Hope and healing playlist

As we wait in the dark for the coming of Christ during these Advent days, it can be tough, at times, to keep going.

When we serve others we touch the wounds of Christ; we encounter the heartache and pain of our neighbors. When we read the news headlines right alongside the promises of Christ, it can be tempting to doubt that the Incarnation really changed things and made the world better. Our consciousness about global oppression and the weight of natural disasters can be crushing, discouraging.

One way that I keep my eyes open to the Light is to tune into songs that feed me with encouragement and strength. I want to have music in my head that keeps me singing with hopeful joy. I want to dance to beats that help me persevere and trust that God’s in charge, that the fullness of God’s goodness is on its way.

With all this in mind, I have created a playlist for all of you who are in need of hope and healing. Many good people gave me input for this list — thanks to all of you!

Perhaps you also will find that these tunes, and some of their particular lyrics, can energize your Gospel living. May you remain hopeful and strong, even when the messy chaos and darkness distract from Christ’s light.

“Till We Reach That Day” from “Ragtime,” the musical

Give the people
A day of peace.
A day of pride.
A day of justice
We have been denied.
Let the new day dawn,
Oh, Lord, I pray…
We’ll never get to heaven
Till we reach that day.

“You will be found” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” the musical

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you’re broken on the ground
You will be found

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around

You will be found.

“Somewhere to begin” by TR Ritchie, sung by Sara Thomsen
People say to me, “Oh, you gotta be crazy!
How can you sing in times like these?
Don’t you read the news? Don’t you know the score?
How can you sing when so many others grieve?”
People say to me, “What kind of fool believes
That a song will make a difference in the end?”
By way of reply, I say a fool such as I
Who sees a song as somewhere to begin
A song is somewhere to begin
The search for something worth believing in
If changes are to come
there are things that must be done
And a song is somewhere to begin.
“The Transfiguration” by Sufjan Stevens
And keep your word, disguise the vision ’till the time has come.
Lost in the cloud, a voice. Have no fear! We draw near!
Lost in the cloud, a sign. Son of man! Turn your ear.
Lost in the cloud, a voice. Lamb of God! We draw near!
“Open Up” by The Brilliance

Hope for the hopeless, Your love is
Strength in our weakness, Your love is
May we love, as You love
Hope for the hopeless, Your love is
Strength in our weakness, Your love is
May we love, as You love
(As only You can love, oh God)

“All my hope” by Crowder featuring Tauren Wells

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man

Come on and sing
All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God my yesterday’s gone

“Rise Up” by Andra Day
You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid

Feel free to share in the comments section. Which songs provide hope and healing to you? Which songs keep you going and help you spread God’s light in the darkness?

made for good

As we catch our  breath and sigh with relief in solidarity with the Boston area, we can pause and consider all the lessons learned this week.

I find the wisdom in this article particularly relevant: we are better than this.

As we learn, let us remember that God designed us as loving, good, relational creatures who naturally respond to harm with forgiveness and peace.  As we heal, let’s act as we’re designed.

Turn to your community today and get to know your neighbors.  Pray, share meals, do a Spring clean-up, play a sport, share a good conversation.  We need each other. We are made for each other, and we are made for good.

P.S. Apparently many subscribers didn’t get an email about the blog post that I wrote on Tuesday of this week because of some technology fluke.  The post is called “laments for Boston, the peace of Christ and the wisdom of Mr. Rogers.”  So sorry about that!! Here it is: https://messyjesusbusiness.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/laments-for-boston-the-peace-of-christ-and-the-wisdom-of-mr-rogers-2/

We are the Body

Guest blogger: Sarah Hennessey, FSPA

img_1391[1]Photo by Chandra Sherin:  http://chandrasherin.wordpress.com/

“She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.” – Mark 5:29b

I’ve never noticed this phrase before. But a few days ago during Mass these words shouted at me. The woman with the hemorrhage reached out bravely to touch just the hem of Jesus’ cloak and she was healed. She didn’t have to think about it. She didn’t have to be examined. She knew it directly and immediately in her body.

I am emerging from a long period of struggle where dullness and flatness ruled my days. Joy suddenly has flesh. I feel in my body a buoyancy right in the center of my chest which I tentatively name physiological joy. Anger seems brighter. Sadness has a texture. Joy is a bubble of light that lifts my rib cage higher.

I had to learn that the body gives us clues about emotions. When I feel hot, I realize that I am embarrassed. An urge for movement, to punch with my tight fists, awakens me to the emotion of anger. I am connected and whole. Body, mind and spirit are not random signals broadcasting on separate channels, but instead a unity that sings to me. Like the woman who touched Jesus, I feel healing directly in my body.

Body is central to the Gospel. We are the body of Christ. The revelation of God in Jesus Christ is incarnation– enfleshed in history. The body of Jesus suffered on the cross, not just his soul. And it was through the bodily resurrection of our Lord that the good news was revealed. We come to the table even today to receive his body.

Yet often we have sanitized and spiritualized the Body of Christ until it just a collection of floating souls and like-minded intellects without the flesh of a body.  We recite the creed but, when it gets right down to it, how many of us really believe in the resurrection of the body? A risen body is the Christian truth, but in our world of scientific death as a finality we tend to fudge on this one a little bit. In my weekly Bible study, several women proclaim strongly that the resurrection of the body makes no sense.

What would my faith look like if I took seriously the resurrection of the body? What if I lived more like the woman healed of her affliction, knowing it so directly and personally in her body? When Jesus multiplies the loaves in John, Chapter Six, the abundance leaves leftovers. As Jesus explains that he is the bread from heaven he goes on to clarify, “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day.”John 6:39.  Jesus claims all of us, even our bodies. He gives us back to the Father, whole and complete, flesh included.

Yes, we are the body.  Not in some spiritualized sense, but truly with our bones and muscles and tendons. We cannot exclude the dignity of any of our brothers and sisters. We must put flesh on our words and action to the Gospel if we are to truly be the Body of Christ.

If We are the Body – Casting Crowns

faith is hard

It isn’t easy to have faith.

Actually, it’s quite hard to live like a Christian, especially if we keep hearing that showing up for church on Sundays is good enough. Really, we’re supposed to be non-conformists of this world, conforming instead to the radical, non-violent,  loving ways of Christ. Our faith life needs to be deep, prayerful and solid, and must direct all else in our life.  God really is supposed to be our All in All.

I wonder if the increase of secularization in our culture is responsible for the myth that faith is only appropriate when its private and doesn’t offend others.  I am concerned about how our youth are learning to practice our faith from us. Is it really okay for us to live in luxury, privilege and glamor while others suffer? Why do we practice our religion? Is it because we love God and the people of God (the Church)? Are we willing to go through major conversions in order to grow in union with God? Or, are we only willing to live our faith if it doesn’t ask us to change too much or get uncomfortable?

Certainly, living a life of Christian faith is simple in principle. It is a simple way, a way of Love. In actuality, it’s pretty challenging and demanding.

I am finding that it’s not easy to teach teenagers this principle- -the idea that having faith might require you to change, be uncomfortable, stand up for the vulnerable, make hard choices and be radically different from what popular society says is cool and acceptable.

I recently showed the following video to some of my students. Afterwards, when I asked the students to silently pray and contemplate how the story related to their lives, the classroom felt pretty intense. Faith is hard.

The good news is that if we really have deep faith that causes us to grow and change we never know what we might be able to do. Our faith strengthens us and unites us with a power greater than ourselves.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  -Matthew 17:20

Yes, as we grow in union with God, nothing is impossible. Because, for God, nothing is impossible and we are instruments of God.

Here’s another video, this time about how awesome it is to be an instrument of God:

Back from the Dead


Ok, faith is hard. But, its worth it. So may our faith increase, Amen!

trusting fire’s power

The fire of God is burning and we gather to praise and rejoice.  No barriers divide us, no division separates us.  God’s mystery connects us through the diversity of language, origin, world-view, culture and class. We are together, glowing with the heat that can only be experienced by the fullness of humanity.

Fire is beautiful, enlightening, strong.  We can become mesmerized and tempted to play in it and with it, teasing the limits.  With deep wonder, we can get too close to the power, only to be burned and scarred.  If we dance with God’s designs, we can’t stay the same.

In fact, the elements of God’s designs instill in us great lessons about the mystery of God’s nature.  Fire is fierce, dangerous, destructive.  Without our attention or understanding, the sparks of elements and energy ignite flames in fields and forests.  Dry air and strong wind force rages for miles, destroying life, homes, security and control.

We lament at loss and grieve our lack of understanding.  It feels like an injustice, it’s definitely a mystery. How can we love and have faith anymore?  How can we believe and trust?  How are we supposed to accept that this is Love’s Way when we feel so hurt?

Nature tells us, though, that with time life comes back brighter and stronger after a fire sweeps through.  In my childhood, I remember being confused about how my parents would start brush fires in our pastures to renew the grasses for something better. It made no sense to me, just as I now don’t understand my Divine Parent’s fire-y ways.

I try to trust, despite the struggle.  I’ve been hurt by the sudden death of a colleague and I am trying to live through painful good-byes; I’m ending my ministry in Chicago and moving to Wisconsin to be near the motherhouse. On Tuesday, another student told me that someone he knew well (his cousin) was shot and killed.  A foot taller than me at fifteen, I suddenly fell onto his chest, sobbing at the injustice.  He stood there like a pillar of stone, trying to comfort me through his own stunned grief. “It’s OK, Sister.” he muttered.  “No, it’s not!” I said.

Somehow, I must be faithful to my call to be an itinerant Franciscan and say good-bye to my students who are in so much pain.  Somehow, I must trust God that things will really be OK.  I must trust the mystery of God’s glorious fire, because I have no other choice. And, I believe that Love is truly stronger than any other energy, even the energy of non-understanding.

Deep in the dark, I shall snuggle up to the coals of God’s comfort with my community, family and friends.  The force of the Spirit shall heal and transform all of us, together, to be united as one body: the fire of God’s love. May it be so, Amen, indeed, Amen.

The Golden Sequence

Come, Holy Spirit,

send forth the heavenly

radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,

come, giver of gifts,

come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,

sweet guest of the soul,

sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,

in heat, temperance,

in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,

fill the inmost heart

of your faithful.

Without your grace,

there is nothing in us,

nothing that is not harmful.

Cleanse that which is unclean,

water that which is dry,

heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,

fire that which is chilled,

correct what goes astray.

Give to your faithful,

those who trust in you,

the sevenfold gifts.

Grant the reward of virtue,

grant the deliverance of salvation,

grant eternal joy.

Amen, Alleluia!