Grace in the Clouds Among the Heavenly
There are times where you wish a song was genuinely spiritual and sacramental. Perhaps you would even settle for the subject matter being remotely spiritual or sacramental. "Fire of Time" by David Ramirez is one of those songs.
One cannot escape the opening salvo of lyrics. The dude lost himself. Digging into the lyrics across Ramirez's discography it would seem this occurred as he grew in the music industry. The opening verses describe a man who has lost everything he once was.
In the chorus though, we find a vague "you" who is identified as the redeemer. The vagueness of this "you" is crucial to the development of this post,
But you remind me who I was and who I want to be
You remind me that though not whole, I'm not empty
There are things I lost in the fire of time
Things I thought, again I'll never see
But when it's hard for me to recall my name
You remind me
The story is pretty damn simple. Heartwrenching and beautiful. But simple. There is a haunting familiarity to the story David strings along. I imagine many converts to Christianity could see some similarities in their encounters with Christ. Nevertheless, the song was instantly one of my favorites. Driving through the parking lot at work I was grabbed out of a daze by the third verse.
I confess that I think about the sacraments often. I have been known to analogously read the sacraments in modern day things. The words of Ramirez were just vague enough for me to re-read a whole new meaning into the song,
You've been quick to dismiss all my apologies
My confessions seem to only waste your time
I thought grace was in the clouds among the heavenly
But now it's staring me right in the eyes
Read those lyrics with less context and they could easily be spiritual. The vagueness of the chorus allows this spiritual front to withstand inspection. There is an unfamiliar beauty to the idea that our confessions before God are a waste of time. For the forgiven, the cross requires no apologies. Our confessions are nailed to the cross in "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (Matt 27:46).
Replete then is the sacramental theology of the final two lines of the verse. My mind immediately ran to Paul in Romans 10:6-8. Christ is the one brought down. In baptism and the supper Christ is found to be the ever reigning and resurrected Lord. The last lines of the chorus begin to sound vaguely similar to "remember your baptism."
But the cross is not merely a one-way motion. That is to say — the cross is not a God-only event. At the cross a (perhaps better the) man is raised up on behalf of all men. So also in His baptism, Christ is baptized on behalf of all men. Yes, the sacrament is no longer found in heaven. It has been brought down. But it is not so abstract as to be unseen. There is truly a man who stands before us. He stares us right in the eyes.