Where the light shines through

Jesus, resurrection, wounds, light shines through

There’s a wounded person in heaven which means all wounded people may find their way there which is all of us.

After Jesus rose from the dead on what we now celebrate as Easter Sunday, it wasn’t long before he was showing the doubtful ones, which is all of us sometimes, the scars in his body so they would know that even in death there is life, even in brokenness there is victory.

I may not stand with Thomas and see the nail and spear scars with my own eyes, but the story rings resoundingly true, and as I’ve put my trust there, my own wounds have found meaning, healing and reconciliation.

The greater story – of God become human to bring all humans to God – makes sense of an otherwise senseless world. If God was just good but distant then what in the world is going on? But if God is close and wounded like us, for us, with us, then there is no quick fix but an everlasting answer.

Even in these dark coronavirus days we find light shining through the fresh wounds and thickening scars of a suffering world. Prayer where there was no prayer, gratitude where there was only blame, unity where there was only division, care where there was carelessness, time where there was only rush.

And for the sick and dying, we cannot look and find any worldly light other than courage and dignity and sorrow, but his scars let light in nevertheless.

This is not an attempt to find meaning in the meaningless. This is finding that light has been shining through a wounded people and planet always and at the fullness of time focused like a searchlight on one person’s perfect, divine expression of this.

As you take up his wounds, his life, his light, they become your own; his journey becomes your journey, and you know where he is today….

Mr Blue Sky brightens Target’s commercials

I’ve seen a few online forums among the younger generation pondering the origins of the song currently backing Target’s Australian television commercials.

After extensive remembering, and despite the doubts of various family members, I have correctly identified the song as none other than the Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr Blue Sky (from Out of the Blue, 1977). Apparently the band’s main songwriter Jeff Lynne had suffered writer’s block while seeking to write tracks for the album in a rainy Switzerland. The sun came out, and so did the song.

I can’t say I was a big ELO fan back in the late 70s (I was sill pursuing Led Zeppelin and smuggling Eagles cassettes home in my sock), but no one could miss their constant stream of hits on the radio and I find the Target ads plunging me into a strangely euphoric recollection of youth. Not that I’m old. Enjoy:

Brush with advertising fame

B.W.A.F # 1: The new Pizza Hut ad where four delivery boys hop out of four identical Pizza Hut Morris Minis and walk into houses – filmed on Young St, Annandale a few blocks from home. Passed them making the ad while taking someone to the airport… No free pizza unfortunately.

B.W.A.F # 2: The Kit Kat ad with a guy impersonating an amp while people try out guitars in a guitar store – filmed in Billy Hyde pretty much next to our church, Eternity. They even ‘hired’ our car park while filming for the day. No free guitars and no free Kit Kats unfortunately.

I haven’t had a brush with Old Spice yet, but I’m working on it…

Utterance has no commercial blog for profit arrangements with these companies but all offers considered….

Even men who think they’re Jesus respond to kindness

Came across this old song that first appeared on the Strawbs self-titled album in 1969 and was released as a single.

It reminds me of a few people I know and what I like most in the lyrics is the simple invitation of hospitality given to someone who is quite delusional. Kindness matters, even to Jesus.

Not sure about the pint of blood reference – maybe a beer too many. Oh, and the song was banned by the BBC… how times have changed.

The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
Dave Cousins

He came into the shop and looked me straight between the eyes
And said ‘You know I’m Jesus’, and I must have looked surprised
Because he said ‘Please don’t be hasty, no-one understands
But I’ve got a way to prove it’ and he lifted up his hands.

He was the man who called himself Jesus.

Read More »

Mother reminds world of Justin’s Christian origins

“No 15-year-old wants to be around his mother 24/7. And no mother wants to be around her 15-year-old 24/7, either.”

Sounds like a pretty down to earth comment really and the interesting thing is that it was made by Pattie Mallette, the mother of 16-year-old pop star, Justin Bieber.

Ms Mallette has been in the news this week for reminding the world of her son’s Christian origins. In a discussion about the star’s commitment to remain a virgin until marriage, his mother said, ‘He’s expressed his desire to stay pure, and honour women, and treat women with respect. So hopefully that stays valid.’

Apart from the slightly obscene aspect of the world discussing a 16-year-old’s virginity, it is an intersting insight into ridiculous fame crashing headlong into real people in real family.

Pattie Mallette was just 18 when she became pregnant with Justin, who was born on March 1, 1994, in Stratford, Ontario. She worked low paying office jobs as she raised Justin as a single mother.

While Justin taught himself  to play the piano, guitar and trumpet by the age of 12, Pattie began posting videos of his performances on YouTube with a clear strategy in mind.

It seems that she had a strong Christian faith and at some point, as many parents do, had in a very real way ‘given’ her son over into God’s hands, seeing him as a possible modern day prophet Samuel.Read More »

Jesus keeps buzzing around

Waiting to cross Parramatta Rd, I innocently checked the posters for upcoming bands at the Annandale Hotel.

Tucked away as support band for The Meanies is the triune named Stumblin Jesus Mosquito.

Last week it was Jesus as a giraffe in a contemporary art exhibition, this week… I’m not quite sure…

And then while trying to work out who the Stumblin Jesus Mosquitoes are (rumour says it’s the Wollongong band, Tumbleweed, incognito) I came across an ad for an album by Brisbane band, Violent Soho. The album title – Jesus Stole My Girlfriend (probably not a bad result).

Deep into underground band territory, it’s comforting to find that Jesus is still omnipresent. Just as well he is unconditional in his love as well. PH

‘I was born blind… because he love me so’

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s album, Gurrumul, is one of the most significant Australian recordings of recent times.

Blind since birth, he plays right-handed strung guitars left handed and sings with a clear, pure voice in Gälpu, Gumatj, Djambarrpuynu and English.

Also known as Gudjuk, he is from the Gumatj nation, his mother from the Gälpu nation, first nations peoples from North East Arnhemland.

Listening to the album again today, these words encouraged me from the song Gurrumul History:

‘I was born blind, and I don’t know why
God knows why, because he loves me so
as I grew up, my spirit knew…’

Gurrumul hopes that ‘Yolngu people enjoy and celebrate these songs forever, and Balanda (non-indigenous) not only enjoy but learn from them.’ PH

My hair like Jesus wore it, hallelujah I adore it

God-spotting, yeah man.

I’ll admit I’ve never seen Hair, the musical. Too young for the sixties, too old for the remakes. So I’ve never come across these lyrics from the musical:

My hair like Jesus wore it,
Hallelujah, I adore it…
Hair, hair, hair, hair…
As God can grow it, my hair 

I do know that you wouldn’t usually describe Hair as a musical encouraging  belief in God so it is nice, all these years later, to notice that He made an appearance and did receive credit for growing hair. As I recall, His Son also said that he even knows the ever-changing numbers of hairs on our heads. A sign of His care for us.

This all started when I saw ‘my hair like Jesus wore it…’ as a link and heading to an article on body image in various newspapers. Oh, and it was spotting Jesus in such a context that got my attention, not the body image topic, as important as that is…

Anyway, I’ll quit while I’m ahead (or, more correctly, while I still have a head of hair…) PH

Hello Switchfoot, it’s a hurricane of a tour!

Okay, so maybe Saturday is music day for Utterance, but I couldn’t fail to mention that Switchfoot are about to tour Australia as well.

This genre-defying Christian band from San Diego will play The Hi-Fi, Brisbane on April 21; The Billboard, Melbourne, April 22; and The Forum, Sydney, April 23.

Here’s what Moshtix has to say about their concerts:

‘…their latest album Hello Hurricane, which was featured in USA Today’s Fall Pick for most awaited album, has a far more edgy vibe to it than their previous albums. Packed full of songs you want to die singing, Switchfoot are back with a fighting spirit while still retaining their moniker of hope and optimism. Although Switchfoot have never fit any of the genre boxes, the band find that diversity is their strength and that they operate at their best during their infamous and energetic live shows. Expect a night of melodic crunch with densely layered sound featuring some electronic experimentation, often driven by heart-pumping guitar riffs, with a few softer ballads thrown in as well.’

Switchfoot walk the fine line of holding Christian beliefs while creating their art in a secular environment, but there is no missing the Only Begotten’s Spirit in all they do. Tickets seem to be going fast so head to Moshtix now. If you are under 18, you’ll need an over 25-year-old guardian to attend the show as these are licenced venues. I could be available if you’ll buy my ticket… only kidding! (I’ll buy my own…).

So Switchfoot fans, put your favourite lyrics into a comment on this post, and keep the Hurricane turning. PH

Free Newsboys song downloads

Newsboys are one of Australia’s most successful Christian bands although I’m not sure if there are still any Aussies in the line-up since front-man Peter Furler handed over to Michael Tait (formerly of DC Talk) last year.

The band won’t be the same (for me) without that raw Australian feel out front but Furler is still involved behind the scenes so it will be interesting to see where the band heads and how they are received in Oz.

In the meantime, check out a couple of their new songs that you can download for free from the Hope 102.3 website.

Newsboys are performing at Hillsong Convention Centre, Sydney, on Tuesday April 6. Tickets are $40.

Can we co-exist downtown and in the church

I’ve never listened to singer Patty Griffin but the title of her latest album, Downtown Church, grabbed my attention, being part of an inner city church myself.

Bernard Zuel opens his Saturday SMH review of the album with words that give us great insight into the intersection of faith and culture. Zuel, as far as I know, is not a person of religious persuasion, making his words all the more instructive:

“…this is not an album for Sunday morning coming down but for coming up. It’s a gospel record for the not-necessarily religious by a woman in the prime of her songwriting and singing life who grew up Catholic but understands that faith (held and lost) and redemption (sought but not always found) aren’t just matters of pews and pulpits.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Bernard. One day I hope you’ll discover for yourself that Christians aren’t (all) plastic and religious but can be real and honest and broken and hurting and alive and full of faith all at the same time.

He concluded his review, commenting on some of the tracks on the album, with further, almost prophetic, insight:

“…that special ache Griffin specialises in: neither outright sadness nor comfortably accommodated acceptance. That they fit seamlessly within this quasi-religious setting explains why Griffin can co-exist in downtown and the church – and make you feel like you could too.”

Better find me a Patty Griffin album. Oh, and by the way, Bernard, I might be able to introduce you to a ‘downtown’ church you may enjoy. PH

Off to Bali with strings in tune

Tomorrow I join a bunch of young people from our church community, and later from other churches, on a short trip to Bali where we partner with local people to run a very special children’s home.

We go with great humility to encourage, support, learn from and, hopefully, contribute to an awesome team of people – Indonesian and Australian – who make Eternity Blessed Children’s Home a reality.

We’ll take the kids to the beach; visit disadvantaged rural families; paint a wall; share in church; listen, laugh and cry with the workers and hopefully get a few moments to soak in the beauty of Bali. 

We are taking a guitar because music is a universal language and some of our team are gifted in this area. For years we’ve just tossed our acoustic in the back seat, no case, and never thought twice. Suddenly we realised this would not be good on a plane!Read More »