Friday, September 12, 2014

"Remembering Forward" (A sermon on memory and hope)

Hear is the sermon I preached at the American University Methodist Community's healing service on the night of Thursday, September 11. The sermon is based on texts from the final book of the Christian scriptures: Revelation 21:1-6 and Revelation 22:1-5

For Methodist Heritage Week each year, the students set up a big tent on the quad to share some good ol' Methodist hospitality with the campus. So, Wesley style, this is an open air sermon, complete with a lovely cricket soundtrack. You also get to hear a live-action version of our commitment to "Welcome All."

You can listen to the audio (crickets and all) here: 


Text, sans crickets, is below.


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"Remembering Forward"

This past summer I had a wonderful opportunity to live and work in Hawaii. It’s a beautiful place, as you might imagine, though filled with some interesting contradictions. It turns out that there is a lot of pain even in paradise. Case in point: one of the places I visited during my time there was the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The memorial sits on the surface of the water directly above the sunken hulk of one of the massive battleships destroyed when the Japanese Air Force struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It’s a haunting memorial – you can just see the underwater outline of the massive naval vessel, with oil still leaking out of it more than 70 years later.
            The memorial contains a hall with the names of all 1,177 crewmembers who died that day in 1941. And in that hall, there is an open-space sculpture called the Tree of Life. According to Daniel Martinez, the chief historian of the site, the Tree of Life “is a universal symbol. It’s a renewal, it’s a rebirth. You can find it in all cultures, [and the architect] wanted to make sure he could adapt something to the memorial that had no ownership, so that people could come to the memorial and hopefully, by seeing the symbol and understanding that symbol, they could remember a time of war in a time of peace.”[i]
            The Tree of Life is, indeed, a widely venerated symbol. For Christians, both the first book and the last book of the Bible contain the image of the Tree of Life. It’s prominent in as varied worldviews as Norse mythology and Darwinian evolutionary theory. Apparently the Rastafarians refer to their unique sacrament as the leaves of the Tree of Life.
            I’m talking about pot there, just in case you missed it.
            The point being, there is a universalism to the symbolism of the memorial sculpture. To have the Tree of Life as the framing motif of the names of all of those deceased sailors was a powerful decision by the architect. And as you might imagine, it was somewhat controversial. When it was built in the 60s, it was criticized as “beatnik art.”[ii] Perhaps people felt like it was too soon to send a message of peace and restoration in a place memorializing destruction and war. Perhaps they wanted something more nationalistic.
            See, there are a lot of ways to remember tragedy. That’s an easy concept to see here in Washington, DC. The World War II memorial focuses on the glorious war effort of Greatest Generation. The Vietnam Memorial is a stark reminder of the losses of that war, and individuals come to read the names and to leave small mementos to their friends, creating a second living memorial on the foundation of the first. The two memorials create a marked contrast, perhaps inadvertently symbolizing the spectrum of this country’s feelings about war.
            How do we remember?
It’s an appropriate question for today, when many of us in this country are tuned in to the communal memory of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I realized, as I was preparing for this sermon, that many of you were pretty young when the planes hit the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon here in DC, and a field in Pennsylvania. Yet like the attack on Pearl Harbor, the “day that will live in infamy,” September 11 has become a marker date for the U.S., a day on which people remember where they were when they heard the news.
            I remember that day very clearly, or at least certain details of that day. I grew up in suburban Maryland, and the Pentagon felt awfully, awfully close. The clear, blue sky was empty of planes for the first time I could ever remember. School was let out, and I hunkered down at a friend’s house and watched the news until we couldn’t take it anymore.
            September 11 is a marker date for me personally. I would go on to tackle a bachelor’s degree in international studies in large part to make sense of the events of that day. I started to learn more and more about the long history of Western entanglement in the Middle East and central Asia. That long, violent history continues today, as we have been reminded recently by events in Iraq and Syria. That long, violent history eventually led me to live in the Middle East as part of the global ministries of the United Methodist Church. So yes. I remember September 11, 2001.
Of course, I just happen to be a U.S. American. In Chile, September 11 marks the day in 1973 when a military junta led by Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government, leading to a military dictatorship and the deaths of thousands of Chileans. And other people in other nations have their own marker dates. In fact, much of the difficulty in establishing a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis comes from very different interpretations of the events of May 15, 1948.
