Monday, November 5, 2012

The Old Chapel Record

I am overjoyed to share with you The Old Chapel Record by my best friend, Cliff Hutchison. Its been fascinating to see these songs birthed and developed over the past few years. I'm so proud of Cliff and love his music so much. I'm sure you will too.

Cliff's BioLike the blues, Cliff Hutchison was born and raised in the North Mississippi delta. At an early age he discovered a love for music that has been a light to his feet ever since. Like the delta musicians before him, Cliff's music has reflected his life: joy and pain, lament and praise, love and loss. 

He is the second of three sons raised by a tough-as-nails but sweet-as-sugar mom. While possessing
 an adventurer's spirit that has taken him across the globe, Cliff has remained firmly rooted in the fertile soil of his Southern heritage. His travels have taken him all over the South, Australia, Colorado, and finds him now in Little Rock, AR.

This journey for Cliff has been one of both great reward and suffering. “Much of my recent music seems to have been birthed out of leaving places and people that I’ve fallen in love with. However, I would never trade the friendships and the new experiences in those places for anything. It’s always worth it. This has also been a very spiritual journey for me as I’ve searched for my identity within the Church and spent much time reflecting on home. These are the ideas, emotions, and experiences that you hear on “The Old Chapel Record”.”

As he looks forward down the road, Cliff is aware that he doesn't travel alone. And as he looks back, he realizes that he never has.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

(Big) Sister Blog

While I have taken a long and deliberate break from a Sprig of Hope, I will begin posting again here very soon. Until then, please read my newest blog Comforting Bitter Grace. It is my daddy blog, enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Easter Heifer

As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday this Holy week, we can participate in Jesus' mission of new life. While our standard Easter celebrations are often self-gratifying, perhaps we could embrace the nature of our celebration and offer life through sacrifice.

We act mercifully because we have been mercifully acted upon. "In view of these mercies...offer yourselves as living sacrifices." In no small way is the power of Resurrection to be passed on. Through one supremely sacrificial act, the entire trajectory of world history was altered, the order of things flipped and life triumphed over death. Thus, through us and our acts of sacrifice, we are joining in on the party. We align ourselves with Jesus' upside down kingdom where power and authority is found in submission and meekness.

So, how are we to practice Resurrection? We are to die so that others may live. Instead of conceding to the rat-race we find ourselves in, we stop seeking self-fulfillment and begin to give ourselves away. It took an act of God to shift the tide and it is an act of God in our hearts that will save us from ourselves.

This Resurrection life, this self-giving-away life is to be totally consuming, yet it must start somewhere. There are several practical ways to live this out and it starts in the simple yet supreme command: love your neighbors. We must decrease so that they can increase. On a larger scale, we can align ourselves with groups that promote resurrection throughout the world.

One such organization is Little Rock's own, Heifer International. I've blogged about them before but I want to give them another plug. Through giving that hardly amounts to sacrifice for the average American household, Heifer provides much needed aid for developing communities across the world. Watch the video below for a brief explanation of how this works

This Easter, you can join Heifer's efforts by participating in their Hatch Hope Campaign. As they put it: "This Easter, put eggs in someone else's basket and hatch hope for a family in need. When you give a gift of livestock and training in their care, you are providing a way for families in need to lift themselves out of poverty and into lives of dignity and self-reliance."

Maybe this Sunday we can celebrate Resurrection not through over-consumption of chocolate but through life-giving sacrifice.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice
goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Eye of the Storm

The world was falling apart all around me. I was five, huddled into a hotel room in Sumter, South Carolina. We had traveled an hour and half inland to seek refuge from Hurricane Hugo. The bumper-to-bumper traffic on every road headed west was over-flowing with our fellow evacuees. Our home was on the very river forecasters were predicting the hurricane to make landfall over, we had no choice but to leave. Hugo was a strong category four hurricane and we rightfully feared the worst.

Sumter wasn't far enough as tornadoes ripped the town to shreds during the night. I'll never forget the sounds of that night, as if the wind turned to metal and proceeded to clash with the very gods. The carnage that we awoke to the next day proved greater than we could imagine. As we drove home around downed trees and power lines, witnessing others' homes who had been destroyed, we hoped to find our coastal home still standing. Hope may be an overstatement.

Anyone who has lived trough a severe hurricane knows the power that they wield, power to destroy. They deserve their names because unlike any other weather phenomenon, they have a personality, a vengeance and sometimes a grace. We talk about them like we knew them, because we did.

One of the unique characteristic of hurricanes are
thier eyes. When you look a satellite image of one, it stares at you ominously. It is from this core the whole storm derives its sheer force but phenomenally, the eye is absolutely calm. The eye of Hugo missed our home to the south but I had friends who braved (or fooled) out the storm and found themselves in the eye. They reported that it was like the storm had ended, they would walk out to a light breeze and rays of sun. But swirling all around them were 150 mile per hour winds ravaging everything in its path. But there was safety in the eye.

Jesus tells his followers that in this world we will have trouble and a quick look around affirms this teaching. When we read the headlines and listen to the stories around us, it can seem as if the world is falling apart. It is more scary than gods clashing because it seems as if the gods have left us and hope in safety is hopeless.

But just as Jesus promised us trouble, he promises us joy in its very presence. This is not a disembodied joy where everything is perfect and clean, but joy that finds itself knee-deep in the mud; a joy found in the very eye of the storm.

And what is the source of this joy? Jesus has overcome death.

As the world rages, we know the story does not end there but that even through that rage, joy will come. Because we do not hope in ourselves or the gods, but in the crucified and resurrected Jesus. The one who found himself in the eye of the storm on the cross, as all the pain of the world cam crashing down on him and death itself took him. But the power of love, the power of God gave him the last laugh.

Its a bit like Lieutenant Dan riding out the hurricane from the mast of Gump's shrimp boat, we find our peace with God in the very face of death, in the eye of the storm.