Welcome to Epiphany. (And a free Mixtape to celebrate!)


epiphany-mixtape-coverIf you’re just looking for the mixtape, click here for the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

From now until Lent, the Church Calendar is in the season of Epiphany.

Basically, this season seems like it’s sort of a Church Calendar “junk drawer” to meditate and celebrate on all the other parts of Jesus’ life that happened between his Advent/Birth and his Death.

And don’t misread that. In describing it that way, I hope that doesn’t diminish this season for anyone.

Perhaps the most precious doctrine of the Christian faith for me is that of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness. That’s a fancy way of saying that Jesus lived out a righteous life, and his very own righteousness is given to me as my own. And so, with a complete and perfect righteousness in hand, I don’t have to bear the weight of shame or condemnation. This is so beautiful to me.

But this Righteousness in which I am dressed was not created out of thin air, nor was it created by Christ at the Cross, or even at his Resurrection. It was built throughout his life of obedience to His Father, as the light of his character and life grew brighter and brighter in the midst of our darkened world. It’s this part of his life that we celebrate and meditate upon in this season.

And this is amazing. As I’ve written before, if Herod had been successful in killing the infant Jesus, there would be an essential aspect of our salvation that’s missing. This is why Epiphany is so important.

And so, to try and help me spend some time meditating on this season, the best way I knew to think deeply about all this was to re-post Epiphany mixtape I first posted last year.

To read more about the specifics of Epiphany, the mixtape, and to listen/download it yourself, you can either read below or just go to the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

[cover image credit: the photo on the mixtape cover is used with the gracious permission of photographer and friend of the blog, David Schrott]

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Hey Philly! I’m hosting an epic House Show on Friday. You should come.


birdhouse-show

I’ve been a little busy recently, but I thought I’d drop a quick post and let everyone in the Philly area know that I’ll be hosting a house show at my place this upcoming Friday at 7pm. There will be opera, fiddles, harmonies, sing-a-longs, food, drink, cider, cheer, and merriment. (Oh, and maybe a little celebrating for my recent engagement.)

It’s been far too long since the last time we had one of these shows, but each has been better than the last. It all started when I first moved into this house in Center City Southwest, and we noticed that there were some birdhouses nailed to our back patio fence (above). And so, The Birdhouse was born, and the music followed shortly thereafter. This time around, we’re having the following artists perform:

Come support the artists and have a good time. For all the info, check out the Facebook Event page.

Trash Spotify, get Google Music (discount ends 6/30) [casual fri]


k-bigpic

A few years ago, I wrote about my own personal, internal struggle over online music services. Well now, I have a winner.

I’ve told several friends about Google Music. For the past couple of years it’s been my go-to mobile music manager. Long story short, this is how it has worked: Google uploads your entire library of music to their own servers (a.k.a. “the cloud”) and then you can listen to it on any device with a browser (including iOS devices). This is absolutely free.

And it’s been amazing. I can stream my own music over my phone, I can go to work and play my entire library in any web browser on my work computer, and it syncs up with my iTunes for continued integration with all my offline music listening. And again, all this is free.

And now it’s even better (even though the name is ridiculous). A month ago, Google announced an expansion of this service, and it’s called (take a deep breath): Google Play Music All Access. Basically, what it is is the above Google Music thing that I described (now called “Google Music Standard”), plus a Spotify-like element built-in.
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All new, free Easter vol.2 Mixtape is ready for download!


easter-mixtape-2-coverToday, I’m really proud to make available the all new Easter Mixtape for this year. It’s a completely new batch of songs, none of which have been on any of my past mixtapes. I’ve been working on this one for a while. I hope it’s able to help you engage in this Easter season. Just like the past Mixtapes, it’s free to stream, download, and share.

To also serve you in this time, be sure to check out last year’s Easter Volume 1 Mixtape, the Easter readings in my church’s Lent 2013 Prayerbook (pdf), as well as other Lent posts on this site.

On Easter Sunday: “Oh Death” [a song]


[I wrote this after my grandfather died in 2010 after a long battle with throat cancer. It really affected me, and I wrote this to redeem this moment for him and me. You’ll find a recording of the song below. It’s simply a piece of cathartic lament in light of pain, and is not meant to be “high art”.]

I here your footsteps coming
The floorboards they scream
I pray to my Father
to wake from this dream

I’m tired, so tired
when will this end?
I’m tired, so tired
Your strength, won’t you lend?

