Summer Christians & Winter Christians

Some Christians feel closer to God when they are happy (and if they aren’t, they often feel that there is something wrong with them spiritually).  Other Christians feel closer to God when they are hurting or struggling.  Those with the sunnier religious experience have been called “Summer Christians.”  Those with the darker experiences of God have been called “Winter Christians.”

This distinction may have some affinity with Luther’s “theology of glory” vs. “the theology of the cross,” but it seems to be more a matter of temperament.  But in today’s climate, “Winter Christians” may well feel themselves written out of the church.  After the jump, some links to the subject, including a study of how today’s pop Christian music is nearly always oriented to Summer Christians, while Christian music of the past deals with darker, more wintry themes. [Read more…]

Bach’s “Passion” as online meditation

Bach is among the very greatest of Christian artists, and his “St. Matthew Passion” is considered one of his greatest works.  It is an oratorio, something like an opera, that sets to music Matthew’s account of the crucifixion of Christ (Chapters 26-27), with soloists singing the lines of the various characters and magnificent choral music, all punctuated with Bach’s rendition of Lenten hymns (many of which we still sing today) and remarkable verse by Bach himself responding to Christ’s sacrifice.

My colleague Steve McCollum alerted me to an online resource that makes this masterpiece of musical devotion accessible online:  Oregon Bach Festival » Digital Bach Project » St. Matthew Passion.  It gives the English translation, as well as the Biblical sources and the dramatic script, for each line as the oratorio unfolds.  Click the link, then when you see the painting of St. Matthew, hit the play button.  It’s divided into five 30-minute segments, which makes it an excellent Holy Week devotion.  [Read more…]


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