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reports, reviews, thoughts, news (and fun) posted by Gary Ware

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Another Christmas – Christmas Songs 2014 Day 20

There’s been a number of tragic events in Australia over the last few weeks, a couple local to our own region.
Here’s a song from Over The Rhine‘s Blood Oranges In The Snow, their newly released Christmas themed album.
(I, along with lots of others, financially backed the project sometime about fifteen months ago.)
Anyway, the song is called Another Christmas.
Lyrically and musically it seems to hit the spot for how a lot of people are feeling right now.
Here it is on Spotify.

The lyrics:
Another Christmas is drifting in softly
Like the ghost of my innocence lost
And the tree in the corner burns brightly
I turned all the other lights off

I think back on my life in this stillness
I consider the days of my youth
And the moments I find myself willing
To surrender and just tell the truth

‘Cause I’ve committed every sin
And each one leaves a different scar
It’s just the world I’m livin’ in
And I could use a guiding star

I hope that I can still believe
The Christ child holds a gift for me
Am I able to receive
Peace on earth this Christmas

This old world so sweet and so bitter
Seeds of violence we humans have sown
And these weapons we still love to handle
May our children have strength to let go

When we look at the stars after midnight
Sparkling rumors of redemption at play
Can we still hear the echoes of angels
Who were singing that first Christmas day

‘Cause we’ve committed every sin
And each one leaves a different scar
It’s just the world we’re living in
And we could use a guiding star

I hope that we can still believe
The Christ child holds a gift for us
Are we able to receive
Peace on earth this Christmas

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled

Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim
Peace on earth this Christmas

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Growing Stronger (preparing for MGPC 21/12/2014)

Songs of preparation: Did You Know?; Once In Royal David’s City; and Jesus Is The Name We Honour.
Prayer of adoration and confession: thanking God for His faithfulness to all the generations of His people and asking that we will continue to live in reception of that faithful love until Jesus comes again.
Assurance, confession of faith, and doxology: O Come, O Come Emmanuel; the Apostles’ Creed; and Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.
Continuous reading: Revelation 8:1-13 – The seventh seal is opened.
Praise: How Great Is Our God.
Sermon: Romans 16: 17-27 – Growing Stronger; Christians remember this time of year something they should remember all year ’round, that God is the one who grows our strength as His people through the Scriptures and their proclamation.
Pastoral prayer, tithes & offerings, closing in praise with The First Nowell.

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Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring – Christmas Songs 2014 Day 19

Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring turns up in various Christmas music collections and the lyrics certainly harmonise with the theme of God with us.
The Edinburgh Singers posted their rendition, from Songs Of Praise.
But you only get one verse.

Jesus, joy of our desiring,
holy wisdom, love most bright;
drawn by thee, our souls aspiring
soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
with the fire of life impassioned,
striving still to truth unknown,
soaring, dying round thy throne.
Through the way where hope is guiding,
hark, what peaceful music rings;
where the flock, in thee confiding,
drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead thine own
in the love of joys unknown.

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Remember Who Put Christ In Christmas

Somewhere or other I read/heard the contrast between: the annual polite requests-appeals-strident demands that maintain the effort to keep Christ in Christmas, or to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, or to correct someone who wishes you season’s greetings or happy holidays that they should be saying merry Christmas; and the fact that it’s not up to us to keep Christ in Christmas because we didn’t put him there in the first place.
God did that.
God entered creation in the incarnation when nobody really wanted Him to come.
It’s helpful to remember that we didn’t want Jesus either until God placed His Spirit in our hearts.
The (intentional or accidental) sidelining of Jesus from celebrations of His own birth is an annual metaphor of the circumstances of His first coming.
He won’t receive the recognition or welcome He deserves until His second coming.
And that second coming will also depend on God, not us.
So, whatever it is Christians observe about attitudes to Jesus this time of year underlines the spiritual reality we face until our Lord’s return.
God became incarnate and entered creation with humility, grace and love.
Our lives are meant to be a reflection of the incarnated love that comes to those who aren’t expecting it.

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The Earth Stood Still – Christmas Songs 2014 Day 18

The Earth Stood Still is an original song by Future Of Forestry from Advent Christmas EP Vol. 2.
It’s quite simple, but has a couple of nice phrases in it.
I assume the words and music are by Eric Owyoung.

The lyrics:
A teenage girl and her soon-to-be.
A simple trip far as they could see.
The sky was clear and the hour serene.
But did they know what the night would bring.

Lonely hearts strung across the land
They’ve been waiting long for a healing hand.
My heart was there and I felt the chill
Love came down and the earth stood still
Love came down and the earth stood still

Shepherds stirred under starry skies
Tasting grace that would change their lives
The angels trembled and the demons did too
For they knew very well what pure grace would do.

The hope of the world and a baby boy.
I remember Him well like I was there that night.
My heart was there and I felt the chill.
Love came down and the earth stood still
Love came down and the earth stood still
Love came down and the earth stood still

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2014 Mount Gambier City Carols Devotion

As part of the printed booklet of song words for the Mount Gambier City Blue Lake Carols a devotion is included on behalf of the local Minister’s Association.
I wrote this year’s one.
Here it is:

The first person who celebrated the birth of Jesus in song was his own mother. Luke’s Gospel retells a story that Christians believe was told to Luke by Mary herself. After all, she was the only one there!
That first celebration was not only an anticipation of the birth that would take place nine months later near a manger in Bethlehem. Mary composed and sang a song of praise that expressed faith and joy in God’s love and saving power. Decades later the words of that song were still etched in Mary’s mind, and they still declared the hope that filled her heart.
Before their births, all parents have great hopes for our children as we dream of what their lives may be. Mary’s song was not just a romantic aspiration, however. She was not shut away from the realities of life. Her people were under foreign rule. She was engaged to be married to an honourable man who would struggle to understand her pregnancy. There was the danger that she would become a marginalised person among a marginalised people.
Yet she hears the words and believes that more than the blessing of motherhood, there is the blessing of a merciful God who would fulfil a promise of blessing for all the nations. God had long promised to bring the marginalised and powerless to himself. And her son, Jesus, would be the way he would do it.
The words of the carols we sing, the observance of Christmas on December 25; these speak of a destiny that is so wonderful that amidst the cares and limitations of life we can scarcely believe they are for us. We might feel that these words mock us with hope, so great is their promise in contrast to our present experience.
Years later Mary would feel the greatest pain a parent can experience, watching the cruel death of her son. Yet her song was not in vain. The resurrection demonstrated the power of God’s love over death.
The great truth of the carols we sing tonight and through the Christmas season is not that we can find God, but that God in his power, love and mercy has come to find us in the person of Jesus Christ.
The song that started in his mother’s throat rings down through the ages and people of faith and hope continue to sing his praise.

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Psalm 72 – Christmas Songs 2014 Day 17

I liked this version by Luke Brodine of Psalm 72 that was included on Cardiphonia’s Songs For The Incarnation album.
The refrain is verses eighteen and nineteen, the spoken verses are verses one to four and five to seven, finishing with verses eighteen and nineteen. I’m quite fond of the melody, an adaption of the folk tune ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’.
The whole album is an eclectic collection of advent and christmas themed songs.