What Faith Wears

Faith wears
Knowledge as an anklet, a jungle boot
Saves your thorn trudging soles
And lights your thistle-bush swamped soul
With glints, glimpses of rays
From the Heavens

Then faith wears
You out
Makes you see yourself as a lion
Starving in the jungle, mocked
By an abundance that attacks your tongue
A world wrestling to claim your eyes

Faith offers you sight
Makes you lay down in green pastures
To be killed, to die, and die again
As you preach peace
In a world where wild fights
Fill the heart with joy

Chukwu Simeon Chidiebere

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2019

Your Star Doesn’t Even Come Close

His smooth tone feeds you feels
Sugar rushes, belly butterflies
And a heaven
Where you are night, and his eyes, stars

So when his gaze falls, your world wobbles
Glorious twinkles, violent flames, you’re there
Scorched when he scowls
And dimmed by him downcast

So when he wanes, you’ll wither
Be dying satellite, drifting in space
Till you’re drawn to another sun
Dependent orbit, all over again

But you want a better star
You need no fail, no light fades
You crave bright, steady and sure, no supernova stories
That’s God, your star doesn’t even come close

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2019

Death and the Imago Dei

God says
I AM; space
shape-shifts on
His constancy
swinging and swerving in
and out, like flames
lit, waned, relit
by undying hands

Existence is
His filling , pouring
His infinite into
finiteness, a
creating, a
gaining fade, a death
process climaxed on
a Roman cross

His dying is living
life, is glorious
process played out
In moulding perfect
man, with His blood and body for
water and clay, art
and sacrifice, creation’s
true portrait

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2019

MUSIC REVIEW: JOY by FOR KING & COUNTRY

Album: Burn the Ships
 
Release Date: 18 May, 2018

Genre: Christian Contemporary Music/ Christian pop

Record Label: Curb/Word Entertainment
 
Reviewer: Ikenna Nwachukwu
 
I struggle to keep a straight face while casting myself as an unbiased commentator on For King & Country’s Joy. I’m a fan! How do I try my hands at stabbing and slicing up this piece of melodic goodness?
 
Unless you’re a die-hard hymns-only fella who doesn’t fancy contemporary Christian music (and that’s fine), you’ll almost certainly find yourself bopping your head to the beat of this song. The more careful listener will warm up to its simple, brilliant and powerful lyrics. It’s not your regular stereotypical cliché stuffed Gospel song (For King & Country aren’t in that business), so you’re unlikely to get bored by it after just a couple of replays.
 
Now that I’m done with gushing, let’s see about having a proper music review.
 
Joy
Australian-American band For King & Country released Joy as a single in May 2018, as a foretaste of the band’s then upcoming album, Burn the Ships (the third they’ve produced thus far). Like the rest of the album, Joy draws on the everyday experience of our lives, and speaks of a hope beyond the troubles we face- a hope we should embrace.
 
Band members Joel and Luke Smallbone are keen to point out that Joy is a call to the faithful to defy the turmoil and uncertainty around them by choosing joy. They say they’re presenting an alternative to fretting and pessimism (perhaps even animousity) as reactions to the turbulent state of the world’s environment, politics, societies and the personal problems that besiege our individual lives.
 
As you’d expect of a well thought out song (more on this shortly), the message is kept afloat by the melody. Its rhythm and beat make it very danceable- and joy inspiring. It’s essentially an encouragement to rejoice in the face of trials and tribulations, wrapped in an exotic, almost festive sound that makes its optimistic content even more attractive.
 
The lyrics of this piece of music also hint at the source of the circumstance-defying joy that it invites us to. The bridge does justice to this, albeit in a covert way characteristic of much of contemporary Christian music:
 

“When I walk through the valley of the shadow of night

Oh with you by my side, I’m stepping into the light

I choose joy!”

 
My take on Joy as a work of art is that it’s expertly created. And when you realize that it took six months and more than 80 rewrites to come up with the current 3:53 minute version on the album, you appreciate the effort put in by the Smallbones and their co-writers to craft a sweet summon to joy for a world that sorely needs it.
 
The Story Behind the Song



Luke Smallbone has explained that the idea for Joy cropped up two years ago, while the band was having a discussion about what their next album would be. The discussion soon tended in the direction of encouraging people to be joyful in spite of the troubles they were facing.
 
