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“A Light to Lighten the Gentiles”: Christmas Reflections
The simple — and I think understandable — fact of the matter is, a lot of my thoughts about Christmas come with music attached. Last week, one of the season’s first chances to sit quietly and think Christmas thoughts came at Carnegie Hall, up in the cheap seats on the highest balcony. A fine New York City ensemble, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and a choir of professionals from Montreal, La Chapelle de Québec, performed Bach’s entire Christmas Oratorio. It was glorious. The hall was nearly full, including, just in front of me, five rows of priests, seminarians, and a bishop or two.
As I write this, Christmas music plays from my iPhone’s very long Christmas playlist. “See Amid the Winter’s Snow” is playing now. It has become a favorite. (I wrote about this before.) The playlist is mostly alphabetical; if I didn’t tell my phone to shuffle it, I’d get five different recordings of that carol in a row. It wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Using the shuffle button has its risks. That sublime carol just gave way to the Chipmunks singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” It’s been on my phone for a few years, since I used it to summon the family to wakefulness, breakfast, and gifts one Christmas morning. Perky and annoying, it was just the thing to make it difficult for them to fall back into sleep.
It’s still perky and annoying. But it’s short and I let it play. I’m too lazy to reach out my finger and skip it, let alone remove it from the playlist. “The Huron Carol” by the Canadian Brass is next.
All that music is the setting for writing my Christmas reflections. The reflections themselves come mostly from the Bible today, though music makes another appearance at the end.
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I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I won’t complain if you use the nickname Mormon. By my definition (not everyone’s) I’m a Christian. Whatever you call yourself, you’re welcome here. I write to explain and inspire, if I can; to discuss and explore — not to proselyte.
My writings are sometimes apologetic, in the sense of reasoned argument justifying or defending my faith by explaining it. But I make no apologies (in the conventional sense) for having faith, for having a faith, or for presuming to discuss and ponder.
A Bit More Chatter
“Faith without works is dead,” James said. I’ll buy that. Here are some other postulates:
- Faith without brain cells is mostly dead, too, but probably doesn’t know it.
- Yesterday’s faith is of little use today.
- Faith and action are not contradictory concepts.
- Thinking and believing are not mutually hostile activities. They are the most natural and necessary partners in the universe.
- Sometimes Latter-day Saints (Mormons) need to be translated, before what they do or say makes much sense to other people, even other believers. I do some of that here.
Disclaimer: I am in no way or degree an official spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its leaders. They don’t tell me what to write. They don’t tell me what not to write. I’ll take credit for any errors here. If you find any truth here and care to give proper credit, please aim it far, far above my pay grade, where it belongs.
From the Author
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