Tag Archives: Easter

Happy Easter Music Mix

Holy Week began yesterday morning with the waving of the palms. We stood outside our church on the corner of Ford Parkway and Macalester, savoring the little bit of sun that offered warmth against the bitter Minnesota cold. It may have been the first day of spring, but it was still in the 30s. We waved our palms to sing Hosanna, to fight back the cold, to celebrate the march toward Easter.

So with that backdrop I offer an Easter music list.

I’m always making mix CDs for my wife, and as I started another list for her, I realized I was collecting a lot of gospel songs. Most of my mixes are pretty random, so I decided to lean into the theme.

The result is a collection of music that speaks to faith and spirituality and hope and the gospel. I’m well beyond saying this is “Christian” music, but it is a collection of hymns, psalms and laments, tinged with that old-time gospel sound.

  1. “Little Light” by The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers
  2. “What Wondrous Love Is This? by Chelsea Moon & The Franz Brothers
  3. “Not Enough” by Caedmon’s Call
  4. “Here it Comes” by Romantica
  5. “He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word” by The Welcome Wagon
  6. “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash
  7. “Purpose (live)” by Cloud Cult
  8. “Hand in Hand” by Jayanthi Kyle
  9. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Rattle & Hum movie version)” by U2
  10. “Be Thou My Vision” by Ginny Owens
  11. “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons & Daughters
  12. “The Transfiguration” by Sufjan Stevens
  13. “Lamb of God, Have Mercy” by Gospel Machine
  14. “People of God” by Gungor
  15. “Poor Man’s Son” by Noah Gundersen
  16. “This Little Light” by Mavis Staples
  17. “This No More” by The Vespers
  18. “Amazing Grace (featuring The Lily of the Valley Gospel Choir)” by Justin McRoberts
  19. “40 (live)” by U2

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Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. It’s the dark day of death before the resurrection at dawn on the third day. There’s little good about it, as much as we make a case for its necessity. We can make the argument that it’s good, but it’s still a day of death most brutal. It’d the day they crucified my Lord.

O God, be merciful to me.

It’s gray and dreary today. Windy and cold, spitting rain, threatening darkness. Everyone is asleep in the afternoon. Napping. What else can you do? As days off go, Good Friday isn’t one to celebrate with loud acclaim. It’s one to be mourned.

Father, don’t stop prayin’. For this old world is almost done.

Good Friday is about waiting. Waiting for Sunday to come. Waiting for hope to break through. Waiting for light to shine. Always waiting. Humanity is plunged into the dark night of the soul, with nothing to do but wait. I grow so tired of the waiting. I want to plunge forward with reckless abandon, but it’s not in my power to do. I can only wait.

We nailed him on to a tree, but he never said a mumblin’ word. Not a word, not a word, not a word.

Good Friday is a paradox. Thankfully it escaped the Hallmark treatment. The Easter bunny and the eggs have left it alone, for what could you even do with it? This year it coincides with Earth Day, fitting to some and awful to others, but there it is.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on and joyful be.

It’s a day of quiet contemplation, a day to ponder these things that I’ve done. We are scattered and lost and in such desperate need of that Sunday morning. When will it come? When will it come? Christmas has the child-like expectation, but for Easter it’s something more. Something deeper. Something urgent.

Like a wayward child I’ve wandered… I have wandered in the darkness, and my path was lone and drear. But my Father did not leave me, he was watching ever near. Lord I’m coming home, Lord I’m coming home.

It’s supposed to be 60 degrees again on Easter—a return of Spring.

Easter & MLK

I love church on Easter Sunday. It’s a party. The music rocks harder. People dance. Everybody comes in smiling. And after six weeks of a quiet, somber end to church,  we get to say Alleluia again.

Last year Milo banished us to the cry room and Lexi threw a fit when we went up for communion. This year Milo seemed to want to sing in the choir, even though we don’t have a choir. Lexi did fine at communion, pausing to lean Pinky against the kneeler before she stood at the communion rail. After church I didn’t have much time to talk to anyone because Milo made a beeline for the door and we spent a while playing in the grass.

This year the sermon closed with a reading of John Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter.” I’d never heard it before and find Updike to be very hit or miss, but this was good. The poem focused on the importance of Christ’s bodily ressurrection—that Jesus literally came back from the dead. Updike focus more on the reality of it, but a few lines reminded me of the very Buffy the Vampire Slayer nature of the ressurrection. The grave was empty. The body was gone. And he was walking around. Not all putrified zombie corpse, but whole and restored. That’s crazy. And that’s the point. From Updike:

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door. …

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

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Check Out My Snazzy Easter Bonnet

Easter Sunday. The day more people show up in church than any other day. And this morning was no exception.

Everyone comes out, dressed up in the best they have. I don’t quite understand that, either an attempt to out-do one another, or trying to show God just how good we are. Look at me in my three piece suit. Check out my snazzy Easter Bonnet. I must be good if I’m dressed this nice. Is this some kind of left over Puritan tradition, or did Jesus really put on his sharpest tunic before clearing the temple?

I also find it odd that little or no attempt is made to make things understandable to the “unchurched” person. At my church every Bible passage was read from the Kings James Version, which even to my “Christian” ears sounded undecipherable. Before the offering was taken, my pastor told the visitors that they need not give. He explained that the people of the church had committed themselves to a budget, and this was how they met that budget. Of course then he went on to say that it’s everyone’s rightful duty to give–effectively undoing what he had just said. And then there was the responsive reading. We had just finished singing “He Lives,” and before beginning, the man leading the responsive reading said, “And if you don’t believe he lives, here’s proof,” and he proceeded to read the passages describing Christ’s resurrection (again in the archaic King James Version). Now certainly to a Christian, that’s proof. But he was clearly talking to the unsaved that were there that day. Proof? Quoting Bible verses at somebody is proof? I couldn’t help but question that.

You can tell I had a rather cynical attitude the entire time. And what happened? How effective was this sub-par outreach? After the sermon, two people came forwarded and accepted Christ, two more had raised their hands, but didn’t want to come forward, and nearly a dozen raised their hands asking for prayer in dealing with spiritual issues in their lives. Perhaps I should shut my cynical mouth, and realize that God is going to work no matter how things are done. Of course that doesn’t mean we should put no work into a service, thinking that God will work despite our laziness. But perhaps it does mean that I should be a little less judgmental of what I think is a church service that doesn’t speak to the unsaved.