Monday, January 23, 2017

Tim Minchin was right

In a Christmas song, White Wine in the Sun, Australian artist Tim Minchin reflects on spending time with his family.  Tim's is a non-churched Christmas.  Tim places higher values on family than on God's gift to the world of Jesus Christ.  Tim's own assessment is that it is a sentimental song.

free and unattributable

The song includes a section of lyrics that give Tim's assessment of church songs:
"I don't go in for ancient wisdom
I don't believe just 'cause ideas are tenacious it means they're worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
But the lyrics are dodgy"

It is an assessment that pays good heed to church hymns in terms of their chords but identifies with dodgy lyrics.

Now, I suspect that when Tim identifies with dodgy lyrics he is recognising solid Biblical concepts as portrayed in song such as Christ's birth, in a manger, to a Virgin etc.  If one does not accept these concepts from the Bible, then one is hardly going to find those concepts acceptable within lyrics of a hymn.  That's fine and consistent with Tim's perspective.  However, what if the lyrics are dodgy from a solid theological viewpoint?

So, there I was at a Christian summer mission site hearing these lyrics:

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave
From 'Resurrecting'
There it was: "God has robbed the grave"! Contextually, the lyrics were kind of okay. The artist was clearly sharing how God did not intend Jesus Christ to stay in the tomb.  I get that.  Yet, "God robbed the grave" sent my mind racing towards all the weird and wacky theories that persons who read beyond the Bible seem to perpetuate - those, for instance, who claim that the disciples stole Christ's body away.  I immediately turned to the book of Acts to comfort myself that Peter and Paul in addressing crowds clearly identify with how Jesus rose from the grave.  "Borrowed for three days" adds to the issue in that no-one at the time of placing the body in the grave thought that the grave was being lent.
Then again in summer, while visiting an urban church in a regional town there were these lyrics:
Verse 1
O God of burning cleansing flame
Send the fire
Your blood-bought gift today we claim
Send the fire today
Look down and see this waiting host
And send the promised Holy Ghost
We need another Pentecost
Send the fire today
Send the fire today

There it was: "We need another Pentecost"! Well no, no we don't!  Pentecost was a one-off.  It was the fulfilment of a promise of Jesus of Nazareth that he would send the wonderful counsellor.  The disciples had waited in Jerusalem for the event.  We do not need another Pentecost when instead we fully seek to understand the one and only Pentecost (Acts 2).  The fire follows from each Christian as each Christian does the work that Christ bids of them in the world.


Note: all links good at 23 January 2017

Note: at the church where I heard 'Send the Fire' I met a gentleman over coffee.  He was attending the church after he had been redeemed from a life of alcoholism.  He was grateful to the church for their role in that redemption and he could see Christ's hand on those in the church who had saved him.  He recognised the healing that he had received.  In that conversation I could see the fire.  Halleluiah!

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