1. U2 - Songs Innocence
2. Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes
3. The Black Keys - Turn Blue
4. Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
5. Prince - Art Official Age
6. Gangstagrass - Broken Hearts & Stolen Money
7. Hurray for the Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes
8. Common - Nobody's Smiling
9. Postmodern Jukebox - Twist Is The New Twerk
10. Divina and the Vegabonds - Sunshine
Sometimes people can do all kinds of mean things to each other in churches, businesses, offices, etc. But one of the simplest yet most aggressive things people do to each other is this statement: "Some people say [fill-in-the-blank] about you." It's a classic move. It's also a classless move. But it's much worse when the person who says that statement refuses to identify who the "some people" are. That means the person is trying to imply that there is a group or mass of people people who thinks a certain way without any kind of direct communication or professional accountability. Without the identification of "some people," those statements are a poison in organizations. At best, those statements are nothing more than gossip. At worst, they are abuse. Seriously. Those statements are only meant to cause injury. And they must be stopped immediately. If the person who makes such statements refuses to identify the "some people," then it's important to say something like: "I hope those people will speak with me directly so we can resolve this situation professionally. Otherwise, I'm going to have to assume that it's not a big enough issue to explore at this time. Is there anything else I can do for you?" That's it. The end. There is nothing more that should be discussed with that person. Well...other than showing them to the door. Then talk to a trusted friend or colleague to process the attack that was just encountered. Plus it might help to go play a round of golf, go for a long jog, or go lift weights. Anyone who encounters such an attack deserves to do something fun!
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a poor, faceless, nameless woman. She was Eric Garner's devastated widow. She was Michael Brown's grieving mom. She was Dulce Cristina Payan before she was murdered by a gang. She was Malala Yousafzai on the day she was shot by the Taliban for going to school. She was the woman who was repeatedly assaulted by a prison guard who was supposed to protect her. Mary was every woman who has experienced pain, oppression, and injustice. It for this reason that Mary was chosen by God for a sacred mission. And after Mary was chosen, she sang this song (Luke 1:46-55):
Our Mother, Your abiding presence is on the streets of Ferguson and around the world.
May your tears of pain be blessed with an ever-flowing stream of justice.
May Your vision of Your Kin-dom fill our neighborhoods so we all can embody Your Beloved Community.
May Your will be done through our feet, hands, and words as it's done in Heaven.
Give us today a thirst for justice and a hunger for peace so we can all enjoy the goodness of Your Creation.
Forgive us for our moments of inaction as we forgive those who have perverted justice.
Lead us not into the temptation of analysis paralysis.
And deliver us from the evil of apathy so we can work to build better communities.
May all the power and glory be Yours as Your salvation spreads throughout our streets, homes, and hearts.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by terrorists. This is a sad tragedy. And an attack on people from many different nations. Instead of offering empty platitudes, it's important to share honest words. Some truly honest words about pain comes from Psalm 13. In our perilous yet hopeful world, it's helpful to reflect on such honest words. Here's a song and video that we've put together that highlight those words:
Gracious God, encourage us to mindfully appreciate the simple gifts of life. Help us to notice beautiful flowers all around us. Help us to savor the taste of good food and drink. Help us cherish the joyful sound of children laughing. Help us to be fully present with our loved ones. Help us to bask in the kindness of others. Help us to meditate on beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Help us to enjoy the music that birds make while singing. Help us to honor the goodness within us. And help us to be mindful of the miracles of life in countless other ways, too. May those who feel hurried, find peace. May those who feel peaceful, encourage others. And may we all fully enjoy the simple pleasures all around us each day. Amen.