Early morning, April four Shot rings out in the Memphis sky. Free at last, they took your life They could not take your pride.
U2 continues with the chorus: “In the name of love / What more in the name of love.” They repeat these words over and over again, astonished and overwhelmed by the lengths to which love calls us to go. From 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, the song bears the title “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and easily slots into my Top 10 list of all-time favorite U2 songs. It’s one of those songs that I never skip when those first rifts from The Edge’s guitar bloom on my radio.
I love this song because it is about a profoundly misunderstood concept, but which U2 understands profoundly in their lyrics. The song is about martyrdom* and the reason someone would die in witness to a cause. For U2, there is only one reason that could ever lead someone down the martyr’s path, and that is Love. Continue reading “They Could Not Take Your Pride”→
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I never pass up a chance to talk about the Gospel according to John. This past Sunday’s Gospel text was John 2:1-11, which spurred this article published in the local paper.
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On my wall, I have a collage of pictures from a college choir trip to England in 2005. In one picture, 15 friends and I are standing in front of the Tor of Glastonbury, a ruined tower on the top of a hill in Southern England. It’s a great picture—the four men and eleven women are all smiles because the late-spring sun is shining and because even the dullest blade of English grass is greener than the greenest blade of American grass. Recently, I looked at the picture and realized that fifty percent of the people in it have gotten married or engaged in the last four years. Whenever I get a new invitation or see wedding pictures on Facebook, a special kind of happiness grips me, a happiness reserved for such outward signs of God’s love as marriage.
In a Christian context, a marriage displays to the world the best attempt human beings can make at emulating the love of God. Marriage unites two people in a commitment (a better word may be “covenant”) to love and cherish one another so that the world is enriched by their love. Indeed, a couple truly meant to commit themselves to each other shows their love for God by loving one another. Because God’s love is so intimately involved, marriage is a calling, just like any other action taken on behalf of God. The celebration of this love, upon which the marriage is founded, is the wedding.
The wedding celebrates the union of two people in the love of God. How wonderfully appropriate, then, is it that Jesus first reveals his glory at a wedding feast. The location of this revelation reminds me that Jesus brings people back into union with God. This is one way to characterize his mission—he reunites me with every good thing I have lost through years of indifference and antipathy. By accepting the love of God in Jesus Christ, I find cause to celebrate the fact that, while I may have broken my relationship with God, God has never broken God’s covenant with me. The commitment God made to Abraham and his descendants finds new life in me when I discover the possibility of reunion with God through the love of Christ. Just like the wedding feast, this discovery necessitates celebration. But just like a marriage, this celebration can last a lifetime.
Imagine the beauty of a life lived in the full knowledge that God is committed to loving you. What would you do in response to that commitment? How would your life change? Jesus changes the water in the jars to wine, and not just any wine, but wine that is superior to what was originally served. In the same way, living into the covenant God has made with you brings change. You will be changed. You will become better wine than before. You will be a sign of the glory of God in the world. If this is not cause for celebration, nothing is.
When I attend the wedding of a friend, I always remember this story of Jesus at the wedding of Cana. His appearance at the wedding and the sign he performs to reveal his glory attune me to feeling the joy that spills over from the celebration in heaven when people on earth find the love of God in one another. When Jesus calls us into union with himself, we can share in the lifelong celebration of being Jesus’ disciples, the lifelong knowledge that we are becoming better wine than we were before, and the lifelong commitment to experience the love of God that continues to be present and active in the world.