MUMFORD & SONS - THE WELCOME AT THE RESTART

Lyric For The Day 12.11.12 from To Darkness by Mumford & Sons

Mumford

“But oh, my heart was flawed

I knew my weakness

So hold my hand

Subscribe me not to darkness”

-     From To Darkness by Mumford & Sons

This is a Psalm-like Mumford song that deals with their usual theme of honesty and vulnerability. It is a cry that in spite of our weakness and flaws that God would have mercy. It is in essence the Gospel!

I didn’t learn much from my history teacher in school but one thing has lingered with me ever since. One of my teachers told us that
every great man and woman in history was great because they were aware of their weaknesses. It led me away to look deep into my genetic makeup, my social formation, the theology of my faith community and seek out where there were flaws and weaknesses to counteract and seek forgiveness, repentance and mercy. Subscribe me not to darkness or as David put it in another crafted song (Psalm
51) a few thousand years ago, “Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.”


Lyric For The Day 18.10.12 - from Babel by Mumford & Sons

Babel

“Know my weakness, know my voice.

I believe in grace and choice.


I know that perhaps my heart is farce

but I know that I'll be born without a mask”

-     From Babel by Mumford and Sons

Number 1 record Babel is another theology strewn record from Mumford and Sons and this line “I believe in grace and choice” has been a much quoted line. God’s grace and human choice is a tension that theologians have debated over for centuries. In Mumford’s context it is a subjective line of a man who is acutely aware of his own human weakness and vulnerability, his responsibility for the things he does. However, alive alongside his weakness there is this transcendent interruption of God’s grace, God’s love, God’s redeeming intervention. In the end the absurd disguise that his actions reveal will eventually be rid of and he will be born again as his
real self. In the end the song is about hopeful grace in a confession of slavery to fake.


MUMFORD & SONS - BABEL

Babel

Babel takes off in the same distinct banjo driven organic hoedown style that made us fall in love with Mumford & Sons in the first place. Some are already talking about how the band’s third album
will be a real test as they need to somehow shift this sound forward somewhere or end up repeating themselves in some cul-de-sac. There might be some truth in that observation but, first of all, it is the second not the third record that we are reviewing here and, secondly, it is a very lazy listening to the record at hand. Yes, the same components are in play but there are a few different shades from Sigh No More and for me what we have on Babel is a band who have matured and have become more aware of how to use their sound for whatever reasons they might have to use it. There is a little more passion and intensity, anger and delicacy. It is as though they are more able to be tender and more able to rage too. The confidence that comes from the success of their debut pays rich dividends in chapter 2 of their story.

The content of the songs hasn’t changed a lot either. The lyrics are written by a man whose whole life has been saturated in the big questions of the cosmos and how they touch directly the personal
decisions of the ordinary day.  Marcus Mumford’s contribution to the pilgrimage of faith is significant because few other writers are as honest and as contextually relevant both culturally and personally. This stuff is honest and hopeful. These songs believe. They “believe
in grace and choice”
and soundtrack the shadows and chinks of light in
between. The kind of spirituality at work on Babel is one that is torn with temptation and pulled one way and the other by hopeless wanderings. This is earthy stuff about being dragged down by the relentless world of 2012 and seeking to find some healing, escape and redemption. Ghosts That We Knew perhaps catches the whole record in a half verse – “So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light/Cause oh that gave me such a fright/But I will hold as long as you like/Just promise me we'll be alright.” Mumford is always aware of his human frailties, his limited time on the planet, his desire to contribute something while he has the chance and the need for transcendent help that he sees best on his knees, where he finds
himself on more than once occassion in these songs. I Will Wait is his Psalm for modern times. There is a constant thread to learn and to seek and follow and love the Light as in Below My Feet’s mantra, “Keep the earth below my feet/For all my sweat, my blood runs weak/Let me learn from where I have been/So keep my eyes
to serve, my hands to learn/Well keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.”

If we don’t get ahead of ourselves to ask what these boys will do in another three years then this is a pretty perfect second album. It gives more away with every listen. For those with ears to hear it is a spiritual exercise on every play.






ROLL AWAY THE STONE - MUMFORD & SONS

Mumford Roll Away

“Cause you told me that I would find a hole

Within the fragile substance of my soul

And I have filled this void with things unreal

And all the while my character it steals”

-         from Roll Away The Stone by Mumford & Sons

This idea of a hole in the human soul comes from St. Augustine in the 4th Century and then later Blaise Pascal in the Seventeenth. Augustine wrote, "You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." Following a mystical experience in late 1654, Pascal Blaise had a "second conversion", abandoned his scientific work, and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. Pascal put it this way, "There is a god shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, and only God can fill it."

Mumford and Sons seem to be suggesting that filling this hole with the wrong stuff can not only not really fill it but actually damage the character in your soul. In another song Awake My Soul they sing in a very similar theme:

 

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die

Where you invest your love, you invest your life”

 

On Sigh No More they sing:

 

“Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,

It will set you free

Be more like the man, you were made to be.

 

This would seem to suggest that the freedom we were created to be can be messed with if we fill it with the wrong stuff or if we invest our lives in the wrong places. There are many things on a daily basis vying for us to consume and use to find fulfilment or freedom. Taking care of what we use is crucial if we wish to find what we are meant to be.


Lyric For The Day 6.2.11 from Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons

Mumford 

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
You were made to meet your maker”

-      From Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons

It is hard to beat a steeping of your soul in the spiritual stimulation and provocation of the wonderful Mumford and Sons album Sigh No More. For a reminder of these potent lines I must give thanks to my former and much missed comrade from Fitzroy Whitney Wilkinson. Whitters Face Booked the line “Where you invest your love, you invest your life” today just when I needed a little poetic something for Sunday’s sermon.As with all Mumford songs there is a take-it-as-written anchor of the Divine. Here, the relationship with Maker is central to humanity’s purposes and where we invest our love is the outworking.

