Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Feast or Fallow

I may have a new favorite song (note this changes weekly)



In Feast or Fallow by Sandra McCracken (f. Thad Cockrell & Derek Webb)

Lyrics:

In Feast Or Fallow
Words and Lyrics by Sandra McCracken
When the fields are dry, and the winter is long
Blessed are the meek, the hungry, the poor
When my soul is downcast, and my voice has no song
For mercy, for comfort, I wait on the Lord

In the harvest feast or the fallow ground,
My certain hope is in Jesus found
My lot, my cup, my portion sure
Whatever comes, we shall endure.
Whatever comes, we shall endure

On a cross of wood, His blood was outpoured
He Rose from the ground, like a bird to the sky
Bringing peace to our violence, and crushing death?s door
Our Maker incarnate, our God who provides.

Repeat chorus

Bridge:
come, oh come, Emman- u- el
come, oh come, Emman- u- el

When the earth beneath me crumbles and quakes
Not a sparrow falls, nor a hair from my head
Without His hand to guide me, my shield and my strength
In joy or in sorrow, in life or in death

Repeat chorus

Big Wreck is Back!

From a Canadian music blog comes the very exciting news that Big Wreck is about to release a new album. Loved their previous work so this is exciting news.

This Big Wreck song (The Oaf) is one of my all time favorite songs:



And here's their new song, Albatross:



Already excited...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slice of Infinity: The First Shall Be Last

http://www.rzim.org/slice/slicearticleprint.aspx?aid=11079

If you don't read RZIM's Slice of Infinity, do so. Subscribe here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The First Shall Be Last
Margaret Manning

"Instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of man at rest forever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague and enigmatic" rails Ivan Karamazov against God in Dostoyevsky's classic work The Brothers Karamazov.(1) Those who encounter—or are encountered by—the parables and stories of Jesus often feel a similar sentiment. For the parables of Jesus are often exceptional in upsetting religious sensibilities, are sometimes vague, and are many times enigmatic in their detail and content.

The parable of the laborers in Matthew 20 serves as a case in point. A landowner hires laborers to work in his vineyard. They are hired throughout the work day and all the workers agreed to the wage of a denarius for a day's work. The enigmatic and exceptional punch line to this story occurs when those who are hired at the very end of the day—in the last hour—are paid the same wage as those who worked all day long. The long-suffering laborers cry out, "These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day." Those workers that were hired first are not paid any additional wage. The first are not first, in this story. Instead, the landowner replies with a radical reversal: The last shall be first, and the first last.

Not only is the conclusion to this story exceptional and enigmatic, it also seems wholly unfair. For how could those who worked so little be paid the full day's wage? Yet, this upending of any sense of fairness is a recurring theme in other parables of Jesus as well. Indeed, the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, while a familiar story for many, functions in a similar manner and upsets our sense of what is fair and right, just as in the parable of the laborers. A careful reading presents an extravagant display of grace towards all wayward sons and daughters, even as it illuminates a human frugality with grace.

Jesus presented this story as a crowd of tax-collectors, sinners, and religious leaders gathered around him. All who listened had a vested interest in what Jesus might say. Some hoped for grace, while others clamored for judgment. "A certain man had two sons," Jesus begins. The younger of the man's two sons insists on having his share of the inheritance, which the father grants though the request violated the Jewish custom that allotted a third of the inheritance to the youngest son upon the death of the father.(1) With wasteful extravagance, the son squanders this inheritance and finds himself desperately poor, living among pigs, ravenous for the pods on which they feed. "But when he came to his senses" the text tells us, he reasons that even his father's hired men have plenty to eat. Hoping to be accepted as a mere slave, he makes his way home. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him.

The Pharisees in the crowd might have gasped at this statement. How could the father extend such grace towards a son so wasteful and wanton? Yet, this father is the true prodigal, extending grace in an extravagant way. His prodigal heart compels him to keep looking for his son—he saw him while he was still a long way off. And despite being disowned by his son, the father feels compassion for him. With wasteful abandon, he runs to his son to embrace him and welcome him home. The father orders a grand party for this son who has been found, "who was dead and has begun to live."

