I am running a Facebook "Advent Calendar". You can find it by searching for "Burbania Posts". many of them don't translate well to this format, but when they do I will post them here...
ADVENT DAY 5, 2017
The tree at the parsonage is finally up. It isn't decorated or anything, but baby steps have been achieved, which is a relief. Today I will search for lights and decorations in the attic after I get back from the office.
Yesterday, while I was kicking around the kitchen post-tree, I put on some Frank Sinatra. Most of the time when I listen to Christmas music it is from Sufjan Stevens or the somewhat less "high concept" Trekky Yuletide Orchestra (that is Trekky Records, not Star Trek). In both cases the work is set against a backdrop of our conflicted and anxious era...our own. Of course, Old Blue Eyes calmly crooning in his smooth, effortless style surrounded by the chaos of the Second World War fits this same theme nicely.
At Christmas time we talk about peace like it is here, even though evidence points to the contrary. Sometimes it feels like we are being aspirational. At other times it feels delusional. In the comments section I will put a video here from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It is an arrangement of "Carol of the Bells" they call "Christmas in Sarajevo". There are smoke bombs and lasers. It is discordant in places. What did you expect?
TSO began their career as the prog metal band Savatage. As a long-time fan I can say that this discord is intentional. They are placing a big, fat question mark on one of the major themes of the season. How much can we celebrate peace if we do not work for it? How much do we truly want to live in harmony with the earth and our fellow humans? Right now it isn't all that clear.
I am putting another song here before the comments. It is from that 9:30pm Christmas Eve Folk Service of a couple years back. Walker and I are playing a Frank Turner song. Turner is a well known atheist and has written some beautiful songs that can really only be considered hymns. This is one that we like to pull out sometimes. It addresses (perhaps more quietly and with--at least on my part--reduced technical talent) the same question. What does this holiday mean for us in our own doubt and our failure to meet it's lofty goals?