Oh Death, here is your sting
Oh Death, I hear your voice ring
Through echoes and ages and days gone past

Oh Death, here is your sting

This breath, you can take it
This body, is yours
This voice you have stolen
My eyes are now dim.

Oh this sweetness you’ve taken
I taste life no more
This life, I release now
But this love you can’t have!

But I’ll rise….
But I’ll rise…

I’ll awake from this nightmare as daylight draws nigh
The tension of ages breaks before my eye

This breath I’ll take back. This life will be His.
That body, you can keep; I’ll get a new one from him

Like daybreak it’s new and as strong as fired steel
The demon like dew is gone, ’cause I am healed.

His vict’ry now better: of this conquest we’ll sing
Your vict’ry now bitter:you will taste it’s last sting.

Because…

Oh Death, you’ll taste your last sting
Oh Death, I’ll hear your voice scream
Through echoes and ages
and days gone past

Oh Death, here is your sting.

Oh Death….
taste it and weep,
for oh Death,
I no longer sleep.

Because, Oh Death,
I’m no longer thine;
And, Oh Death,

The vic’try’s now mine.

[read my other Holy Day poetry here]
all writings licensed: Creative Commons License

All new, free Lent vol.2 Mixtape is ready for download!


lent-mixtape-2-coverToday, I’m really proud to make available the all new Lent Mixtape for this year. It’s a completely new batch of songs, none of which have been on any of my past mixtapes. I’ve been working on this one for a while and, as I say on the Mixtape page, it’s already serving me pretty well as a soundtrack for this year’s Lent. I hope it’s able to be the same for you. Just like the past Mixtapes, it’s free to stream, download, and share.

To also serve you in this time, be sure to check out last year’s Lent, Volume 1 Mixtape, my church’s Lent 2013 Prayerbook (pdf), as well as other Lent posts on this site.

Download last year’s Lent Mixtape (new one on Monday!)


oldrich-kulhanek-lent-mixtapeIt’s Lent, which means it’s time for a new Church Season Mixtape. I have a completely new track list I’m working on for this year’s Lent, but it’s not quite done yet. So, for the weekend, I wanted to make available last year’s mixtape. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up after this weekend so get it now! It really is one of my favorite mixtapes I’ve done, and I think it turned out very well. So go to the listen/download page and enjoy. And share it with your friends!

Also, be sure to check out the dedicated tab above for all posts on Lent. I pray these resources help you have a fruitful time in his season.

Epiphany is here! So what? (And another free Mixtape!)


epiphany-mixtape-coverIf you’re just looking for the mixtape, click here for the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

From now until Lent, the Church Calendar is in the season of Epiphany. Up until this year, I had never really given much thought or focus to Epiphany. In fact, I hadn’t ever really understood Epiphany until this year. I knew it had something to do with light and with Magi, but beyond that, I didn’t get it.

Basically, this season seems like it’s sort of a Church Calendar “junk drawer” to meditate and celebrate on all the other parts of Jesus’ life that happened between his Advent/Birth and his Death.

And don’t misread that. With me saying that, I hope that doesn’t diminish this season for anyone. Perhaps the most precious doctrine of the Christian faith for me is that of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to me. And this Righteousness in which I am dressed was not created out of thin air, nor was it created by Christ at the Cross, or even his Resurrection. It was built throughout his life of obedience to His Father.

And this is amazing. As I’ve written before, if Herod had been successful in killing the child Jesus, there would be an aspect of our salvation that’s missing.

And so, to try and help me spend some time meditating on this season, the best way I knew to think deeply about all this was to make another Church season mixtape. If I’m being honest, these things are more for me than all of you out there. This one particularly, though, helped me think through Epiphany and try and create something from it. I hope you enjoy it.

To read more about the specifics of Epiphany, the mixtape, and to listen/download it yourself, you can either read below or just go to the official Epiphany Mixtape page. Let me know what you think!

Here’s some more info, from the page:
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Advent Transition Music: Christmas Eve “Vespers” by Sergei Rachmaninov


vespers-1-art-sabawala-paintingPerhaps Sergei Rachmaninov’s greatest piece, All-Night Vigil (usually simply called Vespers) is a choral presentation of the texts used during Eastern Orthodox all-night vigils. These vigils are usually done on the Eve of major church festivals, such as…Christmas Eve!

As I said earlier today, Christmas isn’t simply a day; it’s an entire church season. It’s a season where we transition from repentance and meditation to celebration and joy. And to aid in that transition, many traditions have all-night Vespers to help us move from one season to the next.