The older brother in Jesus's story provocatively gives voice to a deep sense of outrage.(2) In many ways, his complaint intones the same complaint of the laborers in the vineyard. "For so many years, I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours... But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots; you killed the fattened calf for him." We can hear the implicit cry, "It's not fair!" The text then tells us that the older son was not willing to join the celebration. He will not hear the entreaty of his gracious father both to come into the celebration and to recognize that "all that is mine is yours." Thus again, the last shall be first, and the first last.

While not vague in their detail or content, these two parables of Jesus are both exceptional and enigmatic. If we are honest, they disrupt our sense of righteousness and our sense of fairness. Both portraits of the prodigal father and of the landowner present the radical fairness of God. God lavishes grace freely on those we often deem the least deserving. But perhaps we feel the exceptional and enigmatic aspects of these parables most keenly when it is we who are seeing ourselves beyond the need of grace.

Margaret Manning is a member of the writing and speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Seattle, Washington.

(1) Cited in Mary Gordon, Reading Jesus: A Writer's Encounter with the Gospels (New York: Pantheon, 2009), x.
(2) Fred Craddock, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990), 187.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Bark Side



Advertising awesomeness from Volkswagen. Apparently a "teaser" to their 2012 superbowl commercial. After last year's effort (below) and the above, the SB commercial should be awesome.

Musical Discoveries

So I started to listen to Relevant FM again today, after a long hiatus.

Here are some tunes I discovered. Note not all of these are “new”, but new to me.

Rain or Shine
Matthew Perryman Jones


One Day
Matisyahu


The Transfiguration (cover of Sufjan Stevens)
David Crowder Band


Edited: It seems I have already posted about the Matthew Perryman Jones song...who knew?

Vulgar Grace

I ran across this quote by Brennan Manning entitled "Vulgar Grace":

My life is a witness to vulgar grace - a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wage as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party, no ifs, ands, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief's request - "Please, remember me" - and assures him, "You bet!"...This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It's not cheap. It's free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough...

"Sin and forgiveness and falling and getting back up and losing the pearl of great price in the couch cushions but then finding it again, and again, and again? Those are the stumbling steps to becoming Real, the only script that's really worth following in this world or the one that's coming. Some may be offended by this ragamuffin memoir, a tale told by quite possibly the repeat of all repeat prodigals. Some might even go so far as to call it ugly. But you see that doesn't matter, because once you are Real you can't be ugly except to people who don't understand...that yes, all is grace. It is enough. And it's beautiful.

~Brennan Manning
All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir


Who is Brennan Manning? I didn't know either. From Wiki:

Brennan Manning (christened Richard Francis Xavier Manning) is an author, friar, priest, contemplative and speaker.

Born and raised in Depression-era New York City, Manning finished high school, enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and fought in the Korean War. When Manning returned to the United States, he enrolled at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Upon his graduation from the seminary in 1963, Manning was ordained to the Franciscan priesthood.

In the late 1960s, Manning joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld, a religious order committed to an uncloistered, contemplative life among the poor. Manning transported water via donkey, worked as a mason's assistant and a dishwasher in France, was imprisoned (by choice) in Switzerland, and spent six months in a remote cave somewhere in the Zaragoza desert.

In the 1970s, Manning returned to the US and began writing after confronting his alcoholism.

Singer-songwriter Rich Mullins called his band A Ragamuffin Band after one of Manning's books. Warren Barfield's music is also often inspired by Manning, as is the work of singer-songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones.

"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle," Manning has said. "That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." This quote appeared in the prelude to dc Talk's song "What if I Stumble?" It also appeared on an intro track for the Christian metalcore band War of Ages on its album Fire From the Tomb.