Top 5 Christmas Hymns & A Christmas in Korea

Here’s how I came up with the ranking of the hymns. Primarily I used the website whose song search gives you the total number of times the same song has been recorded by different artists. So, I went through each Christmas hymn and noted how many versions of each Christmas hymn has been recorded. I also factored in something else – the inclusion of Christmas hymns in the top 100 streamed Christmas songs on Spotify. I start with #4 below and move up to #1. Then I will end with #5. #4 - What Child Is This? (edited from Galaxy Music Notes webpage) “What Child Is This?” is a famous and traditional Christmas carol crafted in 1865. The lyrics were composed by William Chatterton Dix, the son of a surgeon residing in Bristol, England. Dix spent most of his life as a businessman in Glasgow, Scotland, working at the managerial level of the Maritime Insurance Company. Dix was [enthralled] by traditional English folk music;. And when he started writing the lyrics for “What Chil

What's the Study of Doxa?

How many times have you sung the doxology? Well, I’m 52 years old. If I sang the doxology at every Sunday service from my 5th birthday till now, I would have sung it 2,240 times! That’s a lot! For many of you, the number would be higher. That in mind, do any of you know the meaning of the word doxology? I didn’t "Doxa" means glory, and "logia" means to give words to or expression to. So doxology means to give words to or expression to glory, in this case, to the glory of God.  Okay, can any of you tell me who wrote the words to the doxology we sing? I gave you a hint in that question, by the way. "Ken" any of you tell me who wrote the doxology? Thomas Ken is the composer. Here’s a little bio from the website: Thomas Ken (b. 1637 – d. 1711) crafted these plain and profound words in the late 1600s. He wrote them as the final and “doxological” stanza of three hymns he published, first for students at Winchester College at Oxford Univ

Bruce Springsteen & the Gospel of Love

1. For centuries before Jesus, prophets in the Holy Land shouted from the hills and in the city streets. Isaiah epitomized these hard-truth tellers. Amid the ruins of his day and city, Isaiah preached truth to power. His words from Isaiah 58 still ring true: Remove the yoke of oppression from among you,     the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, Offer your food to the hungry     and satisfy the needs of the afflicted. If you do, then your light shall rise in the darkness     and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually     and satisfy your needs in parched places… and you shall be like a watered garden,     like a spring of water     whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;     you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach,     the restorer of streets to live in.   No one listened, at least not for long. Hard times and hardened hearts got in the way of

Do Church Growth Consultations Work?

Below is from a no-longer functioning website of the Hartford  Institute for Religious Research (HIRR). (Hartford Seminary, where HIRR exists, is now Hartford International University.) The web-post asks and answers the increasingly pertinent question, "Do Church Growth Consultations Work?"  The web-post first appeared in June 2004 . It references research from 1986 done by C. Kirk Hadaway. I was in high school in 1986, which was 37 years ago. In 1986, we were living in a culture that was much more friendly to church life. According to Pew Research, in 1986 only around 8% of Americans claimed "none" when asked about their religious affiliation. In 2021, that number soared to 29%.  Many more examples of research point to the decline of religion in America as well as the decline in how religion is perceived. There is a whole generation (Millenials) and one still progressing (Gen-Z) that are largely non-religious. In other words, "the market" for church invol

The Mountain Stream Record Shop

Mark 2: 15 At Levi’s house, many tax collectors and other sinners—Jews who did not keep the strict purity laws of the Jewish holy texts—were dining with Jesus and His disciples. Jesus had attracted such a large following that all kinds of people surrounded Him.  16   When the Pharisees’ scribes saw who shared the table with Jesus, they were quick to criticize. The Scribes said (to His disciples),   If your master is such a righteous person, then why does He eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners, the worst among us? 17  Jesus heard them and replied, “People who have their health don’t need to see a doctor. Only those who are sick do. I’m not here to call those already in good standing with God; I’m here to call sinners to turn back to Him.” 21   These are new things I’m teaching, and they can’t be reconciled with old habits.  Nobody would ever use a piece of new cloth to patch an old garment because when the patch shrinks, it pulls away and makes the tear even worse.  22  An

"River" (Joni Mitchell)

I wouldn’t always live along the Hudson. I first moved away when I was just 19 years old. In many ways, I kept moving. But it wasn’t the river I was running from.  In fact, wherever the place I lived, I’d always miss the Hudson and the Catskills in the distance hovering over the river. Most years, I’d make it home for Christmas, the river sometimes frozen over or almost. And the Catskills by then were touched with white like my hair these days. Of course, I don’t remember my first Christmas. I was merely 8 months old in the December of that year with its momentous music. That year of 1971 ended with a couple Christmas-themed songs that transcended the season, Happy Xmas (the War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and River by Joni Mitchell. Can you hear Joni Mitchell sing? It's coming on Christmas They’re cutting down trees And putting up reindeer And singing songs of joy and peace…   In 1971, the Christmas traditions sung about happened. Like every year, the se

Transformative Christianity (Pt 3): The Bridge to Eden

We come to the climax of this sermon series. We’ve discussed who we are – created in God’s divine image. We’ve discussed how this divine image is covered over with the baggage of our humanness. Now we turn to the one who removes that baggage and returns us to our original state as God’s divine image. We turn to the one who finds us east of Eden, gathers us, shepherds us, and lays down his life to be a bridge back to Eden. Imagine a huge bridge over troubled waters. A huge flow of people walk that bridge from east of Eden into Eden. For each individual in that stream of people, Christ is their personal bridge to God, a bridge to the garden of their hearts, a bridge to a relationship with God, a bridge back to our original nature, our divine image. Christ through his work on the cross removes the baggage covering that divine image, allowing us to begin again. We can say Jesus wipes the slate clean, getting us back to square one where we are at-one with God. Christ and the Cross at-on