on reverence, silliness, worship, creativity and structure

Here’s an nice article that appeared this summer about a workshop I did at Camp Kintail last May. I feel like the writer captured well the dynamic of that day, and how my ministry functions… Click here to have a look.

lots of writing – just not here

For anyone keeping score at home, you may have noticed that it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything in this space. Oddly enough, this year I have probably written as much or more than in any other year of my life – just not here.

My studies are moving along well (I wrote about that decision here), and big things are afoot in the development of my ministry… more will be posted here soon.

I’d say “watch this space,” but based on past experience  that would seem like an invitation to watch paint dry in slow motion. In any case, be forewarned – there’s a new year comin’ and a series of announcements and updates will be posted here. Not only is the paint drying, but new coats are going on fast – in fact, whole new walls and rooms are being built and readied for action.

Looking forward to inviting you into the new “digs” soon!

Peace be with you,


blowing my cover

Just over a year ago I had a conversation that changed my life.

I was going into the 11th year of my music ministry and struggling with some dynamics in my work that I was having a hard time naming. A new friend who had asked and listened carefully – very carefully – made two insightful comments that were so simple. Even obvious. But I’d never had the nerve to quite see it – or say it – that way before.

The first comment was this:

“Well, Bryan, it seems to me that SmallTall Music is too small. Too small to describe what you’ve actually been doing, and too small for who you are and what you are called to do in the future.” 

The second was this:

“It seems to me that you’ve been doing biblical scholarship “under cover” for years. That’s where the songwriting comes from. Maybe it’s time to blow your cover.”

Wow. Those two comments hit the nail on the head for me. The past year, with the help of a wise coach, has been an invigorating and exciting (and at times scary) time of exploring the implications of those comments – re-envisioning and re-imagining and beginning to re-articulate how I understand myself and my vocation.

Here is a new “why” statement that has emerged from this process. In many ways, of course, there’s nothing “new” about it – this has been driving my sense of ministry all along. But it’s a new articulation that I’m finding helpful as I move into the future.

“Why” statement – short version:

This is the journey I’m on, and the journey to which I passionately seek to invite others:

to catch a glimpse of God’s great project in the world

      especially as revealed in Scripture

            and be inspired to join in

And here’s a longer version, with more detail and nuance (and notice the chiastic structure, if you’re into that kind of thing…)

Continuously learning

     That I am a beloved child of God

            Called and equipped to play a role

                  As a member of the body of Christ

                        In the ongoing scriptural drama

                              Of God’s great project in the world

                        I seek to engage others in the ongoing scriptural drama

                  As members of the body of Christ

            Called and equipped to play their own roles

      As beloved children of God

Continuously learning

A few concrete things have emerged out of (or in tandem with) this process. One is that I have found myself doing more and more Bible teaching in ways that do not fit neatly into the “SmallTall Music” structure or category. This has been focused especially around the “Reading the Bible With Jesus” initiative that I have been working on for a few years now. (You can see some of that writing here, and an upcoming series of workshops/retreats here.)

Another is that I have finally decided to move some of my ongoing studies and research into “official” and accredited channels – I have taken the plunge to finish my Masters degree (Master of Theological Studies program at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo). My thesis work is continuing research and writing about the Gospel portrayals of Jesus as interpreter of Scripture (see the RTBWJ initiative mentioned above). So that means that for the next year I am a full-time grad student, on top of the ongoing ministry work that I’m doing. It’s full, and busy, but very, very exciting!

Yet another outgrowth of this process is that Julie and I have become increasingly active as a team, leading all-ages congregational retreats. This has been invigorating too!

Does this mean I’m turning away from doing music? By no means! I continue to write songs and do concerts, and sing/speak/teach/lead in different kinds of settings… music continues (and will continue) to be a key way that I work at engaging all ages (“small and tall”) in the “ongoing scriptural drama.” That is still true. But I’m trying to be clearer about how the music is part of a bigger picture of ministry…

This, of course, is not exactly “news” to many who have been familiar with different aspects of my work. But it may be new to some who are used to thinking of me and my ministry in a more narrow sense strictly as a “singer/songwriter” and “professional musician.”

So how exactly should I describe my work now? What should my new “bio” (or website, or ministry name) look like? What kinds of structures (economic and otherwise) and what kinds of partnerships should be part of living out the “why” statement above as I prepare for the next 20+ years (hopefully, if God grants me life) of ministry?

