For many, the Christian liturgical calendar is often a bit mysterious or just plain strange. Bob and Chris dig into the start of the year, the four weeks leading up to Christmas known as Advent, with theologian and arts pastor David Taylor of Fuller Seminary. David wears many hats, and in our interview we discuss how he teaches his students about time, joy, and lament, and he also shares about a multiyear liturgical songwriting project he’s leading. Finally, we preview his forthcoming book Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life (March 2020), which features a forward by Eugene Peterson and afterward by Bono. Throughout the episode we’ll also hear some brilliant new Advent and Christmas music from the likes of Sandra McCracken, Nathan Partain, the Gentle Wolves, and Liz Vice (ft. Hannah Glavor).
W. David O. Taylor is an assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as the Director of Brehm Texas, an initiative to revitalize the church through the arts. Prior to his appointment at Fuller, Taylor served as a pastor for ten years in Austin, Texas. Born and raised in Guatemala City, he has lectured widely on the arts in both academic and popular settings, from Thailand to South Africa.
Taylor’s most recent book is The Theater of God’s Glory: Calvin, Creation and the Liturgical Arts (Eerdmans, 2017). He is editor of For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts (Baker Books, 2010) as well as coeditor of Contemporary Art and the Church: A Conversation Between Two Worlds (IVP Academic, 2017). His book Glimpses of the New Creation: Worship and the Formative Power of the Arts, is out with Eerdmans (2019), and his book Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life, is due out with Thomas Nelson in March 2020. Taylor has published articles in the Calvin Theological Journal, Christian Scholars Review, Worship, Theology Today, The Washington Post, Books & Culture, Comment, Image Journal, Christianity Today, and The Living Church, among others.
An ordained Anglican priest, he leads an annual retreat for pastors and artists at Laity Lodge in central Texas. In 2016 he produced a short film on the psalms with Bono and Eugene Peterson.
Emmanuel Nathan Partain is the Pastor of Worship & Culture at Redeemer Indianapolis. His primary music influences came from outside the church and he continues to seek what it means to bring his musical upbringing to serve the church in congregational worship. Stream his music at Bandcamp.
This is the Christ & Ring the Bells Sandra McCracken’s prolific contributions as a songwriter, modern-day hymn writer, and record producer has brought grace and clarity to her soulful, folk-gospel sound. Whether in a theater or in a chapel, she is a dynamic performer who blurs the lines of what church music sounds like, captivating and inviting audiences to sing along. Her new album, Christmas, features new seasonal music and covers of carol and hymn classics. Stream or buy her music.
The Advent of Our God The Gentle Wolves are an alt-country worship/gospel band from Austin, TX. They started in 2010 as the house band at Servant Church, but they have since become a writing and recording project of bandleader Richard Kentopp. Find the Gentle Wolves on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Bandcamp, and anywhere else you do your listening.
Refugee King (ft. Hannah Glavor) Liz Vice is a gospel and soul singer living in Brooklyn, NY. She’s shared the stage with artists like the Blind Boys of Alabama, Lake Street Dive, Mavis Staples, and Hiss Golden Messenger (among many others). Here debut album There’s a Light launched her into the ears of many inside and outside of the Church, and her 2018 follow up, Save Me cements her spot as a versatile artist and songwriter. This year’s Refugee King single is the product of a songwriting conference in 2018 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI and is a collaboration between Liz Vice, Owen Walker Reagan IV, John Lester Ruth, Gregory David Scheer, and Bruce Benedict. Stream or buy Refugee King to benefit ImmSchools
Want to Get Into the Christmas Spirit? Face the Darkness (NYT OpEd, Nov 2019) by Tish Harrison Warren
Biblical birth narratives are weird and incredible. We can stop sanitizing them. (Washington Post OpEd, Dec 2015) by W. David O. Taylor
Dear Christian Radio: I Love/Hate You (Missio Alliance post, Dec 2015) by Chris Breslin
Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge
Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross
Episode edited by Gary Fletcher.