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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Preparing - The Second Sunday of Advent

This Sunday will be the second Sunday of Advent.  The texts from the Psalms (85: 8 - 13) the prophets -  Isaiah (40:1 - 11) and the gospels - Mark (1: 1 - 8) are about preparing.  We wait and we prepare.

I'm not sure yet how the sermon will go - I'm still preparing.... but I'm especially interested right now in these verses from the selection from the Psalms:

I will hear what God the LORD will say for he will speak peace to his people, to his godly ones,but let them not turn back to folly.  Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,that glory may dwell in our land.  Loving kindness and truth have met together  righteousness and peace have kissed each other.  Truth springs from the earth  and righteousness looks down from heaven  .Indeed, the LORD will give what is good and our land will yield its produce.  Righteousness will go before him  and prepare a way for his steps.

Like last week, if you appreciate the picture above you should feel free to download it for your own personal use or at your church.  It's my gift to you.

And if you can, would you give to The Salvation Army?  This is our big fund-raising season.  You can give at the kettles, mail in a donation, deliver it in person, or - if you don't like to venture out into the cold - you can even donate online via this online kettle.  That link will take you to my online kettle for the Fairmont, Minnesota corps, but you can use it to find the Salvation Army nearest to you.  Thank you for thinking of us this year.

The Shortest Person in the Bible?

Who was the shortest person in the bible?

Why, the shortest person in the bible was Bildad the Shuhite (Shoe-height), of course.

You may groan now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Waiting for God

Advent 1 – 2011
Isaiah 64: 1 – 9 / Psalm 80: 1 – 7, 17 – 19

Waiting for God

Advent is about waiting.  It’s the time during these four weeks before Christmas in which we set in our hearts an anxious expectation for the coming of the Lord Jesus.  We put ourselves into those 400 years of “silence” between the old and new testaments.  But I am convinced that we do not understand Advent. I am convinced that we do not celebrate Advent at all, because we do not wait.

The Christmas Creep has infected us, and our symptoms are getting worse every year. The orgy of consumer driven Black Friday sales begin earlier and earlier each year.  Thanksgiving dinner is barely cleared from the table before we’re off the stores. We’ve hardly finished saying “Thank you, Lord for all that we have been given,” before we’re out the door to buy more stuff. 

And there are more reports of violence every year as impatient shoppers trample and shove and shoot and pepper-spay those around them in their maniacal drive to be the first to purchase that oh-so-essential Christmas item.   There is no waiting. There is only pushing and shoving.

There is no waiting.

“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”

We rush into Christmas without any waiting around for Advent, there’s no time for waiting. This is a holiday frenzy.  There’s Christmas in the waters and we’re like sharks that can’t stop moving or we’ll die. We’re thrashing around for that “Christmas Spirit” of celebration and joy and we must keep moving. We decorate, and we bake, and we shop, and we carol, and we wrap, and we wassail, and we share holiday greetings, and we insist that we are keeping the Christ in Christmas but if there is no waiting, there is no Advent. And if there is no Advent – there can be no (real) Christmas.

Advent is about waiting.

The author of our text for today (whether the prophet Isaiah living in the 8th century B.C. or another (Trito-Isaiah) living in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile…) was waiting for God.  He was desperately waiting for God to do something that would prove himself to the nations of the world.  He begged. He pleaded with God.  “Tear open the sky and show yourself.  Shake the mountains and burn the world, just let us know that you’re there.”

He’d been waiting and waiting for some evidence of the divine presence. But there had been no response.

I get annoyed by Christians who claim to find God “miraculously” intervening for them on a daily basis.  When they talk about God saving a parking spot for them or supernaturally helping them to find their lost car keys or whatever, I get annoyed.  Maybe it’s because I’m jealous, because what I find in my life – and in the witness of scripture is that there are periods of time when God seems very evident and there are peculiar displays of God’s handiwork  - but – between those miraculous interventions are long periods where God seems silent or even absent.

For some, it seems, there is no waiting for God.  He’s on-demand, delivering minor miracles when you need them. 

But the prophet says that it is the one who waits for God that will see God.  (Isaiah 66: 4)
But this waiting for God isn’t just a sitting around, twiddling our thumbs.  The next verse qualifies and describes that waiting. The one who waits for God is also the one who delights in doing righteousness.  The one who rejoices in doing the will of God. The one who makes peace.  The one who serves others.  This is how we wait for God.

I know that I get a bit cantankerous during the advent/Christmas season.  But I also recognize that there is great joy in Christmas.  But that joy doesn’t come to us all at once without waiting. 

Someone has said that “the Christian faith is a thing of unspeakable joy.” And if I may paraphrase him a bit… ‘Christmas is a time of unspeakable joy.” 

“But” he continued, “it does not begin with joy but rather in despair.  And it is no use trying to reach the joy without first going through the despair.” [i]

And that’s why Advent comes before Christmas.  We must begin by waiting. We begin by waiting for God. 

And as we wait we examine ourselves as the prophet did.  Are we ready for God?

The hullaballoo of Christmas can distract us from this question, and even worse the lights and sales and Christmas specials on television can drown out the answer.

We are not ready for God.  The prophet says that we all have become like one who is unclean.  Our attempts to be good, our trying to do good, our righteousness is corrupt. Our “Christmas spirit” is contaminated. (Isaiah 66: 6 – 7)

How can we be saved? (Isaiah 66: 5)

And there is the point of despair.  “How can we be saved?”  If we don’t start there, we won’t find the way. 

If we don’t begin by waiting we won’t discover that unspeakable joy.
And so we wait for God.

But now, O LORD, You are our father.
We are the clay, and you our potter,
all of us are the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O L
nor remember iniquity forever.
Look at us.  We are all your children
. (Isaiah 66: 8 – 9)

And we are waiting.

Please remember The Salvation Army during this time of the year.  This is our biggest fundraising season.  The Salvation Army of Fairmont, Minnesota needs to raise $23,000 in our kettles.  If you haven't contributed in one of the buckets or mailed a donation,  please consider giving via this online kettle.  Every gift will help us to to serve those in Martin County who have great needs.  Thank you.

[i] I found this quote attributed on C.S. Lewis online, but I have been unable to source it.  Every instance I found quoted it without a source.  It sounds like Lewis, but he may not have actually said it. Does anyone know?  If it turns out it wasn’t Lewis, I still believe it to be true.

An Erratic Melody - The Lord of Heaven Come Near

Thursday afternoon, as our volunteers were cleaning up after The Salvation Army's community Thanksgiving meal I slipped into the chapel and began to quietly play my guitar.

(You might ask why I was playing my guitar instead of helping to clean up with everyone else.  I realized very quickly that my wonderful and very able wife was in charge of that meal and the volunteers who were helping.  When they asked me for directions, I told them to "go ahead and leave those tables up"... and she corrected me, "no, those tables come down."  So.  I let them finish.  (Actually, I went back in and mopped the floor later... so I wasn't completely lazy.)

Anyway.  There in the chapel after a very enjoyable Thanksgiving meal with members of our community, I began playing my guitar. And, while I'm not a great player, I did find myself playing a simple little melody.  I found a pencil and wrote down the notes and put together a Christmas carol: The Lord of Heaven Come Near 

It took me a bit to figure out the meter, though. It sounds nice as you sing it, but the melody switches back and forth between 4/4 and 3/4.  One person has already called it "erratic," which may not be entirely inaccurate -the meter does seem to wander.  But if erratic means "having no certain or definite course," then I would want to choose another word. It does have a definite course, it just takes an irregular path. 

And that, some would say, is very much like me.

So here is the sheet music for my newly penned Christmas carol.  You can download the arrangement I put together from the link above, or create your own. (If you'd give credit back to me here, that would be swell.)  

The Lord of Heaven Come Near

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thatjeffcarter - the Remix

R3SET is a pop/rock/electro musician who's song Runaway has been opened up to a remix contest.
I've submitted my entry.  I don't have any real expectation of winning, but I did have fun making this remix.

R3SET - Runaway (Thatjeffcarter Was Here Remix) by thatjeffcarter was here

In addition to the stems provided for the contest I used a few sounds from my favorite resource - the Freesound Project:

You can download this one for your continued amusement if you like.

Please remember the Salvation Army during this time of the year.  We're in the middle of our biggest fundraising time.  The Salvation Army of Fairmont, Minnesota needs to raise a total of $23,000 in our red kettles.  If you haven't already given a donation at one of our buckets, or sent a donation through the mail, would you consider donating online with this virtual kettle?   Thank you  very much.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Waiting - The First Sunday of Advent

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent.  I'll be preaching from Isaiah 64: 1- 9 and Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19.

And you know I hate to bring it up.  I hate having to do it.  But we are in our biggest fundraising season.  The Salvation Army of Fairmont in Martin County Minnesota needs to raise $23,000 in our kettles in order for us to continue serving those in our community with great need.  If you haven't already given at one of the regular kettles or mailed in a check, please consider giving online.  You can donate via this virtual kettle.  Thank you very much.

If you like the picture above, feel free to copy it for your personal / church use. It's my gift to you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A New Christmas Carol - The Lord of Heaven Come Near

This is one of those holiday things that I remember:  I remember complaining to my dad that I really didn't like many of the Christmas carols that we sang at church.  (I still don't like "Silent Night" or "Away in the Manger.")  My dad suggested that if I didn't like the ones we sang, I should write a new one.

I've finally done that. I've written a new Christmas carol.

The Lord of Heaven Come Near

Angels announced the Savior’s birth
to shepherds in the field,
“This day you’ll find in David’s town
the Lord of Heaven come near.”
Lord of Heaven, Emmanuel,
Lord of Heaven, come.

Angels announced the Savior’s birth
to shepherds in the field.

 Magi came from the east to find
the one the star announced
bringing gifts and worshipping
the Lord of Heaven come near.
Lord of Heaven, Emmanuel,
Lord of Heaven, come.

Magi came from the east to find
the one star announced.

Glory to God in highest heaven
and peace to men on earth.
Praise God who sent his son to be
the Lord of Heaven come near.
Lord of Heaven, Emmanuel,
Lord of Heaven, come.
Glory to God in highest heaven
and peace to men on earth.

Praise God the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit too,
the grave is closed and heaven’s free
the Lord of heaven came near.
Lord of Heaven, Emmanuel,
Lord of Heaven, come.
Praise God the Father, and the Son
and Holy Spirit too.

The arrangement I've posted has one verse as a introduction, the four verses for singing, and then a final instrumental verse.  I'll post the sheet music for it tomorrow.  Feel free to download it and to use it for yourself or your church. 

And, please remember the Salvation Army during this time.  This is our biggest fundraising event. You can give at the kettles or with a check in the mail or by using this virtual kettle.  Thank you very much.

Holiday Haiku - Happy Thanksgiving.

Color filled leaves fall
Just to be crushed underfoot,
This is the pattern.

My 10 year old son wrote these haiku poems at school.  They break my heart and make me laugh at the same time. Is that just because I'm his father?  Either way, I am so very proud of him.

The wind whistles by
Trees mourn for their great losses
But who hears the cries?

Leaves like snowflakes come
But only leaves are welcome,
No one awaits snow.

V's sail through the sky
Their shrieks rebound through the air
They leave us till spring.

As the days shorten
And the temperature declines
Fireside tales fly.

Please consider making a donation to support the work of The Salvation Army in Fairmont / Martin County, Minnesota (or to the Salvation Army unit nearest to you).  There aren't any bell ringers out today (Thanksgiving day) but you can still give via this online kettle.  Thank you so much.  May God bless you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Rooster With No Connection To Christmas

I know.  Roosters don't have very much to do with Thanksgiving, Advent, or Christmas. And the color scheme for this painting would have been more appropriate for a September or an October post.  But here it is anyway. A rooster with no connection to Christmas.

This painting is really a mix of things.  To build the texture I used crumpled newspaper, glossy magazines, dried leaves and paper-towels.