            So while I’m sensitive to the particular importance for this date in the U.S.American memory, what I am talking about tonight is not solely the importance of one date, but about the importance of memory. How do we remember? In particular, how do we remember tragedy and trauma?
            As I’ve said, there are a lot of different ways to memorialize communal events. But tonight I want to touch on a certain quality of the way that followers of Jesus remember. Simply but paradoxically put, I think that Christians are called to remember forward rather than backwards.
            To get at what I mean by that rather odd statement, I’d like us to consider the scripture that we heard tonight. We heard verses from the last two chapters of the book of Revelation. This is the achingly beautiful, utopian vision of “the new heaven and the new earth” that God will establish, a world in which “death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,” and God will wipe every tear from every eye. In the words of one song, “not in some heaven light years away,” but rather here, on earth, will be a new community, a city in which there is no hunger or thirst.[iii] And there, in the center of the city, is that universal symbol, the “tree of life.” Scripture tells us that “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
            It’s a beautiful passage, full of hope.
            But it comes at the end of a book best known for bizarre and terrifying visions and horror movie levels of violence. It’s written in the context of the violence and persecution of the Roman Empire. It’s graphic, and raw, and often gory.  
            The Book of Revelation is a literature of trauma. Scholars debate whether the community out of which this particular witness comes was undergoing some sort of violent persecution or were just expecting it to happen soon, but either way their communal experience was one of tragedy and trauma. This is not writing that emerges out of a place of safety, or comfort, or privilege. This is the poetry of pain.
            And yet, incredibly, the view by which the community of Revelation understands its trauma has a horizon of hope. The experience of tragedy and of violence is not understood as the end of the story. Because the true reality of the world is something beyond the tragic events of the *right now.*
            Christian memory, oddly enough, begins with remembering the future. This is not to say that we don’t memorialize those events that have wounded us, either in our communal life or in our personal lives. Nor is it to say that we must jump immediately to some superficial forgiveness, nor that we are never allowed to be angry or hurt. No. The writer of Revelation makes plenty of space for the community to express its pain, even its rage and its desire for revenge.
            But that is not the end of the community’s story. Not for those with a hope in Christ. Because the light of the new heaven and the new earth, the light of Christ, shines back through all of our experiences and all of our memories, illuminating the dark places, creating the conditions for  renewal, rebirth, and interconnection. Our faith affects our memory, leading us always *away* from hatred and violence, and *toward* a new life of restoration and rebirth and interconnection.
            Is it possible to remember forward? Can we—even as we look back, even as we share our own stories of hurt or of tragedy—see our lives in the light of the new creation made possible by God – the God who wants to heal *all* nations?
            It’s an important question, not only because this is a day of remembering, but also because memory is so central for people of faith.
In a little bit, we’ll share in communion together. And we’ll listen to Jesus’ words, on the night before his death, when he tells us to share food and drink together in remembrance of him. The Greek word for remembrance doesn’t just mean to think about the past. It means to participate in the past, to re-enact it. To make it part of our present lives.  
            My fiancĂ©e, Leigh, asked me a little while ago what I thought communion must have been like the first time the disciples shared it after the crucifixion. How the memory of that awful night must have felt so close. How they were remembering, not hypothetically, but really re-enacting a time of trauma and pain. Leigh told me that she imagines communion must have been a bit like a wake, those closest to Jesus gathered to raise their glasses in a toast to their friend. That there were stories, and songs, and also quite a bit of weeping.
            And in that same communion liturgy, the one about remembering a traumatic night, we’ll remember forward, to a time when “Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.” We’re re-enacting the past, but we’re also enacting the future. And as we do so, we participate in a central act of our faith, one that forms us for a life of service and of love. We are participating in a story that vastly precedes us, made possible by a hopeful future that is breaking in to the present.
            So whatever it is that occupies your memory tonight, whether it’s the events of 13 years ago or the events of your past week, I invite you to also remember forward. To remember that our lives as people of faith are directed toward a horizon of hope. Toward a new heaven and a new hope. Toward a new, universal tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of all people.
            May it be so. Amen.






