Singing Black Spirituals in Mostly-White Congregations

We Barn Geese are so convinced of the value of Black spirituals that we believe they’re worth singing even in the complicated context of mostly-white congregations. Also, we are pretty dang white ourselves. So we recognize that this gets complicated.

Extended Advent Orientation

This series encourages your community to observe Advent for up to seven weeks this year, though it can certainly be used for a four-week Advent too. Our materials are organized by date to make it easy for you do what works best for your context: whatever Sunday of Advent you’re on, and no matter howContinue reading “Extended Advent Orientation”

Adapting the Advent Wreath

The most immediate challenge of an extended Advent is how to count the weeks. The average Advent wreath can accommodate four candles. Also, the average Advent wreath was donated in memory of someone, and switching to something completely different might be tricky. Here are a few Advent candle options, with or without the existing wreath.Continue reading “Adapting the Advent Wreath”

November 14: “My Lord, What a Morning/Mourning”

The double meaning we find here does more than simply demonstrate just some mild poetic confusion about a hymn (or elucidate the trickiness of deploying a homonym in the oral-aural atmosphere of the worship environment).  I believe it also elucidates a deeper tension at the heart of the Christian faith. 

November 28: “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning”

Planetary bodies, sunlight, nighttime, seasons: these are signs of time that God controls, not you. Signs that you cannot change, because God sets them. Signs that you must only watch for. “Be alert at all times,” Jesus instructs. God will use the signs to tell you, on God’s time, that … it’s time.

December 5: “Freedom is Coming”

The song “Freedom is Coming” triumphantly declares a transformation that is both happening and not yet fully realized. As a freedom-song of the South African anti-apartheid movement, and eventually a freedom-song sung throughout the world, “Freedom is Coming” is all about helping people to imagine something that can be but isn’t yet.

December 12: “When the Poor Ones”

Fruited and unfruited trees both grow within each of us, and John’s urgency is not directed toward certain individuals, but toward everyone, calling us all to reveal to ourselves the patterns of behavior, habits of thought, and spiritual practices that undergird our daily choices.

December 19: “Canticle of the Turning”

The effortless speed and lyrical density of “Canticle of the Turning” remind us that the very choice to live in Advent hope is an act of brinkmanship that rivals Mary’s own. In this last week of the season, there is no better time to enjoy the adrenaline rush of irrational faith.