November 6, 2019

Tiny Desk Sermon: Proper 27 C, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5,13-17 (Or: Calm the F Down!)

November 5, 2019

salvation in a jazz club

beautiful as heartache
dissonant like unexpected joy
a voice crying in the wilderness
of downtown streetscapes
pulling me in like
a river maelstrom

if you play
that seven-note chord again
with fingers singing I
might quiver and die and be 
reborn right here in my
Old Fashioned right now in 
a holy chromatic kiss

I might long for your lyrics's
love I might believe in your
tune's hopeful move toward
resolution even though it fades
before reaching harmonic home
which I too like a wayward
melody have never reached

September 28, 2019

Rhythms of Life in God: A Percussion Eucharistic Liturgy

Music is a universal human experience. It has a deep resonance in the human spirit, connecting individuals and communities to mystery, holiness, beauty, joy, sorrow, and the divine. The earliest forms of music were most likely percussion, and even in our world of sophisticated musical developments, drums and percussion stir us in ways we cannot fully explain.

Christian worship is almost always a musical experience. Great liturgies tend to do two things at once: Unite the individual worshipper with God and form a community united with God as one. This communal and individual experience of God is what makes worship such a profound human activity. For Christians, this unity with God and one another comes through the grace of Christ by the power of the Spirit. Christian worship, therefore, creates a community through the good news of Jesus Christ. Worship almost always includes Scripture, preaching, prayer, and sacraments, but without music to convey and support these great things of worship, the power and depth of experience is often not there.

I created this percussion liturgy with the notion that comes from many African cultures: music is a communal experience, and communal experiences are musical. In particular, drumming, percussion, and rhythm create a unique opportunity to experience community. One drummer’s rhythm will play on some beats and leave spaces on others. Those spaces are where others add their rhythms. The whole created by these layerings of rhythms express this wonderfully complex understanding that community creates space for each person, and each person participates in and experiences something greater than any individual.

This eucharistic liturgy invites communal participation through drums and other percussion, hand clapping, foot tapping, singing, and dancing. Whether you are a professional musician, a hobbyist like me, or someone who enjoys music but you’re not sure you have rhythm or tonality, this liturgy invites you to participate, find joy in community and in God by sharing in the rhythms of life, knowing there is space for you here.

The score for this liturgy will be available soon. A video of each part of the liturgy can be seen here. These are from the premiere of the liturgy at First English Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas, on September 24, 2019






Lamb of God

Fed and Loved