To Be Alone With You

I often wonder if our over-familiarity with stories or concepts keeps us from grasping the fullness that they have to offer?  I love when a book, film, song or piece of art makes me see a whole new perspective.

The concept that Jesus was fully human, yet, fully God is a cornerstone of the Christian faith.  I guess I have always understood that to mean that He could identify with the position I find myself in the midst of temptation.  What about feelings of: frustration; weariness; elation; doubt; or a whole host of others? 

We sing lines in church like, “Thank you for the cross, thank you for the price you paid”.  We think of the ultimate cost of sacrifice – of death on a cross, but it’s often hard for me to grasp. 

In 2004 the film world reacted strongly as Mel Gibson tried to convey the reality of the cost Jesus paid in his film “The Passion”.  In a day and age of tolerance, many took offence at the film and both he and the film were labelled in an array of manners.  Often a prejudice ensues in the reviews of art that tries to tackle the topic of Christ.


Also in 2004, controversial artist Damien Hirst teamed up with David Bailey to produce a series of very graphic and disturbing works called “The Stations Of The Cross”.  The image depicting the crucifixion hangs in Aberdeen Art Gallery.  I found myself staring at it for ages last year.  Whilst the initial impact was horrible, sinister and somewhat evil, I actually found my mind processing what it tried to convey.  I now consider it a great piece of art because it confronts my thinking and challenges me with something of the scandal of the cross anew.  I have often prayed that I could stand at the foot of the cross and let it really impact me afresh.  I’ve sensed something of it when seeing huge statues in pristine cathedrals, but this piece of art disturbed me more than any other and that was actually something positive.  The horror, the brutality, the spiritual forces at play…I would recommend anyone to go with some spare time, an open mind and an open heart and to experience the power of art and something of the power of the gospel.

What about the other costs of the lifestyle decisions Jesus must have made simply to achieve His purpose?  I can be quick to think of the cost of my faith in those terms – the things I go without from time to time…  Then I try to place that in the context of a command to “pick up my cross and follow” and things take a new perspective when I realise how little it sometimes really seems to cost me.  Our Pastor often says, “salvation is fee, but it will cost you everything.”  Actually, that is a kernel of tuth.  But surely, there were a myriad of daily choices that faced a fully human Jesus and commanded obedience and submission? 

I actually get quite excited when I see credible artists using a variety of art forms to explore their thinking and to express something of their own discovery.  I love when that actually connects with people who wouldn’t darken a church door.  The review linked here which appeared in the highly rated indie domain that is “Pitchfork” still gives me goosebumps to read.  Good art can realign our thoughts.  Great art can change our understanding.  

“You gave your body to the lonely.
They took your clothes.
You gave up a wife and a family.
You gave your ghost.
To be alone with me.
To be alone with me.
To be alone with me,
You went up on a tree”.

 From “To Be Alone With You” by Sufjan Stevens.

5 Responses to “To Be Alone With You”

  1. 1 Dan G June 3, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Any chance I could borrow that album some time? Intending to buy some of his stuff but rather skint and can’t wait to hear it!!

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin June 3, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    No worries. We’re away for a couple of weeks, but I’ll bring some stuff to MBC for you when I get back.



  3. 3 pathwaytoanamazinglife June 3, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    God’s word is always new . . . I love it when I hear a familiar story given with a whole new perspective.

    • 4 thestatethatiamin June 4, 2009 at 6:32 am

      @ Pathway To An Amazing Life – totally. Maybe we need new poets, song writers and scholars to wrestle with the Word and to express it in new ways. Whilst I wouldn’t want to put people ona pedistal – the writings of David Crowder and Rob Bell have been hugely helpful to me of late in gaining a fresh perspective.

  4. 5 thestatethatiamin June 4, 2009 at 6:38 am

    @ Dan, you might also like to check out this post of mine from last year

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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