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Kim Walker-Smith is one of the most inspirational worship leaders I know of. Her personal testimony of visions Jesus has given her is absolutely amazing. Her voice and musical talent are astounding. And her passion for Jesus is extremely apparent and appealing when she sings songs like How He Loves, Holy Spirit and Freedom Reigns.
And here she is singing about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer:
The song is from Kim’s 2014 album When Christmas Comes which includes 17 tracks. Most of them are worship songs or hymns like O Holy Night or Away in a Manger, but then there’s also White Christmas, Winter Wonderland and other songs that don’t mention the reason for the season at all.
It’s quite common that worship leaders release Christmas albums. Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United have all done it There’s even a WOW Worship Christmas Deluxe album with 36 songs out there. And just like Walker-Smith, some singers throw non-Christian Christmas songs into the mix, including Michael J Smith as well as Bryan and Katie Torwalt. (more…)
My blog post and YouTube video on rejecting consumerism and celebrating simple Christmas has gained attention. My friend Sunniva wrote in the comments about how she and her mother celebrates a simple Christmas:
We (read my mother and I) celebrate Christmas as an extended birthday. If we celebrate each others birthdays, we do so for Jesus so much more. Perhaps I will write a blog post how we do this, but for now: its a feast that’s Jesus-centered – anticipation begins at least a month before with old and home-made Christmasdecorations and greens from forest floor (no real tree-cutting here) appearing around the house bit by bit, with Christmas music, and by attending church in Advent-time.
On Christmas Eve we will decorate our home-altar with fairtrade-roses, fast from food and water till dark, sing Jesus-songs by the fire, go to Church, cook a vegetarian meal that’s 90 or so percent organically grown and which we present to Jesus before eating, watch the movie The Nativity (and Karl Bertil Jonsson’s Christmas is a must too, a modern Christmas Robin Hood story) and attend midnight mass, etc etc. We give each other a few meaningful presents to commemorate the joy, like fair-trade coffein-free chocolate and tea, something handmade and something useful etc (from this year not wrapped in paper but in a personal reusable gift-cloth-bag), while giving aid to the poor as well.
In short: Jesus is worth a splendid birthday celebration!
The only thing I miss is sharing this beautiful time with more people, wanting to be a minister so I can do that more easily. My dream is to arrange Christmas-retreats with simple feast-food and much prayer.
Jesus Army’s Forward blog has collected a number of different voices on the topic, that deals with the Christmas dilemma: Jesus’ birthday wasn’t celebrated very much in Biblical times (which is why we don’t know the actual date), rather, paganism has influenced the modern Christmas celebration quite a lot and today it’s a mindless consumption feast. At the same time, Christmas expresses love and community and many do connect it to Jesus. Here are some of the thoughts expressed by our fellow Jesus hippies as they try to deal with Christmas in a non-consumerist way: (more…)
As the election to the European Parliament gets closer, I want to highlight some of the biggest European sins that unfortunately are not very present in the political debates.
The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia describes gluttony as “the excessive indulgence in food and drink. The moral deformity discernible in this vice lies in its defiance of the order postulated by reason, which prescribes necessity as the measure of indulgence in eating and drinking.” It is opposite of contentment and fasting. Gluttony is exetremely common in Europe and the rest of the so called Western world, not only in its original food sense but also when it comes to consuming other goods. In fact, consumerism is the defining social end economic order in modern Europe.
Consumerism is caused by the economic envy of Europe which sees endless economic growth as the main political goal, and it is because of this consumerism we see the horrible greedy neo-colonisalism where Europe enslaves poor workers in Asia and Africa. But not only does consumerism oppress poor workers, it also destroys the environment. It becomes increasingly clear that the world’s climate, water, forests, air, flora, fauna and more get polluted and destroyed by sinful humanity. The environment is a broad topic so let me just focus on the main environmental issue of our time: climate change.
I don’t want to spend so much time refusing climate skeptic’s arguments since that has already been done by others – check this website to find good replies to what they say. We have to agree that man-made climate change is a fact, and that it is caused by inequality and injustice. As the video above shows, it is mostly rich countries that has caused climate change due to their industrial pollutions while it is the poor countries that will suffer the most from climate change’s consequences. Climate change is thus not just one of the biggest market failures, but also one of the biggest neo-colonial strikes against the global south. Europe gets rich through pollution and let the poor countries pay the expensive, life-costing bill.
Love is extremely central to the Gospel: the reason Jesus came to give us eternal life is out of God’s eternal love for our world (Jn 3:16), He said that the greatest commandments in the Old Testament Law are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39) Jesus close disciple John just fell in love with Love, and emphasized it like crazy in his writings:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 Jn 4:7-12)
But all love isn’t good love. In the same letter, John warns us for loving things instead of people, creation instead of God: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn 2:15-17)
So it is Christmas, and once again we have celebrated the incarnation of Jesus Christ through destroying the climate even further with our hyper-consumption and meat eating, at least in the Western world. In the midst of shopping, Santas and stress, Christians try to remind their Facebook friends that it is Jesus who is the reason for the season. I’m convinced though that to make this message really effective, we have to split from the traditional consumerist Christmas celebration and point to the fact that the original Christmas was a revolutionary event that turned the existing political and economic structures up side down.
God Almighty became a baby. He was not born in the Holiest of Holies to the tones of choirs and harps, but among cows and hay and was laid in a food pot. Herod, the political ruler, got totally mad when he heard that the true King of Israel had been born, and so God was forced to become a political refugee. From this vulnerable and poor situation Jesus was then about to criticise the rich and privileged in His radical preaching, which His mother had prophesied about when He was laying in her womb: