“And the parsons planting kisses on the babies at the door
And I’m wondering why I bothered and what I came here for
I’m absolutely broken with no tears of mine to cry
Saying prayers for those in prison and for those afraid to die”
- Kisses At The Door by Brian Houston
When Brian Houston released his The Valley record I dismissed this song as really nice but of little prophetic consequences.
Then one night as he sang it live, it literally came alive. I have no memory of the context. I imagine it was somewhere intimate and his gift was connecting with my vocational environment in some personal way. Anyway this chorus came thudding through and opened a door in my soul to ask for much more from my life and ministry.
As a “parson” I was too well aware how inane my profession can be if it is done to be nice. The devil settles for nice. The devil loves nice. Sunday mornings need to be way beyond nice. Sunday mornings need to touch a community of people who are hurting, losing loved ones, stressed at work, frightened of their own failings and doubts. If that service doesn’t bring comfort to the broken hearted and tearful then I should just stay in bed and so should they.
Beyond that I need to be about Jesus business. I hear sermons that are a little bit right. They tell us we need Jesus to save us from ourselves, our sins and hell. I have no doubt that Jesus does indeed save. Yet, if he only saves us to live nice lives, doing no harm to our neighbours as we wait for some celestial eternity then we have missed the Gospel he lived and preached. Again, the devil would settle for that!
Jesus saves - absolutely. You know I believe it. But I am not saved for my own self indulgent gain. I am saved in order to love, to forgive and to service. I am saved to sacrifice myself. Jesus was about a Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. That kingdom is not about kissing babies after the benediction, though that might be a nice thing to do. The kingdom is visiting the prisoner, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and welcoming the stranger. That last one seems a biggie in a world that lambasts strangers as spongers and sends them back to their damnation.
Unless I am doing that and preaching that and making Church about that then Brian is right to wonder why he bothered. So, a song in a context can fuel the vocational energy, challenge and inspire. Thank you Brian for this one!
Brian Houston plays The Empire Music Hall, Belfast on August 27th 2015 at 8pm.