[a prelude to lent]

Start Wearing Purple :: Gogol Bordello
Christian Tradition, sign of contrition and repentance, ironic to the tradition of purple as a royal color.

[ash wednesday]

[A Cold and Broken] Hallelujah :: Jeff Buckley (live from Cafe Sine)
Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Psalm 51

[day two/40]

Everybody Here is a Cloud :: Cloud Cult

And everybody here is a cloud, and everybody here will evaporate, you came up from the ground from a million little pieces…if ever there was a time, now would be the time to see your time here is limited…everybody here is waiting for the next creation, they say go, go, go, go…
Genesis 2
2 Corinthians 4-5

[day three/40]

Hearts of Men :: The First Aid Kits
In the hearts of men, in the arms of mothers, in the part we play to convince others we know what we’re doing, we’re doing it right…
Genesis 3

[day four/40]

Timshel :: Mumford & Sons
Cold is the water, it freezes your already cold mind, already cold, cold mind. And death is at your doorstep. And it will steal your innocence But it will not steal your substance. You are not alone in this.
Genesis 4

Timshel, you shall rule, a key player in the story of Cain and Abel, and, in East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Charles and Adam.

[first sunday in lent]

Shake it Out :: Florence + The Machine

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off…
Mark 1, Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness

[day five/40]

Naked As We Came :: Iron & Wine

Eyes wide open, naked as we came…
Mark 10:17-31

What does nakedness have to do with Mark 10? If we really do meet God with nothing to give, if wealth does not purchase us eternal life, if there really is no way to bring a camel through the eye of a needle…then the spiritual life is a disrobing, not an accumulating. See St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhardt, St. Francis, and even our own dear Martin Luther (Heidelberg Disputation #18). None can pass through the eye of the needle; Christ alone threads the way to God, disrobing us of all that we would try to pass through, including our wealth, our gifts and, thank God, our baggage.

[day six/40]

Ill With Want :: The Avett Brothers
Temporary is my time, ain’t nothing on this world that’s mine, except the will I’ve found to carry on. Free is not your right to choose, it’s answering what’s asked of you, to give the love you find until it’s gone.
Romans 7

[day seven/40]

World at Large :: Modest Mouse
John 3:16, John 17

Worldly Wednesdays. Songs that lament what it means to live in this world that God so loves.

[day eight/40] 

I Me Mine :: The Beatles

All through the days, I me mine, I me mine, I me mine…
Romans 2:6-8, Romans 6:6

Or, if you prefer, a cover by Elliot Smith

[day nine/40]

You can watch the video here, too.

I picked this song not for its literal allusion to Genesis 3 (though I do believe Josh Ritter points us to a Garden of Eden) but for the way it names the way we are tempted to make decisions with only ourselves in mind. Martin Luther used the phrase in curvatus in se (curved in on one’s self) to describe our original sin (or what it means to be a human being).

Temptation of Adam was a song I wrote about while at the seminary. Read my article, Temptation of Adam.

[day ten/40]

The Cave :: Mumford & Sons

So come out of your cave walking on your hands//and see the world hanging upside down//you can understand dependence when you know the maker’s hand.

Read Christian Scharen’s piece on Mumford & Sons, faith, St. Francis and music, here.

[second sunday in lent]

Blue Orchid :: White Stripes (album: Get Behind Me Satan)

Get behind me now anyway…
Mark 8

[day eleven/40]

Come Healing :: Leonard Cohen

HT Eileen Campbell-Reed

[day twelve/40]

Perfect Space :: The Avett Brothers

I want fit in to the perfect space, feel natural safe in a volatile place. I want to grow old without the pain. Give my body back to the earth and not complain.

[day thirteen/40] – worldly wednesdays

World Sick :: Broken Social Scene

We got a mine field of crippled affection//all for the borrowed mirror connection//that’s why I’m leaving this spoken detention//I’m a romance addict so I confess that//I get world sick every time I take a stand

I remember the first time I heard this song. I was standing next to a big lake while waves sprayed up from the rocks. I was taking a break from a meeting and feeling the pangs of despair. “Can I really do this work?” I thought. I felt world sick and lost. This song spoke to that without resolving it for me. It gave me a place to be, if only for a few brief minutes before being called back.

There’s a naming that happens about the world: “that it’s rough out there and chancy is no surprise,” Annie Dillard once wrote. Jesus names it too. “In this world you will have troubles, but take heart; I have conquered the world.” Paul talks about such conquering as bringing the world back to God. There is much to be sick of in this world, but this world, and not another, is so loved by God that God will not let it go.

[day fourteen/40]

We Don’t Eat :: James Vincent McMorrow

an appetizer for Maundy Thursday

If this is redepmtion, why do I other at all//there’s nothing to mention, and nothing has changed//still I’d rather be working at something, than praying for the rain//so I wander on, till someone else is saved.  

I moved to the coast, under a mountain//swam in the ocean, slept on my own//at dawn I would watch the sun cut ribbons through the bay//I’d remember all the things my mother wrote:

That we don’t eat until your father’s at the table//we don’t drink until the devil’s turned to dust//never once has any man I’ve met been able to love//so if I were you I’d have a little trust.

Two thousand years, I’ve been in that water//two thousand years, sunk like a stone//desperately reaching for nets//that fishermen have thrown//trying to find a little bit of hope.

[day fifteen/40]

Heartbroken, In Disrepair :: Dan Auerbach

God may forgive me, but that’s not enough//’cause I gotta live with myself, ’till I’m dust…searching for light, gasping for air//heartbroken, in disrepair

[day sixteen/40]

Thistle & Weeds :: Mumford & Sons

But plant your hope with good seeds//don’t cover yourself with thistle and weeds//rain down, rain down on me//look over your hills and be still//the sky above us shoots to kill//rain down, rain down on me//But I will hold on, I will hold on hope…

[third sunday in lent]

Lenders in the Temple :: Conor Oberst

Mark 11/John 2 (also, why jump the Mark ship, RCL?)

[day seventeen/40]

Dawes :: Way Back Home

A ballerina in Phoenix//the pines up north//the sunrise from a highway that was not there before

If I can place it all together//make out the nature of the call//I start to feel the love and the silence..That was always at the root of it all

And in my constant quest for truth//I am condemned to facts alone//And though my dreams all lead me nowhere//I won’t forget my way back home

From the corner of a coffee shop//or from the center of a stage//from the words used in a love note//or from an empty page

While I struggle with these beauties//and my renditions end up dry//I’m like a bird that crashes into the window//that was drawn to the reflection of the sky

And the more I try to speak//the more I lose that earthly tone//and before heaven proves me hopeless//I won’t forget my way back home

I admit that these answers that I seek//are all to questions I’ve never known//But I pray to keep on looking for as long as I can roam//and when the world finally fulfills me//I will not forget my way back home

[day eighteen/40]

The Ballad of Love and Hate :: The Avett Brothers

Mark 12, Deuteronomy 6, Leviticus 19

Martin Luther said something like: There are two dogs fighting in me. Which will win? The one I feed. It’s hard to love in a world where there is much hate, and yet that is precisely the shape our lives and our living take. Jesus, focusing the commandments said, love God, love others (Deutereonomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18).  Of course, this love comes not from us, but from God, who loved us even as we were unlovely.

[day nineteen/40] 

Oh My God :: Kassidy

a new kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)

HT Holly Johnson

[day twenty/40]

Under Pressure :: Queen, featuring David Bowie

why can’t we give love that one more chance…’cause love’s such an fashion old fashioned word and love dares you to care for people on the edge of the night and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves (more lyrics, here).

quite possibly one of my favorite songs. ever.

[day twenty-one/40]

Roll Away Your Stone :: Mumford Sons

darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think and yet it dominates the things I see/k…

[fourth sunday in lent]

A double header! Serpents! John 3 & Numbers 21

Serpent Charmer :: Iron & Wine

There’s a serpent charmer with a pair of shoes in water//speeding ticket you got leading that last lamb to slaughter

Serpents :: Sharon Van Etten

Serpents in my mind, I’m still searching for your crimes

[day twenty-two/40]

Roll Away Your Stone :: Mumford Sons

darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think and yet it dominates the things I see/k…

[day twenty-three/40]

Never Let Me Go :: Florence + The Machine

Christ, the mop who washes away our sins and never lets us go.

About the video, the YouTube user paintedmonkey wrote this: “O…..M…..God! I just figured it out. Florence is supposed to be the mop that the janitor is pushing around. Her clothes are ripped and torn like the cloth strands. When she’s walking with her cloth boots, she leaves puddles. Love her imagery. A true visionary woman!”

[day twenty-four/40]

Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise :: Avett Brothers

There’s a darkness upon me that’s covered in light//in the fine print they’ll tell you what’s wrong and what’s right//and it flies by day and it flies by night and I’m frightened by those who don’t see it

[day twenty-five/40] – worldly wednesdays

World Spins Madly On :: The Weepies

Woke up, wish that I was dead, with an aching in my head, I lay motionless in bed//I thought of you and where you’d gone, and the world spins madly on

Everything that I said I’d do, like make the world brand new and take the time for you//I just got lost and slept right through the dawn, and the world spins madly on

an even better version, here.

[day twenty-six/40]

Morning Yearning :: Ben Harper

Like a summer rose, I’m a victim of the fall//but I’m soon returning//your love’s the warmest place the sun ever shines//my moring yearning

[day twenty-seven/40]

Real Hero :: College featuring Electric Youth

[Jesus] You have proved to be a real human being and a real hero

Ryan Gosling played the unnamed driver in the remake of the film Drive. His character is a sort of Christ-figure, giving up his life for the sake of his neighbor and her son.