[i] William Cole, “Redesign offers room for contemplation,” Honolulu Star Advertiser, 5 Dec 2010, available online: http://www.staradvertiser.com/specialprojects/10/pearlharbor/20101205_redesign_offers_room_for_contemplation.html?id=111250494)
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Marty Haugen, “Gather Us In,” 1982, in The Faith We Sing 2236

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Logs in Eyes and Thorns in Sides: Some thoughts on staying human in the face of the world's latest madness

"Cure thy children's warring madness, bend our pride to your control." -- from a hymn by Harry Emerson Fosdick

This is probably not an objectively accurate assessment, but the world seems to me to be in even more turmoil than usual.

Because of my time in Palestine/Israel, my email inbox and Facebook news feed are both overflowing with articles about the devastation in Gaza and the turmoil in '48 Israel and the West Bank. Iraq is once again in the news, and I pray for Middle Eastern Christians and ethnic minorities there even as I pray, desperately, that my government doesn't, once again, assume that we can fix things with more bombs. The numbing level of destruction in Syria continues. Meanwhile, the ebola outbreak ravages on; unaccompanied children cross lonely deserts in desperate hope that the source of the policies wrecking their countries of origin can also be a place of sanctuary; friends get themselves arrested to try to bring some compassion and sanity to our treatment of these children; Leigh's experiences this summer have made me aware of the absurdity of the U.S. incarceration system; a friend is undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer.

And, from July 18-24th, I embarked on a week long reminder that I (a) do actually need sleep and (b) am not actually particularly skilled at working with youth, all the while coming face-to-face with all the hurt that is present even here in 'paradise.'

I know it's a privilege to even be able to say this, but I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Which explains why, after a long week of working with my 'Concrete Christ Service Project' youth at a variety of community organizations on Oahu--all the while sleeping little and unsuccessfully trying to ignore the "warring madness" of the world--I found myself crying while I tried to offer a final reflection to the youth.

I really respect people who get energized in the face of injustice and catastrophe; who channel the fierce heat of anger into the focused passion needed for sustained advocacy and activism.

I am not really that person.

I click on article after article, feel more and more hopeless, waver between unhelpful engagement and total shutdown. I default to depression. I get tired of saying what feels the same thing over and over again. I run out of words, and get terrified that I will never have them--words, that is--again.

So I've read and watched and felt useless, and I finally needed to write something, to at least have a word or two. To breathe some sort of life instead of just choking silently.

I'm not going to offer much in the way of analysis about Palestine/Israel or Iraq or the border situation. Hundreds of people are already doing that--some helpfully, and some not so helpfully--and I'll include a couple of links at the end of this if you want to hear from people with some expertise.

What I am going to write a few words about is how I am trying to keep my own humanity alive so that maybe I can do something helpful to protect the humanity of others.

There is a part of the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus says: “Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye."

The passage is about not judging others by a different standard than the one by which you judge yourself. It's about not being a hypocrite.

But to me, it's also a word of grace. Because it tells me that I am not powerless in the face of violence or destruction or injustice. Rather, I am involved. My gaze is involved. And that means that there is something that I can do. Something we can do. Good news.

There's plenty of specifics I can talk about, many of which I've written about in detail before. BDS is one type of specific action that starts with my purchases and the decisions of groups that I have a voice in--my church and my government. The youth and young adults I worked with this summer wrote letters of welcome and love to unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border through the website TheyAreChildren.com--a simple way to overcome the distancing with which national policy is often decided. And I don't think the U.S. can say anything-anything-anything about the current catastrophic situation in Iraq without looking at the log in our own eye when it comes to violence and chaos in the region.

Of course, this sort of examination of complicity can land me right back in the hopeless pile, so I don't just need to remember Jesus' admonition about logs-in-eyes. I also need Paul's reminders about thorns-in-sides. About how it's sometimes not so simple to remove them. And about how Jesus responds to our prayers about them, sometimes, by saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, because power is made perfect in weakness."

Sufficient. Or, to be less Bible-y: enough.

It's all I could think of to tell the youth on the final day of our camp. I choked up a bit as I told them that God's grace is enough; and that if, as I believe, we are all created in the image of that God and held infinitely in the grace of that God, then we, too, are enough.

We're enough.

I think we all need to step a bit out of our comfort zones, but I think that will look differently for all of us. Some will submit themselves to arrest; others will call Congress; others will bake cookies for a sick neighbor. We will do different things at different times. We will have different selves to offer to the world during different periods of our lives.

