Column: Dave Marvin, St Mary’s Church Greasley

NEAALM110504D3 - St. Mary's church Greasley. Rev Dave Marvin
NEAALM110504D3 - St. Mary's church Greasley. Rev Dave Marvin

I recently achieved a long time ambition to watch my favourite singer, Leonard Cohen, live in concert at Liverpool on July 14.

I can imagine many of you asking, “Who?” Well, if you’ve never heard of him, he is the man who wrote the song ‘Hallelujah’, which Alexandra Burke sang when she won the XFactor.

He is also the man who many people will advise you not to listen to when you feel a bit down, because his voice will tip you over the edge.

His voice may seem to drone to some people, but his voice is a front; his songs and their words are very profound and contain some deep insights into life and religion. Leonard Cohen is a Canadian Jew who obviously has a strong knowledge and understanding of the Bible and, despite in his past dabbling in other religions and some of the extremes that our society presents to us, he now has a strong understanding of the need to be in a relationship with God.

At the age of 75, Leonard Cohen probably thought that he had retired and could live off the royalties of his songs, especially from songs like ‘Hallelujah’, which had four versions in the top twenty songs at one point.

But he had reckoned without the dishonesty of some who allegedly stole his money. He was left penniless and with a need to go and earn money again.

I doubt though that he envisaged that his concerts would be worldwide and he would at his age play to sell-out audiences.

I ponder whether God was at work in those unfortunate circumstances, just as I ponder God at work in our own circumstances. Out of his adversity came abundance – that’s often the case with those who put their trust and faith in God, and despite his chequered past, that’s what Leonard Cohen did.

The lyrics of one of his songs says:
“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering, 
There is a crack in everything 
That’s how the light gets in”.

It reminds us that we are all flawed people with cracks in all that we do, but it also reminds us that it’s through those cracks that the light of Jesus can shine through; not just into the flawed parts of our characters, but also into our very souls. It isn’t through giving a perfect offering that we can obtain salvation, it’s by allowing the light of Christ into our lives – the perfect offering, of course, was made by God when he allowed his son to be sacrificed on the cross.