I’m not sure. Still working on it, and will likely be working on it for some time to come. I welcome your thoughts, ideas, warnings, suggestions – and prayers – as the journey continues.

For now, I guess I’ve blown my cover. And it feels good.

“other boats were with him…”

I am now back home after attending two very good, very different events. One was the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina, and the other was the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

At the Assembly I was especially moved by Betty Pries’ presentation on Saturday morning, and by the various worship times in which we were immersed, again and again, in the story of Jesus and his disciples in a boat in the middle of a storm (Mark 4:35-41). In each worship time – with word, song, visuals, soundscapes, symbolic action – we experienced the whole story and focused on a particular phrase/element (“Leave… Go…”; “Teacher, don’t you care?!”; “Why are you afraid?”; “Have you still no faith?”; “Peace! Be Still!”). I was (and am) deeply moved and very grateful – those worship times, so ably planned and led, “placed” us right where we needed to be for the discernment that was before us each day.

There was one phrase that kept sticking out, for me, from that Scripture reading – a phrase that we didn’t explore in those worship times, but that I have been pondering ever since.

“Other boats were with him.”

After teaching a large crowd “beside the sea” (Mk 4:1-34), Jesus says to his disciples: “‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.” (Mk 4:35-36).

We are told nothing of these “other boats.” How many were there? Who was in them? How did THEY experience and navigate the storm? How did THEY relate to Jesus? We do not know. The narrative is focused entirely on the drama of Jesus and his disciples in one particular boat.

And yet there is that tantalizing hint: “Other boats were with him.”

In the midst of the details of our own dramas and discernment, and the struggles and dynamics in our particular “boat” (church, denomination), we are subtly but unmistakably reminded: We’re not the only ones. “Other boats were with him.”

I think of  Luke 24, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, where two disciples are on the road to Emmaus, and they encounter a stranger who turns out to be Jesus himself. When they hurry back to Jerusalem to tell what had happened to them, they discover that Jesus had not only appeared to them, but to others as well.

“Other boats were with him…”

I am also reminded of the prophet Amos, who says: “Are you not like the Ethiopians to me, O people of Israel? says the LORD. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” (Amos 9:7)

“Other boats were with him…”

It turns out these hints (and more than hints) are seeded all over the place throughout the Scriptures. On the one hand, the Bible is an astonishingly self-absorbed collection of documents, endlessly fascinated and concerned with the history and minutiae of a particular people that is, for all intents and purposes, marginal and insignificant on the “world stage” of great empires and civilizations. Intricate details of law, genealogy, family history, geography, poetry, politics, worship, architecture, economics, and so on are endlessly remembered and described and rehearsed and debated…

Along with the persistent and insistent claim that these details – this peoplehood – is of significance not just for itself but for others. That this peoplehood exists, in fact, for the sake of the whole world. This is true from the community’s founding (Genesis 12:1-5), and it remains true throughout hundreds and thousands of years of history. This is a high calling, and it’s worth paying attention to the details.

And when we are in danger of getting swamped by those details, there are also persistent and insistent reminders – like Amos 9:7. Like Mark 4:36.

“Other boats were with him…”

Two of my favourite fictional communities exemplify this dynamic. Wendell Berry writes story after story, novel after novel, all set in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky – a town that is engaged (as he often describes it) in “endless conversation about itself.” A marginal community – insignificant by most standards – and yet it is a stage on which a great drama is being played out (Berry’s novels are all set in the “hinge time” of the advent of modern, industrialized agriculture and its impacts and implications for the land and community.)

And in Tolkien’s epic “The Lord of the Rings,” the Shire is also a marginal community in “endless conversation about itself.” The hobbits who live there love nothing better than to gather at the local pub, drink their pints, sing their songs, and talk about family history, where to find the best Longbottom leaf, and how the Gaffer’s garden is doing this year. And yet this self-absorbed “peoplehood” has a vital (in fact, decisive) role to play in the epic drama that is going on throughout the wider world – a gathering storm that they don’t even know exists. As Frodo and his friends find themselves “leaving” and venturing into the broader world (“It’s a dangerous thing walking out your front door,” as Bilbo is fond of saying), they begin to learn how their story is part of a much bigger story..

“Other boats were with him…”

It seems to me that there is a “both/and” here that we would do well to keep in mind. A “both/and” that the Bible continually holds before us.