I used acrylic and spray paints

This rooster may have no connection to Christmas but, nevertheless, it is that time of the year.  And with Christmas comes The Salvation Army's red kettle fundraising.  You've seen them out there, the bell ringers in front of the grocery stores and shopping malls.  You've seen the red buckets.

Or maybe you haven't. But that's okay because, lucky you, you can donate to The Salvation Army of Fairmont, Minnesota (or to the Salvation Army unit near you) via this handy-dandy-online-kettle.  The money you donate will help us to meet the needs of the poorest in our community all through next year. Thank you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We've had our first snowfall here in Fairmont, Minnesota.  It came Saturday morning with all the wind and furry of a cold Minnesota winter.  My son and I watched the snow fall as we stood outside the Hy-Vee grocery story with our horns, playing Christmas carols at one of the Salvation Army's red kettles.

Most of this frist snow has already melted away but it was as nice as it was fleeting.

Here's a bit of music to celebrate the first snowfall.

If you like it, it is free for you to download and to share with others.

It was made with a couple of sounds from the Freesound Project:

If you would like to make a donation to support the work of The Salvation Army in Fairmont, Minnesota (or the Salvation Army unit in your area) you can do that via this handy-dandy-online-kettle.
Thank you very much.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anxious For Nothing

I was having a bit of a bad day as I made this.  But it got better. Mostly.
I was anxious for nothing.  I should, instead, be anxious for nothing.

Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made unto God. - Philippians 4:6

This song is available for download. Perhaps it will help if you're having a bad day.

I made this little song using a synth voice created by AfroDJMac, a very strange and beautiful synth voice he calls the Space Forest Synth.

I also used three sounds from the Freesound Project:
Forest Jam 

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Sun of Righteousness, The Sun of Mercy

I'll preaching from Malachi 4 on Sunday.  Thinking about the rising sun.

Daleks Still Seek Him

My wife saw me working on this one - at a point some time before I added the Daleks.  She looked at it and thought "Awwww. He's working on a nice Christmas picture."    When she saw the final version later, she was disappointed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

By Your Command

When the Imperious Leader opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come and see!"
 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the galaxy to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the cylons of the earth.
By your command!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Praying Jewbacca

This one comes by way of request.  Here you go, Dutton.

This is, as you might recognize, a reference to my favorite painter - Marc Chagall - and his 1923 painting, The Praying Jew.   This wookie is very devout. He wears his tallit and his tefillin as he should.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Amen and Make it So

This is the Absolute Last Last Supper

In the past couple of days I have been amusing myself (and horrifying my wife) by drawing a series of science fiction / superhero and religious art combinations. (Warrior Princess of Guadalupe, Hulk Want In!, Neo, We Trust in You, Pray for Us, Saint Bat and The Sacred Heart of Vader)

I've had a couple of friends suggest that I do a Last Supper themed drawing ... perhaps one with the Avengers and Captain America in Jesus' seat.

But - seriously - the Last Supper thing has been done.  A lot

You could have the Last Supper with the cast of Lost

or Battlestar Galactica.

If you had a quick eye, you might have caught this last supper tableau during the opening credits of The Watchmen movie.

Would you like to share the Last Supper with Homer and the gang down at Moe's tavern.

Or how about the Last Breakfast with your favorite cereal mascot?

Maybe you want to take Jesus seriously when he said "eat my flesh" and "drink my blood."

How about The Sopranos' last supper? or Sesame Street? or Star Wars? Nintendo? That 70's show?  M*A*S*H* ? McDonalds? How about a Last Supper where every place is filled with James Woods?  yes.  There is such a picture.  Or The Big Lebowski with The Dude in the Dude's seat.

All these and many - many more - are scattered across the interwebs, but you can see them collected at Suddenly Last Supper - by Popped Culture.

So I  won't be doing a Last Supper scene. It's probably already been done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Warrior Princess of Guadalupe

Others in this series:
Hulk Want In!
Neo, We Trust in You
Pray for us, Saint Bat
The Sacred Heart of Vader

There's a strong likelihood that I'll be putting these pictures up for auction - as a fundraiser for The Salvation Army of Fairmont, MN.  Check back for details.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hulk Want In!

Behold! Hulk stand at door! Knock Loud!  They hear my voice, open door, Hulk not smash they.

Revelation 3: 20 (IHV - Incredible Hulk Version)

Be sure to check out the others in this series:
The Sacred Heart of Vader
Pray for Us, Saint Bat
Neo, We Trust in You

Friday, November 11, 2011

Neo, We Trust in You

Okay.  These Religious Science Fiction pieces have been rather fun. The first one - The Sacred Heart of Vader   - I did as a bit of a lark.  But it was well received, so I did a second - Pray for Us, Saint Bat.  And now here is a third - Neo, We Trust in You. 

Is there any particular combination of religious art and science fiction person that you'd like to see?  Make a recommendation in the comments section below.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pray for us, Saint Bat

Yesterday's post, The Sacred Heart of Vader, was well received, so I thought I'd do another.

Pray for us, Saint Bat.


People tell me that my artwork and my music tends toward the melancholic.  And perhaps that is true.  But this song is not.  At least I don't think so.

Engage by thatjeffcarter was here

This song is available for download.


I did a lot of manipulating of the 'e-oh' sound before I used it as the voice in my synthesizer, so it won't sound very much like the original but, still, give credit where credit is due.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sacred Heart of Vader

But after his mechanized body had been re-united to the soul of the Sith lords, conqueror of death, his most sacred heart never ceased, and never will cease, to beat with mechanical pulsations.  Likewise, it will never cease to symbolize his devotion to the Emperor, his devoted master, and to the entire empire, of which he has every claim to be the mystical head.


Last year, in preparation for a sermon from Psalm 49, I put together the following piece of music:
- A musical arrangement of Psalm 49 - music and lyrics by Steve Pearson,

(if you like it, you can download it - here - )

To make that song I recorded myself saying the word "listen"

and, because I like to share, I uploaded it to the Freesound Project and since then it has been downloaded 114 times (at least, that many as of today...)

One of those people who downloaded it  has used it to create a fine little piece of music entitled
Hear that Voice.  You should listen to it.

Listen for the voice of God.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Silver and Gold in the Morning

This mixed media piece is  current favorite. I finished it a few weeks ago.

The texture is made of crumpled magazine and newspaper pages and some scraps from an old screen door.

The paint is both acrylic and spray paint.

The disk is the little time-zone spinner from the top of an old globe.

This painting and another will probably appear in a local art show in January.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Dr. Zira, I Must Caution You

Dr. Zaius:  Dr. Zira, I must caution you.  Experimental brain surgery on these creatures is one thing, and I'm all in favor of it.  But your behavior studies are another matter. To suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of man is sheer nonsense. Why, man is a nuisance. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green belts and ravages our crops.  The sooner he is exterminated, the better.  It's a question of simian survival.

 - Planet of the Apes

Stars in the Void

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Not With a Bang, but November

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang
but November.

Not With a Bang, but November by thatjeffcarter was here

This song is available for download.

Made with Adobe Soundbooth and Ableton Live (lite) from only two samples:

my apologies to T.S. Elliot for the paraphrase.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thatjeffcarter -vs.- The Department of Homeland Security

Apparently the Department of Homeland Security is checking up on me.  Should I be worried?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Model DE409

After 53 years of marriage he needed to replace part #2-5119.

Prediction is Very Difficult

"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."  Niels Bohr

I made this with Ableton Live (lite) and some sounds from the Freesound Project

He's a tad embarrassed by his inability to predict the second coming of Jesus.  He should be.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Music for the Oregon Woods

My brother asked me to put together some music for a video project he was working on in Oregon.  The video never got made, but the music was good.

Oregon Woods by thatjeffcarter was here

This song is available for download.

I made this with Ableton Live (lite) and sounds from the Freesound Project:

What Every Fashionable Militant is Wearing This Season

Acrylic paint on wallpaper
Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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