Stir Up Sunday

Today then is Stir Up Sunday, but the Church now prefers to call it the “Feast Of Christ the King”. Call it National Youth and Child Day if you want in honour of Transgender Assault Week if you like too. Plenty room for another cause or wristband, charity appeal as you like.

But Stir Up Sunday? Bit old school, rustic and parochial dare we say in 2016?

We sure do,
Ill not bore with how this Church of England Day became an ecumenical Feast and matter, but its a Catholic thing. And, being the last Sunday before Advent, you`d think it “appropriate” to remember his monarchical status before we go all gooey at the crib in a few weeks time, with a bit of wonder about how he was premised etc. If true.

For now though, consider this, The thief on the Cross  got HIS surety of salvation with pretty much his last ever words and breaths amidst the uniquely evil barbarism of the tortures of crucifying a person. And Jesus last few words would have been such a struggle to get out, but he promised the thief that he too would be in paradise with Him soon enough.

Maybe its THIS that is a better bet that the triumphalism of our King. The Church WOULD prefer this picture before we go to Advent, but I prefer the beaten bleeding tortured criminal up on that Cross. Not because I like it more, not at all-its just that I think God sees US like that, not like a King worth a damn. As a helpless Babe or a disfigured tortured cadaver to come, THIS is Your God. Both extremes show powerlessness and openenes to abuse attack and condemnation. Seems more apt to timely as we go from cross to crib. Tha`ts all I`m needing today as we begin our New Year next Sunday.

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Archie Says

So that`s it then.

Never again will we hear a new song from Leonard Cohen who died last Monday aged 82.

I think him to be our William Blake, Only aural and musical as well as poetic and prophetic. Cohen crossed the religious borders like “The Partisan” of who he sung. Borrowed from Lorca or somebody, Cohen was not the slightest bit bothered about going to other peoples fields to draw the right waters.

My earliest thoughts on Cohen were sparse, not even good ones. My friend had his gloomy first few LPs, and punk was coming soon. Why bother with a bedsit Dylan who was obtuse and maudling then?

I vaguely recall his getting some pannings in my NME over an LP that he released in real time for us, but Id not have bothered one jot. But the bloke was way older than us, and we`d not have even read the reviews would me and my band

No-my first real dealings with him were as a young dad, a few years after his relative hit about “First We Take Manhattan”. I knew that was good, not great-but he`d found a Linn drum and some good producers and the lyric took my interest. But as I borrowed the record from North Shields library, I was just curious and up for a punt.

It was then that I knew that I ad misjudged this bloke , and badly. There were some really good songns that later became concert staples to his fans like Tower of Song. But I lived “I Can`t Forget”  for its timeless country and western style , and reappraised the man .

Next up?…Woodcraft Folk 1992 and my friends Friends Ged and Greg. eonards LP had “Hallelujah” on  it which impressed me…but nothing as to the title track “The Future”.

My God-this was something else, It was then that he became a dormant demigod, albeit one I`d never see, But the Future? Closing Time?…hell these were songs that were something else indeed.

But it laid there, dormant until Allan Ahlbergs Desert Island Discs where he chose Closing Time in 2008, and then I realised how i`d forgotten this great man and that song.

It was then that-due to his being fleeced by his manager only recently-I d heard that hed be touring again. Tickets were pricey alright and beyond me, but thankfully a live DVD came out of his London shows.

What a joy, what a concert and what a band.

So many of those songs and poems/arrangements will now be set for ever. But I was touched by his humour, words between songs and the audience reaction as he played a one finger keyboard solo and spoke(sing is too strong a word) of his “gift of a golden voice”. Brilliant!

Than came my chance(c/o my eldest!) to see Leonard Cohen at the O2 in 2013, Oh what a night goes the song, how true.

Going Home was my highlight, crying like a child at that one, So Long Marianne took us home-and I then realised that this would have been a bedsit one from those LPs I`d not listened to in the seventies.Was I wrong, that song is glorious and loving in ways I will still have to count until I too go home.

So now to here-here to now, and Mr Cohen leaves a family bereft, a band in grief and a world the poorer for his going…but illuminated for ever as we choose to light up the skies and risk another show of lights from Leonard Cohen, Simply the greatest songwriter in my lifetime with the wisdom of Job and the heart of Mary.