Dude, Gimme A Beat

Inspired by Brother, Give Us A Word


We acknowledge our sharing not only in Jesus’ life, but also in Jesus’ death and resurrection. We share this from the inside out. That is, the crucified Jesus has become alive within you through your baptism. Where is Jesus to be found now? In you.

-Br. Curtis Almquist

Larry Young - Hello Your Quietness (islands)

This mediation brought me to an expression I always heard in catholic school. “Take up your cross”. This was understood to mean accept your miserable fate. Suffer, struggle, and wish it could be even worse. That expression now says to me to live. Live for something. Make it a meaningful life. Expect there will be days and periods of struggle and doubt. But recognize them for what they are in the big picture and recognize the opportunities inherent in them. Grow deeper with life and the joy to be felt will be deeper. As a musical seam to this idea, Larry Young is a well known jazz organist, having recorded many great Blue Note albums in a sort of soul funk jazz groove. Many hip hop artists have sampled his work. The delights of those records are clear. And then what comes next in his work is stunning. As that Blue Note-era sound dimmed in popularity, Young was exploring and searching as an artist, and clearly, as a person as well, as this massive, magnificent song testifies. He is deep into something he lives. He is where he should be in his life, it would seem. And the deep roots of this epic rarity give deep nourishment. I take up the cross to live!

(Source: http)

Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that he is the one
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it’s too late
-“After Forever”
from the album Master of Reality

Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone

Open your eyes, just realize that he is the one

The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate

Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it’s too late

-“After Forever”

from the album Master of Reality


Jesus embodies the death-defeating, life-giving power, and shows us that even an evil force bent on destruction and death cannot overcome his strength to save and heal. Do not give in to despair. Look to God and believe.

-Br. David Vryhof

Katie Jackson - God Is a Good God

Katie Jackson and the Campbell Brothers feed the spirit a buffet of fire!

I will always remember the blessed influence of my friend Marjorie, who in the days immediately following a car crash which left her son seriously injured with a broken neck, just kept repeating, mantra-like, “God is good”. A strong, vital young man, he healed quickly and fully. I often remind her of how powerfully her example taught me, and she just smiles and waves it off. She has fed me well in my life, spiritually, as well as through food. She relishes cooking for people, as it allows her to not only express her love for people, but also her love for her homeland in Trinidad. Her roti’s are one of the best things i”ve ever eaten! We always laugh when I drop a name of a calypso singer from her era (she is about 20-25 years older than me). “How do you know him??!” she exclaims. So long as I don’t drop a Bajan singer or group….upon saying how much I love Alison Hinds and Square One, she dismissed me abruptly, “oh, boy, please, we got better singers than she in Trini.”

God is good!!

(Source: http)

New Life

Something that pertains to the whole cosmos is happening in the death and resurrection of Christ: animal, vegetable and mineral; earth, air, fire and water. From the depths of inner worlds to the furthest reaches of space. “Behold, I am making all things new” - not just all people, but all things, he says. Whether we quite comprehend this or not, the scope is breathtaking.

-Br. Mark Brown

Eric Dolphy - Iron Man (Live)

Despite having heard these words many times, I was struck be the phrase “making all things new”. For this day after Easter, it is quite fitting, yet I am reminded of meditations throughout the year which have spoken to new life. Smaller deaths and re-births which occur in some way constantly. This, it seems, is the pattern for living in this realm. I hope to focus my meditations over these days on what this death and resurrection of Christ meant to his friends and family and followers. How were they processing what had just happened? Were they frightened? Angry or disappointed? Perhaps they were expecting some cataclysmic, dynamic event which smote the enemy and clearly proclaimed victory…but were left with more questions than they were expecting to have. Maybe some were inspired and fortified by the empty tomb and were of a stronger faith and clearer vision. The possibilities are as many as the people affected, because we all are unique and surely, an array of emotion and response is as significant a part of the tale as everything else. Because we continue to wonder and weigh our lives. We each have days and seasons of growth and life and seasons of decay and death. Our human instinct likely draws us to something like iron as a fortifier. Strong and durable, we can find refuge from much within our iron sanctuaries. But Christ demonstrates a more flexible strength. An enduring strength of totality, yet one which is also a bit more difficult to carry and wear. But as we make the effort to adjust, we are likely to find not only safety, but joy and wisdom as well. Eric Dolphy speaks more in the language of Christ to my ears. While his playing never shies away from any sound, his awareness enables him to wrap the abrasive and the gentle into one seamless bond.

(Source: http)


How do we allow those seeds of hope and resurrection deep within us to burst out into new life? One way is to open our eyes and see the signs of resurrection all around us.

-Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Full Sermon:  http://ssje.org/ssje/category/sermon/?p=2655

{song selection and reflection by Peter L.}

Morton Feldman - Madame Press Died Last Week at the Age of 90

Happy Easter. In the Christian tradition, it’s not an easy day to get to. There are the somber services of Lent. Penitence. The struggle to realign with God. And then the passion of Holy Week where together as a congregation, we relive the death of Christ the cross. It always brings home to me the feeling that the death is something we all go through, every day of our lives.

I see resurrection in the way we get caught up in conflict. We  lose perspective and hope but then - making it to the other side - find that we are in some way renewed. Dying to ourselves, we enter the darkness and thereby retrieve the light.

We suffer from the feeling that we are separate from life. It is sometimes only when we are brought so low that we have nothing left to hold onto that we become aware of our roots in existence. By braving the dark, we grasp how intimate its relationship is with the light. Realization might come from an unexpected kindness or a deepened capacity to speak from the heart. That’s crucifixion to me.

I love this little piece by Morton Feldman, “Madame Press Died Last Week at the Age of 90,” here performed  by John Adams and the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s on a wonderful cd called “American Elegies.”  Feldman wrote it in honor of his childhood piano teacher. “The way she would put her finger down, in a Russian way of just the finger. The liveliness of just the finger. And produce a B-flat, and you wanted to faint.”  The two-note motif of the piece echoes that. It also captures something of resurrection. Repeating over and over, it suggests the dear, departed lady, perpetually re-entering - saying “hello” or “come in” -  with her endless warmth. As if life, regardless of what may happen, is always returning in one way or another.


It is in Christ’s courage that we find our courage to be true to ourselves. The cross represents God’s total commitment to us. It is our sign and it says that one man remained true to himself. That one man accepted his humanity in its fullness and its poverty, so that we can accept and love our humanity in its fullness and it’s poverty.

-Br. Robert L’Esperance

Robert Fripp - Cathedral of Tears

This meditation is a reminder of how much the cross represents. It is very much relevant to the here and now. The cross is in fact life affirming and life inspiring. When we give of our selves, when we see through a moment of life with another, no matter how long that moment may be, when done with integrity, there is a special energy in the bond forged. My thought entering this meditation was that it may invoke a somber feel. Yet it has taken me to the loving, life force of the cross. Not to death. Not to anguish. To life. In that context, Robert Fripp builds this soundscape on tears of joy!

(Source: http)


In Christ, God has submitted to the worst form of human violence. This does not lend itself to quick and easy explanations. We can only appropriate this mystery over time. And through the lens of our own suffering, our own dying and rising again. Meditation on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ’s life is a work.

-Br. Mark Brown

Eddie Hazel - From the Bottom of My Soul

Br. Mark’s meditation is beautiful. Upon hearing this song for the first time about 3 weeks ago, I heard it from the perspective of Jesus speaking from the cross.The weight and tone of the song, its patience and its aching truth make it a song which carries a lifetime. Eddie Hazel was the gifted guitarist of Parliament and Funkadelic. He knew of suffering in his life. He may not have been able to create something this gorgeous had he not.

(Source: m.youtube.com)


Tonight, tomorrow and Saturday are one long feast for the senses as we taste, touch, smell, hear and see God’s love made manifest in bread and wine; in water and towel; in fire and oil; in word and action; in sign, symbol and sacrament. What is the meaning of all that we do these Three Days? Love is the meaning.

Pharoah Sanders - The Creator Has a Master Plan (Live in Tokyo 2003)

Holy Thursday is a day of such fullness and significance. I sit and contemplate. All of the human experience seems to be contained in one way or another. In Br. James’ meditation, I am particularly drawn to the water and towel element. Jesus washing the feet of his companions; this act of humble, generous thoughtfulness, and, quite necessary in the context of the times the events took place. It seems a recurring theme for me in these meditations is the surrender of self; the counterintuitive truth that in giving of myself sacrificially, I am enhanced and nourished in a way that is not only fulfilling, bur perhaps unattainable in any other way. Every so often I have moments where there is tangibly obvious. More often, this is a balancing process, at times a mystery. Pharoah Sanders captures the eternal groove with The Creator Has a Master Plan. When the mystery strikes fear within me, this song, in any of its extraordinary versions, brings me to peace.

