A Playlist for Lent

My first Sunday at an Episcopal church, I’m still fumbling through the hymnal searching for a song by the time it has ended. The next song, a woman taps me on the shoulder and trades me her hymnal for mine. Hers is already open to “Glory In the Highest,” a hymn in praise of the Trinity:

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand
of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father, Amen.

It is very plain. This is what I think. There’s no nature-filled imagery. No personal sea of troubles to speak of or mountains being moved or presences wanted and felt. No harmony. And hardly anything about me.

As we move through the service, the worship enables me to paint a picture of God that places me nowhere near the foreground. In fact, I’m a tiny smudge way in the back. You can barely see me.

Lent, I think, is an opportunity to remember our smudginess. Not only are we in the back of the picture, we’re kind of ruining it. We, despite our best intentions, actively contribute to messing up the world, ourselves, and others a little more every day. That’s not to say that our efforts and struggles to be and do better are in vain; with God, these are holy pursuits. But we don’t live in the best case scenario, and we aren’t the best case scenario. On Ash Wednesday, we remember that we are dust and unto dust we will return.

And so begins Lent. This season is an opportunity foreground God, to contemplate Jesus’ journey to the cross, to consider the sick, dark reality that drove him there, and to wonder at his love that has offered life despite the ugliness that lives in us.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world…

Through Lent we can revisit Christ, ask him once more who he is, and contemplate his journey to save us with his own body.

Inspired by my friend Andrew Whitworth’s Ash Wednesday playlist, here’s a playlist I’ve been listening to this Lenten season:

  1. The Sound of Silence─Simon and Garfunkel
  2. Kill Your Momma─Alicia Keys
  3. Lost in a Crowd─Fantastic Negrito
  4. Learning How to Die─Jon Foreman
  5. Comes To Light (Everything)─Jill Scott
  6. Poor Man’s Son─Noah Gundersen
  7. Beacon Hill─Damien Jurado
  8. Forgive Them Father─Lauryn Hill
  9. To Be Alone With You─Sufjan Stevens
  10. Truce─Twenty One Pilots
  11. River─Leon Bridges
  12. Nothing But the Water─Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
  13. Shine─Leon Bridges
  14. Belly of the Deepest Love─Tow’rs
  15. Travelin’ On─Nora Jane Struthers
  16. Have Mercy─Eryn Allen Kane
  17. Re:Stacks─Bon Iver
  18. Is It Me─St. Paul and the Broken Bones

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