Christmas day: Keening for the dawn

Christ was born at a time of great social distress, vulnerability, and trial. His story bears more resemblance to the darkest moments in our lives than a tinsel-bedecked dream. And yet… darkness is broken by the dawn.

Our Christmas Day podcast features a reflection by singer-songwriter Steve Bell, followed by his song Keening for the Dawn. Steve talks about two times in his life in which Christmas celebrations seemed shallow in the face of trying circumstances. Can Christmas “bear the freight of the truth of our lives?”



Christmas eve: Come, Lord

There are many stories in the Bible of people getting a promise from God, and then having to wait for it to be fulfilled. When we wait on God’s promises it can be frustrating, even frightening. You doubt if you’ve really heard from God–or wonder if you’ve maybe made a mistake–when God seems silent. The Advent season acknowledges this part of our faith journey, and calls for Jesus to come and fulfill God’s promise to the world.

Jaylene Johnson is a singer-songwriter who currently serves as ministry coordinator at St. Benedict’s Table. In this installment of “In days to come…” Jaylene introduces and performs her song Come, Lord.


Advent 4: Jesse tree

The prophet Isaiah’s image of a new shoot coming from the stump of Jesse–a new king in the line of David–is a famous one. For Christians, the image of the Jesse tree points to Jesus–an unlikely king, with unlikely work to accomplish. It also stands for the hopeful and expectant space in which we must live our lives.

This podcast features the song Jesse Tree by Gord Johnson, former artist in residence at St. Benedict’s Table. The song is performed by Steve Bell and introduced by the Rev. Jamie Howison.


Advent 3: I hate the mall

We notice the people all around us–and if we’re honest, probably ourselves too–getting more rushed and grumpy as the December weeks go by, trying to create the perfect family holiday. The practice of Advent, however, “doesn’t lead to anxiety or disappointment, but rather a growing inner stillness and joy.”

Spiritual director and blogger Rachel Twigg-Boyce shares a short reflection on the difference between our attempts at preparation and control when getting ready for Christmas, and Advent’s expectant waiting.



Advent 2: O come, O come, Emmanuel

Musician and songwriter Steve Bell reveals the roots of O come O come Emmanuel in traditional Advent prayers known as the O Antiphons–calling on Christ using the mysterious titles given in Isaiah.

Bell’s wonderful contemporary version of the hymn is interwoven with seven sonnets corresponding to the seven O Antiphons, written and performed by English poet and priest Malcolm Guite.

“These are the names that give prophetic content to the name we have come to reverence and treasure so dearly, and in which we have come to rejoice.”


Advent 1: The four last things

Dig into ancient Advent tradition with the Rev. Jamie Howison, founding pastor of St. Benedict’s Table.

Jamie introduces the medieval practice of contemplating “the four last things” during the Advent season–bringing the peace, joy, hope, and love of the Advent wreath into sharper relief.

Get some perspective on Jesus’ imminent arrival with the first installment of our Advent podcast series.