On the one hand, it’s worth paying rigorous attention to the details of the life (and, yes, structures) of the church. The “peoplehood” matters so much – it is so integral to God’s strategy for the blessing of the whole world – that it is worth spending time and energy and effort talking together and discerning together and working at apparently hum-drum things like structures and bylaws and budgets and “task forces” and so on. The Bible – much like Wendell Berry’s fictional town of Port William, and much like Tolkien’s depiction of the Shire – is astonishingly interested in the details of the life (and history, and structure, and poetry, and… and… and…) of the “peoplehood” that God is forming. It is appropriate that we be that interested and pay that kind of rigorous attention too.

And yet… whenever we are in danger of being so focused on our own agenda that we become self-absorbed and insular, we are reminded that our story is but a subset of the larger story of what God is doing.

We are reminded, again and again, sometimes gently and sometimes forcefully:

“Other boats were with him.”

i wish you could meet…

Maybe it’s the way I’m “wired,” but for me one of the joys of going on tour is being welcomed into people’s homes and having many, many conversations across dinner tables (and living rooms, and gardens, and swing sets, and hiking trails, and cars). In the past decade of regular touring, I have stayed in a hotel for a grand total of one night – and that’s because it was the choice of the hosting congregation. My preference is to be hosted in people’s homes, and it’s one of the great joys and blessings of my life.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about conversations. Partly because I’m participating in a bunch of conversations right now that are challenging in a variety of ways – conversations between people with passionate views and convictions who are not in agreement. How can we have good, healthy, meaningful, honest, fruitful, respectful conversations with each other, even when (especially when) we disagree?

On this recent tour I spent a number of days with a wonderful family on a farm – members of an intentional Christian community, passionate about the environment and sustainable agriculture, passionate about peace and justice, passionate about following Jesus. They modelled for me an approach to conversation that I think we desperately need. Here’s what they said:

“Bryan – it’s obvious that you travel a lot and interact with lots of different communities. I get the sense from our conversation last night that you’re open to different points of view, and open to some “liberal” points of view on homosexuality. Can you help us understand… those who think the church should bless same-sex marriage – how do they justify their position biblically?”

And we had a wonderful conversation, lasting about three hours, that was one of the highlights of my trip. A trip that included communities across the the theological spectrum in Mennonite Church USA – from rural Illinois to the Mountain States Mennonite Conference…  from lay Franciscans in Iowa to a progressive emergent church near Boston and a conservative Congregational church down the coast. Everywhere I went, there were meaningful and honest conversations about things – understandings of sexuality, economics, ecology – that are “hot topics” all over.

I was struck by what an enormous difference it makes to be having these conversations in person, across dinner tables (and living rooms, and gardens, and swing sets, and hiking trails, and cars), rather than in the so-often shrill and “gotcha” online world of blogs and status updates. To be talking directly with one another, instead of just talking at or about each other through the various technologies that make it so easy to demonize each other, to assume and believe the worst about each other’s motives and agenda, and so on.

Tomorrow morning it’s off to the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina, and the following week to Winnipeg for the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly. There are very important and timely – and challenging and difficult – conversations and discernment going on all over the place. This is good. I trust and hope and pray that we can be diligent at finding good ways of talking together, even when we disagree.

In that spirit, here’s a random and incomplete sampling of some of the amazing people that I was blessed to be in conversation with over the past weeks of my spring tour. O how I wish you could meet…

- the elderly couple who grew up Amish, and are now Mennonite, that hosted me and included me with their circle of friends who get together every Sunday night (for the past 12 years!) to play dominos.

- the young family that put me up (and put up with me) for the better part of a week while I was supposedly on a “writing retreat” but while in actuality I tried to dig my way out of an overwhelming and stressful pile of email.

- the Conservative Mennonite family (who also had grown up Amish) in Iowa who traveled 3 hours out of their way to pick me up when the train was 5 hours late, and who shared their passion for finding (and promoting and selling) natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers.

- the mandolin player in a bluegrass band who also happens to pastor (much to his own amazement) a church that includes both pacifist Mennonites and “God and guns” right-wing evangelicals, learning to worship together and care for each other.

- the organic vegetable farmer in Iowa who manages to be Catholic, attend a Mennonite church, participate in not one but two lay Franciscan groups, and be a spiritual director all at once (with a firmly entrenched tradition of baking pies for all visitors).