[day twenty-eight/40]

Winter Winds :: Mumford & Sons

we’ll be washed and buried one day my dear and the time we were given will be left for the world…

[fifth sunday in lent]

See that my grave is kept clean :: Blind Lemon Jefferson

The people say: “We wish to see Jesus” John 12

It’s like Jesus responds: see that my grave is kept clean

[day twenty-nine/40]

John Wayne Gacy, Jr. :: Sufjan Stevens

Romans 3

in my best behavior, I am really just like him. look beneath the floorboards for the secrets I have hid.

I wrote about Sufjan Steven’s “John Wayne Gace, Jr.” back at the seminary.

[day thirty/30]

Incomplete and Insecure :: Avett Brothers

will I ever know silence without mental violence, will raining at night go away
it’s up to you my father… 

[day thirty-one/40] – worldly wednesdays

Mad World :: Gary Jules

[day thirty-two/40]

Atlantic City :: Bruce Springsteen

Everything dies baby that is a fact…maybe everything that dies someday come back. Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City.

[day thirty-three/40]

Hymn #101 :: Joe Pug

[day thirty-four/40]

Two from Mumford & Sons

From Ash Wednesday at Glyndon Lutheran:

Awake My Soul :: Mumford & Sons
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die, where you invest your love, you invest your life…you were meant to meet your maker…

Feel The Tide :: Mumford & Sons

you and I know though it’s cold inside…feel the tide turning

[palm sunday]

Avila :: Wailin’ Jennys

O sweet peace, never have you fallen upon this town…
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I longed to gather you…

[day thirty-five/40]

Not Dark Yet :: Bob Dylan

Shadows are falling and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep, time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there 

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain…

…I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer 
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there  

[day thirty-six/40]

The Devil’s Tears :: Angus & Julia Stone

Some call love a curse, some call love a thief
But she’s my home

And she’s as much apart for this broken heart,
Broken bones always seem to mend
I’ll taste the devil’s tears, 
drink from his soul, 
but I’ll never give up you

HT Holly Johnson

[day thirty-seven/40]

Monster Ballads :: Josh Ritter

Out on the desert now and feeling lost, the bonnet wears a wire albatross, monster ballads and the stations of the cross, sighin just a little bit…

Ones and zeros bleeding Mesa noise, when you’re empty there’s so much space for them, you turn it off, fall down, a still small voice comes in blazin from some vast horizon.

[maundy thursday]

Until the End of the World :: U2

“Bono plays the part of Judas ad the Edge plays the role of Jesus as they explore this great story of desire and betrayal from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14.” _Christian Scharen, One Step Closer, p 24.

Haven’t seen you in quite a while, I was down the hold just killing time. Last time we met it was a low-lit room, we were as close together as a bride and groom. We broke the bread, we drank the wine, everybody having a good time–except you, you were talking of the end of the world.

I took the money, I spiked your drink, you miss too much these days if you stop to think. You led me on with those innocent eyes; you know I love the element of surprise. In the garden I was playing the tart, I kissed your lips and broke your heart–you…you were acting like it was the end of the world.

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows, but my sorrows, they learned to swim. Surrounding me, going down on me, spilling over the brim–waves of regret and waves of joy. I reached out for the one I tried to destroy–you…you said you’d wait ‘til the end of the world.

Sigh No More :: Mumford & Sons

For all who are waxing on the poetry of love tonight.

love it will not betray you dismay or enslave you, it will set you free, be more like the man you were made to be. And there is a design, an alignment to cry, of my heart to see, the beauty of love as it was made to be.

[good friday]

Dead Man Walking :: Bruce Springsteen

Anthem :: Leonard Cohen
Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.
Mark 15

[easter vigil]

Wake Up :: Arcade Fire // Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds :: Paul Strodach

Nothing sings Easter and Resurrection like Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds. When I hear it, I track back to Mt. Olive Lutheran Church. I smell insense I wouldn’t tolerate anywhere else. I see Pastor Heisley’s Gold Chasuble that was put upon him after the Easter Proclamation. I hear Cantor Dave Cherwein bringing us octaves above where we thought our voices could go.

And Wake Up by Arcade Fire just screams alleluia to me. Whoa-oa!

A few years back, I heard these songs come together in my mind. It took meeting Michael Larson, a local music genius, who worked through an arrangement with me. During Holy Week, Colin, Michael and I gathered around a loaf of bread and good wine and laid down tracks for this mash-up.

If I was in a church that did the Vigil, and one especially familiar with Arcade Fire, I would use this in that interlude between darkness and light. Between the stories of deliverance from the Old Testament and the Easter proclamation. In the dark would begin a single voice, someone humming the opening whoas from Wake Up. It would build, voice by voice. Percussive beats could be added. Strings could be added. Egg-shakers and tambourines could be added. And then…

listen, here.


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