Christmas this year, perhaps more than ever in recent times, will be laced with uncertainty for many at what lies ahead for themselves and their families in the new year. Reflecting on Stringfellow’s opening “biography as theology” chapter I immediately thought of the song “On to Bethlehem” by the singer/songwriter Bill Mallonee (ex-Vigilantes of Love) who marries his own personal experience to the Christmas story.
“So I’m at this wheel it’s three am
waiting for the caffeine to come around
and life rears it’s ugly head again
they say your radio’s cool and retail’s way down.
And I’d like to say I’m faithful
to the task at hand;
speaking gospel to a handful
and others with their list of demands.
It’s cold this year and I’m late on my dues
It’s cold in here ah but that’s nothing new.
My heart’s electric with your love again
so it’s on to Bethlehem.
You might surmise that I ran there
But I really only crept.
Lead me to the place where love runs wild
and then it dogs your every step.
You know how fickle my heart is
prone to wonder my Lord.
Yeah we talk but it’s at arms length
always got one eye on the door.
God wraps Himself up in human skin
for those who want to touch;
and God let them drive the nails in
for those of us who know way too much.
You come bearing all our burdens
and take Your lovers for a ride;
but we stay holed up in our cages
fashioned by our own design.”
So tell me what is your secret
what’s on your blister soul;
what is that one little secret
you know the one that has taken its toll?
‘Cause daddy’s banging on your gate again
yeah he won’t leave you alone;
got a whole lot of dry warm rooms
and the finest of homes.
You can listen to the song here:
The insecurity of his personal and professional future, and the need to keep pressing on in the midst of it all – on to Bethlehem (a Yeats reference, I’m sure). We don’t hear enough advent-themed music that dares to hitch our personal struggles onto the same wagon.