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Bryan Sirchio Music Minstry December Newsletter

December greetings everyone!
In this newsletter you'll find:
           First:  A Christmas message of sorts from me (Bryan).  Attention pastors—it's based on a quote that might be good food for thought for your Christmas sermon…
           Second:  Some suggestions for Christmas gifts (some of my stuff and also from friends of mine who I want to tell you about).
I hope you're all healthy and warm and surrounded by lots of love this Advent/Christmas season.  Winter has definitely arrived here in Madison, WI.  We've had modest snow accumulations recently, and 10-15 inches is predicted to fall in the next couple of days.  It's a beautiful time of year—if you like cold and snow—which I do—most days anyway!
I just finished my last concert for this calendar year.  It's been a full and fruitful year for me on lots of levels.  I'm so deeply grateful for the privilege it is to do what I do, and I'm off-the-charts grateful to all of you who show up at the concerts, retreats, and worship services, and who buy my music and share it with friends.  You all have blessed me so profoundly.  Thank you!
                                   A Christmas Message
In December of 2003 I received a Christmas card from a friend of mine named John Engle who has lived and worked in Haiti for years, and who has also participated in some "Witness for Peace" delegations to Palestine/Israel.  John is now the co-director of a wonderful organization which does great work with the people of Haiti called Haiti Partners  John's Christmas card in 2003 featured a quote from a Quaker man named Rufus Jones (1867—1948).  Rufus Jones was one of the founders of the Friends Service Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  This quote, which John found written on the wall of a school in Palestine, reads as follows;
           "I pin all my hopes on quiet processes and small circles in which vital and truly transforming events take place."   (Rufus Jones)
John was gently making a link between this profound quote and the "quiet process" through which God broke into time and space  on Christmas day in order to begin the transformation and healing of our broken world.  I'm reminded of singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn's line, "redemption ripped through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe."
Among other things, one of the most powerful messages of Christmas to me is that it reminds me that we humans, including we Christians, have an amazing capacity to misunderstand what real Power is all about.  We get it all upside down.  We think it's about being able to make things happen.  To "get the job done."  We admire those who have the clout to force an issue decisively, and to dictate terms in the process.  We're downright addicted to the euphoria of victory, to kicking butt, and one of our most seductive and intoxicating substances is the drug called "might."  

And yet, if the Christian Story is Truth--which I'm betting my life it is--then the most truly Powerful "force" in the world is the still, small voice of self-emptying Love—wide open, vulnerable, prone to what looks like irrelevance and failure, and embarrassingly easy to either ignore, or to silence.  Man, it's hard to really believe that.

And so usually, we don't.
During the summer of 2004, I was watching and listening to the Republican Convention which eventually led to George W. Bush's second presidential election.  Maybe you remember it.  It was several days of fiery speeches about how dangerous the world is, and how we can only trust in leaders who will use all the military force necessary to "finish the job" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who will keep us safe by making sure we are strong enough militarily to destroy our enemies.
These hawkish speeches were also constantly being punctuated and laced with religious innuendo and suggestions that we are a Christian nation that is uniquely blessed by the God of the Bible.  Almost every one of these speeches ended with the words, "God bless America."    
As I was listening to all of these saber rattling speeches, I remembered the words of Rufus Jones which I quoted above, and I wrote a song which I now call, "The Witness of Rufus Jones."  It will be on my next album.  Here are the words;
The Witness of Rufus Jones
About a hundred years ago
A Quaker man named Rufus Jones
Authored over fifty books
I know this because I just looked him up on the internet using
Which was linked of course to Amazon
So I bought a Rufus Jones biography
Got a hunch it's gonna speak to me
But right now the only words I know
That were written once by Rufus Jones
Were found last year by a friend of mine
On the wall of a Quaker School in Palestine
My friend sent them out in a Christmas card
And when I read the words, well, they hit me hard
They rang true in the same way that babe in the manger does
Rufus Jones wrote…
I pin all my hopes on quiet processes and small circles in which
Vital and truly transforming events take place
Let me say that again…
I pin all my hopes on quiet processes and small circles in which
Vital and truly transforming events take place
But in this broken world of ours
Clashing principalities and powers
Sell us fear like they sell us soap
Loud and clear we're told our hope
Lies desperately with those disposed
To kill in order to impose
What we claim we need to be secure
These are dangerous times for sure
And yet a circle seems to gently say
There is only us—there's no we and they
And those words sent out by that friend of mine
Are still hanging on that school wall in Palestine
Between bulldozed homes and suicide bombs
The witness of Rufus Jones lives on
And rings true in the same way that Christ on the cross still does
Rufus Jones wrote…
Well, here we are 5 years later in 2009—getting ready to celebrate another Christmas—as we prepare to escalate the war in Afghanistan—this time, under Democratic leadership.
Again, I hear the words of Rufus Jones, and they somehow seem more relevant and Powerful than ever.  All wars eventually end with people sitting around a table, talking, and entering into agreements.  Why not sit down together first?  Yes, I know all the reasons why we are convinced that this is not possible.  I just don't think that the God of Christmas morning is all that impressed with our reasons.  And I think that the God of the manger and the cross is even less impressed with our attempts to serve and ultimately worship coercive power in the name of Jesus.
But I am not at all without hope my friends.  God's Spirit is alive and well, and working—usually quietly and slowly and in ways that appear naïve, inefficient, and often downright irresponsible.  So in the words of Mother Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Beatles… "Let it be."
Let it be, and follow Jesus.  For me, that means that I will continue to work hard and pray for and long for (after all it is Advent) and be willing to pay a price for and live for and sing for and dance for and even laugh toward the Day when we are all truly and finally awakened by the transforming Power of "the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay."
And I look forward to the companionship of so many of you who are "out there" doing the same…
Merry Christmas everyone,
Bryan Sirchio
December 7, 2009 (Pearl Harbor Day, interestingly enough…)
Attention Christmas Shoppers!!!!
Some of my favorite gift suggestions for this year…
1.   Here's a very cool gift idea!  PicPads!!
Orders can be accepted as late as December 12th and still be shipped in time for Christmas gifts!
I've recently reconnected with an old friend I hadn't been in touch with for about 30 years.  She's an entrepreneur and has a business called PicPads.  What they do is upload a favorite picture of yours (your pet, kids, family, church, grandchildren, group of friends, business, whatever!) and artistically feature this picture on a pad of writing paper or note cards.  They've got writing pads for kids, shopping list pads, note pads for adults, and really cool note cards you can use for sending out thank you cards or invitations or whatever use comes to mind.
Check out the website   You can also call toll free at 1-888-PicPads (1-888-742-7237.
·         PicPads has been endorsed by both Oprah and Rachel Ray, and featured in several magazines.
Portions of sales from PicPads are used to feed hungry people, and I am hoping that PicPads will eventually direct some of their proceeds toward feeding programs I'm involved with in Haiti.  So tell them Bryan sent you!
2.   Margaret Trost's book,  On That Day, Everybody Ate: One Woman's Journey of Hope and Possibility in Haiti.
Margaret is a close friend of mine who traveled with me to Haiti in 2000, shortly after her husband died very suddenly.  She shares what this trip to Haiti was like for her personally, and she tells the story of how she started the "What If? Foundation."  Together with the late Haitian priest Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste and his church community, Margaret and her foundation began a daily food program at a Roman Catholic church in Port au Prince called St. Clare Parish.  

7,500 meals are now served to hungry children each week through this program.  I am on the board of directors of this foundation, and Margaret credits my song, "Starring At My Overflowing Plate" as being the reason that she felt led to go to Haiti in the first place.  This is a wonderful book, and can be purchased by clicking on the book's website (above).
3.   Kent Annan's brand new book, Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle.
Kent is a friend of mine who is also the co-director of Haiti Partners along with John Engle.  Among other things, this book involves Kent's description of what it was like for him to be living in Haiti when the coup took place about 5 years ago. He's a great writer and this book is getting excellent reviews and endorsements from folks such as Tony Campolo.
4.   Wooden Bells from Haiti!   I just received a new shipment of wooden bells from Haiti.  They are hand carved, made of mahogany, and the inscription on them reads,  "No one listens to the cry of the poor or the sound of a wooden bell."   I sell these on a break even basis for friends of mine among the poorest of the porr who make these bells.  The bells are $10, plus $4 shipping and handling.  The song, "The Wooden Bell," is on my "Bryan Sirchio Live!" concert recording.
5. Bryan Sirchio CDs! Well of course I couldn't leave out my music!
Check out my website for a full listing of all that I've got to offer, including my latest, "Something Beautiful For God: 24 Songs for Worship and Group Singing."
I'll be glad to sign anything and also gift wrap and ship directly to the recipient of the CD. Call 1-800-735-0850 or e-mail if you have any special requests like this.

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