Monthly Archives: April 2017

Glory!

a glorious sunset, Grand Canyon, Arizona. – photo John Dawson

 

 

Come to me all who labour and are heavily laden down and I will give you rest – Jesus

 

Bobby McFerrin’s latest album, Spirityouall, is a masterpiece of spirituals, original and traditional, done in classic McFerrin style. What that man can do with his voice and body… holy smack.

One of my favourite tracks is Glory:

 Glory glory, hallelujah
Since I laid my burden down
All my sickness will be over
When I lay my burden down
All my troubles will be over
When I lay my burden down
Lord, I’m feeling so much better
Since I laid my burden down
Glory!

 Well, I am shouting Hallelujah! today because I found out how much we raised for Cyrus Centre. Are you ready? $4000!!. Four. Thousand. And here’s more good news: because you rose to the challenge, our friends who agreed to match all donations to $3000 decided to match everything to $4000! So that means, together we’ve raised $8000 – more than we’ve ever raised at a single event! People – that’s worth shouting about!

Thank you. For reading, for praying, for following, for giving. Because of your generosity, the youth who are supported by Cyrus Centre may indeed be able to lay their burdens down, at least for a little while. Glory, hallelujah.

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Didn’t it rain?

photo by Saskatchewan photographer Lois Siemens

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining… Luke 23: 44-45

 We live on the West Coast of British Columbia, so we know what it’s like when the sun stops shining. This is a rainforest, something we often forget, despite the fact that it rains a lot – and this past fall/winterl/spring, it feels like it’s rained more than usual. Last night it was coming down in buckets, pushed sideways by the wind. Whenever it rains like that I think of homeless people. Where do you go to get out of the weather? What do you do if you and all your stuff gets wet? How do you sleep?

One of the songs that the Good Friday Blues Band has done multiple times is Randy Stonehill’s “Didn’t it Rain”. It’s a great, rockin’ blues tune that paints a word picture of Jesus’ crucifixion and death.

 Well the sky grew dark and the wind it howled
And the angels wept and wailed
And the devil laughed with a serpent’s hiss
As the hammer hit the nails
It was holy blood that paid for all our shame
Oh, didn’t it rain?

I always feel like it is appropriate when it rains on Good Friday – like nature is reminding us of what happened. But this morning, as I’m writing this, the sun is streaming through my window, despite the dark clouds to the south. Maybe today, nature is reminding me of the end of the song, the end of the story:

When you tell this story (didn’t it rain)
Don’t forget the end(didn’t it rain)

’cause on the third day Jesus

Walked from the grave again
He redeemed our souls (didn’t it rain)

He changed history

 Didn’t it rain,(rain) rain, rain

Didn’t it rain (rain), rain, rain

Oh, didn’t it rain (rain) when my Jesus
Died for me

Whether or not you believe that Jesus was the son of God, no one can deny that Jesus changed history. We mark time by before and after his life – we are living in A.D., Anno Domini, the year of our Lord. And whether or not you believe he was the son of God, you can still appreciate his teaching to love your neighbour, love your enemies. The world would be a damn better place if all of us chose to do this. Today, you can change history for some of those homeless youth who may have spent last night, in the rain, on the streets of Abbotsford or Chilliwack or Langley. When you support Cyrus Centre, you are supporting an organization that survives 24/7/365 largely on the donations of people like us. Today is the last day of our Good Friday Blues non-event fundraising effort for Cyrus Centre. Every donation up to $3000 will be matched 1:1. If you’ve already given, I can’t thank you enough. If you haven’t yet and it is within your means to do so, please do. Check out our Service Info page to find out how you can ensure your donation is matched.

I’ll write one more blog post next week and let you know how successful we’ve been. My prayer for all of us today is that we can be changed by the story, that we’ll be able to see the sunshine, despite the rain.

 


How long?

About three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli lema sabachtani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – the gospel of Matthew

 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? – Psalm 13, a psalm of David

We always think of the psalms as songs of joy and praise but there are actually more psalms of lament than there are of praise. The writer(s) give voice to despair and suffering that I think we in the western world could learn from. We so focused on individual strength and stoicism, even in the face of suffering. It is seen as a sign of supreme weakness to admit that sometimes we fail, sometimes we are weak. Sometimes in the church community, suffering is seen as a sign of a lack of faith – if we believe hard enough then we should be able to overcome all things. We  should be living “In victory”, right?

