Each month here on the blog, we’ll be featuring a song from the various Mars Hill bands. This month, we’re featuring the song, "Passover," written by Luke Abrams and Jeff Bettger and recorded by Joe Day on his upcoming full-length album, Grace.
A little over two years ago I started the process of recording an album of songs I’ve written that we’ve been singing at Mars Hill over the past decade. I narrowed down the list to 11 of the best of those songs, plus one song written by Luke Abrams and Jeff Bettger: "Passover." Here’s the story of why I chose this amazing song and why it's unique.
Ten years ago
, Mars Hill was much smaller, younger, and way more punk rock. Team Strike Force
was the sound track for those early days, and I can still see the image of them rocking this song with bass player Jeff Bettger nearly destroying his bass and everything in a 10-foot radius while screaming "On my wayyy back, wayyy back home!" at the top of his lungs. It was chilling, exciting, and unsettling because of this question: Why don’t I sing like that
That’s a question worth writing many blog posts about, but one aspect of it is the content, i.e. the words. There really aren’t many modern songs that spotlight that bloody aspect of the atonement
and connect it to the Exodus narrative
in a heartfelt, singable way. This song does exactly that while putting us in the shoes of the Israelites.
I love how the song slows us down, looking at the complicated act of worship connected with what we generally mistake for a simple act of painting a doorway. For the Israelites, it was a multi-faceted act of faith: It required belief that God was going to do exactly what Moses said he’d do. That belief had to turn into action, slaughtering a lamb, collecting its blood, covering the doorway with that blood, collecting one’s family and explaining the holiness and justice of God while patiently waiting inside for the angel of death to come. It was complete and total reliance on God in the most intense way. That’s the gem that’s easily missed when we reduce salvation to a mere act or custom.
Jeff and Luke reveal this in the most simple and worshipful response:
Take the first of my thought!
Take the first of my time!
Take the throne of my heart!
That’s what it means to paint the doorway: It recognizes complete release and total dependence upon God for everything, including identity. And there’s nothing ambivalent or neutral about it. Those are words an Israelite family could have sung huddled together that night awaiting for God to move, and they are words we can exclaim today in everything we do.
Stay tuned next week when we’ll have a video that shows you how to play this song, along with an interview with the songwriters.
Joe Day is a deacon and worship leader at the Shoreline campus, who previously led the group, The Northern Conspiracy. His album,
Grace, will be released on Re:Sound this fall.