Snowman with a Sunburn

Merry Christmas to all!!!! (a few days late)

This year wasn’t a white Christmas for us. With the exception of about 3 years that I can remember, I have always had a white Christmas. I was born and raised in the heart of the Winter Wonderland of Wisconsin (Will that was for you…the alliteration, I mean). Even in the years that there hasn’t been snow on Christmas day (much like this year in Wisconsin, I’ve heard), it has at least been cold enough that I could wear a comfy sweater and curl up under a blanket next to the fire (Well, that fire was actually a hot cup of coffee…I only had a fireplace when I lived in Washington). Not so this year.

This year it was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit and I was in an air-conditioned house for most of the day, escaping the heat and humidity that was ravaging the countryside. I was wearing shorts and a tank top and had my swimming suit (or cozzie as it is called here) packed in my bag along with the traditional Christmas cookies I baked and brought. It was one of 3 really HOT days we’ve had here…and obviously it would be on one of the days that I associate with cold weather. The weird thing is, they do too.

I have heard person after person here comment on the fact that most of the ideas of Christmas that they stick to in South Africa come from the northern hemisphere. They watch American Christmas movies that revolve around snow and cold while sipping iced tea and lemonade in their pools (okay, maybe not at the same time). They put snowflake decals on their windows and have reindeer in lights on their lawns. And I’ve also heard people here say that they should really come up with their own Christmas traditions instead of using the ideals of a world they do not live in-namely the Great White North.

But what would they be?

Here are some suggestions:

1) New traditional foods. Instead of fruitcake and ham (gammon), they could have ostrich and kudu as the traditional meats (perhaps braaied?) with a brinjal casserole (or hotdish for you Minnesotans). Instead of gluwein and egg nog, they could drink a South African version of Sangria.

2) Because it is the beginning of summer here rather than winter, they could build sand sculptures rather than snowmen. Santa could wear swimming trunks and flip-flops rather than a thick wool suit.

3) Instead of poinsettias, they could have hibiscus bushes. Or dress up their succulents rather than conifers.

These may be the worst suggestions ever. But, I’m just trying to help. Perhaps we can use these ideas next year when we are back in the States again. It can be a blending of the cultures and a new tradition. Benefit of spending your first Christmas married in a foreign country: there are no traditions already in place.

The first one we started was whiskey on Christmas morning….

I hope your Christmases were filled with much joy and happiness. We missed being with family, so I hope you enjoyed it extra for us!

LOVE!

Katie

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Part 2: Reflections on the First Three Months

In Part 1, I mentioned some things I’ve been learning about/experiencing within churches, namely Change, Preaching, Songs Prayers and Names for God, and Liturgy.  Here in Part 2 I will discuss some of the experiences with Christians and Christian organizations outside of church buildings and services.  How is the message of the Gospel moving people to act in this society and to care for their neighbor?  How are they caring for their neighbor and sharing the Gospel message in new, exciting, thinking-out-of-the-box ways?

As I mentioned in the post 10,000 a month – and counting…, it is estimated there are 10,000 new orphans every month in South Africa.  Yes, that’s a one with four zeroes after it.  It is a huge issue in this country, and will continue to have repercussions for the future.  In that post I talked about Lily of the Valley and LIV Village, two places that are helping with this.  But I never got around to posting about Indawo yeThemba, the third group foster home (which is probably the term we would use for these in the States, rather than “orphanage”).

Indawo yeThemba is a group foster home complex started by Bob and Joanna Graham.  Bob and Joanna came to South Africa from Florida.  We went to their house on the way to Pietermaritzberg for a braai (barbecue) to hear all about what they are doing in South Africa.  They came on multiple week mission trips to South Africa a few times in the 90s, but felt that they wanted to do something with more of a lasting impact on the children’s lives.

Bob talked about how he wrote a dissertation on how children become resilient – in the instance of his research, how poor orphans in the US make it to college.  He talked with many people who fit all these categories – orphans, attending college, and poor.  He wondered what got these people to college when so many others who are poor and orphans do not make it there.  From all his interviews, it turned out that someone – at least one person – cared for those children.  They had someone to fall back on – and this created resiliency in them.  A friend, an aunt, a grandparent, a counselor – it did not matter who – it just mattered that there was someone who cared.  He thought about his time in South Africa with poor orphans, thought about their future, and wondered if they had someone to care for them, would they thrive as well?  So he decided to bring that idea to Africa.  He met with the local leaders and hashed out the plan, shifting it to fit the area.

The foundation currently has four houses, and they will be expanding to six soon – but no more after that.  Six children are in each household, and cared for by a gogo (Zulu for grandmother).  These gogos receive their small pension from the government, but they do not get paid by Indawo (but it does pay for their food, housing, etc).  The gogos are the legal guardians of their six children (this is entirely different from Lily or LIV).  These gogos do not get time off like the house mothers do at Lily or LIV.  During holidays, the gogos take their six children back to their family home.  They have truly become these orphans’ mothers.  They have become that one person who cares for these children, who will help make them resilient in the face of change and adversity.

Indawo yeThemba’s funding comes partially from the government, and partially from grants Bob solicits from corporations abroad.  It costs less than LIV, because they are not building a whole village but using the infrastructure from the existing one (school, church, health services).  And it costs immensely less than some of the state-run places – some 90-95% less.

This is a new way to think about orphan care.  These gogos have left their homes and come and live on the Indawo yeThemba property.  They have taken on caring for and raising six children who are not their own, from the time the children come to the center to the time they are adults (and I am sure, will still be family after that).  These children for the most part do not start out as siblings – but the gogos knit them together into a family.  And you should see the smiles on these ladies’ faces.  Oh my word!  A toddler started crying while we were in one house – and without a hesitation went to the gogo.  And she was so happy to love this child – her child.

I asked Bob what his vision for this place was – to have more houses, to start another place like this in another location, etc.  And he said that his hope is that these kids grow up strong, have strong families, and have strong and cared for and resilient kids of their own.  He said some people have remarked to him, “you’re only serving 24/36 kids – I know a guy in Indonesia who is reaching thousands and tens of thousands” with preaching or teaching.  Bob’s reply is that he is not just preaching and leaving the kids, but caring for and preparing them – and that in two or three generations, he will reach thousands of kids.   The kids are raised going to church and hearing Bible stories.  And this is all done because of Bob and Joanna’s faith.

I’m not entirely sure were to start with this next part.  There is so much going on.  So, this may seem disjointed.  Bear with me, please.

Keith and Ang McLaren are another example of out-of-the-box ways of doing ministry because of the Gospel.  They live north of Durban, in Monzi, KZN (between Mtubatuba and St. Lucia).  This area was the epicenter of the AIDS/HIV epidemic.  Keith grew up in the community in which they now live – Keith’s father was, and now Keith is, a sugarcane farmer.

Keith grew up playing with the Zulu boys, and learned the language from a very young age.  He moved away for a time, but he and Ang moved there more than 17 years ago (I don’t recall the exact number, but do know they’ve been working at the church for 17 years).  They live in the white area, along with the other sugarcane farmers.  Black men guard the gate to the small community.  Seventeen years ago, Keith and Ang started Edwaleni Church in a shed on a white farmer’s property.  After a while, though, the farmer was pressured (by other white farmers) to evict them from worshiping in the shed, which was otherwise unused, because the whites were afraid of blacks gathering.  After they vacated, they found their current venue, which was once a trading post/general store for the area.  The store was unused, and had R200,000 debt owed to the bank.  The older couple who owned it said the church could have it if they just paid off the debt to the bank.  But they decided to pay more than the asking price – they paid the money to the bank, and then paid the couple as well out of goodwill and a desire to care for their neighbor.  And it is that attitude that pervades the church, and Keith and Ang (who lead it).

Keith collects no salary from the church – he earns his living entirely from the sugarcane and a side business he runs.  Not that the church could really afford to pay him – he recalled in the first few months of meeting, he gathered all the money together people brought for offering.  It totaled less than R200 (<$20).  People put in what they could – pennies.  When Keith told the story, I couldn’t help but think of the widow putting in her last two coins.

Keith’s sugarcane operation is small compared to surrounding ones.  In the harvest season, from April to the beginning of December, he employs ten men to harvest the cane.  He hires their wives, as well, and has low turnover in workers as he only employs South Africans from the local area.  He pays them slightly more than the other farmers pay so they can stay in houses in the community.   The surrounding farms often employ Mozambicans and Swazis, who bring with them their wives and children, since they are there for nine months at a time.  They stay in the 1950’s era housing units provided by the farmers, which are very simple, bare, and have rooms built for one person.  They are very, very basic units.  So, the units were built for one person, but now serve two, three, four, or more (depending on how many children the couple has).

The families of the workers:  The farmers don’t want the families there (just the male harvester), and so do not help or encourage the families in any way, such as work, housing, or schooling.  Keith and Ang started three creches in the area because of how many kids there are.  In one place, a tribal chief came to Ang and asked her to start a creche for him in his area.  The chief donated the land for this.  So she did – and they now serve hundreds of children each day at these places.  They are expanding one of the creches as well, and doing improvements on the others.  At the creches the children are taught, fed, and de-wormed on a monthly basis (a real health issue there).  They have organized rides for the kids who do not live near the creches – rides to and from school.

There is an orphanage at the church as well.  Eleven children are housed there, go to school, and do some work a little also.

So, how are the creches, the church, and the orphanage supported supported financially?  Every six weeks the church buys 1000 chicks for R6 each.  They feed and care for them (about R29 each), and sell them six weeks later for R70.  They make R35 profit per chick – or R35,000 every six weeks – an incredible amount.  They also have egg-laying chickens, and sell the eggs to local B&Bs, making R1.50 per egg.  This all happens in back rooms of the church.  If we haven’t said it yet, it is often joked that “chickens are a vegetable” in South Africa – they are everywhere.

Keith wants to teach other pastors how to set up a program like this – to raise chickens for profit and help pay church expenses or pastor salaries.  They have a room they are planning to turn into a small classroom.

The church is starting to raise guinea fowl as well to sell to the B&Bs.  And they have a small sugarcane field onsite, and a small garden, and are planning an aquaponic plant to provide vegetables, fish, and more income.

Race relations have regressed in recent years.  Since the days of Mandela’s presidency, relations have become more strained – whites and blacks do not interact except in working, the whites are afraid their children will “catch” AIDS from playing with the young Zulus, and have become more and more insular.  Ang and Keith are trying to break that in many ways.  The school in the white area closed because there are so few white kids and the white adults would not allow blacks to come to “their” school – against what Ang and Keith suggested.  This Christmas the church will provide each white family with a dressed chicken and a dozen eggs.  Completely a gift for them.  From people who have very, very little in general, but especially compared to the whites, this is an incredible action.

And speaking of being bold – Ang and Keith noticed that many of the young girls (12 or 13 years old) went missing for about nine months.  The Mozambican and Swazi men who came to work and did not bring families with them hired these young girls to clean and cook for them.  But they also got them pregnant (which in South Africa is statutory rape, as the girls were under 16).  So the girls would come back after nine months pregnant, or with a baby – and without the father.  So the couple took this issue to the local police…who didn’t do anything about it.  After much pleading, conversation, and threats of reporting higher up the chain, the police came and arrested five or six of the men who did this.  And the practice has now stopped – the girls are not hired.  But now occasionally coming down the road, the couple does see the occasional person slowly moving their thumb across their neck while staring at Ang and Keith.

So, in short: starting a place to worship, an orphanage, an egg business, a chicken business, opening creches, providing employment for both parents, training other pastors, stopping part of the cycle of teen pregnancy, working another job and pastoring the church for free, and probably some things I’m forgetting.

And while I could understand just a minuscule portion of the service (in Zulu), it didn’t take knowing the language to hear the passion in people’s voices as they sang, feel the attention they listened with to the sermon, the joy at being able to gather in a safe space, and the excitement at being able to read the Scripture in their own language.

It’s just two examples of Christians thinking outside the box in order to better care for their neighbor and share the message (preach) about Jesus.  They are unconventional ways, out-of-the-box ways – but they are fascinating manners in which to preach.

Part 3 will hopefully come the week after Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Will

Can you “worship” to hymns?

Maybe it’s just that I was raised in a denomination/church that sang hymns on a regular basis and, because of this, I find great depth in the songs. However, last night I found something very strange happening….

Last night Will and I went to a “Carols by Candlelight” service. I have been to quite a few carol services in my day, so I thought I sort of knew what to expect. But when we got there, it was a bit…different. Instead of handing out candles at the door to the sanctuary, we were handed a glow-stick. Now this was more of a contemporary church, so I wasn’t overly surprised that it was a bit more rock-and-roll than the traditional Christmas services I am used to. But I thought that perhaps there would be some semblance of reverence at some point…like during Silent Night. But there wasn’t.

I think of Christmas carols mostly as hymns. These hymns fill ME with probably more emotion that just about any other genre of hymn I can think of. I often feel moved by them and I want to harmonize and praise and glorify God when I sing them.

