“They said there’ll be peace on earth”

[I made it through the whole year without referencing Bono, so I have my once-a-year allotted reference to use for Advent.  Yippee.]

Back in the day, U2 had a big hit with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, which sufficiently freaked out a number of religious people who were skeptical that a band of believers could play such a song if they really were believers.

I think that at the heart of those criticisms was a disregard for the feeling of longing that believers experience, never mind all the longing present in the Bible.

Advent is all about feeling, really feeling, that longing and opening up to the new sorts of hope and enactments of faith that it can bring.

Here are a bunch of ways for you to reflect on longing before we discuss it on Sunday.

This link will take you to an article that John found about the Dangerous Idea of Advent, which connects Advent to some of the topics we have discussed this fall.

This writing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer will rattle you as you consider what you are really longing for and what part you play in bringing about its reality. Here is an excerpt:

…the shocking reality: Jesus stands at the door and knocks, in complete reality. He asks you for help in the form of a beggar, in the form of a ruined human being in torn clothing. He confronts you in every person that you meet. Christ walks on the earth as your neighbor as long as there are people. He walks on the earth as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you and makes his demands. That is the greatest seriousness and the greatest blessedness of the Advent message.

Last year I shared my favorite Advent song, U2’s  If God Will Send His Angels.

Here are some other songs that are Advent to me.

Do They Know It’s Christmas? was the instant classic from BandAid (okay, okay, watch it once and see if you can still identify everyone, then watch it again for Advent).

How about the younger generation’s experiences of longing?  Here is Justin Bieber’s Pray.

And, now… my song for this Advent season is U2’s interpretation of I Believe In Father Christmas.  The original version by Greg Lake is a pretty bleak lament about Christmas unfulfilled.   U2 changes the lyrics slightly, and this song becomes an expression of Advent in which one finds new ways to hope inside the longing for fulfillment.

The original version discusses being sold a vision of Christmas “til I believed in the Israelite.”  U2 shifts the song to be an affirmation that while they are sold a vision of Christmas, which is unrealized, they can claim “but I believe in the Israelite.” The verbs come into present tense unlike the original version.  The way Bono sings the line “I saw him through his disguise” calls to my mind the Bonhoeffer quote above.  See what you think.

See you on Sunday,

kit

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