Grace Beyond Eggs & Peeps

I’ve claimed to be a devout Christian before. The height of my claim came in high school when, for a few months, at least, I was set on the decision to attend a Seventh-Day Adventist college and major in Theology to become a pastor. For the most part, my spiritual life has been hit and miss since then.

The past couple years, however, brought about a growing acceptance of the concept of God’s grace. Essentially, there is nothing that I could do, or have ever done, to earn God’s love and acceptance. This realization has brought me closer to him than I’ve ever been or ever could become by learning to quote from the many writings of Ellen G. White or by refraining from doing the wrong thing on the sabbath (two big emphases of the Adventist church). Both of my hands are empty and free to serve now that I set my score card down.

My realization of the profound consequences of Grace on my personal life, has developed a greater appreciation of the events that the Christian Easter season celebrates. I grew up, as many kids do, coming out to the living room on Easter Sunday to find an Easter basket full of candy, treats, and usually a toy. The Peeps were my favorite. This was before they became available for every other holiday. I’m talking about the marshmallow, sugar-coated, yellow, pink, and purple chicks and bunnies. I still love them!

Sure, I was familiar with something related to Jesus being resurrected (or something like that), but, that was all on the periphery. My main focus when I was a kid was the candy, the oversized rabbit that stands on two legs at the mall, and egg hunts. Even in my mid-twenties I didn’t grasp the significance of “Good Friday,” as many people called it.

Last night I participated in a Thursday evening communion service in which we focused on commemorating Christ’s last supper with his disciples in the upper room. I’ve been focusing on this event in my personal readings over the past week as well. To me, this is where the truest character of Jesus is revealed. From the revelation that John the disciple reclined at the table with his head resting on the chest of Jesus, to the fact that the Messiah disrobed, wrapped his clothing around his waist, and washed each of his followers’ feet.

Though he knew he was about to suffer the greatest pain known to man, Christ spent this evening breaking bread with his betrayer, and providing food, wisdom, and comfort to his disciples. On the eve of the day when He would experience the greatest mental, physical and spiritual struggle to touch mankind, Jesus provided rest to his disciples and served even those who would, later that night, betray and deny him.

The next day he was unjustly executed. Three days later, on resurrection Sunday, he served all mankind by tying the knot of grace that binds, to Him, those who accept his generous invitation to eat with Him in His kingdom.

The hope and peace of my life rests on these events.

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5

Spokenword Audio Review: Kevin Max/Adrian Belew – Ravensongs 101

The Ravensongs 101 project shouldn’t be viewed in the same terms as a regular music release, but, as a conversation between art and listener. It is expected that some initially drawn to this release on the basis of Kevin Max’s past association with dc Talk may not fully appreciate this project for what it is. Poetry, not often intended to be bite size or sugar-coated, works best when an honest give-and-take dialogue of questions and interpretations exists between the reader (in this case the listener) and the poem itself. Concepts related to divinity, guilt, romance, pleasures of the flesh, conflict and hope are communicated less as sermons and more as confessions and open-ended questions. The name of the project is appropriate because, overall, the listening experience provided by this release is one blanketed with shadows and layers of complexity that reveal new details and nuances with every repeated listen. That being said, the full audio affect is best appreciated while listening alone in a room with dimmed lights or none at all. This isn’t one to play for the kids on the way to daycare. The project is notable mainly because of Max’s masterful control of his voice as an instrument that, while demanding the listener’s attention to the integrity of each poem, works in tandem with Adrian Belew’s (King Crimson – has worked with Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie, Talking Heads) instrumentation to create an audio experience that hooks the listener without relying on the traditional structural format of a song. The rhythmic variations of Belew’s instrumentation serve to enhance, to a higher level, the dynamic between tone, meter, and concept Kevin Max consistently and articulately injects into his poetry. With each track built on the framework of Max’s poems instead of some formulaic framework that guarantees a shot at pop stardom, this project serves as another testament to Kevin Max’s intent to produce artwork with integrity at all costs.

It is available through iTunes and Amazon