Monthly Archives: February 2013

Someday

 

Golgotha, by Scottish artist David Mach.

Golgotha, by Scottish artist David Mach.

Someday, I will go home

Someday I will go home
And I’ll find peace in the house
Of my heavenly father
I will fear, fear no more

 

Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom – thief on the cross, Luke 23:42

I’ve sometimes wondered what I would do if I was on death row and facing execution. Would I be terrified? Resigned to my fate? Would I beg for mercy until the bitter end or just try to be dignified about it all? Assuming that I was actually guilty of something heinous enough to merit execution, I think I’d probably be terrified but also resigned. Hopefully I’ll never know.

Pondering execution today and reflecting on execution in Jesus’ day, I realize that there’s actually no comparison. As terrifying as it may be to go to the electric chair, I don’t think it compares to crucifixion. You’re not only assured of your death, but you’re assured that it’s going to be excruciatingly painful, unbearably slow and on top of everything else, utterly humiliating. Crucifixion is holistic death: body, mind and soul.

Given all of that, consider the two thieves on the cross. One is described as hurling insults at him: Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us! (It actually sounds more to me like a final desperate plea rather than a sarcastic insult). The other seems to have accepted his fate and actually has the wherewithal to admonish his fellow criminal: Don’t you fear God? We deserve this shit, but this man has done nothing wrong.

Not only does he recognize his guilt and accept his punishment, he can actually see that Jesus is innocent. How did he know that? And not only that, he also recognizes that Jesus is more than a mere innocent man – remember me when you come into your kingdom – he sees Jesus for who he really is: the King. Jesus responds with a gift: I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise. It occurs to me that Jesus’ response to this man must have changed the outlook of the thief’s death. If he did not have peace of body, perhaps he had peace of mind and soul.

I know down in my heart
I know it won’t be long
And I shall see the face
Of my Saviour
I will fear, I will fear
I will fear, pain no more

This song, written by David Hidalgo and Louis Perez of Los Lobos for the movie Love Song for Bobby Long, seems to me to be the song that was in the heart of this penitent thief. He was given the promise of his Saviour, that paradise was coming – soon – and pain would be gone. My prayer is that someday, I too will go home and be able to take the hand of my Saviour and experience a pain-free eternity.

Someday, I will go home
Someday, I will go home
And I shall take the hand
Of my Saviour
I will fear, I will fear
I will fear, pain no more

If you have a moment, visit artist David Mach’s website and watch the short video clip of him burning the devil. very cool.

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Calvary

calvary4

Calvary, Calvary

Surely he died on Calvary

 

Every time I think about Jesus, surely he died on Calvary…

Don’t you hear the hammer ringing? surely he died on Calvary…

Don’t you hear him calling his father? surely he died on Calvary…

Don’t you hear him say “It is finished”? surely he died on Calvary…

Jesus furnished my salvation… surely he died on Calvary…

Sinner, do you love my Jesus? surely he died on Calvary…

 

This is a song made for weeping and mourning. It is raw with feeling and the up and down nature of the melody is an apt reflection of the roller-coaster of emotions that one might have as one ponders the things that happened on Calvary. Clearly, this was written by a person with a vivid imagination, who has placed herself in the scene at the cross and comes through that meditation with the firm conviction – surely – that Jesus died on Calvary.

 

Listen, can you hear the hammer ringing on the nails as they pound them into Jesus’ flesh?

 

Listen, can you hear him calling – My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me? Does it make your heart break to hear it?

 

Listen, what is he saying? He’s saying “It’s finished.” What’s finished? Oh… that. That! Jesus furnished my salvation!

 

Hey you! Sinner! Do you love my Jesus? Because I sure do. How can I not love him?  Because while I was yet a sinner, he died – a horrible, lonely death – for me. That’s love, people.

 

mahalia wearing a cross necklace

One of my favourite recordings of this song is done by Mahalia Jackson. That woman defines soul. We used her recording for inspiration as we prepared for this one. It will have that same, lonely, aching quality to it when you hear it on Good Friday. I hope you’ll be moved to the same conviction that Jesus died for you and me. Surely.


Storm Comin’

Lightning strikes near Baker, California during monsoon storm

When that storm comes, don’t run for cover

Don’t run from the comin’ storm ‘cause there ain’t no use in runnin’

When that rain falls let it wash away

Let it wash away the tears and the troubles

Then those lights flash, hear that thunder roar

When you listen to that thunder roar, let your spirit soar

When that Love comes, open up your door

You gotta stand on up and let in, you gotta let Love through your door

When that storm comes, don’t run for cover

Don’t run from the comin’ storm, ‘cause you can’t keep the storm from comin’

 

rainstorm

Anyone who has been caught in a storm knows that there’s not much you can do but ride it out. You can’t stop it and if you’re in the middle of it, you can’t out-run it. You just have to live through it and see what comes out the other side.

Jesus knew this. He prayed, fervently, desperately, knowing that what was coming was going to be unimaginably horrible: physically, mentally, spiritually. You and I cannot even begin to fathom Jesus’ reality. But his prayer didn’t end with “please make it stop” – it ended with “let your will be done.”

And what happened then? Angels came to comfort him, to give him the strength he needed to face it and get through it.

When I am facing a storm, I just want to run away. I pray “please make it stop.” It rarely does. But I have been in the midst of many storms and can honestly say that God always answered my prayer – not necessarily by making it stop in the way I wanted it to stop, but by giving me comfort that eventually washed away the tears and the troubles, by giving strength so my spirit could soar. I had to be willing to open up the door – to say ‘your will be done” – so that the God of Love could come in and walk me through it. I think that’s why this song resonated so strongly with me when I first heard it.

401 Highland_Light_Show

Ruth Moody writes the best gospel songs. What’s interesting about that statement is that Ruth doesn’t come from a Christian faith tradition, as far as I know, she is not a believer. (Although, this is one of those cases where I think I might say, she is but she just doesn’t know it yet.) She’s written quite a few songs that I think could be done in the context of a Christian church service. When I first heard this one, I knew that we’d have to do it at our Good Friday Blues service and in fact, it became the anchor song around which we built the rest of the service.

As you reflect on the text of this song, consider how have you experienced the storms of your own life. Maybe you’re in the middle of one now – does this song give you courage or comfort?


Good Friday Blues 2.0 – We’re back!

crossandsky cropped

While much of eastern Canada is digging out from its latest snow storm, there’s a storm of a different kind brewing in Abbotsford, BC. The Good Friday Blues Band is back in rehearsals preparing for this year’s Good Friday Blues Services, which will be held at the House of James in March. This year’s services are planned around the theme of “Storm Comin'” – come back on Ash Wednesday to learn more about that!

Last year’s service seemed to take Abbotsford by storm – it was so popular that we had to turn more than 60 people away at the door. That’s why there are two services this year, on Maundy Thursday (March 28) and Good Friday (March 29), both starting at 7:30 pm. To keep track of how many are coming, $5 tickets are being sold at House of James with all the proceeds benefiting Cyrus Centre, a local ministry that works with street entrenched youth.

None of the band members are paid for doing this. This is something we are doing out of our love for God, our love for the community and our love for the blues. We are so grateful to Lando Klassen and his commitment to making his space available for events like this and we’re really happy that we can support Cyrus Centre this year.

The services will be similar to last year’s including the opportunity to nail your ‘blues’ onto a cross and to receive prayer. There will be readings and prayers and a sermon delivered by actor John Dawson. New this year will be a spoken word piece presented by poet Olivia Sharpe. There’s some new faces to the band this year too – check out the band page to get a look at us.

So the Storm is Comin’ people… Jesus knew this as he went to the cross and he did it anyway. That’s what we’re celebrating with these services. We hope you’ll join us.