Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Profound Moment...Music for February 28th

Hello St. Francis,

As I sat and listened to the homilies at Mass last week, I found myself wishing and praying for a moment like was described.  A moment of profound meaning that the apostles got when they saw Jesus transfigured.  I sometimes get discouraged that these moments don't occur so often and that from time to time I feel as though "Jesus is NOT my copilot".  Like most, I guess, discouragement can happen most intensely when I feel like I am alone.  It's not that Jesus leaves my side or that He is not listening to my prayers, it's just that when moments of profound faith, grace and love envelop me, it is easier to live in the way I know I have been called to.  As I thought, I didn't really question my faith or my intentions, I just felt like I needed something to embrace me and help me, even if just for a few minutes to relieve me of something (and to be honest, I don't even know what it was that I needed relieved).

For a time, I felt almost guilty of having this unrealistic expectation that God was just going to infuse me with some sort of special grace.  Maybe I was asking God for too much in needing the profound moment, maybe God was busy carrying the cross of someone whose burden is much greater than mine.  Who was I to want something more, something special?  And then I heard the word...HOPE. In that moment I did not receive a special grace, what I did realize in that moment is that just like we ask for profound moments from God, God also gives us the opportunity to be profound in our faith.  He allows us to tap into our hope and when we do this, I'd like to think that we give God a profound moment.  We show him that whether we are the center of attention, deeply faith filled, or questioning everything, we still follow.

Peter was right.  If I were him I'd want to build a tent and live in that profound moment forever.  Why?  Because faith and even life is easy when we are surrounded by the profound grace and wisdom of God.  Something interesting happened then. The words I needed were given to someone else.  These were the words. "If our hope is centered in God's Love and if our hope is centered in the Resurrection than our hope must also be centered on the cross."

So my friends, I have come to this conclusion.  Our hope, our life, our love and our faith can only be made profound if we truly embrace those times we feel alone, just like Jesus must have when He carried His cross.  When we seek a moment of grace and don't feel like we have it within us, it is then that we truly surrender ourselves to God and it is in that surrender that we find that profound moment. I was empty.  I felt alone.  And then at the cross I found Him.  But you know what, I think He was there all along.  That's pretty profound.

Jim

Music for February 28th
Processional - Somebody's Knockin' At My Door - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djpKcdqdfKM

Psalm 103 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfZzhxqt90A

Offertory - How Great Is Our God - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKLQ1td3MbE

Communion - The Heart of Worship - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeAwBmb_x28

Recessional - A Rightful Place -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvpGNesfWa4

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Difference Between "Nice" and "Great"

Hello St. Francis,

This week I hope to share with you an "Industry Secret".  Here it goes.  Sometimes, Music Ministers, Choirs and Celebrants lack the energy to feed the congregation.  Yes, sometimes it is difficult to "get up" for Mass or Concert or Homily.  I can tell you that because I know we all get it.  Life is sometimes draining and it seems impossible to put on the smile, clap or sing with energy and enthusiasm or speak from the heart with passion.  In those moments of struggle, we look to others to affirm our effort and sometimes even to be our inspiration and our energy.  A great example of this was this past Sunday.  In case you don't remember it was COLD!!!  I was honestly struggling to think about anything except the draft that was chilling my bones.  But then, something pretty cool happened.  You sang!!!  You clapped!!!  You became the energy we needed to "heat up" the church.  As someone who does this for a living, I can not tell you how appreciative I am of folks who express their appreciation through participating.  It means more than anything else and we feel so blessed when you so graciously share your energy with us.

This is what is incredible about being a part of the St. Francis community.  As generous as you are in all ways, you are most generous with your willingness to lift up everyone who ministers with and for you.  Do me a favor, never be afraid to sing a little louder or clap a little more passionately.  Never be afraid to say in full voice "Amen"  You see, that is what makes us who we are.  More than anything, we mean what we do at St. Francis.  Our prayer, our song and our community is an intentional one.  Welcome to 21st century church, where we mean what we say and back it up with our passion and enthusiasm.  So, even when it is COLD or HOT or anything else, at St. Francis, all of the things that could cause us to lack energy goes away and we do what we do; love Jesus and support each other.

Jim

Music for February 21st

Processional - Hold To God's Unchanging Hand - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=navP_n3mtH0

Psalm 27 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Zu4XRFvI6g

Offertory - The Lord Is My Light - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6rVDleho-s

Communion - Refiner's Fire - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lBhvTAfmIk

Recessional - Go Make A Difference - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDjQEoItGzQ

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I've Got That Joy!!! - Music for the 1st Week of Lent

Hello St. Francis,

So, Lent is upon us.  40 days to prepare for the most important happening in the history of the world, Jesus' Resurrection.  Today, I am thinking about one of my favorite passages from Scripture.  "The Road to Emmaus".  In the story, two travelers leave Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified.  They were downtrodden and felt somewhat hopeless.  As they walk, I assume contemplating what was next in their lives and in their world, they are approached by a man that they do not recognize.  During their walk, the man speaks about scripture and about all the things that have been happening.  They did not recognize him.  For some reason, they felt a kinship with him though and when they completed their day's journey, they asked him to stay with them, to share a meal, to continue the conversation.  While they were eating Jesus took the bread and broke it and immediately they recognized him.  They ran back to Jerusalem and told Jesus' friends that they had seen and talked to the Lord and that he certainly is risen from the dead.  At the end, the scripture says that Jesus was made known to them through the scripture and the breaking of bread.

