The O Antiphons

In the western liturgical traditions the last seven days of advent include singing these seven chants—they would be largely unknown to churches like mine whose hymnody owes more to Hillsong than ancient Latin verse. Except, I bet you recognise them. They’re the content of the only advent hymn most of us know, O Come O… Continue reading The O Antiphons

The Weakness of God

Nietzsche attacked Christianity with all the strength his mind and powerful prose could summon up. His hatred for Christians was sourced in part because he considered the faith to be a religion for the weak and a religion that idolised and encouraged weakness. For Nietzsche the way of Jesus propagated what he called ‘slave morality’… Continue reading The Weakness of God

The Month with Two Faces

You’d be forgiven for thinking I was speaking of January, named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces to look forwards and backwards in the year. Rather, Advent—the first season of the Christian year—has two faces. One face is a face of joy, the face we associate with our Christmas traditions, with chocolate… Continue reading The Month with Two Faces

Feasting at Christmastime

This is a time full of feasting. Everywhere you go it seems you’re offered a plate of mince pies or piece of stollen, perhaps with a glass of mulled wine. You can’t escape it—biscuits and coffee at church become wine and cake week after week. Or at least that’s normal in the UK, I’m told… Continue reading Feasting at Christmastime

A Pillar of Salt

This is a nostalgic time of year. I’ve written this ahead of time so I don’t know what Christmas TV we’ll be treated to but I expect it will include a Christmas special or two from something that hasn’t been on the screens for a few years, and a bunch of old favourites being shown.… Continue reading A Pillar of Salt

Advent begins in the dark

Advent started yesterday, on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Most of us, if we observe advent at all will start on Wednesday with the opening of our calendars on the first of December. We consider it our three and a half week countdown to Christmas. Which is all well and good, preparing for feasts makes… Continue reading Advent begins in the dark

Advent is coming

Advent starts on Sunday, which will confuse some of you because you’re expecting it to start next Wednesday. Others of you will be appalled at the idea of ‘doing Christmas’ in November—well we won’t be, we’ll be celebrating Advent. Advent is dark. Advent is bleak. Advent is about staring at the wretched core of the… Continue reading Advent is coming