number 10 on the list of my top 15 albums is wrecking ball by emmylou harris. now, emmylou harris is a prolific artist and has put out a TON of albums, not to mention that she has sung with everyone from buddy and julie miller to bright eyes (i love her on bright eyes' i'm wide awake, it's morning). and i own several of her albums and collaborations, because i have become a big fan. but nothing that she has done - nothing - moves me like this album with its airy guitars and big drums. produced by daniel lanois (who also produced u2's achtung baby, along with brian eno), it has lanois' signature atmospheric and moody sound. this album was a huge departure for emmylou, for that very reason, but i had no idea about that when i picked up this album in 1999. i just picked it up because lanois' name was on the back. the fact that steve earle, larry mullen, neil young and lucinda williams also appeared on it was just gravy. but what really solidified this album in my top 15 list was just the strength of the songs. every song is a gem. it just feels like a foggy night, fraught with emotion and potential. it rings out like a church bell, with just as much sense of history and calling. it beats with a pulse, alive and well, but not frisky so much as faithful to a deeper spirit - an undercurrent of both brokenness and redemption. emmylou's distinct voice is perfect for lanois' production, and the result is, at least for me, absolutely mesmerizing. i love this album. i would take it to my desert island. and even if i were stranded there alone for all of eternity, i would never be able to forget the depth of human emotion, because i would hear it in this music.
in our church, we are continuing with a series called "letters from Jesus," in which we are looking at the seven letters in the beginning of revelation addressed to seven churches in asia. we are imagining what it would be like if we were to receive a hand-written letter from Jesus to our church. what would it say? how would we be encouraged? how would we be challenged? we've looked at three of the letters now. this week we looked at the letter to the church in pergamum. the letter to them includes some harsh criticism of some of their behavior, but it also says that Christ understands how difficult their situation is. and in case they feel like they are stuck in their sinfulness, Jesus says something amazing to them: i will give you a new name. the world gives us so many names, doesn't it? our parents, of course, give us our birth names. but the naming doesn't stop there. it continues right on through elementary school, high school, and into t