Category Archives: Brendan Liturgy

Brendan Liturgy Posts from 2013/14

March 18, 2014

Brendan Liturgy Part XIV

“Is Heaven’s music real to me? Causing my spirit to be stirred and to put off it’s weariness?”

I’ve never felt fully comfortable calling myself a musician [Insert any number of drummer jokes here] but not just because of my limited instrumentation ( I sing a little bit too). It’s not just because I don’t write music (it has always seemed to me that, properly speaking, a “musician” is one who creates music and doesn’t simply reproduce other people’s music…which is mostly what I do) and it’s not because I’m un-skilled at my instrument (I think I can hold my own with just about any rock drummer out there…I’m not the best…but by no means the worst).

No, it has to do with where and how deeply music touches me. The truth is, it rarely gets at the center of my soul like I think it must for “real” musicians. Its not that I don’t love it.  I do. It’s not that I’m unmoved (Oh my, listen to the bridge in “Beautiful Things” by Gungor or a good rendition of Pachabel’s “Cannon in D” and try NOT to be moved!) It’s more like – the music is simply pointing AT something else that I’m really longing for and can’t get to. I have always seen music (all art, really) as purely metaphor for something else. While not purely metaphorical, I see the act of sex similarly – it’s representative of something much deeper, something just beyond reach.

Music is a window. It is corporeal. Real. Tangible. It has mass. But it’s purpose, it’s very REASON is to allow one to see beyond it; through it to something else. Same with sex. Same with a great story, painting or dance. I think we too often stop at evaluating the window and missing what lies beyond it. As a “musician” I could spend all my time meticulously cleaning the window, examining it for any spots, repairing cracks in the frame, re-painting the sills and mullions…and entirely miss the breathtaking spectacle occurring just on the other side of it; the very thing it was meant to reveal.

Music only draws me to the presence of God when I can “hear through it”, and for me actually performing on my instrument is the best way to do that. Truth is, sitting in a church service and listening to other musicians make the music is usually too distracting. I don’t care for it. There are certainly times when I find my way beyond the window – but they are the exception, not the rule.

Style means very little to me. I can either see through a piece or I can not; “sacred”, classical, pop, rap, folk, country, whatever, I’m either aware of all the water spots and streaks in the glass or I’m not. And lest you take this part of the “window metaphor” to mean that I can only be distracted by poorly performed music, let me say I am just as often distracted by how perfectly CLEAN and well maintained the window is…sometimes (ok, a LOT of times) I’m even jealous. But again – it doesn’t mater WHY I’m not looking through the window – it’s the fact that I am not.

Like Brendan – I have my own version of ear plugs. I simply don’t listen to music for pleasure that often. I have friends who live with a nearly constant sound track playing behind their lives. Certainly more and more people live this way – ear buds firmly tucked into their heads as they go about their daily activities…

see my previous entry here:

I’m not criticizing them – I just hope the windows are clean.

March 4, 2014

Brendan Liturgy Part XIII

“Life in community is not easy. Sharing life with others makes holiness hard to find…Am I surprised by the evil I encounter in me or in others? Help me to live as one glad to die. Teach me to live with eternity in view.” 

I must say, I did not like Part 13 very much. Not because it was inherently un-likeable, but because of what it brought up in me.

For over 10 years (arguably near 20 years) a key focus in my discipleship has been letting go of people’s approval and finding it in God alone. There have been successes and failures all along the way, with the general trend toward success, I think. But I have increasingly wondered if I haven’t over-compensated in some cases; in some areas of relationship.

As I pondered the exercise in Part 13 in which we prayerfully consider who might need our forgiveness, or from whom forgiveness might need to be sought, 3 people almost instantly came to mind. The fascinating part is, in all three cases: I’m not sure whether forgiveness should be offered or sought, or both. In all 3 cases, I can easily call to mind and define with crystal clarity the offense committed by the other. But like a shadow over that clarity, there is a nagging impulse…well, impulse is too aggressive a word.

It’s a prompt. A throat clearing from Heaven. A raised eyebrow, a turn of the head.

“You’re responsible.”

There is a difference between FAULT and responsibility. A tornado tearing the roof off my house is not my fault. But fixing it is my responsibility. Trash tossed into my front yard by ignorant, selfish passersby is not my fault. Cleaning it up is my responsibility.

My friend’s immature response to pressure at work is not my fault. But helping him find a new way to deal with it is my responsibility.

My brother’s blindness to his own hypocrisy and  impulse control is not my fault. But maintaining a posture of openness in the midst of it all is my responsibility.

My sister’s chronic blindness to her hurtful treatment of others is not my fault. Standing besides her, helping her recognize her own pain at the center of it is my responsibility.

I resist these responsibilities because:

– I’m tired. I’m weary. I feel like most days I’ve already given everything I have to people who “deserve” it.

-I want my pound of flesh. I’m often more interested in winning an argument than in restoring community.

-Justice will go unserved. If they never come around, if they’re just loved with no deadlines, no check-points, no criteria…no conditions, then why would they ever change their behavior? How will things ever be made right?

-I will anger my friend(s), start an argument I can’t win, and lose them.

-I will appear to be a fool to almost everyone.

– Perhaps the only legitimate reason: I don’t want to actually BE a fool; making things worse by enabling crappy behaviors.

God, I really need help in figuring out WHAT my responsibilities are. I will acknowledge that they exist…but please define them.