This version by the Elora Festival Singers is beautiful.
This version by Bruce Cockburn is more authentic but less appealing. When Betty and I were up around Penetanguishene last summer we saw the original artwork by Frances Tyrrell in the museum there – very beautiful work.
The words below represent the translation by Edgar Middleton made in 1926. The WIKI article details the history.
‘Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim and wondering hunters heard the hymn,
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found;
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou
The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.
O Come O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel..
This prayer is still ours as we wait for the return of Jesus. We are God’s people in exile, a broken people, at some times worshipping the true God, at other times worshipping an image of godness, self-created, a dead idol that will not confront our compromise. Walter Brueggemann writes,
“As I reflect on ministry, and especially on my ministry, I know in the hidden places that the real restraints are not in my understanding or in the receptivity of other people. Rather, the restraints come from my own unsureness about this perception… I, like most of the others, am unsure that the alternative community inclusive of the poor, hungry and grieving is really the wave of God’s future. We are indeed “like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9). That is likely the situation of many of us in ministry, and there is no way out of it. It does make clear to us that our ministry will always be practiced through our own conflicted selves…
“We ourselves shall move in and out [of certainty, of our convictions about the nature of the kingdom of God and His body, our awareness of what God is doing] precisely because of our poor capacity to grieve the death in our own lives and so be amazed at the new futures. We are not more skilled in that than all the other children of the compromised community, and therefore we must engage in the same painful practices of becoming who we are called to be. I have come to think that there is no more succinct summary of prophetic ministry than the statement of Jesus: “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21), or “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt 5:4). More..
Audio: Vineyard Singers O Come, O come…
Scot McKnight once noted that one of his favorite Christmas hymns is, “O Come, O Come Immanuel,” a 12th Century hymn originally penned in Latin. It wasn’t until 2008 that I heard the Latin version and since then have heard two more renditions in Latin – the most recent being a version sung by Enya, “And Winter Came” .. an album that is rapidly becoming an Advent season favorite for us).
It’s not just that the poetry or the raw beauty of “Veni, Veni Emmanuel,” but the way it evokes both the joy of Jesus coming, and the longing for the arrival of the new world. We live in between the times. Some days we feel the presence of the kingdom in our friendships, at a table with family, or sitting in front of a warm fire while the snow is falling. At other times, we long for the arrival of the new world.. aware of our own failures, the darkness in the world, the hunger and loneliness and pain. Read the rest of this entry »
Every year we attend Christmas events. Most years they are sentimental and soft and romantic. And generally, also humorous. Nothing wrong with that, right? We need some of that in our lives. I know I could use more laughs!
But when these events are supposed to represent the most dramatic, dangerous, life changing event in history — they come up rather short. The Incarnation is one of those things that has been ravaged by sentimentality, drained of danger and drama. It needs some recovery. These beautiful lyrics by Andrew Peterson — link at the end to the song sung by Jill Philips and set to a video clip from The Nativity. There was another version of this a few years ago but I didn’t care for the sequence of video and it was only 640 wide.
It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town
And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold
It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love..
LINK – 1280 wide.
Creation waits now for the gardener to speak:
And the eager weeds await their release
From the bondage of being weeds.
Eden and Zion lie far apart
But atom and ocean, beasts and plants
Wait for the one who will grant them peace.
Then the planet will spin in a sabbath dance
(And the dancing place will be the heart).
Fruit will burgeon from scattered seeds
And garden and town be clean as a fleece
Early in the morning, on the first day of the week.
I do not know if you feel the throbbing of the land in your chest … you may not feel the spiritual anguish as I see the earth ravaged… but you can no longer escape my fate as the soil turns barren and the rivers poison. (Grand Chief John Kelly, 1977) The Comeback, 2014, 220
The legacy of European style governments and white, Western mission toward First Nation peoples is well known. One could wish it were only a memory, but colonial and paternalistic attitudes still exist, particularly within government policy and practice. John Ralston Saul argues in The Comeback that Canada’s government is colonial and racist, while the majority of Canada’s people are not. I wish this were less obvious.
Saul also argues that this experiment in pluralism and cooperation we call Canada would never have been possible without the generosity of spirit of our FN peoples. He argues that something of the way they see and engage with the world was agreeable to many of the first European settlers – particularly the French — and made this pluralist and democratic experiment possible. We genuinely learned from and embraced something of aboriginal generosity and humility, moving beyond the competitive and possessive self-interest that characterize Western cultures.
Saul’s claim is fascinating because it’s about more than land. I’m not a social historian, but it is clear that FN peoples readily extend the privilege of family to strangers in a way that white Westerners do not. They are an enormously generous people. The boundaries of family are more porous and for our aboriginal peoples.
It appears that, as the years go by, the circle of the Ojibway gets bigger and bigger. Canadians of all colors are entering that circle. You might feel that you have roots somewhere else, but in reality, you are right here with us. I do not know if you feel the throbbing of the land in your chest … you may not feel the spiritual anguish as I see the earth ravaged… but you can no longer escape my fate as the soil turns barren and the rivers poison. (Grand Chief John Kelly, 1977)
Ruth Haley Barton writes,
“Any leader who cannot endure profound levels of loneliness will not last long. In his book A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Dr. Edwin Friedman identifies five universal and essential characteristics of those who are leading toward something that is genuinely new. One of those characteristics is a willingness to be exposed and vulnerable relative to our fear of being alone. He says, “One of the major limitations of imagination’s fruits is the fear of standing out. It is more than the fear of criticism. It is anxiety at being alone, of being in a position where one can rely little on others, a position that puts one’s resources to the test, a position where one will have to take total responsibility for one’s own response. Leaders must not only not be afraid of that position; they must come to love it.”
Saul also argues that this experiment in pluralism and cooperation we call Canada would never have been possible without the generosity and humility in our FN peoples. That something of the way they see and engage with the world transferred to the first European settlers – particularly the French – and made Canada possible in a way it would not have been in a purely Western, analytic and linear worldview. We genuinely learned from and embraced something of their generosity of spirit, moving beyond the individualism and self-interest that characterized Western cultures. Our exercise of tolerance and our pluralism — our success as a nation — owes something to FN peoples.
It’s a fascinating claim because it’s about much more than land. I’m not a social historian but it is clear that FN peoples readily extend the privilege of family to strangers in a way white Westerners do not. They are an enormously generous people. The boundaries of family are more porous and for our aboriginal peoples.
It appears that, as the years go by, the circle of the Ojibway gets bigger and bigger. Canadians of all colors are entering that circle. You might feel that you have roots somewhere else, but in reality, you are right here with us. I do not know if you feel the throbbing of the land in your chest … you may not feel the spiritual anguish as I see the earth ravaged.. but you can no longer escape my fate as the soil turns barren and the rivers poison. (Grand Chief John Kelly, 1977 quoted in The Comeback, 220)
My question today is this. Aboriginal thought grasps life and reality as a circle, pays more attention to context, sees humanity as a family, and adheres to a holistic worldview. Western thought is linear and analytic, pulls things apart, and our culture is expressed in Cartesian individualism. The popular claim — the Enlightenment lens — is that the bible best represents the latter. Certainly those in government who claim allegiance to Christian faith and make decisions about land and people seem to justify that argument. And the colonial practices of the Church in the last few generations — not only in North American but worldwide — also appear to support that reading.
But the reality is that both Old and New Testaments were written within an ancient eastern worldview. Jesus was part of a small, tribal, ethnic minority.
While that has largely been obscured by modern lenses (and the hegemony of European theology), it’s increasingly obvious that the bible is more amenable to a pre-modern and tribal reading. As the center of Christianity shifts to the global south, other (and older) readings are gaining ground; as we move into a post-secular and post-colonial age, we are suddenly discovering that the bible speaks incisively to colonial issues. How could it not, with the Jews and Christians in the first century held under the oppressive domination of a Roman governor? Jesus, part of a marginalized culture at the edge of civilization, was crucified by the dominant powers.
And I believe that’s one reason why so many FN peoples, in spite of the oppressive legacy of the colonizing Church, have embraced Christian faith. They have intuited a deeper truth about Jesus that the white, Western church has often obscured. If we can retire the white, European Jesus long enough to see the real man, we might find “the Comeback” has impact we never dreamed of, and that even Christian faith can offer resources for healing and reconciliation that we did not anticipate.
Part II of this look at The Comeback will look more closely at the contrast between these two readings and two worldviews. I will argue that a false eschatology and a false reading of Genesis 1-2 are largely responsible for the distortions in practice that have mired much of the Protestant movement, and still influence church and government policies today.
Btw, beginning at page 180, Saul includes indigenous voices – the last 90 pages of the book is from letters and articles and submissions made to government officials over the years. The following poetry is not found in The Comeback. This is by Armand Garnet Ruffo — “At Geronimo’s Grave” —
This morning at Fort Sill I saw the windowless cellar
they held him in (not open to the public)
and the other building they transferred him to,
the one turned into a museum and whitewashed.
