Tuesday, March 31, 2009

White As Snow

An edited version of my Morning Thought, for BBC Radio Wiltshire
Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this to you, but I’m a something of a fan of the Irish rock band U2. I’ve liked them for so long that I bought their early albums on cassette. Remember those plastic things with the little wheels and brown tape that would often come undone and you had to wind it back in with a pencil? Ah the good old days before CDs and downloads.

Anyway, I eagerly anticipated the release of their latest album, No Line on the Horizon. And on the whole I wasn’t disappointed. What attracts me to U2 is not only the music, but also their thought provoking lyrics. The band have tackled some pretty big ideas in their songs, and the latest offering is no exception. Faith, hope and love loom large in several of the tracks.

The Poet Laureate Andrew Motion recently said that in order to fully understand English literature, school children should be taught the Bible. Writers like Shakespeare and Milton drew heavily on biblical language and ideas. Something similar could be said for U2.

The song ‘White As Snow’ is sung from the perspective of a soldier in Afghanistan. It is full of biblical imagery, meditating on the themes of forgiveness and love in a war-torn world. The soldier once knew the love divine. But now he is not so sure. Faith and love have turned into suspicion and hostility. A wounded and broken man, the soldier asks "what can make the heart as white as snow?" The answer is we receive forgiveness “only through the lamb as white as snow”. But what’s all that about? I think two passages of Scripture are being referred to here,

“Come now, and let us reason together”,
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow”
(Isaiah 1:18).

And it was said of Jesus, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. (John 1:19).

This U2 song brings us close to the heart of the Christian message. It’s all about cleansing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, the lamb as white as snow. What more in the name of love?
On BBC Radio Wiltshire around 6.25 each morning from Monday 30th March to Friday 3rd April. Frequency 103.6, 104.3 & 103.5 FM, or listen online.

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