- the couple where one spouse is a Mennonite pastor (and sometime cookbook author), and the other is a Mennonite scholar/theologian who has become Catholic, and who also plays a mean acoustic guitar…

- the two gentleman who spent the afternoon picking me up near Boston one Saturday and driving me to their church… One says he is “almost” a pacifist (except for the World War II – Hitler kind of situation), and the other one drives a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that says “Support our troops – we’re going to need them when it’s time to overthrow our government” (not a direct quote, but something along those lines). Oh – and they sang two songs together at the church talent show that night – the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn”…

And I could go on…

How I wish you could meet these amazing people. Then again, you probably have. I expect these descriptions make you think of some folks in your own neighbourhood. Maybe some folks that think differently than you.

Let’s talk together, shall we?

take off your shoes

My recent spring tour began with a “performance” where I wasn’t even there! I was asked to contribute a short talk to the  Mennonite Church Eastern Canada’s “Annual Church Gathering”… but that was the first weekend of my tour, and I was going to be rolling through the US midwest on my way to southern Illinois…

So we made this short video (filmed by Paul Plett), which was shown at the Gathering. Some reflections, structured around a new (as of yet unrecorded, unreleased) song. You can see it here.

the day Pete Seeger’s letter came

We were down to the wire. If we didn’t have permission from Pete Seeger’s publisher by the end of the day on Monday, we were going to have to drop “My Voice Alone” (an adaptation of “One Man’s Hands” by Pete Seeger and Alex Comfort) from the CD.

Well, Monday came around, and still no word. I was resigning myself to the fact that this song – which I dearly wanted to have on the record – would have to be cut.

I think it was around noon when I heard a knock on the door. I got up from the floor where I was playing with our then-5-year-old son, opened the door and…

You see, we’d been in touch with Sanga Music for months, trying to get permission to include the song on the forthcoming “God’s Love is for Everybody” CD (this was in the fall of 2002). I had learned the song years before from Chuck Neufeld, who had adapted the words from the original “One Man’s Hands… can’t tear a prison down” to the more gender-inclusive “My voice alone… my hands alone…” This was the version we wanted to include on this project, which was an initiative of Mennonite Church Canada – a collection of new songs I’d been writing, with a couple of covers and “traditional” songs as well.

Our contact at Sanga Music was reluctant to give permission, saying that the lyrical change was too big. I kept insisting – in letters and phone calls – that if he would just speak to Mr. Seeger about it (yes, I called him “Mr. Seeger”), I was confident that Pete would approve. I was a huge Seeger fan, read his writing, listened to (and sang) his songs… and I knew he was all about “the folk process” and was constantly telling people to take his songs and change them, adapt them, add to them… that’s what “the folk process” was all about. Mr. Publisher – if you would just talk to Mr. Seeger about this, I’d really, really appreciate it…

Well, Mr. Publisher was having none of it, and the fateful Monday had arrived…

So when I opened the door, and the mail carrier handed me a parcel – a big parcel – I had no idea what it was. And when I looked at the return address and saw “Beacon, New York,” I nearly fell over. I sat right back down on the floor and tore open the package as fast as I could.

Here’s what I found:


- a handwritten note on a copy of our permission request, commenting on the lyrics (and “the folk process”!) and graciously granting permission.


- another page with another hand-written note, on the back of a copy of an article from the Utne Review, about a community in Colombia learning (and teaching the world) how to live sustainably. (This note included Pete’s familiar encouragement to “Keep on,” and the hand-drawn banjo with his name).


- a copy of his book – “Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Musical Autobiography” – with more of Pete’s hand-written notes on p. 89, listing examples of how others had adapted the lyrics to “One Man’s Hands” over the years.


- a copy of “Sing Out!” magazine, including a CD featuring one of Pete’s then-recent songs, “Take it From Dr. King”

Wow! We had asked for permission to include the song in our CD and songbook, and over the head of Pete’s reluctant publisher, this is what arrived! (The book/magazine/cd were worth about the same as the nominal fee we were asked to pay – $50 – and the notes and insights and encouragement from Pete himself – priceless!)

Amidst the many tributes and acknowledgments pouring in after Pete’s death on January 27, I have wanted to add my own but have been “speechless” until now. The story of my own brief personal contact with Pete is just one more indication of the passion and commitment and spirit of this man who was able to get people singing – and believing, and acting – for the sake of this world’s transformation into a more generous, caring, sustainable, just, peaceful place.