A notice said he really spent little time in his cell
since he had the run of the place,
like a bed and breakfast, I am led to believe.
Yet, with wilted petals between my fingers soft as grace,
soft as old sorrow, and an even older sun overhead
guiding me beyond this arbor and back onto the highway,
I am left wondering about who he really was.
Oilfields and prairie flowers, barbed wire and distant mesas
red as a people locked behind aging vision
telling me it is the land that will have the last word.
For him whom they also call Prisoner of War.
Dr. Tom Woodward is the Director of NASA/AMES Research Center, and finds himself in the active nucleus of a scientific storm. When Tom Woodward meets Drs. Chris and Lisa Torrance at the University of Washington, he discovers that Chris has experienced an instantaneous ‘jump’ in space-time, combining a genetic anomaly with a rare catalyst in the pollen of an unusual flower from the mountains of northern Argentina.
Meanwhile, the genetic control mechanism is also connected to an incident at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, when a Russian technician ‘blinks out’ of the Universe for a moment, and the rip in the fabric of space-time is reflected instantly on the other side of the world at Brookhaven National Laboratory during an experiment with the National Synchrotron. The Russian FSB, carefully monitoring developments in Geneva, also take note of the incident, rumored to be the creation of a microscopic singularity.
In Los Angeles, a Japanese American scientist, Sakuma Shiratsu, who is involved with the BICEP2 cosmology experiments at the South Pole, has published a paper theorizing a human, genetic link to gravitational waves and the elusive ‘graviton’. Shiratsu suspects that a plasma collider might be adaptable to manipulating graviton particles, thus accessing the folds in space-time. His paper comes to the attention of Woodward through a Canadian scientist connected to the dark matter experiment (DEAP-3600) deep underground near Sudbury, Canada.
As the ‘black’ project gets underway, it is also militarized, and the team realize that any local singularity may connect to the supermassive black hole being explored by the Galactic Center Group, and thus act as a gateway to other systems and galaxies. With the burgeoning list of earth-like exoplanets growing out of the Kepler mission, the team capitalize on the 2015 discovery of a new planet in Alpha-Centauri, only 4.4 light years distant. Using the ESO’s VLT observatory in Chile, they confirm the likelihood of both continents and an atmosphere on the new planet, christened Nova Prime One. Together the team and the American military construct an FTL system underground at Brookhaven and plan a jump to Alpha Centauri. But will the Russians get there first?
“We are lost—as a global culture, as organizations, and perhaps as individual leaders. We are in new territory, this brave new world that operates at hyper speed, hyper stress, and hyper irrationality. Our old maps for creating capacity no longer apply; in fact they only get us more lost. So I’ve been focused on how we get “unlost,” how we open to the information that will tell us where we really are, the very information we need to create new maps that offer us a way forward. Laurence Gonzales in Deep Survival, lists the four behaviors of people who are lost.
1. People who are lost at first deny they’re lost. They’re confident that they do know where they are, they just can’t find any familiar signs. Gradually, confronted with strange and unfamiliar sights, anxiety seeps in. They speed up their activities, urgently wanting to verify that they’re not lost.
2. At this point, doubt and uncertainty creep in. People become angry and impatient, pushing aside any information that doesn’t confirm their map. They become desperate to find the smallest scrap of information that proves they know where they are. They reject all other information; they treat as enemy the very information that would help them get unlost.
3. When this strategy fails, people reach the point when they can no longer deny that they’re lost. Fear and panic set in; stressed and scared, their brains stop working. They can’t think straight, so every action they take is senseless, only creating more exhaustion and more problems.
4. By now, confused and panicked, people search frantically for any little sign that’s familiar, the smallest shred of evidence that makes them feel unlost. But they are lost, so this strategy fails and they continue to deteriorate.
Gonzales writes, “Like it or not, you must make a new mental map of where you are or you will die. To survive, you must find yourself. Then it won’t matter where you are. Not being lost is not a matter of getting back to where you started from; it is a decision not to be lost wherever you happen to find yourself. It’s simply saying, ‘I’m not lost, I’m right here’”. Being lost is frightening only until we admit that we are lost. Once we stop denying our situation, fear dissipates.
From Margaret Wheatley, “Lost and Found in a Brave New World” in Leader to Leader.