And so, to encourage us in this transition time, I’d like to offer you my favorite recording of one of my favorite pieces ever, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vespers, performed by the Swedish Radio Choir. You will need Spotify to play the playlist below (you can purchase the album as well). Have fun:

[image credit: “Vespers 1” by Jehangir Sabavala]

Free Advent Mixtape Available Now!


Advent-Mixtape-Cover

Update: I got some inspiration and updated the Mixtape, changing the song selection/order a little bit from when this was originally posted. Sorry for the inconvenience.

A new church season, a new mixtape. You can find this year’s Advent Mixtape above, in the appropriately-named tab, or just click here. It’s free, and you can stream, download, or share it.

It’s very similar to last year’s except with some songs removed, added, and re-ordered. I definitely think this one is better. (Let me know what you think!) Be sure to read my post introducing Advent this year, including ways than you can more intentionally participate in this season. I hope this Mixtape can play some role in your time as well.

Here’s some more info, from the “Advent Mixtape” page:
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Philly Live Arts Festival is On!


Yesterday, I got the chance to see the unofficial opening ceremony for Philadelphia’s annual Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe. The piece is called Le Grand Continental, and it was a large, 155-person, half-hour-long group dance, choreographed by Sylvain Émard Danse and performed on the front “Rocky” steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was phenomenal (the Inquirer had a great review of it as well).

The piece explored the themes of unity, life, discord, speaking out, disillusionment and youthfulness. It had dancers from nearly every imaginable age group, ethnicity, and income level (including, I could swear, Black Thought, the lead MC of The Roots–but I could be wrong). It was amazing seeing such diversity move in concert with one another.

But, either way, the piece has been done and if you haven’t seen it then you’ve missed it, so my main purpose here is not to rub that in, but instead to promote the Live Arts Festival that this piece sort of kicked off.
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My Most Awkward Dance Ever (RIP Donna Summer) [casual fri]


Believe it or not, there was a time that I did not have sweet dance moves like this and this.

This is the story about my first slow-dance.

Anyone that grew up in a middle-school setting where the seasons and holidays were marked by school dances knows that to “slow dance” was a rite-of-passage experienced by a precious few. Primarily reserved for nerdy kids that “dated” each other and the “cool kids” that hooked up and “dated” each other, the “slow dance” was a beast that eluded me for most all of my middle school career.

I had spent 6th- and 7th-grades going to most of the dances, but not actually dancing. While reveling in the glory of Third Eye Blind, NSync, Creed, Jewel, Boys II Men and Savage Garden, I’d hang out with my friends, “make fun of” (read: jealously wish I was part of) those that had someone to slow dance with, and join in the chorus of yelling middle-schoolers that would enthusiastically supply the edited-out curse word in “Pretty Fly for a White Guy“.

I was the quintessential “that guy” in those situations: an awkward wallflower, terrified of girls and wearing bad Christian t-shirts, who would (no joke) stand next to and carry on conversations with my slow-dancing friends–while they were slow dancing (once, a teacher had to tell me to give the dancing couple some space).

Yes, like I said, I was that guy.

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This is my 500th Post. It Will Change Your Life. (i promise)


This blog’s first-ever post was on December 6, 2004. As of today, seven-and-a-half years later, on May 1st, 2012, I have posted 500 posts. Out of the 86,400 visitors this site has had over those years, 1/3 of them have happened in this year alone, so I’m looking forward to this site’s continued maturation and growth. And it’s all because of you! Thank you all for reading, commenting, challenging, and encouraging me throughout the years. Here’s to 500 more!

Bonus life-changing video:

HAPPY EASTER! Free Easter Mixtape Now Available!


Today, we usher in the season of Easter. This is a time that follows that mournfulness and quiet meditation that is the season of Lent.

During Lent, the tension and angst between who are and who we know we should be grows and grows. Good Friday is when Jesus bears the weight of this angst, Holy Saturday is when he enters into it fully, and Easter is when this tension breaks as we celebrate how Christ has overcome the weight and darkness of it all. This is meant to be a time of giddy joy and freedom and worship.

To help us in this time, I’m offering another mixtape. (I made some for both Advent and Lent.) I pray these songs and words are able to usher us into unfettered joy and gratitude to our God for all he has done, and all he has promised to do. As usual, you can both download and stream it for free. Here it is:

Click here for the Easter 2012 Mixtape

Feel free to download and share this as you like, and may it bless you this Easter season. Be sure to also follow the poetry, prayers, reflections, and readings I’ve offered for this season as well.

[Image Credit: the cover art above is an amazing piece by my favorite artist, Mark Rothko.]