Favorite Christmas Song

Trev and Darrell have already posted something about their favorite Christmas songs.

I’m going to break away from the traditional carols; right now my favorite is Christmas Canon, by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I heard this as Muzak in a grocery store last year, and it blew me away. Tonight, I heard it again, tracked it down on the Internet, and bought it from iTunes.

It’s an arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, sung by a small children’s choir, so perfect that that it takes my breath away. The simple spirituality of hope and prayer to emulate the Lord we worship brings tears to my eyes every time. There’s nothing quite like it. Here are the lyrics from the longer version on The Christmas Attic

Merry Christmas
The hope that he brings

This night
We pray
Our lives
Will show

This dream
He had
Each child
Still knows

We are waiting
We have not forgotten

On this night
On this night
On this very Christmas night

Beyond Belief: Rocky Is the Way

<sarcasm on>
Hey Pastor!

Rocky VIHaving a bit of trouble coming up with Sunday’s sermon? Is your congregation tired of those humdrum “Love your neighbor” messages that just make them feel guilty? Are they fed up with this “turn the other cheek” crap when there are countries to bomb and people to kill? Want to give them a Christmas message that won’t put them to sleep in that “Boring Town of Bethlehem” with the same old prayers for peace on earth?

Why not give them what they really want for Christmas: self-esteem! That’s right. More than Jesus, even more than fruitcake, they want to believe in themselves. At RockyResources.com, we know how to help you care for your flock’s real needs. Visit RockyResources.com for a message from our Sly guy on how vague “faith” and generic “values” moved him to make the sixth inspired epistle of St. Rocky Balboa to the Ticketbuyers.

But that’s not all! Check out our “Faith-based” Leader’s Guide. Our handy “five-round” plan can spare you from having to listen to the Spirit for a full five weeks! And if anyone needs a break from God, it’s you, right? Senior pastors, be sure to try Idea 1 in Round 4:

During your sermon, show a film clip from a Rocky movie that demonstrates the values of teamwork, and the futility of going it alone.

(After all, we know where that got Jesus, right?) And youth pastors, you can’t go wrong with Round 3, Idea 2:

Plan a TKO: The Kraziest Outreach. Get all five Rocky movies and do a Rocky-thon at the church—maybe on New Years’ Eve! Finish at the theater with Rocky Balboa! Stay awake!

If your youth don’t believe in hell now, they sure will after twelve consecutive hours in the ring with Rocky!

And just in case you have any doubts about our motives, or letting the Italian Stallion guide your flock for the next few weeks, just remember these two things: There’s no better way to celebrate the Lord’s birth than by spending money, and … Rocky isn’t gay!

<sarcasm off>
In all fairness, this movie is getting fairly good reviews. And as most of you know, I love to find spiritual parallels in movies… it’s the very reason I write reviews, and Rocky probably does have some excellent spiritual lessons. But something about the crassness of selling Rocky as spiritual resource on a par with the teachings of Jesus was more than I could take.

Listen to the NPR report on how Motive Media sucessfully converted some pastors (some very well-known) to sell this rocky “gospel” according to Sly.

Drew Goodmanson at least wasn’t one of them.
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Just in from Reuters: Virgin Birth Expected

And this just after I gave a speech at Toastmasters about contemplating the Virgin Birth as a mystical symbol! Reuters reports that a virgin birth is expected, possibly on Christmas Day, to a Komodo dragon in a London zoo. See article.

Hey, if dragons get salvation, a few verses in Revelation might need to be rewritten! Unless—what if Yeats was right?

What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward London to be hatched?

Folks, it could be the Antilizard!

Happy Hanukkah and Esperanto Day

Today’s the first day of Hanukkah, the beginning of eight days of remembering the miracle of the oil involved in rededicating the Temple. So, the next week can be a great time for anyone, Jewish or not, to remember what miracles have happened in their lives. What do you remember that you’d like to share?

Also, the Esperanto League for North America has designated December 15 as “Esperanto Day,” a day to further awareness of the extremely easy and expressive language, Esperanto. Bloggers are encouraged to translate their post for today into Esperanto, so:

Hodiaŭ estas la unua tago de Hanukkah, la komenco de ok tagoj por memoranta la miraklon de la oleon tiun uzis pri redediĉi la Templo. La sekvonta semajno povas esti granda tempo por ĉiu, judano aŭ ne judano, memori tiujn miraklojn okazitis en iliaj vivoj. kion vi memoras ke vi volus skribi ĉi tie?

Ankaŭ, la Esperanto Ligo por Norda Ameriko nomitis Decembron 15 “Esperanto Tago,” tago al pli konscio pri la ekstreme facila kaj esprimplena lingvo, esperanto. Blogantoj tradukitas iliajn poŝtojn por hodiaŭ esperante.

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Happy Buddha Day, Immaculate Conception

Blessed MotherThe “holiday season” is well-named. It’s not just Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, but also Sundays of Advent, The Feast of St. Nicholas, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Twelve days of Christmas, St. Stephen’s Day, Epiphany, and the Baptism of Jesus. And also, of course, Hanukkah, Rohatsu or Buddha Day, Yule, and sometimes Ramadan and Eid.

standing buddhaI’ve come to really appreciate December 8th, which is both Buddha Day and Immaculate Conception Day. A wonderfully non-commercialized respite that’s sacred to Catholics, Japanese Buddhists, and anyone else who wants an excuse to take a break from the hustle and bustle. And although I have fairly little “Marian devotion,” I can’t wait to get to Mass tonight and sing “Salve, Regina,” one of my favorite hymns.

May all of us be inspired to follow the examples of Mary and the Buddha who in their different ways both brought the light of the world into the world.