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

The Seven Works of Mercy and Christian Discipleship


I've been thinking a fair bit about the Seven Works of Mercy lately.   This is a traditional list of seven acts of service that the church used to encourage all Christians to participate in.  For the most part they come from Matthew 25:31-44, where the Son of Man assigns the sheep a place on his right hand because they fed him when he was hungry, and visited him when he was sick, and so on.  If you recall the parable, they express surprise. "When did we ever do this for you?" they ask, and he replies: "I tell you the truth whatever you did for the least of these my brothers you did for me."

For the record, the "seven works of mercy" are: 

1) feeding the hungry
2) giving water to the thirsty
3) sheltering the stranger
4) clothing the naked
5) visiting the prisoner
6) caring for the sick
7) burying the dead

What stands out to me as I look at this list (and in this I am following Richard Beck over at Experimental Theology), is how the works of mercy have lost some of their immediate urgency in our modern, institutionalized world.  Giving a cup of water to someone who's thirsty in our world probably has less significance than it would have had in the arid land Jesus travelled.  Unlike inmates in modern correctional facilities, a prisoner in Jesus' day was often responsible for his own food, medical attention and general upkeep, even behind bars, a fact which made a visit a potentially life-saving act.  So it's hard to do a one-to-one comparison.

But then again, all it takes is a little creative imagination to overcome the generation-gap here.  A cup of cold water might not do much today, but a Jesus Well or a BioSand Water Filter would (and does).  Visiting prisoners in modern day Canada can be a complicated, red-tape affair, but it can be done, and writing a letter to a prisoner is something anyone could do (See here, here or here).  They don't let just anybody bury the dead anymore, but anybody can show practical love, help and support to the grieved and bereaved.  And it doesn't take too much imagination to think of ways that welcoming the stranger might happen in our modern world, from mentoring new-comers to Canada to getting involved in a local shelter.

So it can be done.  Like I say, all it takes is a bit of imagination, and a desire to encounter Jesus.  Because in Matthew 25 Jesus said, or at least strongly implied, that if you really want to encounter him in a life-giving way, you'll have to look for him among the grieved, the starving, the homeless and the persecuted.  That's where he is, and when you're serving them, you're serving him.

What about you?  Where or how have you encountered Jesus by praticipating in one of the Seven Works of Mercy?

Sometimes we sing a song in church about how we want to see Jesus "high and lifted up / shining in the light of [his] glory," and I never thought about how risky a thing it was to ask God to open the eyes of our heart in this way.  Because if anything Jesus said in Matthew 25 can be trusted, when he grants that request we'll probably find ourselves standing among the hurting, the vulnerable, the outcast and the helpless.  And if we want to make sure we don't miss him when we're there, it probably couldn't hurt to make ourselves familiar with the Works of Mercy.

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