The Week in Review #23: March Madness Wraps Up, EHSS Shine With Michael W. Smith in Australia, and More…

*Get in your vote while there’s still time for the championship round of Steve Eaton’s March Madness. It’s Triumphant Quartet against Gold City. Who will emerge victorious? You decide.

*Here’s your chance to own a vintage-styled poster for the Memphis Quartet Show coming up in 2013. They’re going fast!

*Daniel Mount interviews former Cathedrals pianist Haskell Cooley.

*Wes Burke continues his return to blogdom with his take on EHSS’s new album and a Crist Family concert review (including video).

*Brian Crout offers his take on Chris Allman’s independently released new/old solo project. It sounds good.

*Ernie Haase & Signature Sound recently performed at Easterfest with Michael W. Smith and MercyMe. According to their Facebook page, they “hit hard, had favor, and made a bunch of new friends.” Congratulations to my boys!

*Thanks to Wes Hampton’s mother, a picture of him at 9 months old. *covers mouth and squeals*

*This is Holy Saturday. I thought this old Steve Green song would be particularly appropriate. He holds the keys!

The thread is yours.


I Don’t Understand Forgiveness

Have you ever desperately wanted someone to apologize for wronging you, just so that you could forgive them? I have felt that way sometimes, because I’m a naturally tender-hearted sort of person. When relationships are broken, I long to make it right, even if I’m not the one at fault. So I wait… and wait… and wait. And the more I’m hurt, the less inclined I am to forgive. Yet all the while I keep hoping. If that person could just for one moment see what he’s done and how wrong he’s been, for one moment be willing and able to admit the whole truth, and then come to ask forgiveness for everything… how gladly would I give it! How thankful I would be for the healing of that relationship. Because that was all I ever wanted.

But what if that moment never comes? What if time moves on, and that person is never sorry, never sees that he’s been wrong, and maybe even continues to hurt you? Can you still say “I forgive you?” Must you still say “I forgive you?”

Forgiveness is a strange thing. The older I get, the more I realize I know nothing about it. On the one hand, God didn’t tell us to forgive… if the other person is sorry. He just told us to forgive. That seems to indicate that the answer is yes, we should extend that grace regardless. Yet when I think about exactly what the picture of forgiveness modeled by Christ’s sacrifice looks like, I realize that we can only receive his forgiveness if we ask for it. In a strange way (and I’m aware that this is very much a live debate, so I’m contributing nothing new here) I wonder whether perhaps it’s misleading to say that Jesus forgave our sins at that one moment in time on the cross. Should we not rather say that he made it possible for us to be forgiven? That he provided a way for us to obtain grace? There are people who will choose to live and die in their sin, because they rejected grace. And that means that God will not forgive their sin! The offer was there, the grace was extended—but they turned away from it.

And yet, when I look at Jesus’ words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…” I am thrown back the other way. Here were these cruel, brutal men, obviously unrepentant, and Jesus was asking the Father to forgive them anyway. He was pleading for them because of their ignorance—they literally didn’t know what they were doing. But of course, that didn’t make the act any less evil. Jesus was still an innocent man, even if they didn’t think of him as God.

So ultimately, I have to say that I simply don’t understand just how forgiveness is supposed to work. It is a profound and beautiful mystery to me. In the past, I have thought that I was obliged to offer it no matter what, and I have offered it when it was not asked for. Part of me still feels that was right. I just know that I want to follow what God requires. The question is… how much exactly does He require?

Easter Week Music: Kum Ba Ya/Kyrie Eleison, by Cynthia Clawson

This comes from a little-known, yet astonishing album by Cynthia Clawson called Prayer & Plainsong. It was recorded entirely acapella at a very old mission building in Texas with two male singers, a tenor and a bass. It features daring arrangements that blend liturgical music with traditional hymns, arranged in the order of the mass. While her male backup chants in the background, Cynthia sings a thematically and musically complementary hymn in counterpoint. It’s the sort of thing that should not work, yet somehow it does, over and over again. The purity of the vocals is striking, particularly since there was no electronic enhancement after the fact. I would highly recommend this project for anybody who appreciates classy sacred music. You can hear a two-part interview with Cynthia about the recording (which includes samples of the music) here and here.

This is probably the album’s most transcendent moment, an unlikely pairing of “Kum Ba Ya” with the “Kyrie.” Again, just to hear it you would think “That can’t possibly work.” But… well, you be the judge: