Who Do You Sing, Dance and Cheer For?
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 helped sort me and others out!
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 him and the followers to the Olive Mount and the city gate through which he will pass. But first some instructions to a couple of men, ‘There’s a donkey down the road; bring it to me.’ They go and they find just as he said and the one who owns knows the deal and hands over the reins. It’s a young colt not yet ridden, a more placid beast you won’t find. He gets on the colt and sets off on his ride. Towards the city he goes and the crowd understands. They salute him with palms 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 town and take what they want leaving them poor and bereft? What is this salvation cry, sung to the rabbi on a gentle colt? 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 justice and love against the power of Rome? Will you make a loud noise for the way of God – on a donkey, with rags and palms? 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 way? 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 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’.
There’s a song that serenades him into the city, a song of hope and mercy and justice that people cry from their hearts. Do they really know what they sing or to whom? Do they get the deeper significance of his riding into the city of God turned upside down by the power of Rome and the subtlety of power that works for or against the common good? I imagine that they can only imagine how this will end when Pilate gets wind of this upstart Rabbi. If he’s in a good mood he might laugh it off as a stupid, childish joke. If he’s tense and unsure of himself, he might invoke the Roman way and stop this childish nonsense – no-one, but no-one, pokes fun at Rome! Of greater concern are the religious ones. They’re closer to the ground and their position more subtle and precarious. If he causes trouble it could come back to roost and the status quo might be lost. Surely it will be better to sacrifice one person for the sake of the whole? Lose him and everyone will feel less stress – surely?
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?
If we ponder, a moment, Jesus and his mission – what drove him? What filled his being such that he gave everything he had and was to this cause of God? How loud and reverberant was God’s song in his ears? How did he nurture the song so that he heard it day in, day out, when life was challenging and fear welled up? He listened when the going was true and people caught a vision, encouraged and healed, saved from all that held them bound and lost, alienated from God. The song must have been mantric and deeply embedded into his being, so deep and rich it held all other songs in its liberating power, unleashing their potential and setting them free. His song echoes through epochs and eras releasing a voice of love and justice to fight, non-violently of course, for freedom and grace for all – this is the heart of God, the rhythmic, melodic foundation of the song. Martin Luther King Jr, Oscar Romero, Ghandi, Pussy Riot and countless others have sung the song, literally and metaphorically, and paid a price when the world can’t afford to hear words of freedom and peace and violently oppose the voice and the song and the God at the heart of justice and love.
Is there a song that comes to mind, a song your heart wants to sing or hear? Is there a poem, a piece of art, a story that will take you further in singing the song of Jesus?
Some Questions to help you Reflect…
- As you read through the passage of Mark’s Story what parts of the story leaped out at you? Are there any parts that you want to explore more or that speak fresh thoughts to you?
- What in the reflection made you feel positive, hopeful – what was good for you?
What in the reflection caused you concern, anxiety or confusion – what was less good to/for you?
- Do you have any curiosity questions’ questions of wonder you might explore?
- What next for you?