Standing on the Son? Sun? (feat. John Mark McMillan)
Special thanks to our guest John Mark McMillan on this podcast episode, where we run into the song Standing on the Sun, and wrestle with the wild imagination found in the lyrics. John Mark asked, in affect, "Are you addressing someone standing on "the Son", or Jesus himself standing on "the sun." The conversation continues on the podcast ...
There are many times in life, almost daily it seems, where the mundane, crushing normal stuff of every day life crowds our vision so much that thinking about eternity seems impossible. Often when the noise of this world is intruded upon by a call from the next world--whether in a Scripture, a person's voice, a worship meeting--it is not welcome at first, like an unwanted phone ringing. Hopefully, music is a way to ease us into these moments where we can push back the crowded spaces of our life-works and think on our eternal destination a bit more.
The Psalmists made no apology for the conflict found between the difficulties of our present lives and the meaning we find in the eternal Kingdom of God. We can read in one Psalm about a victorious moment with God, and in the next a painful lament virtually on the brink of death about how things have just gone to hell. N.T. Wright makes this very clear in his pungent work, The Case for the Psalms. This is why the Psalms, in their unflinching witness to the paradox of knowing God in both pain and peace, are the right place to practice our prayers and our worship. A worship diet outside of the Psalms, we might be bold enough to say, is a junk food diet often based on a single food fixation.
Our commitment is to stay grounded in the guided conversation of the Psalms; this was true in 1998 when we began and still today as we unfold our latest album Down Here And Up Above.
Some have inquired exactly what Psalm this song was derived from, and to that we have to answer a whole bunch! Re-reading Jack Taylor's book The Hallelujah Factor it is striking the ways and times we are challenged to consider God so much larger than ourselves, so far beyond the world that we presently can see. One example might be Psalm 18:13-16:
The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded
amid the hail and burning coals.
He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies;
great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
Then at your command, O LORD,
at the blast of your breath,
the bottom of the sea could be seen,
and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
A passage from the book of Revelation (1:12-18) might take us even closer to the vision of the song:
When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.