music is a language that speaks across so many of the boundaries we place between ourselves and others. of course, not all music does that, and music can itself be boundary-making - my dad dislikes much of the music his daughters listen to, and vice-versa. but there are those pieces of music that speak to us, regardless of our preferences of style, and remind us, connect us to, our common humanity, and perhaps also, the sacred.
last night at our Blue Christmas service, music did that, I think - we had with us three Papuan men, whose land, whose families and friends, are suffering persecution as the people of Papua strive for liberation. These men had brought their instruments with them - a guitar, and a drum whose beat resonates hope. These men had brought their songs with them, sung in the midst of great personal and communal suffering, songs of the trust we can hold onto in the midst of such pain and grief, that God is indeed with us. We can learn much from each other. And Australians who enjoy a measure of comfort and security and freedom (though not all of us) would do well to pay attention and listen to these songs and these stories - for what we know of the hope and peace we sing of at Christmas is not all there is to know.
a friend posted a link to this song, a very different kind of Christmas 'carol' to the European carols we sing. I often wonder why we continue to sing songs of deep mid-winter, and appreciated greatly the songs Leigh Newton has written and sang at the Alive @ 5 interactive Christmas last Sunday - imagining, retelling, the Christmas story in an Australian voice, in our language, with our images and land in mind. It doesn't snow in Australia at Christmas, and the sun shines bright and hot - so we need to tell the Christmas story in our language - light breaking through the darkness isn't nearly so evocative an image for a summer Christmas celebration. We sing the carols of our ancestors because they are the carols of our ancestors, and I have no problem with that. But let us also allow the new carols of this land to emerge and be sung, for music is a language that speaks straight to the heart.