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Advent Day 11: Welcome Home, Son

Peel the scars from off my back

I don't need them anymore

You can throw them out or keep them in your mason jars

I've come home

Welcome Home, Son, Radical Face


This song is pleasingly moody and atmospheric, and the ambiguous lyrics lend themselves to all kinds of interpretations. You can read it as a reflection on death and loss, a story about returning to one’s childhood home, a recollection of painful memories or perhaps a combination of all of those things. The song also seems to echo the parable of the prodigal son, particularly in the way it talks about the son’s homecoming in terms of hope and healing.

The domestic imagery in both of these narratives (and in so many other works of art and literature) speaks powerfully of our desire to find a place of refuge, to be safe, to feel loved, and to know that we belong. Whether it’s the mason jars in ‘Welcome Home Son’ or the father’s feast in Luke’s parable, these kinds of details evoke a sense of nostalgia and a yearning for ‘home’.

This time of year is full of nostalgia, with Christmas adverts and films depicting plenty of cosy family homes and scenes of domestic bliss. (Think ‘Home Alone’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘A Christmas Carol’. 'The Holiday'...)

The original Christmas story, on the other hand, does not take place in the midst of idyllic domesticity. Mary gives birth to Jesus away from her family in a lonely stable. Jesus breathes both his first and last breath far from home, dying outside the city walls covered with the scars of torture.

The life of Jesus is a dark and gruesome story in many ways, but as this song suggests through its rather graphic use of metaphor ('peel the scars from off my back'), it is sometimes the path of pain that leads to healing.

By becoming human and sacrificing his body for us, Jesus frees us to ‘peel the scars from’ our backs and return to our Father’s loving embrace, which is surely the truest home we will ever know.


This is part of my LittlePonderings series: "Unseasonal Songs: An Alternative Advent in Song Lyrics". You can find out more here.

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