But we will be enough.

What we have to offer will be enough.

It's in weakness, Christ tells Paul, that God's power is made perfect. It's in our soft, fleshy, imperfect humanness that God does what needs to be done. We're not called to be superhuman. Just to stay human. That's step number one.

We have logs in our eyes--each of our individual eyes, and our collective, institutional eyes. We have logs in our eyes, and we have thorns in our sides. But we have a God who is sufficient, and who calls us to do, for a world seemingly gone mad:

just enough.

So pray, with me. Trust God, and do the next thing. And please try to stay human out there, friends.

----
a very few of the more helpful pieces I've seen over the past week or so:

-- resource packet from the California-Pacific Annual Conference (UMC) Interfaith Weekend of Compassion and Prayer for Unaccompanied Migrant Children

-- statement and prayer about Gaza from folks at Bethlehem Bible College
-- analysis of the implications of international law for the crisis in Gaza from the excellent Noura Erakat 
-- reflection about listening to marginalized voices, such as those incarcerated, by Leigh Finnegan
-- I'd read anything that Robert Fisk writes; he's a fierce truth teller
-- some thoughts on Christian responses to Iraq from Jeremy Courtney of Preemptive Love
-- video from the UMC General Board of Church and Society on a simple way to 'vote' for justice and peace in Palestine/Israel (hint: don't buy SodaStream)
-- reflection on children in war, from Mark Schaefer at American University 

and of course there are dozens of great organizations to support with your social media presence and your cold, hard, cash. let me know if you want details on that. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

My questions about "A Way Forward"

I was going to put a link to "A Way Forward" in case you haven't read it, but actually, if you haven't read it, I'm not sure you care too much about this post. Which I'll sort of circle back to at the end. So, skip to the end...or, instead, go outside, take a walk, and get lost in wonder, love, and praise.

For the authors of the document and those signing, my question is:
Who is the intended audience? What is the purpose of the signatures? To show support, of course--but to whom? What is the goal of the effort put into this?

For those who want to split, my question is:
What will we do differently so that we're not just a smaller version of an irrelevant social club? Do we really believe that by leaving either the conservatives or the liberals behind, we will suddenly be able to fulfill our mission more effectively, or are we just saying that because it sounds better than "we don't like each other"? Would the labyrinth of logistical considerations related to a split be worth the "mission payoff"?

For those who want to stay in communion, my question is:
Is there a better way to do that than a $10 million logistical nightmare, requiring significant effort, time, and travel for thousands of people who palpably dislike each other, and organized around 19th century parliamentary rules that were never meant to be simultaneously translated, resulting largely in decisions that are ignored by most of our congregations, much less people in our mission field? Is anyone, at all, looking at General Conference and saying, "Look at those Christians! See how they love each other!"

For those who want to keep the language in the discipline, my question is:
If doctrinal obedience is so important, why were you not absolutely up in arms about the 302 delegates (around a third of the total) who voted against a statement that "God’s grace is available to all, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus," a statement so clearly in line with biblical principles and Wesleyan teaching? Is what the Bible says about same-gender sex really more important than what it says about grace? Isn't grace upon grace upon grace, not sex, the Wesleyan emphasis? Where the doctrinal denunciations of Neo-Calvinism, or Christian Zionism? Or the trials of pastors who refuse to baptize infants or, for that matter, pursue socially responsible investment (a Disciplinary requirement)?

For those who want to change the Discipline, my question is:
What is going to change, in 2016 or 2020 or 2024, to make the hurtful experience of 2012 worth going through again? For those that our awful language most directly impacts, those who have most grievously injured by this whole mess, doesn't it become re-traumatizing at some point? And for those working on legislation, do we see this as (sorry to rip off the phrase) a way forward or is it just habit at this point?

There may be answers to all those questions. Feel free to comment if you have them; I'd certainly appreciate it. But here is my last set, and it's addressed to me most of all:

Is any of what I say, about this particular controversy or about the UMC, actually doing anything to advance the mission of the church; or, more accurately, to respond to and participate in God's gracious mission of healing and transforming and redeeming and reconciling the world?

In other words: is any of this hectic activity relevant to anyone except those of us who are already talking about it?

And if not--what do I need to do differently?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Some things I remember

It is Memorial Day; a day for remembering. And it is good and right to remember.

Here are some things I remember.

I remember my dad, a two tour Vietnam vet, though you wouldn't know that from his license plate or his hat, speaking to a group of people in a university classroom. "Memorial Day is a sad day for me," he said. "It's a day I remember friends I've lost--not just in combat but here at home, from suicide or drugs or alcohol or homelessness." It was the first time I'd heard him say it so directly, in more than two decades.

I remember him, during the lead-up to the first Gulf War. How worried he was. I was young, then, and didn't have these words, but...there was a deep wound, there.

I remember being a kid, and playing war. Thinking it was a glorious thing, the guns and the planes, the heroes and the excitement. Watching war movies with my dad.

I remember the day the planes struck the towers. How clear and blue the sky was, with not a plane in sight. I remember how surreal it was. How I thought, "This is madness." And somehow knowing that this was the beginning of more madness.

I remember marching in DC with tens of thousands of others. I was with my dad and we walked down to the Vietnam War Memorial, and he found a name here and a name there. And I had the sense that this was going to happen, again.

I remember kids in my high school cheering when the principal announced that we were going to invade Iraq, and this deep sense of anger welling up in me that we would cheer death.

I remember going with a friend to a Quaker meeting in college, and feeling like perhaps peace was a possible thing, a palpable thing. Praying for it. Longing for it.

I remember hearing of the death by suicide of a young man from my high school who was in Iraq. A man--a boy--I didn't know well. And hearing that, during many months, the suicide rate among soldiers was higher than combat losses.

I remember people cheering for soldiers in the airport. How some seemed so appreciative, while others had faces that were hard to read. I remember my dad saying, "When people thank me for my service, I tell them to call up a favorite teacher and thank them instead."

I remember being in Bethlehem, with the fighter planes thundering overhead, and a young Palestinian man saying, "They are practicing for something big." And they were. And Gaza burned.

I remember being at a funeral, and watching two young soldiers fold a flag with shaking hands, and how I had the deep sense that it was right for them to do so, that this was not about any policy or any critique but about honoring a man who had served.

I remember people who have died fighting their own private wars, with depression or isolation or the weight of life.

And I remember writing all of this before. Sharing all of this before.

And I suppose that I will keep doing that, as long as we insist on adding names to the list of people we need to remember on this day.

We remember that on the night before Jesus threw himself into the face of violence, he shared bread and wine with friends. And we make a claim in the face of all evidence to the contrary that love wins. That breaking bread and sharing wine somehow has some power in the face of death's steady march. That we will feast together at a heavenly banquet.

So, yes. Today, I will remember. I will honor. I will pray for God's loving and gracious arms to hold the dead, to hold the widows and the orphans of war, to hold the veterans and the victims of war.

I will remember. And also. I will not consent to add names to the list. I will not--and I will keep saying this until I'm out of breath to do it--I will not dance to the drums of war.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A few thoughts on Aldersgate Day and sharing stories

So, today is Aldersgate Day, that wonderful day each year when I get to see which of my Facebook friends are really, truly Methodist nerds.

For those of you who aren't in the know (or who have, you know, lives and stuff), Aldersgate Day is like a Methodist mini-holy day, also known as "Heart Strangely Warmed" Day. Here's Methodist founder John Wesley's journal entry from May 24, 1738:
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a [Moravian] society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
Huzzah! Heart strangely warmed! Conversion experience! Revival! Methodism begins!

Here is what I love about Aldersgate Day.

While the experience at Aldersgate Street more than 275 years ago is often referred to as a conversion experience for Wesley, at the time he was not only already a Christian, but already an ordained Anglican priest. He had already gone on mission to the colonies, had truly mucked things up, and had returned feeling despondent and doubtful. What happened at Aldersgate wasn't a conversion to a different religion, it was a re-conversion (a re-"turning"). A realization that all of the things that he had read and learned and preached about might actually apply to him. That God really, actually, loved him and wanted to get up to something rather revolutionary in his messy life of faith and doubt.

