Thursday, March 1, 2012

Poison & Wine: Modern Psalm for Lenten Journey

"You only know what I want you to / I know everything you don't want me to / Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine / Oh you think your dreams are the same as mine / Oh I don't love you but I always will"
(Poison & Wine, The Civil Wars)

Every year during Lent I develop a playlist for the Imago Dei Youth Ministry titled, "Modern Psalms for the Lenten Journey." This is an opportunity to intersect the biblical tension between death and resurrection with the same sort of tension pervasive in modern music. I will say, I have drawn on these playlists in difficult seasons even beyond Lent. Somehow the Spirit interweaves a sacred melody that travels back and forth, from lyric to Scripture, the ancient to the contemporary. This ritual of constructing a confessional playlist has become an annual Lenten discipline that I am grateful to be able to share with students and others interested.

That said, every year I ponder which artists to include by sifting through a variety of recommendations from students, volunteers, and personal favorites. Without fail, I find myself drawn to one song or artist whose music sets the tone for that year's playlist.

This year it is The Civil Wars and their haunting song, "Poison & Wine."

I read on their "About" section of their website reflections that uncovered some of the duet's long-standing relationship myths, i.e. that they were a married couple. They were quick to refutue, saying something to the effect, if we were we would write totally different songs.

"Oh I don't love you but I always will," a clear allusion to the tension any couple experiences when in a long-term relationship. So I wonder, why couldn't they be in a real relationship and sing this? This is not to say that I have some deep longing for "Johnny Depp" (you know you thought the same thing) and his partner, Joy Williams, to tie the knot. Rather, I am convinced this tension is actually true of any authentic relationship... include the one we may (and may not) have with Jesus?

I don't love you...I always will.

Better said, "I will never desert you..." (Mark 14:31)

Except, "I do not know this man you are talking about." (Mark 14:71).

The moment we may think our dreams and those of God's are intertwined, we are exposed of our frail discipleship. Our shallow love is uncovered and our hypocrisy revealed.

"Oh you think your dreams are the same as mine," is a prophetic lyric many of us have heard God whisper in our ears.

So we need this Lenten journey. Our disicpleship is its own civil war in need of least mine is. That said, I am grateful that while my faith in and love for Christ may not always be consistent, I can trust that his faith and love will be: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

2012 Playlist Thus Far:
1. "On Nature" (Matisyahu)
2. "Poison & Wine" (The Civil Wars)
3. "Us Against the World" (Coldplay)
4. "Man in the Mirror" (Michael Jackson)
5. "The Fall" (Gungor)
6. "The Cave" (Mumford & Sons)
7. "White Blank Page" (Mumford & Sons)
8. "Restless" (Switchfoot)
9. "Something Beautiful" (needtobreathe)
10. "Dry Bones" (Gungor)