Canticle of Christmas – In Defense of the Church Choir

Church Choir - Randolph Caldecott 1875

After a lovely family Christmas gathering this year my father decided he wanted to watch a video of an old Christmas cantata from the church he ministered at for 29 years. I must admit there was a split second when I couldn’t believe we were going to put in an old VHS tape of a choir from years ago but we were all missing my mother and welcomed the opportunity to watch the joy on her face as she sang praises during her favorite time of year. I was immediately transported back to another time. A time where my mother was still with us lifting up her lovely voice to God. A time where my father could still walk as he jumped up on the platform to address his church. A time where a group of believers came together and embodied community. Where trusted friends stood near my mother, ready to help her if she lost her place due to her mind being effected from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. A time where a stool had been pulled up for a dear friend, waif thin and weak from cancer but still wanting to be part of the choir. A simpler and perhaps more joyous time. A time where community seemed to ring more true than what we call community today.

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Wounded Healer, A Divorce Observed – Part 3

Introductions matter.

In the exuberant craze to dive into a book or novel, we tend to negate Authorial intent and blow past a book’s Introduction and Foreword. Especially in more recent publications, they can be tedious and self reverential – thanking Jesus, the author’s Mother, and the myriad behind the scenes contributors who deserve enumeration and praise from the Author’s research. They can be the literary versions of Academy Award speeches.

However, in the best written Introductions and Forewords, Seminary taught me that the author’s narrative arc of the book is usually contained in the Introduction. Skip the Intro and you miss the Author’s whole line of thought. In the Introduction to Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer, he explains:

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Facing Truth

The Mirror by Frank Dicksee

Life is messy. When we are willing to get our hands dirty then we begin to become true vessels of God. The willingness of our hearts to get messy is to start to walk out what it means to become the hands and feet of Christ. But messy isn’t just a physical posture. It is the willingness to come face to face with our messy emotional state so that healing can come. Weeds must be pulled up from the deep dark soil of our hearts and expose what remains to the light.

Messy is not often in a literal sense. Often it is in the trudging through truth and being willing to own our part in it. Sometimes the pain of that truth burns us like a cattle brand. But once we own truth it becomes our key to freedom and hope.

Our humility honors God.

God honors our humility.

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The Late Onset of Gravity

Miss Eloise’s signature
was scrawled upon the check beneath
Her dead husband’s printed name:
Seventy-five dollars, given
For someone to run the microphones
For the eulogy.

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The Contours of God’s Face

God turns off the light
so that you will learn
your way back

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