The psalmists knew better. They were honest with God: “Hey! I’m suffering here! Where the heck are you?” For cryin’ out loud, even Jesus gave voice to doubt and suffering.

if you don’t own any Michael Card music, this is a good compilation. if you only want one album, buy Starkindler

 I don’t listen to a ton of Christian music, but Michael Card is one of my favourite Christian musicians. He comes to his craft with integrity. He’s got a master’s degree in theology, so he writes with both knowledge and depth. Every song he writes is run by an accountability group before it is recorded to ensure that he’s written something accurately, with respect, with integrity.

He set Psalm 13 to music, giving it a rockin’ gospel feel, with a choir bellowing “how long? How long? How long will you hide?”

 You won’t even give an answer, Lord! (How long? How long?)
Give me light or I can live no more! (How long will you hide?)
My foes rejoice when they see me fall! (How long? How long?)
We have overcome and now they call! (How long will you hide?)
How Long? (Will you hide from me?) How Long?
How Long? (Till you set me free?) How Long?

That third line… imagine Jesus hanging there, nailed to the executioner’s cross, his enemies waiting for him to die. “Forsaken” only barely begins to describe what he must have felt – sometimes words are inadequate.

We’ve got one week left in this fundraiser for Cyrus Centre. This organization support children and youth who have been forsaken by their families. Some of their stories are devastating. But Cyrus Centre is there to respond to the cries of “how long?” working to restore relationships, helping these kids get back on their feet again. They embody Christ as they serve, the Christ who understands the suffering those children and youth are living. Your gift to this ministry supports this work and speaks healing to suffering. Remember that we have a matching gift of $3000 and we’re already over half way there – can we get to $3000, turning that into $6000? I believe we can. To ensure that your gift is matched, visit our Services Info Page for info.

Blessings to you as you enter into Holy Week. I’ll blog once more on Good Friday and will do my best to update you on our success!


The house where nobody lives

First of all, an update on our fundraiser: We’re over half way there!! As of last Monday, we are at $1650! Only $1350 to go to maximize the matching donation of $3000 – Let’s do this!

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

 “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. – From the gospel of Mark

Bob Frazer plays Judas alongside Todd Tomson in Pacific Theatre’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot – photo by Tim Matheson

A few years ago, I saw a play called The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. It is set in purgatory and a lawyer agrees to hear the case of Judas, who is in hell. The question is, should he be there? If God is a loving God, should forgiveness be extended to him? His mother, Sigmund Freud, Mother Teresa and other characters throughout history all testify for or against him. Even Satan gets a chance to speak. Throughout it, Judas is on stage, never says a word, he’s almost catatonic. The heartbreaking scene is at the very end when Jesus comes in and washes Judas’ feet. It left me weeping.

I always think Judas gets a bad rap. When I read the text in Matthew, I feel like he never thought that the priests and elders were going to hand him over to be killed. He rues his decision, tries to make it right, fails. Then he makes another mistake and kills himself, never gets a chance to see the end of the story… I bet Jesus’ would have washed his feet even then.

Tom Waits album cover for Mule Variations

Byron, the harmonica player in our band, reintroduced me Tom Waits’ music last year when we did “Come on up to the house.” Waits has a few songs with the word “house” in them, “The house where nobody lives” is just a poignant. He describes a broken down house that used to have a family living in it. Now the house is falling apart and Waits speculates at what might have happened.

Oh, and once it held laughter
Once it held dreams, did they throw it away, did they know what it means?
Did someone’s heart break
Or did someone do somebody wrong?

To me this describes Judas’ relationship with Jesus. It must have been filled with laughter at times and Judas’ clearly dreamt of something different than what he saw towards the end. Then, brokenhearted, he threw it all away, realizing he’d done Jesus wrong.

So if you find someone
Someone to have, someone to hold, don’t trade it for silver
Oh, don’t trade it for gold
‘Cause I have all of life’s treasures and they’re fine and they’re good
They remind me that houses are just made of wood
What makes a house grand, oh, it ain’t the roof or the doors
If there’s love in a house, it’s a palace for sure
But without love it ain’t nothin’ but a house
A house where nobody lives

I often think about the broken homes, the broken relationships that are represented by the children and youth who are served by Cyrus Centre. I wonder if there was laughter in those families at some point or what it was that dashed their dreams. I wonder if there was love. Your donation to Cyrus Centre helps this organization do its reconciliation work. Their goal is always, if it is at all possible, to reunite children with parents, to create healthy families again. If it’s not possible, they work hard to help those young people survive and be successful. If you have already made a donation, THANK YOU. Encourage your friends and family to consider a donation too. If you haven’t, why not? It doesn’t have to be a big gift – every little bit helps and all donations up to $3000 will be matched. Get the details on how to give on our Services Info Page.