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

random reads

The Full Divine Panoply

I can still remember when I first learned about that famous passage in Ephesians 6, the one where Paul talks about putting on the "whole armour of God." It was Bible Camp, grade 6. I vividly recall how the speaker walked us through each item in our spiritual panoply: the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of Faith, and so on.

I`d been working my way through Tolkien that summer, so I guess my 12-year-old imagination was pretty fertile ground for images of spiritual warriors armed with mystical armour with arcane names like "The Helmet of Salvation" and "The Belt of the Truth." When I got home, I drew an elaborate picture of some elfin warrior who bore a striking resemblance to Aragorn (as I pictured him in my imagination; this is, remember, well before Peter Jackson), bearing a flaming"Sword of the Spirit" and warding off demonic darts with his "Shield of Faith."

A talk on "The Whole Armour of God," I'd discover later, is standard fare for Bible Camp speakers. I`ve heard the most elaborate talks explaining obscure details about the typical armour of the Roman Infantry, and relating them to intricate details about the means and methods of spiritual warfare for individual Christians. I was even at one Bible Camp where the speaker was a Christian children`s entertainer named (I`m not making this up) Fester the Clown. Fester the Clown made an entire set of the Whole Armour of God out of balloons, Sandals of Evangelism and all. One lucky camper got to take it home with him in a giant plastic bag as a reminder of his call to arm himself for spiritual warfare.

Now, I hate to burst Fester`s balloon, but the thing that he never told me, nor did any of the other speakers I`ve ever heard expound on this passage, is that throughout Ephesians 6:10-20 Paul uses the 2nd person plural. He is not talking to or about individuals here, arming themselves for solo combat against their personal demons and temptations. He's talking to and about the group, the community of faith, the Church. Put differently: "you" are not called to put on the whole armour of God as much as "we" are called to do so together. This is a subtle point, perhaps, but a few examples will show that it's not so subtle as to be moot.

Take, for instance, the Bride of Christ imagery. While Jesus is most certainly the lover of individual souls, when the Bible says that "you" are the Bride of Christ, it means "you" plural, that is the church together, is the Bride of Christ. And we miss a vital theological point if we miss this distinction. A more obvious one, perhaps is the Body of Christ imagery, where we are each, clearly, only members of the whole Body and can't function without the others; a less obvious one is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, where the primary reference is to the community of Faith together being built up together into the Temple of God (Though it's common to hear talk about how you (sg) are the Temple of the Spirit, out of 7 references to the Temple of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, only 1 refers to individuals and all the rest are about the community together).

What difference would it make if Paul's envisioning the Community of Faith in Ephesians 6, arming itself together for spiritual combat, and not individual spiritual gladiators? Maybe a good place to start thinking through the implications would be 6:18, where he talks about the "secret weapon of prayer" (as I heard one preacher call it picturesquely). If Paul's primarily imagining corporate prayer here as a "weapon" in our battle against the powers of this dark world, then it will mean, I think, remodelling the "prayer closet" a bit. In most of the discipleship material I've ever seen, the emphasis has been almost exclusively on individual prayer.

And if Paul is calling the church corporate to take up the "Sword of the Spirit," which is the Word of God, then sharpening my personal knowledge of the Bible in my personal "quiet time with God" will certainly not do it. Instead, the call will be answered as the community of Faith itself becomes a place where together we seek out, listen for, weigh together and respond in one spirit to the utterance of God (the word there is rhema, not logos) as it is breathed by the Spirit through the Scriptures into the gathered community. Puts a little different spin on the "sword drill," that other staple of Bible Camp spirituality.

We could do the same with the rest: what if lacing up the Sandals of Evangelism was less about me personally leading individuals to the Lord (though it may include that), and more about the community of faith becoming, and being, a place where the Gospel or Peace is proclaimed, and lived out, and given room to touch and transform lives? Of course, Fester the Clown would have to do a whole lot more balloon twisting if this reading is right, but as a spiritual exercise go through Ephesians 6:10-20 and read it asking yourself: would it make any difference if this was about "us" and not "me"?

1 comments:

Jon Coutts said...

fantastic stuff, Dale, thanks.