Houstie Kisses

“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 am not sure of the context. It might have been in one of his many legendary gigs at Derryvolgie Hall and therefore touched a nerve in my vocational space as a University Chaplain at the time. Wherever it was, 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 serve. 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. It is about living a subversive counter intuitive way that brings shalom and well being to ALL. 

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! In these words you touch the pastoral and prophetic of what I am called to do. I will get back into this vocation of mine and allow the Spirit to use your song to put the unpredictable wind in my sails!


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