Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Gospel and My People

The Gospel and My People
by Nhuanh Ly
Used by permission

As presented at the 2008 convention of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, meeting at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley

Never Not in Need of Grace
Words and music by Russell Yee
(c) 2000 by Russell Yee, please do not republish without permission
Art by Art: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German, 1794--1872)

This video is piano only. Full music score available at: Never Not - full score

Downloadable mp3 file of piano only: Never Not - mp3 (same audio as above video, but better quality)

(Anyone want to record a sung version for me?)


Jesus tells the story of two men who went to the Temple to pray [Luke 18:9-14].

The first man was feeling pretty good about himself.  He figured that whatever is wrong with this world, it wasn’t his fault, because he’d lived such a good life.  So he prayed: “God, thank you I’m not like other people.  I work hard, I do everything I’m supposed to do (and a little more), I stay in control and don’t mess up; I keep it all together.  Thank you, God.”  And he went on like this.

The other man was different.  He knew he was no better than other people.  Oh, he was a law abiding citizen, he paid his taxes and he even helped others pay their taxes too.  But in his heart he knew his thoughts and desires were not pure, he worried about all the wrong things, and his heart was not whole.  So when he prayed, he simply said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

That day, only one of these men went home right with God.  I want to be like that man.

  am          C          G         am
I work really hard and I rarely complain.
  F          C/E          G   F  G    GFG
I try not to show it when I’m in pain.
  am          C          G          am    G am
I plan what I say, and I keep to my space;
        F            C       G      am
But I’m never not in need of grace, no,
    F            Bb      C
I’m never not in need of grace
Chorus   C                Eb/C
Please save my soul not just my face--
       F                 G  am
   I’m never not in need of grace
     C                     Eb/C
Not “Sometimes,” “Maybe,” “Just In Case”--
          Ab           Bbdim7              C
   No I’m never, never ever not in need of grace.  ***

  am       C            G             am
I optimize things and I don’t like to wait,
  F         C/E        G  F G    GFG
I watch, consider, and calculate.
  am      C          G       am  G am
I usually live at my maximum pace;
        F            C       G      am
But I’m never not in need of grace, no
    F            Bb      C
I’m never not in need of grace

  am         C           G           am
I never make waves and I pull my own weight.
    F        C/E      G F  G    GFG
All favors I always reciprocate.
  am       C           G        am   G am
I honor my parents and honor my race;
        F            C       G      am
But I’m never not in need of grace, no
    F            Bb      C     
I’m never not in need of grace.

1, 2: G Ab C  Bb Ab C  Ab4 Ab C
3: C Bb Ab Eb Db (to bridge)
4: F Ab Bb C (end)

C              Bb2/C
Dearest Jesus, how I need you--
    F               Ab/F  G
at my worst and at my best!
C              Bb2/C
Save me from myself, I plead you!
    F            Ab/F    GFG   GFGFG. . .
Only you can give me rest!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lisa Golden and Elice Leong

Water Lotus Easter Banners

New Life Christian Fellowship
Castro Valley, California

The water lotus symbolizes purity and rebirth, and thus well expresses Jesus' victory over sin and death. The association with water also brings to mind Christian baptism, which in the early church was often received during the Easter Vigil, so to spend Easter as one's first day as a baptized believer.

Russell Yee

The Last Supper


On permanent display at
New Life Christian Fellowship,
Castro Valley, California

Using items typically found on a Chinese-American restaurant turntable, I have depicted Jesus' Last Supper with his twelve disciples.  By so recreating that momentous meal, I have drawn together Jesus' transcultural offer of his life, together with the specifics of my culture, through which (in part) he makes that offer to me.

The bowls, spoons, and teacups are plain white china, from China.  They are matched and touching, expressing Jesus' solidarity with his disciples.  Their chopsticks are likewise touching, with Jesus' pair forming a cross, the place where he will offer up himself.

In the center are a rice serving bowl and a teapot representing the body and blood of Christ--his very life, which he gives to all who would receive it.

Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, is depicted by the isolated, overturned teacup and bowl/spoon (which he will not be using, since he will leave the table early), and by the solitary pair of chopsticks, also isolated, and bent.  His chopsticks and spoon point to the dish, in which he will dip at the moment Jesus identifies him as the traitor.

The red napkin expresses both the Chinese sense of health and vitality, and the liturgical sense of Jesus' cleansing blood.

A restaurant name appears on the menu cover in Chinese (gé lóu, "loft, garret") and English ("The Upper Room").  The location is given in Hebrew: "Jerusalem, Israel."  Inside the menu are the accounts of the Last Supper taken from the synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians.