Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Praying with Chester

I was immediately transported into the awesome, awful presence of God.

It was one of those moments you can't create; and often come unbidden.

I had just been minding my own business; not necessarily feeling very spiritual.
And all that happened was I was overheard Chester's prayer.

"..Let mercy come..." he kept crying out; alluding to and confessing shame and guilt; vowing transparently to forgive himself and move on.

"Let mercy wash away what I've done," he confessed out loud; very loud.

It was such a personal, vulnerable outpouring that I almost felt voyeuristic overhearing it; but I also couldn't help feeling it with him; appropriating, amening and praying it myself.

You have had experinces like that; when a fellow believer is just so fearless yet open and broken before God that you recocgnize the honest and huge holiness of what is happening in the atmosphrere; you are inevitaby drawn into a deeper realm of prayer and worship; even holy anxiety and angst...just by daring to be ruthlessly honest; a "My God, why have you forsaken me..." statement of "I'm hanging on...I think" faith.

About the voyeuristic part; don't worry, I wasn't snooping in on a private prayer time in a "house of God" or private home; nor was I hiding in a confessional booth.

I was just listening to, and watching, Chester

pour out his gutwrenching offering to God. Just him and God..

And me.

And the maybe million people also watching.

It was prayer indeed, but I didn't mention it was in the form of a song.

Sung at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.

As part of the Jimmy Kimmel Show, broadcast around the world Friday night.

And I never said anywhere that Chester was a Christian.

He may well be.

The rumor is that many, if not most, of his bandmates in the group Linkin Park are.
(Do some homework googling band interviews on the topis if you like, but remember as Beth Maynard has well said, that itself can be voyeuristic)

Some web forums say every last one is a believer...except maybe for Chester...

..the singer, priest, worship leader who was unabashedly, unpologetically belting out for all he was worth:

Let Mercy come
and wash away what I've done
I’ll face myself,
To cross out what I’ve become.
Erase myself,
And let go of what I’ve done.
Let Mercy come...

Resolutely doing his laundry in public; offering full-out sacrifice and wrestling with Godpsalms ; yearning desperately for healing; covenanting with God, Jimmy Kimmel, House of Blues, and me:

I'll start again,
And whatever pain may come,
Today this ends,
I’m forgiving what I’ve done

Wow, I thought: If only most Christians of a more traditional tribe "got" that forgiving oneself is so crucial to feeling "mercy has washed me clean".

Maybe it's just a song to Chester Bennington.

But I doubt it.

Watch the broadcast yourself below (pausing at the end of the song...two minute mark... so you can watch the second song later..I'll explain later). I realize of course, that due to varying mujsic preference and awareness of the band may cause some to say "What's Dave talking about? I got nothing out of that!":

Linkin Park's lyrics; often laced with the F-word , are

among the most G0d-haunted (or just haunted), deeply spiritual; desperately seeking lyrics around..(read this on "the F-word in church").

"What I've Done" is at heart the same prayer as 2001's "Somewhere I Belong":

"I want to heal/I want to feel what I thought was never real/I want to let go of
the pain I've held so long/(Erase all the pain 'til it's gone)/I want to heal/I
want to feel like I'm close to Something real/I want to find something I've
wanted all along/Somewhere I belong"

No wonder Christianity Today has noted "In many ways, these guys are as effective as many a rock band on the Christian label Tooth & Nail..conveying tension, hurt, angst, and confession." And as Jimmy Kimmel noted on the show, these mega rock stars are incredibly downhome and humble ; they always stay after the show and talk to fans; they have been amazingly accessible, apparently handling their own clothes and lugagge; even without bodyguards in public.

All that may change.

As I was watching, and worshipping, with Chester; I noticed that he looked/presented himself somehow different (ly) from last time I had seen him. It may have been that this is their first round of appearances after a recording hiatus; but it felt more like:

He looks far more broken, as if he has recently been through the wrin ger; and lived (barely) to tell aboyut it. Some people just can't help but exude a certain "I have been there; you can trust me" from the deepest most naked part of their soul. That's the vibe I got from Chester.

He looked stonger and weaker.

He carried the unmistakable Jacob's limp.

I thought/prayed "What in the world has he been through since I've seen him last?"

To my absolute amazement, the very next day; in dramatic answerto my prayer, the new Wired magaizine arrived in my mailbox. As I pulled it out (again, minding my own business ),
I caught the headline on the cover"

"The Linkin Park Stalker."


This story covered the nightmare year Chester Bennington and his school teacher wife

had just endured; cyberstalked, threatend, abused in a case so incredibly big that it included very high government officials...on the investigating AND stalking end! The full story is here,

But what caught me was:

Fans loved the pierced and tattooed man-boy for his primal scream and his
approachability, the way he would sign their photos and wave back to them at the
grocery store. When a group of overenthusiastic teenage girls mobbed him and
ripped out some of his hair, he took it in stride.
"The fans are the biggest reason we do what we do," Bennington told me at a recording studio in West Hollywood.... "If fans come up to me, I
talk to them, " he said, "I'm not an egg. I don't need this protective wall."

But now he may feel forced to literally build one:

The rock star who'd prided himself on his accessibility began to erect walls. He
put in motion sensors. Bought a guard dog. Installed alarms on every window.
Called his dad and brother — who were cops in Arizona — and asked them to help
get his local police in California to keep an eye on his house. Chester
considered hiring a personal assistant to do errands for him but balked. "That'd
be another person in my life that I didn't know if I could trust."

Who can you trust when you don't know who to trust? Ah, the source of the limp; the Peniel and Gethesane; the new brokenness and faith I saw on television; bared at House of Blues.

I have found the official music video version of "What I've Done" is online (and below) and full of God-haunted religious imagery.

Other recent concert versions of that same song are on YouTube here;
a quick glance reveals that Chester is currently working out his salvation and security; trying not to build walls; all over the world; leading prayers, being priest for millions..

He's always done that; but he carries a new heaviness; and thus a new authority and anointing.

And needs more prayer than ever.

Can you imagine getting messages like "I know what you're doing. I know where your kids are." for a year, knowing they were true.

The most tragicc quote was at the very end of the article. Chester simply said:

"I want to back."

He can't.

That's why he sings and worships so desperately.

You may have noticed the first few moments of another song followed "What I've Done" on the Kimmel show. These lyrics, to "Bleed it Out" are even more brutally honest (F -word included)
But comments on fan forums are more real and touching than on many "Christian" sites about "Christian songs":

"This song represents my life":

Filthy mouth, no excuse.
Find a new place to hang this noose...

your prayers and stomp it out,
When they bring that chorus in..

help me, I've been cursed,
Death is rolling in every verse.
on his brand new hearse.
Can't contain him, he knows he works..

I bleed it out.
I've opened up these scars,
I'll make
you face this.
I pulled myself so far,
I'll make you face this now.

I too weant to face my stuff now.

I think.

Maybe I should go to church.

Oh, wait; I'm a a pastor.

And church? Isn't that " for someone who has been "wrestling with God and God lost (as Hoses says of Jacob); someone who has been God- stalked to find Jesus? And someone needing honest lyrics and uncensored prayers?

Maybe I'll go to House of Blues.

It just may be the House of God.

Or at least watch Jimmy Kimmel's concert series a bit more often; and just mind my own business; waiting for God to suddenly show up.

We all want to go back, Chester.

Sing about it, brother, sing.

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