There are precious few role models whose focus is on getting the people to sing (instead of just “listen to me sing”)… whose songs are accessible and singable and beloved for all ages (while retaining a political “edge” and without being stereotyped as a “children’s entertainer”)… who are unapologetic (and, in fact, insistent) about the social function and “usefulness” of their songs (instead of assuming that such considerations are beneath the concerns of “real art”)… whose life and commitments, time after time, decade after decade, faithfully embody the message (and the struggle) of the songs…

Such role models are hard to come by. I’m tempted to say we’ve just lost one, but actually – thankfully – I don’t think Pete is “lost” to us at all.

Pete’s note to me includes this firm-but-gracious explanation and suggestion:

Dear Brian Suderman,

Many people in the last two decades have amended the lyrics by Alex Comfort. Before he died he freely agreed to let others continue “the folk process.” I urge you to consider, though, that any of us can sing a song, and we can hear the freedom bells. But I leave it up to you. I’ve sent a copy of this letter to Sanga, which will give you formal, legal permission. I enclose words others have used.


Pete Seeger

Pete’s comments are so true and important (and also astonishingly gracious). In fact, for years after receiving this letter, I basically stopped singing this song in public, as Pete’s urging rang in my ears – “any of us can sing a song, and we can hear the freedom bells” – and we must!

Lately, though, I’ve started singing it again – most recently, as the “audition” song for potential cast members of the folk musical “Selah’s Song” (for which Johnny Wideman wrote the script and I wrote the music). Selah’s Song is, in fact, in its own way, an extended reflection on “the power of song” – both for good and for ill – as the King and his advisors scheme about propagandistic possibilities (“… get them to sing our songs and string them right along, I wonder could a song do that?”) while young Selah sings (and the villagers join in) “Maybe a song is just the thing we need… maybe a song can get us on our feet…”

Yes, Pete – any of us can sing a song, and we can hear the freedom bells…  and at the same time, I think it’s also true, for me at least, that “my voice alone can’t sing a song of peace”… I can’t do this alone – and thankfully, I don’t have to.

… but if two and two and fifty make a million, we’ll see this world come ’round

We’ll see this world come ’round…


(postscript… while I’m in “copying-handwritten-notes” mode, here’s the thank you letter that I sent on Dec 5, 2002… I’ve re-typed part of it below…)


“… I have to tell you the story of how our 5-year-old responded to your new “Take it From Dr. King” song on the CD. When he first heard it, Matthew said “That’s not a nice song. He said “guns,” and guns kill people.” So we sat down and listened to it more carefully, and Matthew realized the song was saying “drop your gun,” don’t use it, do like Dr. King instead. For the next day or two Matthew kept coming up with ideas and blurting them out:

“You know what, daddy? Maybe we could go and steal all the guns and hide them, and then they couldn’t use them to kill people anymore…”

“Hey, daddy! Maybe we could send them all this CD, and then they’d drop their guns!”

And so on. And I thought – “that’s the way, son. Don’t ever stop coming up with those ideas… we need them.”

In a way that’s my hope for my songs as well – that they can help to nurture and stimulate such creative thinking and participation in “God’s great project” of peace, justice, reconciliation… Thank you for doing that for me and so many people through your music.

As you say, Keep on!

Bryan Moyer Suderman”


at the mandela memorial


On the night I learned of Nelson Mandela’s death, I was in Stouffville’s Barnside Studios, recording the final vocals for the soundtrack CD of “Selah’s Song” – an original folk musical with themes that resonate deeply with Mandela’s story. It was an emotional experience for me to sing these lyrics to the show’s “title track” that night:

‘cause the drumbeat of war that we hear all around

is a sound so afraid and alone

There’s another drummer drumming somewhere

With a rhythm that’s calling us home…

Won’t you sing, sing, sing with me?

Won’t you sing a song of peace?

Two days later, we were on a plane, headed to South Africa for a long anticipated trip to visit family. And three days after that we were at FNB Stadium in Soweto  along with tens of thousands of others for the official Mandela memorial.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was a rainy Johannesburg morning, and as we made our way toward the stadium over three hours before the scheduled “start” of the event, we could already hear the people singing from half a kilometer away. We watched group after group arrive – many of them singing and dancing. “Struggle songs” from the apartheid era, and the oft-repeated refrain “Mandela, you’re my President!”

