. He, and he alone, is able to redeem us and reconcile us to God.

“I Believe”: Exploring the Apostles’ Creed ( Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p.48

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

Christmas Morning

On Christmas day I weep
Good Friday to rejoice.
I watch the Child asleep.
Does he half-dream the choice
The Man must make and keep?
At Christmastime I sigh
For my good Friday hope
Outflung the Child’s arms lie
To span in their brief scope
The death the Man must die.
Come Christmastide I groan
To hear Good Friday’s pealing.
The Man, racked to the bone,
Has made His hurt my healing,
Has made my ache His own.
Slay me, pierced to the core
With Christmas penitence
So I who, new-born, soar
To that Child’s innocence,
May wound the Man no more.

–Vassar Miller (1924-1998)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Christmas Day

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

–Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

Karl Barth on Christmas

But the object of divine action in the Incarnation is man. God’s free decision is and remains a gracious decision; God becomes man, the Word becomes flesh. The Incarnation means no apparent reserved, but a real and complete descent of God. God actually became what we are, in order actually to exist with us, actually to exist for us, in thus becoming and being human, not to do what we do-sin; and to do what we fail to do”“God’s, His own, will; and so actually, in our place, in our situation and position to be the new man. It is not in His eternal majesty”“in which He is and remains hidden from us”“but as this new man and therefore the Word in the flesh, that God’s Son is God’s revelation to us and our reconciliation with God. Just for that reason faith cannot look past His humanity, the cradle of Bethlelhem and the cross of Golgotha in order to see Him in His divinity, Faith in the eternal Word of the Father is faith in Jesus of Nazereth or it is not the Christian faith.

–Karl Barth (1886-1968)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology