Monthly Archives: March 2017

Unlikely Icon

This painting is one of several that illustrates this passage from the book of John. The painting is by Eugene, J. Pentiuc, who is working on an illustrated Bible. check out his website http://pentiuc.com/pascha/

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. – the gospel of John

 

one of my favourite novels

One of my favourite novels is by Christopher Moore called Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. It sounds a little irreverent and it is but it’s also brilliant. Moore imagines Jesus’ childhood, youth and his emergence into adulthood – all those years for which the gospels do not account. The story is told through the eyes of his childhood friend, Biff. Imagine growing up in the same village as Jesus and being his chum. You would have seen a child playing with other children. Seen him go to the temple with his family. Listened to him describe what it was like working in the carpenter’s shop with his dad. Just ordinary human stuff.

What’s beautiful about this novel is that it highlights the humanity of Jesus but also shows how he came to understand his own divinity. Fully human, fully divine. It’s hard to wrap your head around that concept. No wonder he wasn’t immediately recognized for who he was. No wonder, when he began his preaching ministry and started to make great claims about himself that the people wondered “isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say he came down from heaven?”

one of my favourite CDs!

In her song, Unlikely Icon, Helma Sawatzky explores exactly this, repeating the phrase “the unlikely icon of the face of God”. She describes the children playing “hide and seek with the Saviour of Nations”. She describes Joseph’s carpenter’s shop as the “royal surroundings where God grew up.” She also describes Jesus’ “cruel execution where blood stained the dirt, bystanders taunting him for a lifesaving work.”

And then. Then she brings it right home.

 

How can we be sure to see

The light of the world in the eyes of an enemy

Is your face so common place

We fail to see your grace in reality…

We fail to see you?

 

We stumble through darkness and try to make sense

Of what you might look like in this present tense

When here in the mirror

We stand face to face with the holy reflection of the God of Grace

 

The unlikely icon of the face of God

Unlikely Icon

Unlikely

 

When God chose to come to us, he really did choose to get down and dirty. Who would have imagined the King of Creation choosing such a path to restore his creation to himself? It truly is the most unlikely method. And if each of us is a spark of the Divine, then we too are unlikely vessels and what a gift we’ve been given.

But the real test is to see that in each other. To see that in our enemies. To see that in the strangers we encounter each day. When I think of the youth who are served by Cyrus Centre in this light, I’m humbled. Those who do this work 24/7/365 look at the face of Jesus every time they look into the face of one of those kids. Holy smack.

Cyrus Centre does amazing work in the Fraser Valley and they deserve your support. Give what you can, knowing that because of the generosity of a wonderful donor couple, all donations no will be matched up to $3000. Give what you can, knowing that what you do for the least of these unlikely people, you’re doing it for Jesus. Get the details on how to give on our Services Info Page.


It’s not over

sculpture by Lynne Kiefer Kobylecky, who has dedicated his life to creating art focused on Jesus.

Jesus was crucified, hung between two criminals. One hurled abuse at Jesus but the other rebuked him saying “We are suffering justly but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he turned to Jesus and said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom!” and Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.” – the gospel of Luke

We’ve done a couple of Jonny Lang tunes in the past – our favourite is “I Believe”, a rockin’ gospel tune that’s a declaration of faith. His 5th studio album, Turn Around, is his possibly his most overtly Christian album. His goal was to focus “more than ever before, on my purpose in life… It wasn’t so long ago that I was spiraling downward until God touched my life and se time on the right track.” He recognizes that not everyone believes the same as he does and the album isn’t meant to be preachy, it’s just an honest reflection of his own life’s experiences and a way for him to encourage others.

Perhaps the most encouraging song on the album is It’s Not Over.

 This one’s for the prostitute
The drug abused, homeless and destitute
And anybody wanting to be rescued
There’s still time

Yeah, this is for the orphan who is all alone
All he wants is to have a home
Your earthly father may have left you
But your Heavenly Father told me to tell you

It’s not over
It’s not over
There’s still time

Someone loves you….

Musically, it’s classic Lang: rockin’ guitar, great gospel choir, tons of energy. Lyrically you can tell it’s coming from his heart. When I think about the kids supported by Cyrus Centre, who are often kids that are rejected by their own families or who feel friendless and desperate, I am grateful that Cyrus Centre exists because I am sure this is a message they hear.

Cyrus Centre does everything it can, not only to support the youth who come into their care but to restore family relationships whenever possible. Their work deserves your support. If you were hoping to come to a Good Friday Blues service this year, you would have spent $10 for a couple of tickets. We’re unable to do these services this year, but you can take those $10 and give them directly to Cyrus Centre. If you can give $100 or a $1000, do it.  Because of the generosity of a wonderful donor couple, all donations no matter how big or small will be matched up to $3000, So tell a kid at Cyrus Centre that it’s not over, that they have a home, that someone loves them. Get the details on how to give on our Services Info Page.

 

 


You want it darker

Night at Golgotha, 1869
Vereshchagin, Vasili Vasilievich (1842-1904). Russian. Medium: oil on canvas.

From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli,Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27: 45-46

Some call Good Friday the darkest day in history. Well, I suppose if you watched Jesus being crucified, it probably was a dark day. Truth is, there is darkness for people every single day. Anyone living in the middle of war and persecution, who is dying of a terminal illness and living in pain, anyone who wrestles with severe mental illness… and all those who are relegated to the sidelines and have to watch people they love go through this, well, those people are living in great darkness too.

I recently bought my first and only Leonard Cohen CD – You want it darker. I have mixed feelings about Cohen. He was a larger than life character throughout his life. Musically, I put him in the same category as Bob Dylan: fantastic poets who can’t carry a tune. Seriously, someone else should sing their songs. Still…

i love the concept of this album cover art

I’ve listened to Cohen’s title track on repeat and there’s something hypnotic about his voice. Reviewers of this particular CD said it was Cohen at his most honest, most raw. Knowing that he was dying as he recorded it gives extra weight to the words “I’m ready my Lord”.

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

These words take me right to the foot of the cross, watching Jesus in anguish as he cries out to God, crying out for the love that never came. It’s gripping. But the genius of Cohen’s lyrics is that he takes the story through history and to his own life:

They’re lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim

You want it darker…

Throughout all of this recognition and confession is the constant refrain “Hineni, hineni, I’m ready my Lord”. Cohen calls out the darkness in the world, acknowledging our part in killing the flame, making the world a darker place. He knew he’d lived a less than perfect life and he owned it. He also acknowledged the grace of God in all of that. He knew he was dying and he was ready.

At first listen, this is a pretty dark song, hopeless almost – except for that repeated refrain. If we are living as people who are ready, then we need to do what we can to keep the flame burning, to keep the million candles lit, to be the love that comes to those who need it. When you support Cyrus Centre with your financial gift, you are doing exactly that. Cyrus Centre brings a little light into the dark corners of our city streets where some of our forgotten and neglected youth find themselves. Remember that all donations up to $3000 will be matched! I hope you’ll join us and support this important ministry.

Get the details on how to give on our Service Info Page


Giving Up the Blues for Lent

lent

Giving Up the Blues for Lent

For 5 years, Good Friday Blues has been an opportunity to remember Jesus journey to the cross through prayer, storytelling, poetry and really great blues music. It was also an opportunity for us as a community to support a really important resource: Cyrus Centre, which supports street entrenched youth in the Fraser Valley.

This year, Good Friday Blues is taking a break. I know that will be disappointing to many of you and I have to admit that it feels a little weird not to be in rehearsals. For the last 5 years, I’ve spent all year thinking about music, finding readings and prayers, considering themes. This year, I’ve done almost none of that because I knew we would not be doing Good Friday Blues this time around. But what has been heavy on my heart is a desire to continue to support Cyrus Centre and the important work that they do. Over the 5 years that we put on these services, we raised over $15,000 for Cyrus Centre and I want to see that support continue.

cyruscentre-e1476989664794

So here’s the deal: I’m going to ask all of you who have ever attended a Good Friday Blues service (and those who haven’t!) to consider making a donation to Cyrus Centre in lieu of attending a service this year. This ministry deserves your support. If you need further incentive, our good friend, who has matched donations for the last several years, has agreed to do this again, matching all donations up to $3000!

Here’s two ways to do this:

  • Make your donation online on the Cyrus Centre website. When you get to the donate page and fill out all your info, you’ll see two options at the bottom. Choose “Is this in honour of someone?” and you’ll get a drop-down menu. Where you see “Occasion” enter “Good Friday Blues” THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO DO IN THAT SECTION. Fill in the rest and give your gift.

 

  • Send a cheque to Cyrus Centre and in the memo line write “Good Friday Blues”. Cheques can be mailed to 2616 Ware Street, Abbotsford BC, V2S 3E5

 

I chose the theme Giving up the Blues for Lent because I love the play on words. Yes, we’ve given up doing our Blues service this year but by supporting Cyrus Centre, we’re helping those who are living with challenges and probably feeling more than a little “blue”. So if you’re looking for something meaningful to do during this Lenten season, join us in giving up the blues for Lent and make a donation to Cyrus Centre!

I’ll keep you updated on our progress through this blog and I’ll also share my thoughts on some music that I’ve encountered since last year. So keep coming back – and tell all your friends!