Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday with U2

U2, “Window in the Skies,” off 18 album

The shackles are undone, the bullets quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun will keep us when there’s none
The rule has been disproved, the stone it has been moved
The grave is now a groove, all debts are removed

Chorus: Oh can’t you see what love has done?

This song is from the more obscure end of the U2 catalogue. It appears on the 18 album which has 16 old songs, followed by two new ones, “Window in the Skies,” and “The Saints are Coming” (with Green Day). An album saved from being greatest hits! The song was released as a single, making it to number 1 in Canada and only sung live once.

While obscure, theologically the lyrics do a lot of work. They speak of resurrection – “stone it has been moved, the grave is now a groove.” They pick up a number of Old Testament motifs – “bullets quit the gun” has echoes of swords into ploughshares (Isaiah 2:4), while “the debts are removed” clicks with Jubilee images, words which introduce Jesus ministry (Luke 4:18-19), and echo the dreams of Isaiah ( Isaiah 61:1,2; 58:6). Resurrection begins God’s new reign of peace and justice. Everything changes.

Interestingly, it might be that for U2, Resurrection is tied very tightly to Ascension with the line “love left a window in the skies.” While traditionally Christians celebrate 40 days between Resurrection and before Ascension, this is based on the Acts narrative. Different Gospels are more ambiguous about an actual timeline, making worth pondering a closer tying together of Resurrection and Ascension as a fused activity.

There are two videos of “Window in the skies.” One uses footage of nearly 100 clips of other famous musicians performing in concert. The clips are, very cleverly, edited together so that their movements match up with the U2 song, while U2 appear in the crowds as fans. It suggests that U2 are playing homage to a long line of music history. (Or, cynically, that U2 are placing themselves in a long history of famous musicians.)

Again, this is interesting theologically, for it suggests another way to understand resurrection, through a long history, a tradition not musical but saint. Not saint as in perfect, but saint as in fellow believer. Faith in resurrection comes not just because I believe in “stone it has been moved” some 2000 years ago. I believe because I see resurrection life in others, in acts of grace and compassion, in love of enemies (“love makes strange enemies”). Those early disciples, together, through each others trembling testimony, gradually come to believe. In so doing, “can’t you see what love has done” is expressed, personified even, through a long history. That’s the wonder of resurrection.

Something not only for life, but for living.

For entire U2 at Easter catalogue keep coming back over next few days of Easter (Maundy Thursday is here, Good Friday is here, Holy Saturday is here). For more of my U2 and theology reflections check the backcatalogue. For another popular culture take on Easter, see my Holy week at the movies.

Posted by steve at 04:08 PM

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.