A podcast playlist to get you through Christmas preparations

Feed your soul while you bake, shop and travel

Have you got a long car trip coming up this Christmas? Or hours of Christmas shopping still to get done? Cooking and cleaning in preparation for guests? Do yourself a favour and connect up the car’s bluetooth speakers, put in your earphones, or plug Alexa in at the kitchen and let these wonderful podcast episodes feed your soul – even as you do those must-be-done-before-Christmas tasks.

1. Longing for unity among believers? This is the podcast ep for you!

Episode: Spiritual bridge people
Guests: Bishop Michael Curry and Dr Russell Moore
Podcast: On Being with Krista Tippett

Are you over Christians’ endless bickering about doctrinal differences? This podcast brings together two religious thinkers and spiritual leaders from very different places on the US Christian and cultural spectrum: Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through their friendship as much as their words, they model what they preach in a conversation skilfully guided by one of the podcast world’s best, Krista Tippett.

Spanning their thoughts on society’s need for finding common ground, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and young people, this is a a surprisingly delightful chat that will help to renew your hope for a more unified big ‘C’ Church.

2. Pondering the pace of life? Trying to figure out how to get work, rest and play in balance? Try this.

Episode: Sabbath series
Host: Pastor John Mark Comer and others
Podcast: Bridgetown Church sermons

EVERYONE has been raving for more than a year now about this book called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Well, it’s written by Pastor John Mark Comer of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon, and this podcast is basically that church’s sermons.

But wait – this isn’t just another sermon recommendation! This is a series exploring the biblical idea of rest – and sabbath in particular – and how it can be more faithfully practised today. These messages are not a call to abandon civilisation and retreat to the woods or any such thing. Rather, these messages speak to those who have the nagging suspicion they aren’t living according to the work/rest rhythms God intended, yet aren’t sure how to make changes.

A perfect end to this pandemic year when so many of us have alternated between being busy and being bored!

3. Does art, poetry and beauty feed your soul? See here for nourishment.

Episode: James Wright: A Blessing
Host: Pádraig Ó Tuama
Podcast: Poetry Unbound

This is a podcast for all who love poetry, or poetic writing, or art more generally. Each episode starts with host Pádraig Ó Tuama reading a poem in his trademark calming, Irish lilt. Next, he gently prises it open, pointing out its features and discussing their impact on a reader or on himself personally. Finally – with the poem now more accessible to the listener – Ó Tuama reads it once more, allowing listeners to hear it with their deepened understanding. Exactly how Ó Tuama manages to do all this in around 15 minutes per episode is a wonder, but the result is unmistakable.

In this episode, Ó Tuama explores poet James Wright’s stunning twilight account of a field just off the highway, when he and a friend encounter two ponies who come “gladly out of the willows/To welcome my friend and me.”

4. OVER everyone and everything? Yes, we feel ya. Listen here.

Episode: Richard Rohr on Getting Over Your “Self” with the Enneagram
Host: Ian Morgan Cron
Podcast: Typology

Now, if you’re feeling over everyone and everything there’s a good chance that just the word “Enneagram” illicits an eye roll from you – but give me a moment to explain!

I get it. I am also not a fan of Christians fads – I read The Shack about five years after everyone else and I’m still holding out on Blue Like Jazz. And the first time I encountered the Enneagram, I thought the idea that people could be placed in nine categories was as ridiculous as astrology. I did an online Enneagram test and it read my mail to such a point that I put the whole idea away for an entire year. But, having since delved into this ancient personality tool, I’ve found it a very helpful way of recognising patterns in things I do myself, and in making better sense of my loved ones.

So if you are heading into the Christmas season a little low on patience and empathy, this podcast episode might just help.

In this episode, host Ian Morgan Cron talks to Franciscan monk Richard Rohr about how to break the shackles of self-doubt with self-compassion, and how the Enneagram on a daily basis is a framework, or blueprint, for spiritual formation. Plus, Rohr offers words of encouragement – and caution – for each Enneagram type.

5. Wondering how to get the technology balance right in family life? “Mr Tech-Wise” and his daughter reflect on 2020.

Episode: Amy and Andy Crouch – My Tech-Wise Life
Host: Luke Norsworthy
Podcast: Newsworthy with Norsworthy

In this episode, veteran podcaster and pastor Luke Norsworthy chats with Andy Crouch, author of the Tech-Wise Family, and his 20-year-old daughter, Amy, about disciplines around technology – an issue loads of us are thinking about as we head into Christmas holidays.

Norsworthy is always fantastic – he’s that rare breed of podcast host who is more focussed on asking the questions his listeners are interested in, rather than those which make him seem clever. Here, he’s asking questions as a dad whose kids love being on screens and who isn’t sure limiting is a realistic goal. And, always, Andy Crouch is a wealth of wisdom on parenting and family life.