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ooooo pretty lights

Here's another picture I took at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue just over a year ago. Since I did not grow up around any significant body of water (unless a dugout where cows drink counts), I am ever grateful to be living within a 15 minute drive of one of the most scenic on-the-water spots in Canada, at least in my opinion, and I make it a point to go there as much as I can every summer to capture that particular day's beauty.

I read a cool quote the other day that I can't find now, but it had to do with the fact that when we go through painful things and hard times and nothing seems to console us, a glimpse of beauty will ease our pain and bring peace where nothing else could touch our wounded soul. I have experienced this often: a note sung with passion, a sunset splashed across the sky, a tree in full autumn explosion, an expanse of clear blue water, a child's smile, a dog's eager embrace, and a friend's touch have provided light and peace where no words or explanations could. Beauty is a characteristic of God that I seldom here preached in any church, but it is such a call to worship and healing that we cannot ignore it. Perhaps that is why I take pictures and write words and sing songs and explore all things creative: I am drawn to the one who created this thing called beauty and at the same time, calling for an encounter with healing for myself and this whole broken world.


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the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.


When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …