So this is Christmas. This year it feels like a big sigh of relief to have made it here–though Jesus’ birth is no less real today than it was three months ago, the opportunity to stop and remember this new life that is making all things new could not have come a day sooner. Since I’m so busy enjoying time with family and friends (or watching White Christmas for the fourth time in as many weeks, take your pick) in the great state of Pennsylvania, I leave you with a few things that have been gifts to me as I prepare to celebrate the reality of God With Us.
Patti Smith Sings “O Holy Night” at the Vatican
Patti Smith does not usually find herself on the same lists as Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Sandi Patti, but her performance of this iconic Christmas classic stands up against the very best. Her voice is raw and honest and truly from this “weary world,” and makes me not only believe that “chains shall he break” but makes me feel how incredibly necessary that is.
“A Christmas Prayer” by Mark Galli
Please take the time to read this beautiful Christmas prayer, from The Behemoth. God is redeeming this world, and this work begins and ends and continues on forever in his son, Jesus:
If all this is true,
if a love like this
is the blood that courses through all reality,
behold, all things are new.
“Justice Delivers Its Death” by Sufjan Stevens
As if I could really have a list like this and not include Sufjan. A weird thing about Christmas: it’s a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but we know that birth would mean nothing without his death. It is there from the moment the baby first takes breath, as Mary holds him in her arms and looks into his eyes for the first time, in his first smile and his first laugh. Leave it to Sufjan to use Christmas as a time to remember that this birth is a gift because of the death that follows, and that is the only way any of it–Christmas, and our own life–makes sense at all.
“Christmas Magic” from Bob’s Burgers, covered by The National
And finally, something lighthearted. This year I finally caught on to Bob’s Burgers, and my life has been richer for it.