“There’s a lot going on these days,” he said, in a video about the song, “and I think it’s really important for us to be people that have joy in our lives, no matter the circumstance.”
 
They finally decided on Joy as a theme when a friend also spoke to them of his strong belief that the world needed to hear the message.
 
The Music Video
The music video for Joy was also released in May. The mostly black-and-white video portrays a 1960s newsroom, and features Joel and Luke Smallbone, and Candace Cameron Bure, a well known TV personality in the US.
 
In the video (which starts off with Joel and Bure relaying news of a mega storm sweeping across the USA), Joel and Luke spread the talk of joy as they walk through the station’s premises. Eventually, their black-and-white environment turns polychrome as they lead the staff (including an initially pessimistic Bure) to dancing. The viewers (an old couple) join in the dancing when they see the gloomy broadcast replaced by live images of media people rejoicing.


 
The video’s symbolisms are, in general, easy to grasp (especially for Christians). Joel and Luke weave through the passages at the TV station and invite other workers at the station to join them; that’s an allusion to spreading the (joyous) Good News. The old tape which the brothers dump in the bin is a recording of bad news (fill this space with whatever trials and terrors you’ve faced). The new tape, which plays to display colour images (instead of the dull black-and-white in most of the video) is a reference to Christ; when it’s pushed to the ground in anger by Bure (i.e. when it dies) it gives out its colour (life) to everyone and everything- including Bure -and gets them all dancing for joy.
 
Chart Performance
Joy peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Christian songs chart, and is in the top five of the top Christian songs of the year for 2018. It’s safe to say that it would have done even better on the charts if it hadn’t been for the exceptional runs enjoyed by Cory Asbury’s Reckless Love and Lauren Daigle’s You Say this year.
 
My Final Note
Joy is a feel good take on a crucial aspect of the Gospel- or one of its benefits. It’s the sort of song that ages very slowly, and sparks life in you when it floats into your ears.

The Fire of Revolution

If you truly want a revolution
You must be willing to watch your life fade
From before your own vanishing eyes

If you crave for the heavens showered
With bright red flames and blinding white light
You must care to be consumed with it

The rebirth you long for
Isn’t held in familiar bosoms
Is never at home with soft couches, tamed roses and sweet homely dinners

The freedom that’ll last forever
Is an intense joy and a harrowing pain
Stabs of rejection, and lingering loving embraces

If you truly want a revolution
You must be willing to watch your life burn
And glow

If you want a revolution that lasts forever
How about a death that scorches us into unending life?
How about Christ, Revolution Eternal?

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2018

A Portrait of Sacrifice, with Blood as Paint

A band of butcherers chant,
As they drag crying sheep through,
Smashed rocks and dirt clouds,
Swarming, to slaughter point,

Its fluffy coat sheds, to mingle,
With mud puddles and grim slime,
It swims in darkened blood,
And sways, to torturers’ feet stomping,

As shredding skin paints the path,
To the altar, with red hue,
A portrait of life takes shape:
Suffering, to death,

But if through its last cries,
It sees losing self could be worship,
It’ll fall, to paint its dying as,
Living worship to God, “Sacrifice Infinite”.

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2018

Questions Crossed Out

My wailing,
What does it weigh,
Against the sighs of seven billion souls, each,
Digging wounds into my already shattered depths,

My breathing,
What does it matter,
When it’s lost in waves of first winds drawn and last gasps sown,
Lashing earth for eons,

My living,
Is it a rare gem or a speck of dust,
Amongst countless weddings, empires collapsing,
And the universe’s billionth galaxy collision,

The answer,
Is a death to cross these questions out,
The meaning of existence, hanging on a stake,
For my sake.

Ikenna Nwachukwu
© 2018

Christ and Crumbs

A tearing loaf is losing its parts,
With the drawing apart of its whiteness within,
Halving its whole,
And leaving an abyss betwixt,
New incompletenesses,

A torn loaf sends shreds raining down,
Relics of fullness, signs of wreck,
Its white lands on earthen ground,
To defy dirt awhile,
Till it lies six feet deep,

This shared loaf once one,
Is multiplied by demise,
To reach the tongues that trust,
Enliven a billion bellies,
And reside in our flesh and blood,

In Christ’s flayed frame we find,
Skin shredded as crumbs,
Raining down from Heaven’s table,
His very self multiplied abroad,
To fill a billion hungry hearts,

Ikenna Nwachukwu

(c) 2018