At non-denominational churches, they are much more free with their raising of hands and moving during worship songs. If they feel moved they will reach their hands up and sing with fervor. Yet, last night, the only song that they raised their arms to was the only song that was not a traditional hymn. I thought this was weird. Perhaps they felt weird doing that with traditional songs rather than contemporary Christian music. But it wasn’t like they didn’t jazz up the Christmas carols with drums and electric guitars. Musically, they were indistinguishable from the any other song they would sing/perform at church. So why didn’t they “worship” when they were singing the hymns?

Is there an aversion to letting yourself “get into” hymns? Does the sound (or even just merely an implication) of only a piano or an organ to accompany music make people’s hearts recoil in disgust? I’m not sure. And if that is the case, if people are afraid to “worship” to/with hymns, is that one thing that is killing the Lutheran church? Probably not, adding contemporary songs to a worship service hasn’t really boosted the attendance much.

I guess I’m just confused. The fact of the matter is that even if you put an upbeat rhythm as the background to the lyrics of a hymn, it is still a hymn wearing a rock star costume. And people see through that.

I, for one, love hymns. I can appreciate other forms of music in worship services as well, but hymns have a depth that I fail to see in many contemporary songs. But, I’m a theologian. I can raise my heart, hands, and voice to hymns because the words have meaning to me and the music helps carry their message to me.

I don’t know if I have an answer to my question. These are just my ponderings for the moment. If you have the answers, feel free to fill me in.

Love from KZN,

Katie

Part 1: Reflections on the First Three Months

The world is a constantly changing place.  We live in an age of a 24-hour news cycle, with new news, information, and reports flowing in all the time from across the globe.  There are new species being discovered, different varieties of plants being created, wars and conflicts and scuffles breaking out and we can hear about them nearly instantly.  New cars, websites, games, recipes, books, songs, movies, and technology.  An overload of new information, new ideas.

The message of the Gospel stands plain and unchanging against the backdrop of modern culture.  “Plain” and “unchanging” aren’t bad things.  The message of the Gospel just hasn’t changed like modern culture.  For nearly two thousand years the belief that God came to earth in the form of Jesus, lived and walked and breathed among us as a human, loving humanity so much that he died on a cross so we might have a relationship with God, then rising from the dead to show that death has no power over God, and now us, has remained.  That message hasn’t changed.  It’s been corrupted at times, it’s been misused, misspoken – just as it is at times today.  But the main message stands firm.

This plain, unchanging message is now being proclaimed in a world of “new new new”, “change change change”.  In a world that shouts of new products and services to make life better – vacuum robots, driverless cars, instant translation video chat, etc – it seems like the Church’s voice is drowned down to the mere whisper of a wind, still saying there is nothing you need to buy to be whole. (I use “Church” here to designate the whole universal body of believers, not one congregation.)

And so how, as the Church, do we speak this in our modern world?  How do we get our message across, speak into the shouting match of products and services, show that we aren’t selling something to make people’s lives instantly better, cleaner, more efficient?  How do we portray the message we believe, teach the faith to new believers, get a deeper message across than “if I trust Jesus everything will be ok”, and show that the Bible written thousands of years ago and the Church are relevant in these modern changing times?  And, in the US context, how do we do this in an increasingly more diverse society?

In addition to this, the Church is dying.  Not dying and going away – I fully believe the Church will not entirely disappear (though some denominations might).  But “dying” meaning that fewer and fewer people are claiming membership at churches, fewer and fewer of those members are going to church, and fewer and fewer are making it a multiple-times-a-month commitment to go to church.  Shrinking, depleting, being less populated – I suppose I could use those instead of “dying”.  It’s not just the shrinking that worries me – it’s the lessened energy, the turning inward, fighting against other Christians, which in turn increases the downward trajectory.  (One example, though there are many of these in the States, is my own ELCA.  Founded by merger of multiple denoms in 1988, it had over 5 million members.  Now, that number is around 4 million – and it not uncommon to see congregations having only 30-40% of members worshiping on a any given Sunday.)

Those are some of the questions and thoughts I decided to focus on in this Graduate Preaching Fellowship.  In one question: How does the church speak in modern society without compromising the unchanging message, and grow in depth of faith and numbers?  Katie and I have been to a lot of places and seen a lot of different things in our time so far in South Africa, itself a very diverse society.  Here are some snippets of what I have been learning about the Church as it relates to our changing and increasingly diverse world, and how we preach (read: talk about Jesus in daily life/proclaim the message of the Gospel/preach from a pulpit).

