Saturday, March 31, 2007

He is Coming!

Last night the Regent Gospel Choir, of which I am a part, had their final performance. For those who don't know, the Regent Gospel Choir was formed by this fellow named Ben Keyes who came to Regent to do an arts thesis on gospel music. Because you can't just write gospel music, but must perform it, Ben formed the Regent Gospel Choir to perform his songs. Last night was the final presentation of his thesis and let me tell you the Spirit was in the house. In a way I don't know why I'm blogging about this because the experience really can't be put into words. You really have to hear the CD (yes, the night was recorded). Ben is perhaps one of the most talented people I have ever been close to. When he sits at the piano, its like the piano becomes a part of him. And his songs, lyrically and musically, are astoundingly good. All his songs are full of this tension between suffering and hope, between this life and the life to come, between sin and grace. Hopefully I can share the recording of the evening with some of you some time.
I thought I would try to describe one of my favourite parts of one of my favourite songs. The song is called "I will wait on the Lord". After singing verse and chorus a few times we come to this vamp (if you don't know what a vamp is, I don't know how to describe it, so you'll have to look it up). It begins with the bass section singing this deep consistent "I will wait, I will wait, I will wait on the Lord." They repeat this and continue to repeat it when the tenors come with this high, urgent proclamation "He is Coming! He is Coming!". They repeat this and continue repeating when the alto come in with "Help me to wait on the Lord." And they repeat this and continue repeating when the sopranos come in with this beautiful melodic line "He is here. He has always been by your side." And every one keeps repeating and building. So you get this juxtaposition of these different seemingly contractory but true phrases repeated on top of eachother and building.
"I will wait, I will wait, I will wait on the Lord."
"......He is....Coming!......He is....Coming!"
"......Help me to wait on the Lord......"
"He is here! He has always been by your side."
After repeating this a few times, the band cuts out and it just voices and clapping....
You really have to hear it. But it just brings tears to the eyes. Really. That vamp actually sums up my year pretty nicely. I feel like I've done a lot of waiting this year. Not by choice and certainly not patiently. But have been forced to wait on the Lord. Waiting for him to reveal himself. Waiting for a lot of things in my life which don't make sense right now to make sense. And then to hear that He is here, He has always been by my side....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Just in case you're concerned that I have become too high-brow with the last post...

I had a thought on the bus this morning: if something is both brown and round, we should call it bround. But then I thought: is there anything else in the world that this word describes other than cow pies?

Monday, March 05, 2007


There's this class I'm taking right now called Christian Thought and Culture (often shorted to CTC, but acronyms make me uncomfortable). As is typical with courses here at Regent College, there is a large amount of reading to do. But the great part about this class is that every student is allowed to read 400 pages of basically anything they like (as related to the course, of course). So as part of this 400 pages I decided to pick up and read The Brothers Karamazov by everyone's favourite Russian, Fyodor Dostoevsky. I read book five of the Book, which is entitled "Pro and Contra" and is perhaps the most brilliant chapter of any book ever written. Perhaps. It contains the infamous episode in which Alyosha meets with his older, philosophically bent brother Ivan at a restaurant and over a bowl of fish soup Ivan tells a poem he made up about "The Grand Inquisitor." I won't get into all the details of the conversation (you can and probably should read it for yourself), but there is one statement by Ivan which hit me and got me thinking and which may or may not get you thinking. If nothing else this is a beautiful, if tragic, bit of, well, I don't know the word for it. Just listen.

I'm convinced like a child that the wounds will heal and their traces will fade away, that all the offensive and comical spectacle of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like a horrible and odious invention of the feeble and infinitely puny Euclidean mind of man, and that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will happen and come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, that it will allay all bitter resentments, that it will atone for all men's crimes, all the blood they have shed. It will suffice not only for the forgiveness but also for the justification of everything that has ever happened to men. Well, let it, let it all be and come to pass, but I don't accept it and I won't accept it! Let even the parallel lines meet and let me see them meet, myself - I shall see and I shall say that they've met, but I still won't accept it. That is the heart of the matter, so far as I'm concerned, Alyosha. That is where I stand.

What a hopeless statement. And yet some days I come to the same conclusion. I've had the education. I know all about God's creation of this wonderful universe. I know about Christ's death on the cross what that means. I know that he will come again in glory to judge and to fully renew the cosmos. This all I know. But some days I just don't feel like accepting it. It may all be true, in fact, I'm pretty sure it is, but sometimes I just feel like saying, "So what?" Intellectually it's all very real. Its all been explained and proved and whatnot else. But can I accept it? Perhaps I'm just too obstinate and rebellious, too proud to accept even the greatest of all gifts. Why? I don't know. Its just this sense, this mood which broods deep down inside me and which sometimes breaks the surface of my consciousness. Can I accept all that God has done and will do? Or do I refuse and proceed on my own.
Here I seem to have stumbled upon that which can finally separate us from God. Proud obstinacy which simply refuses all that is good in exchange for, well, me, I guess. This seems to be C. S. Lewis's conclusion in The Great Divorce. He describes Napolean living light years away from any hope for life, so obsessed with his own self to the exclusion of all others and to the Other. I guess this is why humility is so profoundly important in our ascent to God. That we open ourselves to the good which does not come from our own action. For it was humility which kept silent the twelve as the Son of God stooped to wash their feet. Some days we just need to sit silently and allow Christ to wash us. To accept his humble action in humility...

Friday, March 02, 2007


Reading break. Whistler. Condo with a fireplace and views of the clouds which covered the mountains. Walking distance to the best skiing in the world. Hanging out with friends. Eating amazing food around a dinner table, like a real family. Not getting any work done. Does it get any better than that?
Yes, some of you may know that I went up to Whistler for a few days over Reading Break. It was a great week. I skied for the first time since a Grade 9 trip to Frostfire in North Dakota. Almost ten years ago! Makes me feel old. I really enjoyed skiing. For not having done it in so long I think I picked it up pretty quick and before long was carving up the slopes like I was born to do it. OK, that's an exageration, but that's what it felt like. There's something about skiing that just makes you feel, I don't know, like a superhero or something. The cold wind in the face. The mountain peaks gazing down on you. The speed. Maybe that's why I like skating so much. The cold wind in the face. The legs pumping. The speed in the cold. Maybe that's it. There's something inside me which becomes extremely alive when I'm moving quickly through cold air. That's why I'm tempted to get a season pass for Whistler come next winter.
I should also add that I did have a number of nice wipe outs, including one as I came to the bottom of the hill at the end of the day. Also had a couple yard sales.
I should get some pictures to post on here. Stay tuned maybe I'll put some up in the next day or so.