I love that. It's a bit of a counter-narrative. It's not a checked box. It's not a repudiation of everything that came before, nor does it turn everything after into just telling that one story over and over and trying to get other people to have exactly the same experience. It's just a moment in time when the whole story came into focus. John Wesley would not have appreciated the sort of obsessive focus on a singular, personal salvation experience that has become so emphasized in much of USAmerican Christianity. This is, after all, the man who wrote against the concept of "holy solitaries," saying: "The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness."

I guess what I'm saying is, I like Aldersgate Day not because of that one day, but because of what it says about every other day. Every other part of the story. And not just my story. But my part in the whole grand story of God's love. And of all the ways that we totally don't get it. And then those times when, suddenly, it comes into focus. And we realize that God is up to some amazing things. Bridging separation. Healing brokenness. Challenging alienation and shame. Getting all up in the face of oppressive power. Inspiring. Resurrecting.

And we're invited along for the ride.

So: next time some wandering proselytizer asks you, "Have you been saved?" Or, "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" Maybe you should say:

"Got an hour or two? I've got a story to tell you."

I'd love to hear yours.

Whether today is an Aldersgate Day sort of day for you, or whether it's one of those "lost in the fog" sort of days, or whether it's one of those "I suck at talking to women [or whoever] and then I deny them communion which is sort of a no-no and then I leave the colonies in disgrace and almost die in a storm" sort of days, it's part of your story. And whether you realize it today or not, God loves you. Even you.

Even me.

Even us.
Painted wall in the common area of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Hawaii.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

First thoughts on Hawaii

So. I'm in Honolulu. What to say, what to say?

It is humid here but nothing like the soul-crushing weight of humidity in DC.

This is a very diverse place. Different languages, different ethnicities, different backgrounds. I've met a few of the students I'll be working with. One is from Ithaca, NY. One is from Maui. One is from Beijing. One is from Atlanta. One is from Korea, by way of American Samoa.

Everyone has been very nice to me. The students have been giving me good tips on things I should check out.

The place where I am living is cool, but the bugs don't mess around (pictures pending--those suckers move fast).

Unlike DC, people drive pretty slow and also do not seem to be out to murder each other.

Also, when I walk my normal pace here, I feel like I'm sprinting.

Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959 after struggling to defend its sovereignty against...guess who:

 

So it's been a state for 55 years, and is the most recent U.S. state. DC, it's time.

According to one sign at the Waikiki beaches, surfing almost disappeared from Hawaii by 1900 because missionaries tried to ban it:


















Way to go, us. Nothing makes Jesus look good like trying to eradicate fun.

I am not sure that I will learn how to surf:


















But I definitely want to learn how to play the uke:















Spot and I can't wait for Leigh to get here so that we can check out some of these excursions (book courtesy of UMW Book Sale at Metropolitan):


And, finally, I am one lucky, lucky dude. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

A couple more songs

I was messing around this morning with recording music on my iPhone, so I thought I'd post two songs that I recorded using the generic voice memo app. I was sort of amazed at the quality of the recordings--certainly not studio quality but not terrible either. Any suggestions for more sophisticated apps?






---

Here's the lyrics:

"When We Breathe"

In you we live, in you we move, and have our very being.
And when we don't know how to pray your Spirit cries within us.
So when we breathe you're there.
When we breathe you're there.
Closer than the air is your love!
When we breathe you're there.

In you all things came to exist.
You bear along here with us.
The stars sing out, you know their names.
Creation groans for justice.
And when we breathe you're there.
When we breathe you're there.
Closer than the air is your love!
When we breathe you're there.

When we breathe in to sing your praise our lungs are already filled with your grace.

---

"Sparrows"

The first time I saw death was a tree in my backyard.
I remember I watched it fall.
And ever since that day I've been waiting for my skin to fall away.
I didn't know it then, but that's the price of being alive.

I am talking to my father now, about his father and about the war.
And he is telling me stories that my sister wants to record.
We're making sense of craziness and making light of pain.

God's eye is on the sparrow but the sparrow still falls, and so will I.

A couple of months before my mother's mother died, I drew a picture of gray birds.
They were flying away to some unknown destination, and with a child's intuition I dedicated them to her.

God's eye is on the sparrow but the sparrow still falls, and so will I.

She says that she's still hurting.
Well, so am I.
She says it's like he's still falling.
Well, aren't we all?

God's eye is on the sparrow but the sparrow still falls, and so will I.