Archive for Jars of Clay

Advent Calendar Day 14: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Posted in Music, Religion with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2012 by bradellison

I’m not going to talk about Connecticut.  I don’t have the stomach for it.  I’m not going to talk about guns, or gun control, or mental illness, or our irresponsible news media, or America’s culture of violence.  I don’t want to hear your opinions about those things right now, and I doubt you want to hear mine.

I’m going to skip to talking about love, and I’m going to stick to what I wrote last night, because it conveys what I feel this night, as well.  Tonight, tomorrow, and on all the days to come, let’s love each other, hold each other close, and take care of each other.  I love you all.

First off, there is a beauty in in Loreena McKennitt’s voice that almost hurts me to hear.

Anyway, whoever hath ears let him hear, there’s some worthy preaching in the carol as well.

First, let nothing you dismay.  Having spent most of the last year in various degrees of dismay, having suffered grief, frustration, exhaustion, futile anger and the occasional nugget of despair, I need to hear that now more than ever. Let nothing you dismay.  Because it’s true; while Jesus Christ our savior was born nowhere near this day (sorry about co-opting your festivities, ancient pagans!), he was born, and that matters to us a great deal, and now’s the time we fix that into memory.

We were gone astray.  We go astray.  God knows I do, anyway.  Walk away from what we should do, and towards what we should not.  The Apostle Paul said he had the corpse of his old self hanging around his neck to drag him down, and Kanye West said that everything bad makes him feel good while everything they told him not to is exactly what he would.  We do our best, and we pray for grace to cover our inevitable failures, and we try to do better next time.

Satan’s power, the poisonous insinuations of the One Who Accuses, well, we all hear that voice in our ears from time to time, don’t we?  Satan’s power makes itself felt when we’re at our low points, when we feel like we’re not worth anything and never will be.  That’s his voice you’ll here telling you you don’t deserve to be loved.  That you don’t deserve to be happy.  That you’ll never be free from whatever shackles bind you, be they debt or mediocrity or loneliness or unemployment or depression or a pointless dead-end job. Do not heed that voice.  Christ our savior was born on Christmas day, and he loves you.  And if you reading this don’t believe in him, believe in me, because I love you too.  I don’t know who’s reading these words or when, but love from me to you is my pledge on this night, and if that isn’t worth much it’s still not nothing.

Anyone who says Garth Ennis hates Superheroes never read the issues where Superman crossed paths with Tommy Monaghan

“If you knew how you are loved, not one of you would raise a hand in rage again.”

God rest ye merry.


Advent Calendar Day 11: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Posted in Music, Religion with tags , , , , on December 12, 2012 by bradellison

The significance of bells as a Christmas symbol really makes itself felt when you dig into the music of the season, even a little bit.  Another thing you learn pretty quick while rooting around on youtube listening to different versions of various Christmas songs is just how great Johnny Cash was.  I knew that already, though.

Here’s Mr. Cash and his better half, singing another one of my favorites, a song about bells, a song about war, and a song about good and evil.

Mr. Henry Wadsworth  Longfellow wrote the words in the Christmas of 1863, not long after learning that his son had been seriously wounded in the war, not long after Longfellow’s wife died an untimely death.  He wrote down the truth.

The truth of it is something I believe in my bones.  Hate is strong.  Beyond question.  It makes a mockery, we make a mockery, of the idea of peace and good will.  The evil we all carry in us sometimes seems to poison every grain of sand and blade of grass and drop of water on this corrupted world, and it’s getting worse.


God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.

The wrong will fail.

The right prevail.

Peace on earth.

Good will to men.

The light is bound to swallow the darkness.  Slowly.  Imperceptibly, sometimes.  Sometimes the darkness pushes back.  Pockets of it linger.  But the end of the story’s written, and the light will prevail.

Let those now mired in darkness hear this good word: the darkness passes.  May those beset by the encroaching cold of winter see the coming spring.  Let those who walk in the night make ready for the dawn.  Let the sufferers who endure war and greed see the coming of peace and good will.

Hear the bells.  Some day soon, the Man will come around.