“God was man in Palestine. . .”

I didn’t even realize that the late John Betjeman, England’s long-time poet laureate, was a Christian, but he was, as I’m learning.  His poem “Christmas” is stunning, a warm survey of all of the decoration and shopping and nostalgia surrounding the season, building up to this:

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

Read the whole poem and listen to it in a recording after the jump. [Read more…]

Christmas carols on the Incarnation

Sean Morris posts on how the classic Christmas carols draw on the Nicene Creed as they confess that the baby Jesus is God incarnate.  See his examples after the jump.  What are some others? [Read more…]

He will come like crying in the night

You will note that I have mostly resisted the temptation to conflate Advent with the Christmas season, but I will start with the Christmas posts now that we are in the week before the Nativity of Our Lord.  But to salute Advent, I offer you, after the jump, a fine poem on the subject by Rowan Williams, the previous Archbishop of Canterbury.

[Read more…]

An Easter sermon by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95.  He exemplifed an unusual kind of political power.  He spent 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism in South Africa.  Whereupon he built up so much moral authority that the apartheid government, with its overtly racist system in which whites ruled over blacks,  ended up dismantling itself.  When he emerged from prison to become president of the new government, he led the newly-empowered black majority away from revenge to reconciliation with their former oppressors.

Mandel was a Christian, as the post below recounts.  After the jump, an excerpt from a quite powerful sermon he gave on the risen Messiah. [Read more…]

Christ’s use of donkeys

The Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent last week was about Christ’s Triumphal Entry.  Rev. William Weedon, the chaplain of the LCMS headquarters in St. Louis, preached about Christ coming on that donkey.  He started by quoting G. K. Chesterton’s poem  on the subject.  He goes on to point out how God seems to prefer working through the humblest and most unimpressive kinds of things.  Sample:

Water, bread, wine, hot air from a man’s mouth. Them be the lowly beasties that God STILL chooses to “ride on” to come to us, to be our servant King. They look so ordinary, so utterly unimpressive. I mean, think about it. A man dressed up in an outfit that looks more than a bit like a circus clown pours a handful of water over the head of an oblivious child and that’s the difference between eternal life and eternal death, between heaven and hell? Or certain words are spoken over bread and wine which they are given out into our mouths, and this is the food that if one eats of he does not die, but lives in Christ forevermore? Or a bunch of people sit in pews week in and week out listening to a man jaw on about stuff from a book whose last bit was written 2,000 years ago, and this is what the Church lives from?

Read the rest of the message after the jump. [Read more…]

Advent and the three-fold coming of Jesus

It’s Advent Season!  Here is a fine explanation of its different dimensions from Rev. Shawn Stafford:

The word “Advent” means “coming.” During the season of Advent, we celebrate Jesus’ three-fold coming: His coming in the flesh at Christmas, His coming now through His Word and Sacrament, and His coming at the end of the world as King and Judge. Advent is also a time of personal preparation for Christ’s coming through repentance and faith. [Read more…]