As this blog post is inspired by today’s original release date of the ‘Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album, combined with an article I read triggered by the Duchess’s sister’s recent £250K wedding, I guess I could equally have titled this piece, ‘Pippa & Pepper’. Bizarrely, it was a chance reading of a biblical wedding today that actually prompted me to put pen to digital parchment.
On a train home on Monday, I found myself reading a Times article bewailing the contemporary cost of matrimony. Twenty seven thousand pounds on average, to be precise, which roughly equals the amount I’ve spent on rent during nine years in Bradford (which makes me feel slightly better about the rent). Nine years rent spent on a single day is a lot – even if it is meant to be the best one of your life.
Leaping (as you do) from the best day of your life to ‘A Day in the Life’ and Sergeant Pepper… Well, on a bus back from Leeds yesterday I read a Times review article called ‘How the Fab Four and friends made ‘the best album ever’.’ (I read some good stuff on public transport). I remember listening a lot to Sergeant Pepper in the car on family holidays, especially liking the upbeat ‘Getting Better’ and the resonant melancholy of ‘A Day in the Life’ with its ‘four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire’ and so on. Had no idea what it was on about, but it sounded profound.
To link the two themes and lead on to my third… It strikes me that “Pepper”’s renowned quality of boundary-pushing experimentalism might be happily applied to a modern day wedding to lessen the stress (and expense) and froth up the fun. My (married) colleague Naomi can vouch for this. Apparently the creativity of companions adds all kinds of value!
And so to envelope-pusher extraordinaire, the guy Lennon once claimed the Beatles were more popular than, water-into-wine man Jesus. The Cana wedding incident in John 2 is one of those set piece miracles – along with walking on water – that most of us still remember, no matter how distant a memory Sunday school otherwise is.
You may possibly have attended matrimonial merriment where the miracle would have worked more beneficially the other way round – but run with me. Water to wine was both a startling occurrence and a highly mine-able metaphor. A ‘sign’ revealing Jesus as the ‘new wine’ of the gospel of grace (the best saved till last). Now wine labels can sound famously exotic; ‘a toasty little oak on the nose’ is from memory one of my all-time favourites. Jesus may not have boasted that particular quality, but through the Spirit still offers to fill a human life with endless richness and variety. He broke and breaks boundaries, and I believe he can make me a boundary-breaker. I’ll drink to that – as I sample another ‘Pepper’ track or two.