Change:  When we arrived, I thought I would be spending time at a school multiple times a week, tutoring kids, playing with them, learning about administration, how they do school in South Africa.  I thought I would learn about the culture through one or two schools, in this educational system, by immersing myself in it, and then be able to preach more effectively.  I thought I would see most of the cultural diversity and needs in the schools. But upon arriving, I learned that the educational system issues are just one facet of a very complex set of issues in society here as a whole.  And so I have shifted my focus from finding out about that one system, and exploring how to preach in light of that piece of society, to learning about preaching in various contexts. 

In doing that, I have been experiencing different social contexts, issues, locations, people, and ways of preaching. This is allowing me to more fully grasp South African society, church, and the confluence of the two. The South Africa portion of my proposal used this quote from Nelson Mandela, If I cannot change when the circumstances demand it, how can I expect others to? The circumstances here have called for change, and I have had to respond to meet them.  In the Church, Sunday after Sunday and through the week, we experience change – maybe our wording proves to be too medieval, or so modern that it sounds fake. We have a new service venue, different people in worship, something big has happened in the community – and these we will have to respond to not for our own sake of survival or comfort, but so that the Gospel can impact peoples lives…so people can actually hear the message we tell.  Change happens – so how do we respond to it?

Preaching:  I’ve preaching twice while here – once in a Lutheran church in KZN (the ELCSA-NT, a congregational-based denomination), and once at a village in Lesotho.  The listeners were entirely different – at the KZN church, mostly white, church-going, English-speaking, with disposable income.  I could use some cultural examples, and preached about the love and faithfulness of God throughout the ages, of believers past, present, and future.  At the Lesotho village, all were Sotho people, no church building in the village, Sotho-speaking, mostly subsistence farmers or shepherds and mostly to women and children, as the men were away at the mines or the fields.   I could not use any cultural examples, but only examples that I could see – rocks and clouds, dirt and grass.  I talked about God’s love in each of our lives, how God loves people even before they want to follow God, and that God has been doing this for a long time (I told the story of Samuel in the Old Testament, and part of my own call to be a pastor).  I had to speak in short sentences to be translated, and use simpler vocabulary (but not content).  The sun beat down and the wind blew hard, so I had to strain to speak.   The two messages were very similar, but had to be tailored to each group.  The KZN message would not have fit in Lesotho, and the Lesotho message probably would not have fit in KZN.  But both spoke of God’s love and faithfulness.

Songs, Prayers, and Names for God:  I spent a while looking at what names are used for God in songs at the growing non-denominational churches.  And I was overwhelmed by two things – first, of the twenty songs I looked at, just more than half the references to God were “You”.  Second, of the remaining names used, 37% were mighty/warlike/power-oriented, 55% had no power connotation, and 8% I considered kind/nice.  So what’s that mean?  God is portrayed as personal, as one to whom we can relate, talk with, be close to.  And second, that God is a mighty king, a champion, a defender, one who is war-like and powerful and avenging.  And the idea of God as Counselor, Peace, Love, Shepherd is nearly absent in the non-denominational churches we’ve visited.

This same language is present in sermons and especially in the non-denominational churches’ prayers. Ex. “My King”, “Lord”, “pray some warfare”.  And in their prayers, they use names for God all the time.  Here is a composite example: “Father we just thank you Lord for all God of your works Lord in our lives. Father God, Mighty King, we just pray that you God would come into our lives, My King, and God that you would change things there, Lord, and that there would be energy and strength, my God.  Father just come and show us the way, Lord, and my Savior destroy everything that keeps people from knowing you, God, amen.”

Warning: there may be no correlation here at all.  But these non-denominational churches are growing and vibrant.  People want to come, and they invite people to come with them.  And not just their closest friends – but the food vendor at the local outdoor market (no joke), and other people they meet.

Liturgy: It’s entirely absent from non-denominational churches.  The Presbyterian church we went to had some, and the ELCSA (Lutheran) church body had it in spades.  This ELCSA is a very “high” church body (see my post on the Six Hour Service for an explanation) – but is also very charismatic.  They use liturgy and spontaneity at the same time.  But at the non-denominational churches, they sing, have prayer, someone may bring a “word” they have heard from God, and there is a message/sermon/preach (and occasionally Communion).