As I pondered the line in the context of my sermon on Colossians 3 where Paul tells the believers to “put on love” I started to question the definitions of love. I have to believe that Paul’s love that he sees worked out in the community through “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” as well as forgiveness, is a different kind of love than the one that the greedy businessman uses to exploit others to make himself rich. Surely that is desire or lust or something other. Love at its very core needs to be selfless.

Yet, that doesn’t negate the effectiveness of Mumford and Sons’ challenge. What are we investing in? It’ll be the vital conversation when we meet our Maker!

Roll Away The Stone

Mumford and Sons Communion Liturgy  

Timshel by Mumford and Sons

Stocki's sermons on Colossians


THE MUMFORD AND SONS COMMUNION LITURGY

This is a wee liturgy I put together for our Sunday morning communion at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church based around the Mumford and Sons song Roll Away The Stone...

Ashbridge_in_africa_06_254 

There is a theological gem stealing past the dragons at the door of radio, television, internet and music press just now. From a band out of London called Mumford and Sons come economical, poetic couplets of devastating spiritual potency -

“It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works’
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with the restart”

It is a succinct definition, in pop song, of the crux of what makes Christianity unique. It is not what you do on the road to recovery that can change your heart; it is God’s welcome of grace at the restart. God loves us first. It is his act of love that redeems the lost cause. It is unmerited. It is unconditional. It is offered without need for a prior effort to sort it out. The welcome itself sorts it out and the efforts that follow are different as a result! Almost too good to be true. Definitely the only hope for the humans that the Mumford boys call “giddy things” (well the men anyway!), hearts that are “never pure” and souls that have “fragile substance.”

This table, Christ’s table, in this sacrament that remembers his death is our welcome. It is a symbol of Christ’s self giving act that releases the potential of grace but more than that. There is something mysterious about this act that cleanses and strengthens, that changes our heart. If you lean in and listen you will hear that welcome, as Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 11 v 28-30 - Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." It’s God whispering, “come on in... take off your coat... take the weight off your soul... let me wash your feet...”

And in that welcome... by grace through the work of Jesus... the restart...

PRAYER

Lord, we come to you as Jesus did that very first last Supper

To give you our thanks

Thanks for this bread and this wine that we will take to remember

To remember that he who was first became last

So that we who should have been last could become first

Not because we took a long walk to work out our recovery

But because you welcome us into your love

That are not just words spoken

But actions of love demonstrated

Lord God we give you thanks

 

And Lord we seek forgiveness

For the bridges we have burned

Lord as we come towards your welcome

We remember the bridges burned

Bridges of justice across the world

Bridges of reconciliation across this city

Bridges of community around the neighbourhood

Bridges of the body here in your Church

Bridges of friendship in our closest circles

Bridges of family nuclear and extended

Bridges in our own psyche

Bridges towards you

Forgive us

Change our hearts

In this act of welcome...

AMEN

 

THE SACRAMENT – we played Pierce Pettis’s song You Did That For Me

 

THE RISING PRAYER

God we have enjoyed your welcome

We have languished in it

And so we rise

To continue in the heart of your welcome

To go and take the long road home

Believing that as we travel towards home

Home often comes to meet us on the road

As we go

Help us to be bridge builders

In our world

In our city

In our community

In our Church

In our family

In our souls

In our relationship with you

We pray that this welcome will have changed our hearts...

In Jesus name

AMEN

 

 


MUMFORD & SONS - SIGH NO MORE

Mumford
My goodness, I am still trying to come to terms with this record. On first listen I wondered had I just fallen in with the NEXT BIG REVELATION! I had heard about these guys for some time and was frustrated that the album took so long. Then they did a gig here in Belfast and I got a significant amount of raving text messages. On first listen I started asking people was I bonkers or was this the next big thing? No one has disagreed and indeed many have said, “Even better than you think!” I heard the rustic bounce of what’s current, the deftly poetic writing of Dylan and the theological depth of U2. To seek their contemporaries it is America’s Fleet Foxes and England’s Noah and The Whale meeting on the island between them; there are hints of Irish folk and tinges of Glen Hansard’s The Frames.

 

The songwriting is quality and the lyrics are subtle and profound carriers of theological truth. The overall theme seems to be about making sense between humanity and God. The first lines of the album are Serve God love me and men/
This is not the end/Lived unbruised we are friends/And I
m sorry.” There is a confessing of mankind’s weakness as in “man is a giddy thing” but a hopefulness that there is a love that can set the human being free, Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/It will set you free/Be more like the man you were made to be.” These last lines might be a prophetic provocation to the anti Jesus, more  Pharisee-like version of love that has masqueraded with demonic effect in many a Christian Church. Mumford and Sons declare that the authentic love of God will be found where freedom results! And we are not even out of the first song, Sigh No More, yet!

 

Roll Away The Stone gives the album its anchoring doctrinal belief, “It seems that all my bridges have been burned/But you say 'That's exactly how this grace thing works/It's not the long walk home that will change this heart/But the welcome I receive with every start.” These lines made me literally jump on first listen. This is as succinct and poetic a theological pop song verse as Bono has ever tried to write. The rest of the album has lashings of love and hope without ever losing site of our human frailties. The ultimate aim is to find out what the Maker made us to be. We already saw that in Sigh No More. Here it is again in The Cave, “Cause I need freedom now/And I need to know how/To live my life as it's meant to be.” That keeps pointing back to the Maker whom we were made for (Awake My Soul) and whom we’ll find dependence in (The Cave).

 

It’s a soul stimulating beauty of a record and they tell me they are even better live. Are they the next big thing? Who knows but what a debut!