There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

Rest

I took the day off Tuesday: played squash with a good friend, ate a peaceful plate of pad Thai in the mall food-court, took a nap, spent some time with my wife, spent the evening blogging, with the kids building Lego at the table. It was very restful, rejuvenating, re-energizing.

But not, I think, Sabbath.

When I started pastoring, my church board very wisely asked me to set aside a day for rest in lieu of Sunday. I heard a report recently that on average pastors are spending about 55 hours a week at work, and 42% work 60 or more hours a week (LifeWay Research). And in ministry roles in the past, I've stood pretty close to the edge of that deep abyss called burn-out and looked down. The vertigo alone was enough to teach me to appreciate the wisdom of taking a day to rest.

So a day like Tuesday was wise, necessary, healthy and really, a gracious gift from God. But I hesitate to talk about it, necessary as it was, in terms of Sabbath.

I was recently at a pastor’s conference where the speaker told us, in no uncertain or gentle terms, that not to take a day off for Sabbath was to be in "dereliction of duty." And it's that sentiment-- Sabbath is a duty we daren't ignore-- that makes me hesitate to talk about my time off Tuesday as a Sabbath day.

That, and the fact that when we interpret the Biblical idea of Sabbath in terms of simply taking a day off so that we can work harder, better, stronger on the six we have left, a number of ungracious things start to happen.

First, we actually, inadvertently put the focus on the 6 days of work rather than the 1 day of rest, since implicit in the idea of "re-charging" is the idea that the charge is necessary so that we can spend it on the work alone.

Then there's the problem of picking and choosing. What is it about the Sabbath day in particular that must be carried over from the Law, when things like making a woman drink bitter water to test her marital fidelity can be discretely swept under the Tabernacle's welcome mat? And what is it about the Sabbath day that must be carried over when the actual rules about the Sabbath can be discretely ignored (e.g. we don't execute Sabbath breakers like the Law says we must); and what is it about the Sabbath Day that can be carried over when the Law's directives about Sabbath years, and the Sabbath Sabbath (i.e. the Jubilee Year) can be left discretely on the shelf of OT esoteria? (I have yet to leave a field fallow or return any property to its former owner).

And then there's the problem of missing how the Sabbath itself is actually part of the bigger "Sabbath" through which God wants to bless the creation. The Law said: Once a week take a day to rest-- to remember and actually participate in the 7-day rhythm pulsing deep down in the heart of creation, a rhythm God himself counted out when he created the world in 6 days and sabbathed on the 7th-- and this day of rest feeds in to the bigger rhythm of the Sabbath year, where the land is given rest-- and these Sabbath years fit in to the bigger rhythm of the Sabbath Sabbath-- the Year of Jubilee--when the creation itself is given rest, and people find themselves truly in harmony with its deepest rhythms, and Shalom obtains. (Read the end of Leviticus and look at how naturally and directly it connects our keeping of the Sabbath to the deep, rich, verdant flourishing of creation.)

My point here is that the Sabbath day is just one part of a bigger, gracious picture of Shalom for the whole Creation, a reality that the Old Testament is trying to speak into existence through the Law, and that the New Testament is pretty insistent has drawn near, already and not yet, in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

So to talk about my day off in terms of keeping my Sabbath-duty before God seems to trivalize the grand, gracious drama of what Sabbath was supposed to be: the metronome whereby we find ourselves keeping time with the rhythms of creation as the mysterious symphony pulses towards its climax in Christ.

So it was wise to take some time off Tuesday.

But it wasn't my Sabbath.

Or, since the Scriptures say unapologetically that this symphony's climax is played in the key of Christ, better to say: Tuesday was no more a Sabbath than Monday, when I worked on next week's sermon, had a mentorship meeting, met with one of our ministry leaders, composed some ministry emails, met with the vice-chair of our church board and finally dragged myself to bed around 11:00 at night.

Because my faith in Christ is my Sabbath rest.

Paul puts this well. In Romans 14:5, while he's talking to a group of Jewish and Gentile Christians trying to figure out how to do life together, he says: "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike." At least, that's what the NIV says he said. But this has always left me with the impression that our two options are: to keep one day as a day of rest, or keep them all "alike" and work straight through. There I go putting the emphasis on the 6 days of work, again; and there I go missing the grander drama again.

Because it's not exactly what Paul says. Exactly, he says something like: one man "judges" [as sacred?; lit. krino] one day, the other "judges" [as sacred?; lit. krino] them all. Romans 14:5 seems to be saying: either we still keep one day as Sabbath (out of genuine appreciation for the deep-down beauty of the Law and the high-up wisdom of the God who gave it), or we keep them all as Sabbath.

Since the Shalom which the Law's Sabbath rhythms were speaking about has now drawn near to us in Jesus, since the life-in-tune-with-the-Creator-and-in-step-with-his-plan-for-his-Creation that the Sabbath rules were asking us to live is now lived through faith in Jesus, since the people that the Law was trying to create-- a people who show the world how wise and gracious their god really is-- are now being created in and through and around Jesus, since all this, the meaning of Sabbath has now spilled out into all of life.

One or all. Those are the options Paul offers us.

And because Jesus is slowly showing me that my whole life has to be covered over and caught up by his good will for his world; and because he's slowly teaching me that I can be in rhythm with his plan for the creation only when I continually keep time with him, and because I really believe him when he said things like "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath," and "man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man," I'd gladly choose the "all" over the "one."

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