Photo Credits: Co-Blogger Luke Venhuizen
If you’re reading this blog, you’re most likely a Christian. And even if you’re not a Christian, you most likely know the basics of the Gospel narrative: God created the world, and it was good until the serpent tempted Eve into eating from the forbidden tree. With that single bite, with that single act of defiance, death entered earthly existence and mankind needed somebody to save it from those consequences. Hence, God came to earth manifest in Christ Jesus and took the punishment upon himself, dying on the cross and then coming back to life so that humanity may be restored to the flourishing state God intended pre-fall. In other words, the Gospel is the cycle through creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. That’s a story that Dordt (and Reformed churches in general) drills into our heads from Core 100 to graduation day. Why? Because it’s important. Because it’s the only truth that holds eternal significance. Because it’s the narrative we’re all living into. Because it’s the macrocosm to the microcosm that is each individual human experience.
But my trite summary didn’t evoke any emotion from you, huh?
To a certain extent, many of us have become immune to the significance of this true story. Okay, perhaps I shouldn’t speak for you. I can speak for myself, though, and I know that I’m often unable to respond properly to reminders of who Christ is and how he proved himself in his life, death, and life again. After all, I go to a Christian college, I go to church every Sunday, I go to chapel every Wednesday, and I go to P&W (praise and worship) at least once a week, sometimes three times if my schedule allows. It’s almost as if I receive some sort of immunization shot every time I attend a formal Christian gathering, putting just a little bit of the Jesus virus into my system so that I’m no longer able to catch it in full. I hear about Jesus and grace and doctrine and truth and mercy so often that I’m numb to the weight of it all.
But then my friends in Student Services brought the Gray Havens to campus last spring, and their music helped me to remember.
This musically inclined married couple loves Jesus. They love Jesus more than anything, and they want to use their talents – namely, music and storytelling – to help others love Jesus just as much as they do. In turn, they write lyrics that tell the Gospel story simply and truly, but they tell it through allegory to make it fresh. In their songs, Jesus becomes a train conductor. He becomes a man so in love with a woman that he would defy cultural customs just to show her that he loves her. He becomes a dove, a composer, and a lion that will come back again. He becomes Mary’s lamb, white as snow. And in listening to these unique, quirky takes on the Jesus story, I remembered. My sense of Christ’s identity and my consequent identity was renewed, and I felt the weight of this true narrative all over again. And I cried. And I loved it. And I listened to Gray Havens’ albums all summer long, and then Dordt brought them back last night for another on-campus concert, and I remembered all over again.
The best part? I wasn’t alone in my remembering. Many of us here on campus are connecting to these songs, resonating with the hope they offer and, in turn, resonating with each other. These allegorical Christ-stories are drawing us into community with each other, just as Christ himself always draws people into community. It’s the best type of bandwagoning/fangirling, if you ask me.
So if you’re reading this blog and you’re a Christian, or if you’re reading this blog and you’re not a Christian (so basically if you’re reading this blog), please join us in enjoying this hope made manifest in sound waves, this beloved story experienced freshly. There are hyperlinks to my personal favorite songs in the preceding paragraph, and after listening intently to those, I’m sure YouTube will suck you into its infamous black hole of related videos and you’ll be entranced for hours.
Which really wouldn’t be so bad, I don’t think.
P.S. If you’re in or around the Sioux County area this weekend, the Gray Havens are playing at LifeLight just south of Sioux Falls on Friday and Saturday. It’s free, and I recommend it, and I’ll be there, and you should be too.