Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Advent Day Four: The Rebel Jesus

                                   

All the streets are filled with laughter and light and the music of the season,
And the merchants' windows are all bright with the faces of the children;
And the families hurrying to their homes while the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around their hearths and tables, giving thanks for God's graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus.

Well they call him by 'the Prince of Peace' and they call him by 'the Savior,'
And they pray to him upon the seas and in every bold endeavor;
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold as their faith in him increases,
But they've turned the nature that I worship in from a temple to a robber's den,
In the words of the rebel Jesus.

Well we guard our world with locks and guns and we guard our fine possessions,
And once a year when Christmas comes we give to our relations;
And perhaps we give a little to the poor if the generosity should seize us --
But if any one of us should interfere in the business of why they are poor,
We get the same as the rebel Jesus.

Now pardon me if I have seemed to take the tone of judgement,
For I've no wish to come between this day and your enjoyment.
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil, there's a need for anything that frees us,
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer, from a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus.

***

I first heard this song by Jackson Browne (listen to it here) on the Chieftains' "Bells of Dublin" CD.  Obviously not your traditional Christmas song, it's a call from a non-Christian to Christians, not to forget the needs of the poor in the midst of our holiday festivities.  He's not begrudging believers the opportunity to celebrate -- as he puts it, "In a life of hardship and of earthly toil, there's a need for anything that frees us" -- but he's reminding us that there's a world out there that needs help and we must not just give charitably, but go further and challenge unjust systems and structures in society that keep people from reaching their full potential.









6 comments:

  1. The close of the third stanza chills me:

    And perhaps we give a little to the poor if the generosity should seize us --
    But if any one of us should interfere in the business of why they are poor,
    We get the same as the rebel Jesus.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that's a little too close to the bone, isn't it. Very prophetic.

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  2. I'm with Tim above. That really hit me. I'd never heard this song. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. You're welcome, Betsy. It's not exactly "sweet Baby Jesus" but I really like it. It makes you think.

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  3. Shared this on Twitter, Jeannie. That is a song that makes me say, "Whoa!"

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    Replies
    1. I know. It makes me a little uncomfortable, which I think is the point of it.

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