(Source: m.youtube.com)


The Gospel tells us that Jesus told Judas to do quickly what he was going to do. Judas received the piece of bread and went out. Have you wondered what Jesus might have been thinking, knowing that Judas was about to betray him? Perhaps we can reflect on how Jesus feels when we betray him or let him down in our daily life.

-Br. David Allen

Full Sermon:  http://ssje.org/ssje/2012/04/04/supper-in-the-upper-room-br-david-allen/

Willie Williams – Armagideon Time

As someone who gets anxious about everything – even things I know will be fun – I cannot even begin to comprehend the cloud looming over Jesus’ days at this stage of his journey. The pain of betrayal Br. David speaks to is certainly a deep wound. Yet it would seemingly pale in comparison to the pending public torture and murder Jesus knows is coming. Br. David’s meditations veer towards the old-school, and I love them. While many may chafe at such perceived sternness, I welcome the integrity and the clarity of the call to awareness and accountability. Such meditations shine a harsh light on half-assed and self-serving understandings. This meditation speaks to me of the domino effect of my shortcomings. Obviously, no one is perfect. But what are the ramifications of my behaviors, my actions and inactions on those around me? This approach has been a deep awakening for me over the past year. It has opened my eyes to see how there are some aspects of my life where my desire to help has in fact been a hindrance. Similarly, times when my inaction has in fact been quite selfish and damaging. These small, personal armageddons and the bigger picture armageddon of Jesus during Holy Week provoke the selection of this massive, legendary jam from Willie Williams. A timeless track, still in heavy rotation today is a deep, challenging meditation itself. “A lot of people won’t get no supper tonight. A lot of people going to suffer tonight…..A lot of people won’t get no justice tonight. So a lot of people going to have to stand up and fight. But remember to praise Jehovah and he will guide you in this Iration….” 


This is the last week of Lent and whether we have been able and diligent in maintaining our discipline or not, this week, like so much of our relationship with God, offers us another chance to return to it, and to immerse ourselves in the spiritual mystery of this holy season.

-Br. Eldridge Pendleton

Full Sermon:  http://ssje.org/ssje/category/sermon/?p=1828

Charles Mingus – All the Things You Could Be By Now if Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother

Br. Eldridge seems to be speaking to the ever-present invitation and opportunity which God affords us for renewal and redemption. That speaks to the vastness of God’s love. There are human parallels with which this can be understood. A parent’s love for a child is perhaps the best way I can think of. But really, any love which is sincere enough to withstand disappointment, or even betrayals, or when we continue to love someone even when that love is not returned – those are all ways of beginning to grasp the dynamic of love and concern God has for each one. This plays out in dramatic fashion during Holy Week, as Jesus endures the full, wild ride of humanity’s confused, complex relationship with God and with one another. Celebrated, embraced, and welcomed, Jesus will soon be targeted, betrayed, humiliated, tortured and killed. His friends and family will surely be terrorized by this, and haunted by it and their own reactions to it. Charles Mingus lived and made music that captured a lot fo the hugeness and complexities of this life. I came across this song recently and had a memorable sitting with it. I was coming off of 36 hours of exhausting, but joyous, unbridled love and support with some of the people I love most. I was weary, but overflowing with good vibes. I had a powerful sensation of seeing as if from above, space, rotationally, 360 degrees, yet like an eagle, still maintained the ability to see details. When the song ended, I felt that had it continued for even one second more, I would have exploded big-bang style into 61 million fragments. Suddenly, I then had this sense that eternity is perhaps best understood not in moral parameters, as is usually the case, but rather, fitness, capacity. Has one cultivated one’s being sincerely, with awareness and sufficient dilligence to withstand eternity? Truly, this vision casts Jesus in the role of teacher – the one showing us the way. The moral component is inherent in the quest – it takes care of itself. Thus, we are freed from judging one another, and our selves, and instead, our focus is the Way.