Like the Sony Walkman and Discman before them, but with a far greater capacity, the iPod and other MP3 players have blurred the boundaries between inside and outside.
Music evokes something within us that few other things would seem able to touch. Through Advent (and, indeed, the twelve days of Christmas) why not carry with you the music of the season, tapping-into memories of Christmas past.
There are both Advent and Christmas carols. Advent carols tend to be quite mournful, whereas Christmas carols tend to be quite joyful – and it is important that we embrace the opportunity Advent presents us, which is quite distinct from Christmas. Advent has a mournful quality to it because we recognise that the world is not as God wills it to be; and that, while the kingdom of heaven continues to pour in through tears in the thin membrane between heaven and earth, the world will not fully be as God wills it to be until Christ returns. Advent carols express the reality of this present dark world, and the hope we have, light shining in darkness, light that at times burns very dim, but is not extinguished.
We have forgotten how to hold fragile hope in dark places, to shelter candle-light from the wind. Advent carols resonate with the mournful hope that the Jewish tradition has nurtured in their darkest hours. I have heard some Christians say that the Jews mourn because they still await their Messiah, who has come. How arrogant! I still wait for the Messiah to come. Even though I believe he came once before, I wait and long for his coming. The world is a dark place. My Christian brothers and sisters – along with believers of other faiths – are persecuted around the world. In the West, we have little experience of trouble; but mournful hoping is an essential component of authentic faith in God as revealed through Jesus. Advent is a very necessary counter-part to the joyful celebration of Christmas. Advent carols are a beautiful counter-part to Christmas carols.
This Advent, why not download albums of seasonal music, and prioritise them in your listening, allowing the sounds to shape us as we make room for Jesus in our lives?
I’m listening to:
Snow Angels by Over The Rhine
Strange Communion, by Thea Gilmore
Sweet Bells, by Kate Rusby
Advent: making room for Jesus – in your iPod.