Thursday, April 5, 2012

Good (Music) Friday

“Lying underneath the stormy skies, know that the son must set to rise…” (Luke 9:22 RSV) (Coldplay)

Disclaimer (you can skip down to “Now” if ya want):

If you haven’t learned by now, I am a big fan of analogies.  It’s really the basis of this entire blog.  I believe, no I am convinced, that the Kingdom of God can and is seen in 2012.  I think too often we are unable to see the Kingdom around us because people don’t use King James Version language or because our cultural settings don’t mirror that of first century Israel. 

I had a professor in college say all the time that ‘All truth is God’s Truth.’  Notice the capitalization.  I have come to absolutely love this saying.  (Safe to say, I love it a whole lot more than the subject of her class.)  As the Creator, Sustainer, and Giver of Truth, as perverted as what surrounds it, as much of a stretch as it may be, ultimately all truth comes under the headship and authority of God.  It’s a hauntingly beautiful concept. 

That reality is what I really enjoy reading, viewing, discussing, and ultimately writing about…

Now, the vast majority of my thoughts regarding the Kingdom in twenty twelve revolve around visual media.  I am a visual learner.  I see things and remember them.  I don’t do as well with auditory media.  That’s clearly why my college transcript isn’t what it could have been.  If only my professors just assigned us a bunch of movies to watch.  Dean’s list, for sure.

This time however, in light of my current life circumstances, the Holiday at hand, and an incredible album by an incredibly talented band, I have been very moved by a song. (It didn’t hurt that the music video is awesome.)

I cannot speak for you but when a new song comes out, I pay little to no attention to the lyrics.  If I like the beat, or it just continues to get radio play, I will slowly start to learn the words – usually without even knowing.  If I continue to listen, maybe even spend the $1.29 to add it to my music library (side note: when the heck did iTunes jack their prices? Not cool, man.) I will begin to contemplate the lyrics.

With Coldplay’s latest hit, Paradise, I have gotten to the point where I am listening to it three to five times a day.  I know every word.

Here is a link to the video, if you haven’t seen or heard it:

As with so much music, we can feel a certain connection and think that the song in fact must have been written for us.

As Chris Martin sings out,

When she was just a girl, she expected the world.  But it flew away from her reach, so she ran away in her sleep, and dreamed of para para paradise…”

I am certain that he is singing about the American twenty-something trying to find their place, their voice, their calling in the world.  No?  That’s not it?

Ah, behold the power of music.

To be honest, I don’t know what the lead singer is hinting at.  Maybe it is about losing the innocence we had as children.  Maybe it’s a song for his wife.  Maybe, it actually does have to do with elephants escaping from the zoo - though I doubt it.

But after listening to the song some 50 times, I finally heard the final line of the final verse accurately.  And as I have thought about it, especially in light of Good Friday, Coldplay’s Paradise has taken on entirely new meaning.

As I hear the lyrics I am more and more convinced this very song could be about Mother Mary on the inaugural Easter weekend almost 2,000 years ago.

Is it a stretch?  Absolutely.  But stay with me.

Here we have a girl that was literally promised the world, at the age of about twelve.  She was told that she was carrying the Son of God.  That her Son would save the world from their sins, from themselves.

She watched him grow up.  She and her husband saw so many awesome things in Him.  This was truly, if not in full, the beginning of Paradise.

But there she sits.  She watches her boy, the One foretold, drag his own death tool through the streets.

She’s watched the guards beat Him.

She’s watched Pilate deliver the verdict.

She’s watched the nails pierce the skin.

As Mary is taking this in, Coldplay’s verses ring in the background…”but it flew away from her reach…”

What happened?  How did we get to this point?  It seemed like just yesterday he came to the rescue of that sweet couple on their wedding day; allowing guests to continue the celebration with wine.  She thinks of all the people ecstatic on the hill as they received their free lunch.  Now she just sees a mob on a hill - taunting and torturing her son.

She thinks back to the days when she coddled him.  She remembers the manger.  She recalls losing him at Temple.  She dreams…of Paradise.

In some way don’t we all?  As I look around and have to struggle and strain to find facets of God’s Kingdom these days, isn’t there a part of us that dreams of Paradise?

As we fast forward to Sunday, amidst figurative stormy skies, while Mary is still grieving there is a buzz amongst her closest peers.  She hears over and over again,

“He. Is. Risen.”

As she begins to think a smile comes across her face.  Her Son's words come to mind, and Coldplay rocks out the final line of the final verse….

And so lying underneath those stormy skies,
She'd say, "Oh, ohohohoh I know the SON must set to rise…

Then Mary would run off, thinking to herself, THIS could be Para, Para, Paradise.

While I don’t think these lyrics were meant to exist as a theological proof, I find this possibility existing within the “All truth is God’s Truth.” 

So maybe you find yourself in stormy skies.  Maybe you’re without work.  It’s possible good health eludes you or someone close to you.  Maybe the future is just scary enough that you don’t think you can go another step, another second.

If nothing else this Good Friday, take comfort that as followers of Christ our daily and ultimately our eventual fate is the same as the very man stationed next to Jesus himself on that stormy night –

We are with Him, in Paradise.

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