Awesome!!!  Yet another story of how people didn't recognize Jesus for who he is.  I'm sure glad we always do...well maybe not all of the time.  In this statement lies what I believe is the essential aspect of our Lenten practice.  I think we all seek to "do something" or "give up something" for Lent.  I don't know about you, but, this sacrifice really doesn't enlighten my relationship with God and depending on what I give up, I can be a little more grumpy to other people.  So, how can we prepare for Easter this Lent?  Let's use the story of the Road to Emmaus.  Here are some facts about the story.

1.  Although these travelers knew where they were headed, they didn't know where to go.  They were lost while walking a familiar road. - I feel lost in my familiar world all of the time.  I recognize that I have a much clearer vision of my path when I am the "co-pilot" and I allow Jesus to lead me where I need to go.

2.  They did not travel alone. - I really believe that it is in friendship and in taking the chance to allow someone to journey with you is so important.  Choose a friend to pray with, to talk to, to bring to church.  We all need support and we are also called to support others.

3. The scriptures were opened up to them and their hearts were burning. - Consider a thorough reading of one of the Gospels or any one of the books of the New or Old Testament.  Many an epiphany was fostered by reading and praying over scripture.

4.  It was at the breaking of the bread that they recognized him. - Mass is at the center of our prayer experience. It is when we focus ourselves, allow the love of God to overwhelm us in the gift of the Eucharist, that we too, recognize him more clearly.

5.  They ran back to Jerusalem to share the good news - We all are stewards of good news.  The good news of our salvation, the good news of our relationship with Jesus and the good news that we journey together, encouraging each other, never alone.  The best kind of good news is the kind you can share and then participate in the revelation of this good news to others.

So, maybe instead of our regular Lenten routine, we may consider walking the Road to Emmaus.  Whatever you choose to do, may your practice bring you to know Jesus even more deeply and love him with an even more complete love.

Jim

Music for the 1st Sunday of Lent

Processional - What A Friend We Have In Jesus - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-KPU21y3TA


Offertory - Down At The Cross - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnAnPBNfzKU

Communion - I Must Tell Jesus - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmPtHOYufSs

Recessional - God Never Fails - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_B4ogg0duk

Monday, February 1, 2016

Have you received your call? Music for the Weekend of February 7th

Hello St. Francis,

So, we are just a few days away from Lent which is quite amazing.  Yes, it is going to be an early Easter this year.  Hopefully spring will come early too.  But, as God often does, there is a challenge placed before us.  This week's gospel is one of my favorites.  Jesus' call to Peter to be "fishers of people".  We are told that Peter left everything behind and followed Jesus.  What a beautiful message.  Boy, that Peter sure does know how to make a splash.   So, other than the really nice "example of faith" what is this challenge thing?

As our church evolves to be an open door welcoming community and we all try to make each other feel as though our church is our second home, I think sometimes we get caught up in the fluffy kumbaya type stuff and sometimes forget that living the Christian life requires sacrifice and consistent leaps of faith.  Isn't that one of the reasons we come to church?  To be strengthened in our conviction and made courageous to live as we are called to.  Also, isn't our time in church one that we are instructed and inspired in what that call is?

The Christian word is vocation.  Put quite simply, a vocation is who you are not what you do.  Our vocation has been given to us as a gift.  For some, their vocation is a life devoted to God as a priest or religious.  To others, its being a spouse and a parent.  For some it is a career and for all it is a life centered in God's love.  Peter, I think was one of the lucky ones.  I like fish and if I was hungry and someone helped me catch more than I could bring to shore, I'd definitely want to be around him.  Who knows, the next guys he impresses might be fishing for oysters or lobster.  I'd want to be around for that.  But, Peter saw Jesus, listened to his words and did as he asked and look what happened.

Being a Christian is a radical, challenging and sometimes frustrating thing. So often we think that we are doing the right thing and the door is closed.  So often, our prayers seem to go unanswered and so often, people who want the hearts full of joy and life full of love and laughter fall away when the reality of our world sets in.  I know that to leave everything behind and follow Jesus is a "metaphor" but, isn't it true when we focus more intently on Jesus and less intently on the pleasures of this world that we receive more pleasure?  It's almost like a surprise gift, you know the one you really need but would never get for yourself.  The more radically I live my faith, the more willing I am to leave everything behind and follow Jesus, the clearer my life becomes.  When my vision is clear, it is easier to see the person who is struggling who needs someone to help.  When my vision is clear, it is easier to take the jumbled up things in my life and organize them into priorities. When my vision is clear, that is when I recognize the radical call and the road that I must travel.  Because my vision becomes God's vision and that road only leads to good things.

So, be challenged, be frustrated, try and sometimes fail.  It is all part of radical vocation we are called to.  May we, like Peter, jump out of our boat and cling to Jesus.  And, just remember, sometimes when you are afraid to jump, Jesus will be there to tell us not to be afraid and then push us into the water.

Jim

Music for February 6-7
Processional - A Rightful Place - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvpGNesfWa4

Psalm 40 - http://www.ocp.org/products/30119595

Offertory - Can't Nobody - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP1a-JxyTwQ

Communion - Lord, You Have Come - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xVskCCWtUk

Recessional - Go Make A Difference - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDjQEoItGzQ