Christmas Carols Based on Mark’s Birth Narrative   Leave a comment

Anybody know a good Christmas carol based on Mark’s version of Jesus’ birth? You don’t? Well maybe we should write one! How’s this?

“The No News Good News”

A Christmas Carol According to Mark
Tune: St. Louis (O Little Town of Bethlehem)

Of Jesus’ birth we have no news,
No details or anecdotes.
It likely was a normal birth,
at home with a midwife’s coax.
In Nazareth it happened.
Where else could it have been?
For Jesus was a Nazarene
No father’s name is given.

So whaddya say? Do you have a verse or two in you? We’re looking for a progressive theological perspective, inclusive language, and acknowledgement that Mark didn’t know a thing about Jesus’ birth (unusual or not).

Post your entries on the Living the Questions Facebook page and we’ll choose a favorite (using highly subjective criteria). The winner(s) will receive a free copy of our children’s Christmas Pageant program, “Matt and Lucy’s Version Births.” Let’s hear what you’ve got!

Two more BRAND NEW Carols from OZ   Leave a comment

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic responses, shares, and praise for George Stuart’s lyrics! In response, George has written two BRAND NEW sets of lyrics.  More Christmas than Advent, one is to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and the other is to the tune “The First Nowell.”

In keeping with LtQ’s encouragement to actually read the birth narratives in the Bible (see our “Version Births” Christmas Pageant for children), these carols stick to each gospel’s unique story without blurring the lines.

We think you’ll find the theological perspective, the inclusive language, the social justice bent, and the keeping of the two stories separate as refreshing as we have.

Thank you, George!

Matthew’s Story

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: Mendelssohn (77.77 D with Refrain) 
“Hark the herald angels sing”

As we ponder Christmas tales,
And a hope that never fails,
We give thanks for all new birth,
Wondrous miracle of earth;
Jesus, helpless, meek and mild;
New born baby, undefiled;
Mary’s, Joseph’s great delight;
Jesus grows to be ‘The Light’;
In his human-ness we see
What our lives can truly be.

Ancient stories set the stage
For this humble Jewish sage;
Wise men come; look for a king
With the precious gifts they bring;
Herod was perplexed when told
What their searching could unfold;
Blameless infants must be killed;
Scripture thus, can be fulfilled;
Modern Herods work against
All that loving has commenced.

In a house is where they find
Jesus, born of humankind;
Frankincense and myrrh and gold
Are their gifts; and we behold
Jesus and his star so bright
Shines for us each day and night;
So for infants born today
Stars shine brightly as they play.
Deeds of love are gifts we bring;
Joyful praises we now sing.

Luke’s story

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: The First Nowell  (Meter: Irregular)  
“The First Noel”

When Christmas comes it brings great joy;
This story of a baby boy;
These tales that tell of this new birth;
The miracle of Mother Earth;
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

No room was found for this young maid;
She felt alone and quite afraid;
A shed was where his birth took place;
It was unclean, a sad disgrace;
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

Some shepherds woke and searched to find
A baby born to humankind;
They felt at home where herds would feed;
These outcasts were the lowest breed.
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

So all are welcome to the stall;
For us, this is the gospel call.
We join to lift the chorus swell;
For God is here; Emmanuel.
Noel: Noel: Noel: Noel:
Jesus is born and all is well.

 

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

Lyrics by George Stuart. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Without any further permission, the lyrics herein can be copied, stored or printed for public worship or private devotions, screened through a data projector or projected by an overhead projector, as required.

When the lyrics are used, acknowledgement of the author is requested.

There is however, a strict copyright prohibition regarding copying any of the lyrics in any way whatsoever for re-sale.

Seriously. A New (and Singable) Advent Hymn   1 comment

More and more, practitioners of Progressive Christianity are speaking out about the beloved but threadbare hymns in current denominational hymnals. Most are intolerable. The rest are downright counter-productive to the foundations of 21st century faith. As George Stuart has noted, these traditional hymns use lyrics and words that “express ideas which singers no longer enthusiastically or wholeheartedly endorse,” resulting in “much personal irritation” from “a growing and significant number of people.” The result has been Stuart’s efforts to use traditional hymn tunes to be the vehicles of contemporary, progressive Christian ideas.

“I write my alternative lyrics particularly for many of the older members of congregations who have grown up in the church and love the many old tunes they have sung over the years, but who now find that the traditional words are no longer meaningful, helpful or even tolerable.”

– George Stuart

As Bishop John Shelby Spong says that Stuart’s work “meets a critical demand. It is terrific,” here’s just one example of Stuart’s poetry: an Advent hymn called “The Search for Hope.”

The Search for Hope

By George Stuart, The Uniting Church (Australia)
Tune: Darwall (66.66.88)
[“Rejoice, the Lord Is King” #715 in the United Methodist Hymnal]

1. We search for lasting hope
To help us face each day,
To give us reason to pursue a different way.
In Christ we see
A way to go through ‘high’ and ‘low’
And set us free.

2. Sometimes the hope we want
Is difficult to find;
It falls to us to foster it in heart and mind.
In Christ we know
A path to tread through peace and dread
And help us grow.

3. When others seem to break
When hope seems at an end,
We may be able to give hope
just as a friend.
In Christ we share
A call to be in ministry,
To love and care.

4. Hope brings us back to life
In hope we can proceed;
God of the future calls to us if we but heed.
In Christ we view
How God can reign in our domain;
Make all things new.

5. This Christmas brings new hope
For justice, peace, goodwill;
This Advent time may bring with it a secret thrill.
With Jesus born
New hope can be reality
With each new dawn.

 

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

George Stuart at the 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT

Lyrics by George Stuart. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Without any further permission, the lyrics herein can be copied, stored or printed for public worship or private devotions, screened through a data projector or projected by an overhead projector, as required.

When the lyrics are used, acknowledgement of the author is requested.

There is however, a strict copyright prohibition regarding copying any of the lyrics in any way whatsoever for re-sale.

 

An Apocalyptic Advent to You and Yours   2 comments

“Apocalyptic Awakening”

By Bruce Sanguin (from If Darwin Prayed)

O Holy One,
we are a sleepy lot,
slow to stir to the calling of the cosmos,
deaf to the cries of the Earth
and the forgotten ones,
human and other-than-human.

We distract ourselves
with trivialities that have become idols;
while the sun and the moon darken,
and the stars fall from the skies,
we are mesmerized by the market’s alluring power,
eyes unflinchingly fixed upon the naval of our own net worth.

“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,”
cries the prophet,
or at least tear open our hearts, pry open our eyes,
and end this slumber that blocks out pain,
but with it, wonder.

Our hope, O Holy One, is found in eyes wide open,
in hearts linked in common cause,
in small gestures of compassion,
and in alertness to your coming,
again and again.
As fire kindles brushwood
and causes water to boil,
so we await to be set on fire
with hope and gospel passion.

“Apocalyptic Awakening” can be found in Sanguin’s book, If Darwin Prayed, available by clicking HERE

Bruce Sanguin_scarf

Rev. Bruce Sanguin is a leader in evolutionary Christianity, teaching evolutionary theology and practice with a passion for updating the theology and practice of the church in light of the reality of evolutionary processes and the creative impulse of the universe. He lives in Vancouver. Find more of his writing HERE

 

PtS logo white frameFor more of Bruce’s insights, check out Living the Questions series “Painting the Stars,” a DVD/web-based curriculum exploring the interface of Science, Religion, and an Evolving Faith. CLICK HERE (or on the graphic at left) for more information. 

 

 

New “Jesus Fatwah” Trailer   Leave a comment

Fatwah n. a spiritually instructive opinion, usually given as the answer to a question about religious law.

When asked to name the greatest commandment, Jesus issued a fatwah: “Love God with every fiber of your being and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Living the Questions is proud to introduce our newest DVD series, “The Jesus Fatwah,” a dynamic 5-session program that takes Jesus’ admonition to love our neighbors as we love ourselves seriously — even (and in these tense times, especially) if that neighbor is Muslim.

A "Jesus Fatwah" class at Dayspring United Methodist in Tempe, Arizona had over 120 participants (including the Imam and 15 members of a local mosque)

A “Jesus Fatwah” class at Dayspring United Methodist in Tempe, Arizona had over 120 participants (including the Imam and 15 members of a local mosque) [October 2014]

“The Jesus Fatwah” is an engaging catalyst for conversation about resisting the Islamophobia that is rampant and, in many segments of our society, growing stronger. With nearly 20 Muslim and Christian contributors and a helpful participant guide written by author and pastor, Rev. Ben Daniel (author of The Search for Truth About Islam: A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction), “The Jesus Fatwah” is a perfect vehicle for educating those unfamiliar with Islam about the basics of the faith and how, as followers of Jesus, we are compelled to reach out in love to our Muslim neighbors. The downloadable participant guide includes discussion questions to maximize your group’s experience.

CLICK HERE for information on how to purchase your copy of “The Jesus Fatwah”

Introducing “The Jesus Fatwah: Love your Muslim Neighbor as Yourself”   2 comments

TJF blockHelp stem the rising tide of Islamophobia with the newest DVD curriculum from Living the Questions!

In Arabic, the word “fatwah” simply means “opinion” and, in a religious context, a fatwah is a spiritually instructive opinion, usually given as the answer to a question about religious law. Jesus was a master of the art of fatwah. His opinions, revered by Christians and Muslims alike, remain among the most beautiful and powerful fatwahs ever issued. Jesus pronounced what is perhaps the most famous of his fatwahs when a lawyer asked him to name the greatest of all the commandments. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

It’s in that spirit that we are thrilled to introduce a new DVD curriculum from Living the Questions: The Jesus Fatwah: Love your Muslim Neighbor as Yourself.

With violence and mayhem on the rise in the Middle East and public opinion of Islam plummeting, this is a critical time in both international affairs and for the day to day lives of Muslims everywhere. Much of what passes for information about Islam is weed-like disinformation rooted in ancient stereotypes and watered by fear — and disseminated by a multi-million dollar industry bent on stoking a growing Islamophobia.  In LtQ’s new The Jesus Fatwah series, both Islamic and Christian scholars offer reliable information about what Muslims believe, how they live out their faith, and how we can build relationships across the lines of faith.

The Jesus Fatwah features seventeen Islamic and Christian scholars, including:

  • Hans Küng (Islam: Past, Present and Future)
  • Brian McLaren (Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?)
  • Eboo Patel (Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim)
  • Stephen Prothero (God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter)
  • Feisal Abdul Rauf (What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America)

CLICK HERE to see a complete listing of the contributors.

Along with five half-hour sessions on one DVD disc, a downloadable participant guide and discussion questions are provided to foster both conversation and action. Written by the Rev. Ben Daniel, author of The Search for Truth about Islam: A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction, the participant guide lays out succinct conversation topics which are then expanded on by the video-based contributors.

CLICK HERE to see a list of the program themes.

In an age of increasing Islamophobia, we believe it’s especially important for Christians to take Jesus seriously and love their neighbors as they love themselves — especially the Muslim ones! The Jesus Fatwah can help you and your faith or discussion group begin the process of discovering who Muslims really are, what they actually believe, and how we can work together in working toward a world at peace.

Be one of the first to receive this important new series by pre-ordering today!TJF Title

Order NOW through September 30th via the Living the Questions Website to receive our Special Pre-Publication Discount Price of $79.00 (plus shipping/handling). Save $20 over the regular price of $99 (plus shipping/ handling). There is no coupon code to enter. Through September 30th, the discounted price will automatically be given at checkout.

Click Here to Place Your Pre-Order TODAY!

Anticipated Release Date: September 2014.

Attention International Customers: This product is only available in NTSC format.Please verify that your DVD player can read/play NTSC formatted DVDs prior to ordering.

FLASH GIVEAWAY: Win ALL FIVE of LtQ’s Most Popular Programs!   1 comment

Fb_promo_5HEs

FLASH GIVEAWAY!  Go to Living the Questions’ Facebook page for your chance  to win home editions of ALL FIVE of LtQs most popular programs.That’s a bundle of LtQ worth over $250! Find the graphic (pictured above) on our timeline and simply press “Like” and “Share” to your own timeline.

This promo begins on Friday, August 22nd and ends on Sunday, August 24th at midnight (MST). On Monday, a winner will be chosen randomly from those who have “Liked” and “Shared” this post between now and Sunday night. Good luck and thanks for your support!

CLICK HERE to go to the LtQ Facebook page. 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,467 other followers

%d bloggers like this: