I'm listening to David Bowie's seminal Station to Station. I'm doing this because it's fab and a new deluxe version is coming out next week with the much bootlegged Nassau gig all digitally tidied up and packaged along with it. I'm also doing it as a displacement activity from sermon preparation. But what do you know if God's not there in the groove saying 'how about reflecting on this...?'
Got to keep searching and searching
Oh, what will I be believing and who will connect me with love?
Wonder who, wonder who, wonder when
Bowie sings on the title track - having mentioned Hebrew symbols that he's pictured drawing on the CD sleeve, in passing. Then on Word on a Wing, he sings
Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing
And I'm trying hard to fit among your scheme of things
It's safer than a strange land, but I still care for myself
And I don't stand in my own light
Lord, lord, my prayer flies like a word on a wing
My prayer flies like a word on a wing
Does my prayer fit in with your scheme of things?
suggesting that maybe the person who's walked into his life out of his dreams in the verse isn't a lover but a divine presence. Of course, Bowie's praying in the midst of his cocaine addiction and living the fast life, his gaunt frame draped in a white suit and swirl of cigarette smoke.
Bowie knows everything he's achieved - and he's at the height of his fame and creativity in 1976 when this record is almost thrown together in LA - is a puff of smoke, 'an age of grand illusion'; the golden years cannot last and even in the midst of them 'there's my baby, lost that's all/once I'm begging you save her little soul...i believe, O Lord, I believe all the way.' The glare of the neon and celebrity makes him long to 'run for the shadows in these golden years'
In short, this is an album of spiritual longing set to some of the greatest tunes ever committed to vinyl.
And suddenly, my half-formed reflections on Nathanael begin to take shape. As Jesus collects disciples, he invites people to come and see what's going on around him; Philip fetches his mate Nathanael. It's possible that the way Jesus refers to him indicates that he's a bit of a zealot, an Israelite who's looking for a better world which certainly isn't going to be found anywhere in Galilee where he grew up. Bowie sings what Nathanael might have been thinking: 'Just because I believe don't mean I don't think as well'.
But Jesus invites him to see if that new world might be found in him.
The great thing about this story in John 1 is that Jesus isn't inviting any of these folk to join an institution or come to a meeting. Andrew and John(?) ask where Jesus is going and he says 'come and see'. He's on a journey and he invites people to walk with him and discover stuff along the way. This is the essence of mission - inviting people to come and see.
Have we found anything worth inviting our mates to look at?