I was trying to resist once again telling you about my favourite Christmas track but then Radio 2 went and played it on Sunday, so any excuse …
Hardeep Singh Kholi (left) was interviewing Deacon Blue’s frontman Ricky Ross on Good Morning Sunday and dropped into the conversation that HIS favourite was Calvary, a track from Ross’ solo album Pale Rider. The track very definitely has nothing to do with the crucifixion – the whole point is about celebrating the baby and not trying to rush past the birth to seeing all that Jesus would accomplish on the cross.
It’s a failing of many of us that we want to point at the stable and say: “There you are. The Saviour of the world, destined for a cross.”
But surely one of the most stunning things in human history is to understand that lying in a manger is the Word made flesh? Also, the Incarnation is the way in which God identifies with us and shows his commitment to helping us live “life in all its fulness”, so Ross (right) sings:
One child grows and people notice
he’s breaking chains
and making poor folks’ lives so heavenly
(the way it’s meant to be)
What a story – God made human and vulnerable and small and surprising and available to us.
The implications, however, are not small at all. A child destined to break chains demands a people who will continue that work – speaking up and living a life where everyone has value.
Night falls, still a broken step
this old mule’s legs
will take you many days from here
Tired limbs and ruddy cheeks
will bandage up your aching hands and feet
I don’t need to know what everyone sees
different roads can take you where other paths lead
I’m not even trying to get as far as Calvary
The challenge is in not running ahead too quickly but allowing the stunning reality of Immanuel – God with us – to shape our Christmas celebrations and affect the way we live beyond the festive period.