Saturday, February 21, 2009

'Casimir Pulaski Day' or 'Transfiguration of our Lord'

So, I'm preaching this week on the Transfiguration. I'm preaching on the Elisha/Elijah text. That describes the journey of Elisha alongside of Elijah, during Elijah's last days on earth. As I prepared to preach this week I was drawn to Sufjan Steven's song, 'Casimir Pulaski Day.' The songs tells the story of a man's journey alongside of a girlfriend's last days with cancer. Here's the song on Austin City Limits:

[Pretty sweet winged outfits, right?]
One verse towards the end of the song I find particularly powerful:
"Oh the glory that the Lord has made
and the complications when I see his face
in the morning, in the window."

It seems to me that in the narrator's Elisha-like journey, he experiences the fullness of God's presence. On one hand, he proclaims the glory of the Lord throughout the song and the story, in particular the sustaining presence and love of God in the places of death. And at the same time, he has difficulty with the discipleship for which the good news calls. In the end he comes away with a "complicated" understanding of God.

In the lyrics I find a moving experience with the Lutheran theological dialectic, law and gospel. I normally really like this paradoxical theological insight, but what makes this song so powerful on a theological level, is its description of an experience with this theological idea. It reflects our struggle on the day of the Transfiguration as we search for the words to describe our experience with the fullness of God.


ps - i'll let you know how using both "elijah" and "elisha" alot in a sermon combined with referencing some guy named "sufjan stevens" goes over with the congregation.


Matt Keadle said...

LOVE IT. Great song, great connection. Still don't know how to pronounce Sufjan's name, though.

Stacey said...

I love the connection. Sufjan surprised me at first, he sings about God's part in actual normal life a lot. He also used to give away all of his christmas music because he didn't think it was right to make money off of a religious holiday. Pretty awesome guy.

-kat- said...

if--IF--you weren't one of my favorite people in the world already, the fact that you used this song in a sermon would've put you on the list...