I come from a church body that is losing members.  Don’t get me wrong – there is real energy and deep faith and clear conviction about Jesus and the message of the Gospel in the ELCA.  But the numbers are falling – and this is true across most mainline denominations in the States.  We cannot keep doing the exact same thing we have done every year since the 1950’s in a changing society and hope for a different result today.  I’m not saying change everything, but something has to give so we can get our message across.

The message of the Gospel doesn’t change, but I think the delivery method can.  The message doesn’t change, and I don’t think that is boring at all – it is freeing, and refreshing, a constant in the world of chaos.  The message doesn’t change – but the message does change lives.  And so we need to tell it – but how?

Here ends Part 1.  Part 2 may come soon…I hope.  Thanks for reading!

Will

Happy Advent!

Hello, lovelies! One of the things that I miss most about the Lutheran Church whilst Will and I are abroad experiencing the beauty of the universal church (in all its many facets and factions) is the rhythm and reliability of the seasons of the church. Unless we seek out specific churches that we know follow the church year, most of the time I don’t see or feel that movement and progression of the cycle that I have become so accustomed to in my many years of Lutheran churchdom.

The other weird thing is that its summer here…I’m not used to associating the Advent/Christmas season with warm weather since I spent the majority of my Decembers in the frozen tundra of the Midwest. So, we walk around town and they still put up icicle lights and swags and ornaments. There are jolly, fat Santas climbing down chimneys. There are even pictures of snowmen and snow on the cards…and its 80 degrees outside.

I’m even missing the snow a bit (don’t tell anyone, it’s just a moment of weakness, I’ll get over it). I just feel a little homesick for the holidays. So, in honor of my nostalgia, I’m going to give you a list of the holiday songs I miss the most, a special arrangement of them, and the reason I love them.

1) O Come, O Come Emmanuel – This has been my favorite song of the Christmas season for years and this is my favorite arrangement. I love the tension of the mournful sound of the tune contrasting with the inviting nature of the lyrics. It is so hauntingly beautiful. I could listen to different versions of this song all day…seriously. I love it.

2) Joy to the world– In contrast to the previous song, this one is full on, blow-you-out-of-the-water joyful and exciting. It proclaims that the Lord has already come into the world and all the world rejoices and sings! This arrangement is by Natalie Grant and it is the version that I sang the solo in when I was in college. The UWEC Gospel Choir sang this at one of our Christmas concerts. I belted this song and it was one of my favorite memories of singing ever. IT was like being a pastor with my whole soul.

3) Mary Did You Know– I found this song originally thanks to Clay Aiken (this is not his arrangement, fyi) and the lyrics blew me away. Did Mary have any idea what she was getting herself into when she had that encounter with the angel? “Oh BTW, Mary, you are giving birth to the lord of all creation…nbd” -God…..Did she really know what was going to happen? All the miracles that would happen? The way that the entire future of the world would be changed by this birth? This arrangement was one I just discovered this week. I love a cappella music. This is a stunning combination of beautiful voices with beautiful lyrics.

4) Emmanuel, God With Us– This is another take on the incarnation, much like O Come, O Come Emmanuel but it brings the biblical words into a present day reality. Since the birth of Jesus, the incarnation, the whole world has been turned on its head. But the Christmas season and the incarnation are more than us just being grateful for what Christ has done for us and being “Emmanuel” to each one of us.. It is also about us being “emmanuel” to the world. We, as believers bear the vision and mission of God in this world. We are God with others. This song tells that story. I sang this with my sister Elizabeth for at least two years at our Christmas Eve service in Fond du Lac. She was always better at it than I was…but I still love it.

5) Do You Hear What I Hear?– I love the progression of the story in this carol. The way that the voice of God in the wind whispers to a lamb, the lamb to the boy, the boy to the mighty king, the king to the people everywhere. The story goes EVERYWHERE, but if anyone would have been silent, would it have made it. And there’s a sense almost of disbelief in the thread of the story. “Do you hear this, or is it just me?” And it grows. From a whisper to the nations. I’m not really sure how silver or gold is going to warm up this little babe. Instead, I probably would have brought blankets, but whatever. It’s the thought that counts. There is no reason why I picked this version. It just sounds good.

Maybe I’lll stop with a top 5 for the night. I have more, but this post is getting long.

Merry Advent, friends. You are all in my thoughts as dwell on the memories of many Christmas seasons past.

Love from the weird summery Christmas season of Africa!

Katie

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