“Siyabonga, Mandela” – “We are grateful, Mandela.” These too were words that were sung, and spoken, and sung again. What a moving experience, to be in the midst of this grateful, grieving, boisterous crowd, knowing that anyone over 20 years old had experienced firsthand both the brutal reality of apartheid and the difficult and costly transition to democracy. Now all were challenged and inspired yet again by this freedom fighter who emerged after 27 years in prison, determined not to seek revenge but to lead his nation in seeking real healing and reconciliation.

Immediately upon our return to Stouffville, I was plunged headlong into dress rehearsals and then an intense weekend of 4 performances of “Selah’s Song” at 19-On-The-Park. As we shared the laughter and tears of Selah’s story, with its reflections on the power of song and ringing call to peacemaking, I couldn’t help but hear the South African songs of struggle and hope ringing in my ears as well.

“There’s another drummer drumming somewhere with a rhythm that’s calling us home…”

“Siyabonga, Mandela.” Thank you, Mandela, indeed.


(this piece was written for publication as a column in our local community newspaper).


(In the background of the above picture, you can see a couple of journalists from an Afrikaaner newspaper interviewing Karen and Andrew, my brother and sister-in-law. That article and photos were published here. Karen and Andrew have written articles on this experience here and here.)

(The man standing at the top of the picture is Mzwandile… there is an inspiring article about him here.)

today’s the day! premiere of Selah’s Song

Yes, it’s true! So excited!

That’s all I have time to say right now. More soon. Right now… we have a show (actually a weekend of shows) to do…

Soundtrack CD will be available online soon…

Break a leg, everyone!

singing songs of peace

Looking back on this fall’s touring season, a common thread that comes to mind is “singing songs of peace.”

On one hand, I think of Ephesians 6:15 – “As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.” On the other hand, I am also mindful of Jeremiah’s warning about about those who “have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace…” (Jer 6:14). I hope that my traveling and singing/speaking/leading is closer to the first, but in my “line of work” I always need to pay attention to the possibility of falling into the second…

Here are just a few “singing songs of peace” snapshots from the past few months:

Singing “A God Who Makes Friends”at the Wild Goose Festival (Aug 8-11, Hot Springs, North Carolina) with the children’s program, getting the kids in pairs and singing to/with each other along with a cooperative hand-clap rhythm… and later hearing of a woman who stood and watched with tears in her eyes, saying how this scene gave her a renewed sense of hope for the world. (My hope too was fed at this event, hearing from folks like Nadia Bolz-Weber and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and the Indigo Girls and many others.)

Singing “New World Coming” with a fascinating-and-a-bit-puzzling gathering of people in Orwell, Ohio, who are mostly refugees and exiles from the Amish communities in that area. Getting to know these folks, and hearing their reflections on their experiences and deep hurts from their “peace church” upbringing, was a new and sobering experience for me. At the end of our time together, the pastor/leader of this community called me back to the front and said “We’re going to sing that song again – and this time _______ will do some free-style rap for the verses”… so there we were, in a shed in the middle of Amish country, rapping and singing our hearts out, expressing our yearning for the fulfilment of the various prophetic visions of the “peaceable kingdom” that our world so badly needs.

Singing “Peace Be With You” at the Stouffville Peace Festival, celebrating and bearing public witness to the “peace church” heritage and history of this community… in the face of attempts to falsify that history in pursuit of rather different agenda (as I reflected in a blog post about Stouffville’s military parade last year).

Singing “When You Learn to Follow Jesus (You Will Act a Little Strange)” at a congregational retreat in Washington DC… the epicentre, of course, of the most massive military force in human history.

Writing/recording/teaching/singing the songs for “Selah’s Song” – an “original folk musical” in collaboration with Theatre of the Beat, and a songwriter’s dream in many ways… as it is (among other things) an extended reflection on the potential of something as apparently powerless as a song to effect change in a world of violence and greed.

I’ll close this post with the third verse of the “title track” of Selah’s Song… which is not a bad segue into the Advent/Christmas season as well…

 So I guess I’ll keep planting my seeds in the ground

Never knowing if they will take root

And I’ll keep on singing my songs in the air

Never knowing what they’re gonna do

‘Cause the drumbeat of war that we hear all around

Is a sound so afraid and alone

There’s another drummer drumming somewhere

With a rhythm that’s calling us home…

Won’t you sing, sing, sing with me

Won’t you sing a song of peace?

Won’t you sing, sing, sing with me

Won’t you sing a song of peace?




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