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I discovered Peter Mayer’s music about five years ago. This eclectic guitarist who plays lead guitar for Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band is more than a rock ‘n’ roller. He is also a very spiritual musician.

As a child, he lived in India with his missionary parents. During those years, he says that he witnessed the love of Jesus while listening to the Indian people sing hymns in their native tongue of Tamil. It is evident that both his western and eastern upbringing has an influence on his music.

Whether it was his rock ‘n’ roll music or his simple guitar-driven anthems, Mayer feels that he was motivated to know that through God’s spirit, “we are all connected to God’s persistent uprising, beyond what we suspect.”

I found something unexpected in Mayer’s music. His soulful uplifting rhythms and thoughtful lyrics are often places that I turn to when I want to be led to the feet of God.

“Holy Now” reminds me that God is everywhere, in all, through all, and for all - that God doesn’t just dwell behind the walls of the church, but also out in the world. So, keep your eyes, ears, and hearts open, you never know where you might find “a little red-winged bird…singing like a scripture verse.”

You can listen to “Holy Now” here.

“Holy Now”

When I was a boy each week Sunday we would go to church Pay attention to the priest And he would read the holy word Consecrate the holy bread Everyone would kneel and bow Today the only difference is Everything is holy now Everything, everything, everything is holy now When I was in Sunday school We would learn about the time Moses split the sea in two And Jesus made the water wine I remember feeling sad Miracles don’t happen still But now I can’t keep track, ‘Cause everything’s a miracle Everything, everything, everything’s a miracle Wine from water is not so small An even better magic trick, is that anything is here at all So the challenging thing becomes Not to look for miracles, but finding where there isn’t one When holy water was rare at best Barely wet my fingertips But now I have to hold my breath Like I’m swimming in a sea of it It used to be a world half there Heaven’s second-rate hand-me-down I walk it with a reverent air ‘Cause everything is holy now Read a questioning child’s face Say it’s not a testament, that’d be very hard to say See another new morning come Say it’s not a sacrament, I tell you that it can’t be done This morning outside I stood Saw a little red-winged bird Shining like a burning bush And singing like a scripture verse Made me want to bow my head I remember when church let out How things have changed since then ‘Cause everything is holy now It used to be a world half there Heaven’s second-rate hand-me-down I walk it with a reverent air ‘Cause everything is holy now ©1999 Peter Mayer Music, BMI

Updated: Mar 1

Unlike my soft-hearted husband who tears up easily, especially during the human-interest stories at the conclusion of the evening news, I am not one who comes to tears often. If you see me crying, you know that either my pain is great, or something is deeply touching my soul.

There are a few things that stir my emotions easily. One of those things is music.

You would think that being a musician means that I am always surrounded by music – in the car, in my home, in my office, and all the places in between, but that’s simply not true.

Recently, I have come to prefer silence over casual music listening. After teaching music classes all day, silence is what I desire most of the time.

However, driving home from church on the evening of Ash Wednesday, I decided to pull up my playlist titled, “Spiritual.” It was dusk as I was driving, which is my favorite time of day. The sun had left the sky with an indescribable color, the stars were popping out, and the moon was beginning to show off its glow.

There I was with ashes fresh on my forehead, and that’s when the tears started. At first, it was only a stinging sensation in my eyes, but then they began to roll down my cheeks. I wasn’t feeling lonely or sad. It had been a good day. I knew then that it was the music. It’s always been the music. It seems to touch me in the deepest part of my being.

I don’t know if it was the lyrics, the melody, or the harmonies but this gift of rhythm and sound felt so God-like to me.

A return to my “Spiritual” playlist reminded me of the reason that certain songs have made their way to my list. Some are old favorites like an old friend sitting next to me. Other songs have become new companions that have encouraged me on my journey.

During this season of Lent, I want to share some of the songs from my “Spiritual” playlist with you. I hope you will receive these songs as a gift. Maybe you will sit with them during these days of Lent and make a new friend, or maybe you will allow them to touch a part of your spirit that needs to be reawakened.

Gabriel’s Oboe

Lenten Playlist song number one is “Gabriel’s Oboe.”

To me, “Gabriel’s Oboe” is one of the purest and simplest melodies. I think that if I had to choose only one song to listen to for the rest of my life, this would be the one.

Composer Ennio Morricone wrote “Gabriel’s Oboe” for the movie, The Mission. In the movie, this simple melody is played by Father Gabriel on his oboe. The song was meant to be a bridge between cultures of vastly different languages and customs. Morricone delivered a most beautiful and sublime melody for this purpose. It is a song that needs no words because its melody is pure and full of the mercy and love of God.

You can listen to Gabriel’s Oboe and enjoy some beautiful scenery here.

Updated: Jan 30

What does the Lord require of you? Those words haunt me.

I have often claimed that Micah 6:8 is my favorite Bible verse. It’s the one I will recite if someone asks, “what’s your favorite scripture?” It was the verse I used at my ordination service and the one I recite when I lay hands on another who is being ordained.

This verse contains a serious charge - to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. According to Micah, it is a requirement. Micah says, “God has told you this.” It feels like Micah is delivering a bit of a reprimand, that God has told us this, but we are refusing to live in this way. The requirement is justice. The requirement is the love of mercy. The requirement is to walk humbly. And all of this is to be done with God.

With God. Can living justly, mercifully, and humbly be done without God? Can we live in this way without daily turning to God for guidance? Can we live in this way if we despise our brothers and sisters, and live with jealousy, anger, and hate? Can we be ministers and prophets of God’s way if we are dishonest with our words and unkind in our actions?

If we back up to verse 6, in Micah chapter 8, we read that God’s words came to Micah in the form of a question. “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?”

It seems that we seek to please God in ways that don’t really get to the heart of the matter. “The presents are nice,” God says, “but what I really want from you is this – I want you to be fair and honest with each other. I want you to be kind to each other, to offer understanding, and to be gracious. I want you to walk with a humbleness that resembles a child of God.”

We can all remember times when people have disappointed us – treated us unfairly and unjustly. I am guilty too. There have been many times when I have failed in this call to love as I should, and times when I have let my ego trump my spirit.

God’s instructions in Micah 6:8 are for each of us. No one is an exception – minister and layperson, CEO and support staff, teacher and student, politician and voter – each of us is called to the same requirement.

The question of discipleship is: How do we live and love in this world? The answer is: We are called to journey with God, and we are called to act with compassion toward those we encounter along the path.

We are to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly – with our God.

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