Monthly Archives: February 2016

Lord I Just Can’t Keep from Cryin’

Peter Weeping by Robert Leinweber

Peter Weeping by Robert Leinweber

 

Peter swore to them I don’t know the man! And then he remembered Jesus words… and we went outside and wept bitterly… – Peter’s denial of Jesus

 

I’m on the King’s Highway, I’m travelin’ everyday
‘Cause I just can’t keep from crying sometimes

 

Well, I just can’t keep from crying sometimes

When my heart’s full of sorrow and my eyes are filled with tears

Lord, I just can’t keep from crying sometimes

 

It’s bad enough to betray a friend but when that friend predicts your betrayal and then you fulfill it not even 24 hours later… well, I would have wept bitterly too. The thing is, I can totally imagine myself doing exactly what Peter did. Everybody knew that you didn’t mess with the Romans; they weren’t inclined to give you a slap on the wrist and send you off with a warning (Barabbas being the blatant exception but there’s no way Peter would have seen that one coming.) No, Peter was not unjustified in his fear, so when people started associating him with Jesus, he did what I think I might do – he distanced himself.

And you could justify it to yourself, couldn’t you? What use would it be if I am also in jail? How can I help Jesus then? No, I need to make sure I stay outside and figure out a way to help him? Ya, that’s it.

And then there would have been the internal confusion.

Peter's Denial - Rosann Casco

Peter’s Denial – Rosann Casco

 

I thought when you first left me, I’d grieve for a little while

Soon it all would be over, and I’d journey on with a smile
But the thought as I get older, I think on what I told her

Well I’m on the King’s highway—–, travelin’ everyday——
And I just can’t keep from crying sometimes

 

You were expecting a revolution – you were willing to start it, for cryin’ out loud! Cut off the guy’s ear! Take that! And what the heck was Judas doing anyway, bringing the Romans right there? You thought he was your friend, you thought he was Jesus’ friend. How could he betray him just like that? And then you pretty much go and do the same damn thing.

It all feels uncomfortable familiar. How often have I tried to justify my actions to myself? To God? How often do I do what I know I shouldn’t? More often than I’d like to admit, that’s for sure.

And sometimes, that makes me cry too.


O Death

carving at Mount of Olives

carving at Mount of Olives

soul is overwhelmed to the point of death… Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me… – Jesus in the garden

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? – Psalm 22:1

 

O, Death, O, Death, O, Death
Won’t you spare me over and over
Well what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands takin’ hold of me?

Well I am Death and the end is here…

Not exactly the most cheerful song but the whole point of us doing this service is to remember that the stuff that happened on Good Friday actually happened. And it was not cheerful.

The gospel accounts of Jesus praying in the garden vary only slightly. Matthew and Mark refer to Jesus as being overcome with sorrow and falling to the ground in prayer. Luke is the one who refers to Jesus being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground

When God is gone and the Devil takes hold

Who’ll have mercy on your soul?

a station of the cross from holyspiritinteractive.com

a station of the cross from holyspiritinteractive.com

They say that the only certainty in life are death and taxes and while some have managed to find ways to cheat taxes, no one cheats death. Except Jesus – but he still had to go through it and what a horrible death it would be. Beaten, whipped, thorns rammed on his head and nailed to a piece of wood. And then there’s that separation from God, from himself. Forsaken. No mercy.

O Death is an old American folk song that also goes by the title Conversations with Death. Some will recognize it from the Ralph Stanley cover on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. It was first recorded by country/blues banjo player Dock Boggs in the late 1920s. The original version is much longer than the Jen Titus adaptation we will be performing. We chose this version for a few reasons. I like the darkness of it, the growly bass voices and the anger in the instrumentation paired with the lonely, pleading voice. I think if you’re Jesus and you’re having a conversation with Death, Death is not going to be nice about it.

How do you imagine the voice of Death?


Tell it like it is

Jesus in the garden - Gaugin

Jesus in the garden – Gaugin

 

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death – Jesus, in the garden

O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you, for my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave – Psalm 88

I’ve wanted to sing this song ever since we first started this Good Friday Blues adventure. The reason we haven’t done so until now is because it didn’t strictly fit the Good Friday theme. But this year, Lando (the owner of House of James, where we hold these services) asked if we could do things a little differently, shake things up a bit, maybe start the story in a different place. Finally, I had my opportunity.

Say it, say it, say it

Tell it like it is

What breaks your heart? What keeps you awake, awake at night?

What makes you wanna break down and cry?

How your anger and grief make you wanna cry out!

 

This year, we start in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed so fervently that he “sweat drops of blood”. I don’t pretend for a minute to understand what Jesus was going through – I don’t think any of us can because only Jesus was fully human, fully divine. Not only did Jesus know he was going to die a physically horrible death, he knew that death would separate him from the Divine, separate him from himself… it’s a little mind boggling, isn’t it?

But I do know what it is to face things I’m scared of, to pray and pray and pray, to lose sleep over things that make me cry. The world is filled with trouble and woe. Injustice, war, climate change, racism, sickness… it’s enough to make one despair. In my own little world, I am aware of people wrestling with mental health challenges, who are grieving the loss of loved ones, who are battling cancer. How do you even begin to respond to all of this?

Say you’ll never close your eyes or pretend that it’s a rosy world
Say you’ll never try to paint what is rotten with a sugar coat
Say you’ll talk about the horrors you’ve seen and the torment you know

Say you’ll tell it like it is…

tracy chapman

Tracy Chapman’s song speaks to some of this. Her voice is almost like that of the psalmist, crying out in grief. But when I overlay the story of Jesus in the garden onto this song, I hear the voice of the angel coming to minister to Jesus – say it, say it, say it, tell it like it is. Even Jesus needed to unburden himself in prayer, to give voice to his despair, to speak the fears in his heart.

This gives me courage to face the things in my own life. What is it that is breaking your heart? What injustice needs you to cry out?


One More Time

Byron and Aaron figuring out the intricate details of "Service Man"

Byron and Aaron figuring out the intricate details of “Service Man”

We’re back in rehearsals for our 5th Good Friday Blues and we’re really excited about this year’s services! We’re bringing back some old favourites and we’ve added a number of new songs that I’ll blog about each week. In response to comments from the ‘congregation’ for more songs, we’ve added to the repertoire so that this year, you’ll hear more music than you have before.

Our new drummer, Scott Currie - now we can say that every member of Oh Village has been involved with GFB in some way.

Our new drummer, Scott Currie – now we can say that every member of Oh Village has been involved with GFB in some way.

Our theme this year is Tell the Story – and that is what we are going to do. As the evening unfolds, you’ll hear the story as it is told in the gospels, spoken by two readers: John Dawson and Heidi Epp, both accomplished orators. You’ll still have a chance to nail your blues to the cross and we’ll spend time praying for those concerns and for our city and our world.

And you’ll have a chance to support a really important ministry in the Fraser Valley: Cyrus Centre. These folks support kids and youth who live on the street, helping them find safety and working to restore family relationships. It’s pretty amazing.

So spread the word and bring your friends! Tickets are $5 and are available at House of James. We sell out every year, so get your tix early and don’t be disappointed!

yoga stretches AND tambourine playing - bet you can't do that. we take our rehearsals very seriously,

yoga stretches AND tambourine playing – bet you can’t do that. we take our rehearsals very seriously,