I wandered into the stadium, a wonderland of colours – black, red and white – a field of dreams before me and the hopeful contenders going through the warm-up processes on the carpet of green. With trumpet and drum and voice they bid me sing; ‘Who do you sing for? Who do you sing for?’ Who do I sing for? This team or that – the one they’ve come to see or the one who wants to ruin the dream? Who do I sing for and what is my song? Is it the ‘forever’ song that commits me to these colours through thick or thin, for better or for worse, perhaps? In the end I sang along and it was fun – to be part of the group, bound by the colours, the song and camaraderie. Of course, winning the game!
Who will you sing for, with that song that runs deep through your being? Who will you sing for with the song of your heart? What is your yearning and which is the song that you will sing? Can you hear that song, deep and rich, in a world of noise reverberating around you? Can you hear a song, pure and clear, of justice and peace – a love song that echoes through the wind and the trees and holds birds afloat? Who will you sing for when the parade comes to town and there appears an unusual choice?
The journey takes Jesus and the followers to the Olive Mount and the Eastern Gate to Jerusalem, through which he will pass. But first he gets on the donkey, with its foal, and sets off on his ride. Towards the city he goes and the crowd understands. They salute him with branches and sing him their song – their Song! Who do you sing for? It is him! It is him! ‘Have mercy, Son of David, save us!’ Save them? Save them from what? The sin of which we speak so freely in such confusing manner? Save them from life that happens all round, the harsh despair they feel in their bones? Save them from despots who rule in the city and take what they want leaving them poor and bereft? What is this salvation cry, sung to the rabbi on a gentle donkey? What will he do, this Davidic son, so unlike the one they hope he will be? Will he rise up with sword and spear, leading an army so powerful to bring fear to the enemy heart in Rome? Will he conquer all in his wake and free our small tribe? With his donkey and palms, that’s a far, far cry!
Wait a moment, though, what is the choice? Who else can we sing for in this solitary parade? Well across the city in the wide open gates there is another parade, one of royalty and pomp. Who is that who comes into this city street? Who is that behind the Roman troupes, soldiers adorned and on parade, a symbol of power, glory and might? Who sits astride that large war stallion and comes in power to own the city? It’s Pilate, the Governor, the man of Rome. He rides in power, a great show of strength and demands the allegiance of citizens all. He wants good behaviour at this festival time, a Passover Feast, celebrating God’s great deliverance from bondage and strife! O the irony – celebrating deliverance from bondage and new freedom under God, before the man of Rome, who holds them bound??!!
So, who will you sing for, there’s now a choice? Will you sing for God’s Reign or that of Rome? Will you make a loud noise for the way of God – on a donkey, with rags and palms? Or, will you put your hand in with Rome; go with power and strength – the armies and weapons that hold the status quo? The safe option, of course, is to stand with the strength. They’ll protect you (well, not kill you) and while it may not get better, it shouldn’t get worse. Who will you sing for?
More than that, what is the song you sing? Is it a song of passion to change the world, a song filled with language Divine and rapturous melody harmonised in major 7th’s and 6th’s and 9th’s, dissonant and resolving or a cacophonous dissonance left hanging? Is it a song to sing in your heart to free you from fear and lead you down deep where the sacred presides? Or do you sing in a fanatical way, obsessed with some truth you need to convey to those out there who need to get in but won’t listen, won’t hear, ‘because of their sin’? Is the song you sing one that touches your heart or are you leaping on the bandwagon, possessed of the moment, caught up in the fun – a man on a donkey who rides by as people wave and sing? What do you think? Is this a clown entertaining the downtrodden crowds, giving some distraction in the midst of hard life? Is Jesus a fool on the hill who won’t hear the truth and persists in his comedic pursuit of the Reign of God? It’s an important question we ask as we sing – the song and the content and the author won’t fade away. Like the ghosts of Christmas he invades our times, nudging our conscience and feeding us lines of wisdom, that confuse our world-weary ways, turning worlds upside down so the bottom is up and the top is down.
His song, echoed on voices passionate or naïve, is a death-life song that carries him onwards and downwards on this lampooning ride to take it to Caesar and Pilate and those who collaborate in the Temple space. It’s a song of justice, a vulnerable love-shrouded cry into an unhearing world that kills the prophets and laughs into the face of those who protest the wrongs that abound. It’s un-Australian they’ll cry! – ‘Unpatriotic’, ‘political correctness gone mad’, ‘tree hugging, latte-sipping, chardonnay-swilling, ABC-listening’ and everything else that sets someone apart as a loopy fool on the hill following the lonely one into the Holy City, singing for love, for justice and compassion in an inhospitable world. They’ll take it to widows and orphans, single mums and their kids, the unemployed who feel lost, the hopelessly addicted, the despairing and vulnerable seeking asylum and refuge, the migrant wrestling with this confusing tongue and a cultural milieu still finding its voice. They’ll lampoon the older inhabitants here and shake their heads at the shame of their race and anyone different who raises a voice will be laughed out of town or ‘burned at a stake’.
Can you see that the songs merge and conspire and modulate as through a symphony where the theme undergoes transposition and variation? Can you hear the song challenged by tunes and lyrics, imposed from above, from powers that darken and avoid the light-soaked melody? Can you make out the melody in the world today, a faint hum that you need to incline towards with intention? There are many songs with wonderful words that are Divine-infused because the singer has heard the faint humming sound and listened deep within to a Spirit of melody, the poet-laureate of universe heart. Who will you sing for? What song will you sing? Will you allow the song to get into you, deep and rich, raw and profound?
The Reign of God reverberates through everything around us if we have ears to hear and eyes to see, if we open ourselves to a voice and world beyond us, beyond ourselves and our small interior world. God’s Reign permeates all things and is grounded in love and grace, free for all and hold everything deeply and gently – even in this troubled time.