Greetings from Peter Mayer

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Smiles of Grace" +A Tribute to Ben Larson +h2odevoscbl1 040310 by Peter Mayer

Today's devo is written and recorded by Peter Mayer. It is a devo in memory of Ben Larson.
We offer it to you today in this time in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Both Peter and I know "being in between" is often the place or space we find ourselves. The good news and hope of Easter is that it is in this precise place that God finds us and claims us again and again.
From Peter Mayer:

When I talked to Ron just a few days ago about doing a devotion in celebration of Ben Larson's life and music, he replied; "Yeah man, let's do it." I called Renee, Ben's wife, to ask her permission to use Ben's song, "Grace," and she agreed, saying this: "Ben never kept a diary; music has always been the diary of his life. Ben has always been about Grace, not cheap Grace, but God's Grace that enables us to be transformed and to truly love."
I first met Ben Larson at the 2006 ELCA Youth Gathering in San Antonio. He was this guitar player/singer and a leader with the Luther College choir. The director, Tim Peters, introduced me; "Peter, this is a really talented kid, someone you really should get to know." Ben had a big smile on his face that said nothing like; "Hi I've got a lot of promise and I know what I'm doing", but more... "Wow, isn't this amazing?! It's good just to be here!"
The same smile greeted my wife Patricia and me as we boarded the Lady of the Lake water taxi on our way to Holden Village, Chelan, WA in 2008. He shook my hand and said; " I'm Ben Larson and I'm supposed to play some music with you up at Holden this week." Ben and his wife Renee were both attending Wartburg seminary and preparing for their year of internship in Lincoln, Nebraska. They were newlyweds and were enjoying a wonder-filled time of life together taking steps toward the what, where, when, and how their life in ministry was to bloom and grow in the coming years.
I led a writing session that week, and both Ben and ReneƩ took part. I still recall parts of Ben's journal entry. He talked about water, the water we need to sustain our bodies, and the dire need for it in many places in the world. And he talked of our need for the living waters mentioned in the 4th chapter of John when Jesus says; "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." I was struck by the honesty with which he asked difficult questions about his walk of faith; his belief that we best followed Christ's call to serve when we were faced outward (out-Word) into the world in giving of ourselves to those in need.
We closed the week at Holden with a service in which all the participants' writings during the weeklong session were used as a liturgy. After the service, while we were packing up, Ben started to play one of his songs, "Grace." I was really taken by it, and found out only later that there were many, many more songs, liturgies and choir pieces that he had written.
A year and a half later, in January of this year, Ben, Renee, and Ben's cousin Jonathan went to Haiti as part of their seminary studies, to learn about and work with the Lutheran Church in Haiti and with the St. Joseph's Home for boys and Resurrection Dance troupe. The day after they arrived, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck. Although Renee and Jonathan escaped injury and were able to dig themselves out, Ben was killed.
The breath was knocked out of so many of us whose lives were touched by Ben. We knew that the haunting questions, our grief, our shock, our loss, were repeated over and over in the lives of all the many Haitians who lost loved ones in the quake. Renee, in telling the story, said that Ben had spent the last moments of his life singing, remarkably, out of the rubble of a building that had buried him.
I celebrate Ben's life today, and God's song that sang through it. I'd like to pass on to you what Ben passed on to me; his call to sing God's song through all the joys and all the trials we are given, and then share it, all the way, until our last breath. In the last e-mail I received from Ben, he talked about the power of music to transform lives, that the world, all of us are certainly "changed by Love" in word and song. He encouraged me on in that path. He signed off by saying;
"God has gifted you for this calling, and I pray that the Spirit will fill you up and give you strength."
May that strength of the Spirit sustain you all through the darkness of Good Friday and on to the resurrection joy of Easter.
Here are the lyrics to Ben's song Grace.
Click here to listen to "Grace"
Ben Larson
A Mighty Fortress is our God
A rock and shield victorious
He breaks the cruel oppressors rod
And brings salvation glorious
You ask who this may be
The God our Rock is he
Christ Jesus mighty Lord
God's only son adored
On earth he has no equal
Struggling to live my life simultaneously saint and sinner
Struggling to live my life understanding your nature
All the power streams down in your glory
Confusing cause there's nothing I can do to be with you
It's all it's all Grace
It's all it's all Grace
Beginning to understand all there is about you will never be learned
Beginning to see my eternity can never be earned
Beginning to see that all good things are just reflected
All good things are just reflected off of you
It's all it's all Grace
It's all it's all Grace
All the love you give the love you show it's all Grace
All the love you give the love you show it's all Grace
Help us see
It's all it's all Grace
It's all it's all Grace
All the love you give the love you show it's all Grace
All the love you give the love you show it's all Grace
Help us see  ........Your Grace