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Advent Day 22: Delta

I will take this offered cup I will sit upon your floor Tell your stories, tell of your pain...

But what have I if I have not love? I am a waste My words are empty vessels if I do nothing in this place And we can scream into the shadows And it's good that we can But walk with me I think we'll find a way And walk with me I think we'll find a way...

Does my love prefer the other? Or does my love just make me feel good?


Delta, Mumford and Sons


 

I’m sneaking in another Mumford and Sons song before the end of advent, because their lyrics are just irresistibly deep and thought-provoking. ‘Delta’ gives us the raw, passionate yearnings of a love song as well as biblical references in abundance. We’ve got the classic Corinthians passage quoted almost word for word, “What have I if I have not love?” There’s a bit of Genesis, “dust to dust”, potentially a Gethsemane moment “I will take this offered cup” and some existential Ecclesiastes, “When it's all just nothingness that means nothing to me.”


But I think my favourite line of all is that typically anthemic Mumford chorus, “Does my love prefer the other? Or does my love just make me feel good?” It’s a serious challenge, especially to a consumerist, Disney-fied western culture that encourages us to be led by our feelings and prioritises 'listening to our hearts' above anything else. Of course, we’d all say that selfless love is the ultimate goal, but in reality, it’s just not as appealing as the glamorised, romanticised version of love that we’re often sold in our favourite rom-coms, TV ads, and novels.

In ‘Delta’, we’re given a brief insight into how this self-giving love might look; it’s the kind of humble love that listens to another’s story, "Tell of your pain, That’s what I came here for." As I reflected in yesterday’s ponderings, this gentleness and empathy characterises Jesus’ love for humanity.


At this time of year, it’s easy to offer words of love and goodwill, but if we “do nothing” then our words “are empty vessels”, or “clanging cymbals” as Corinthians 13 puts it. And even when we do serve others or give charitably, how often is this just another way of seeking those feel-good Christmas vibes? This song is deeply challenging and asks us to consider our true motives, something which we're often pretty skilled at avoiding.


Are we ready to love sacrificially and unconditionally? The incarnation shows us what it truly means to ‘prefer the other’. Jesus doesn’t leave us “to scream in the shadows”, he comes to show us a way into the light.

 

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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