For Christians, Easter is the most significant time of the year. The events that took place on Calvary divide our timeline in two. The human story pivots around that place. It permeates our culture in arts and music with its story of sacrifice, salvation, and redemption. One of the latest to bring his very distinct treatment to the story of Calvary is a multi-award winning country artist, Colin Buchanan. This is Colin returning to a style that is at the same time simple and profound. It’s a wonderful album. It speaks from his heart, the heart of one for whom and for his family Easter has a very special significance.
Colin, what does Easter mean to you and your family?
We head up to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, where there’s a Christian convention. There’s a house that we’ve been renting each year. We sort of put our foot in the door, and we’re there year after year, and so this lovely mixture of mountains and mist and the gathering of Christian people in a fairly sizeable, you know, arrangement, the teaching of the Bible, and then family traditions, which, you know, include having toast and pumpkin soup and an Easter Egg hunt on Sundays, even though our kids are all in their 20s now.
So all those things sort of combine to make Easter a really lovely family time, and, of course, you know, embedded in that is the journey through the weekend and being a way of, you know, Friday being a reflection on the death of Christ. And then it’s lovely Sunday celebration, and every year is quite potent and powerful to be in a big gathering of singing, learning, worshipping Christians when they.
With Saturday in the middle. It’s unlike any other day of the year. It’s a finished, but not yet finished, feeling.
Yep. Yeah, in fact, you know, in some ways, Easter Saturday is a little picture of lost sort of Christian person, isn’t it?
Yes, it is.
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You know, Christ has come, and they’re waiting for that final fulfilment. And in the meantime, not everything seems to be quite finished in the sense of, you know, we continue to have our struggles and difficulties and challenges and joys and pleasures along the way. But, yeah, we wait for the completion.
We know that Christ is returning. How now shall we act?
Yes, that’s right. Look, I read a lovely little account of a friend of mine who was in a little town in Western Queensland, I think, it was. He’s on a long drive and had to wait for a store to open to get money out so he could buy a pie at the bakery for breakfast. And the fellow before him, they had a little exchange with the shop assistant about the loss of this fellow’s dad. And Peter, my friend, picked up on it, and then he said, “Look, I’m a pastor, so I’m one of the God guys, but I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation. Do you think struggles of this life point to the fact that we were made for another life?”
And the shop assistant was a bit of a burly character who seemed to not be someone who might be particularly open to spiritual things, but he’d been bereaved and had opened up a whole conversation about the loss of his dad and the sort of yearning for something more in this life. And it was a really delightful conversation. And the fellow said, “I can’t believe you actually asked me that.” And so I think there’s a lot of discussion about, not only the rich things of this life but the losses as well and what we anticipate, you know, in the future.
I do think a lot of Christians are a little bit afraid of having those conversations, but they can be one of the most rewarding things that we do. You have made a career out of telling stories about these sorts of things. How is the new album going, Calvary Road?
You said Cavalry Road. Naughty, naughty, naughty boy.
How is the new album going, Calvary Road?
Calvary Road is a sort of album that, it sounds funny to say, you know, you need to hear it. But it’s not full of poke-your-eye-out singles. It’s not a highly commercial sort of album in that sense. It’s much more of a musical conversation, perhaps a bit of a stroll through a gallery, because there are lots of portraits in the album, which I think is quite a potent way to share the effect of the life of Christ on people is to share stories. And what you begin to realise is that there’s a great resonance in human experience.
And to me, just been saying, you know, we don’t have conversations enough about the eternal matters and as Christians about matters of faith with people who don’t share our faith. But I feel like there’s so much that we share with one another as people in this amazing world with the dilemma of mortality, which even the most strident atheist shares that with me. And so we have common ground in that we have to make sense of this life and of relationships, of life and death, of what’s meaningful. And there’s a lot of common ground to try and work that out.
No one comes as an objective observer in all of this. Our very existence is tied up in making sense of this world. And in the gospel and in a relationship with Jesus Christ and just to examine His life and death and the implications. It’s an incredibly potent thing to talk about with people.
Outside the camp, no one’s cheering
You feel lonely and small
Out there no one needs reminding
Stuck outside the city wall
Life can dry ‘em and blow away
Like the restless desert sand
Jesus, what do you think you’re doing outside the camp? Lyrics to Outside The Camp by Colin Buchanan
Talk about the track “Outside the Camp.”
Well, I wasn’t sure with this. It was the first single, so I had to meet in conversations. It’s been released into the country music scene. And, you know, it’s a song that says think of the least likely place that you would encounter a king, and that’s where you encounter Christ. In other words, this person who is described is the King of kings and the Lord of Lords, you know, the Supreme One gets into the garbage dump of Golgotha into the execution ground, and there He dies. And that’s where you meet Him, and He’s the only one who doesn’t just go to the grave, but steps out of the grave. So He expresses His kingship in the most potent way possible by serving and saving and then by stepping out of the grave and inviting those who follow Him to do the same. And that’s an incredibly potent image.
Yes, and so much of Jesus’ story that speaks to the outsider in all of us. None of us ever really feel like we belong, I suspect, and Jesus certainly comes as the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and yet He’s never recognised as such. And He’s an outsider. He’s an outcast. Even His death, as you’ve spelt out, has all of those elements to it. And yet because of that very thing, the bloke in the pie shop or the woman who’s in an abusive relationship or the child who’s bullied at school, all of those people can turn to Him because He’s one of them.
Yes, exactly. And it’s a potent, beautiful image, yeah, that He takes on flesh, and so He knows our pain, and He knows the struggle of humanity and that He meets that, yeah, with this remarkable service and triumph as well. It brings us back to Easter, doesn’t it, Stephen? The potency of Easter is in not simply the death of Christ, but His triumph over the grave.
Colin as you record these tracks and as they roll out, well, commercially, as you’ve mentioned, they spark interesting conversations. It’s an industry that’s full of people living on the edge and, in many ways, outside as themselves. What a wonderful place to have a ministry in and of itself.
It is an interesting place to be. I’m often surprised by people who will identify me as a Christian. And I think I don’t talk to them about my faith. But they’ll identify me as a Christian. And then I’ll find that it’ll be…you know, they might be facing some sort of difficulty, or they’ll have a question, perhaps a moral question, or, you know, it might be even a loss or even a question about the Bible. And then the final ring, and then it’ll be…one of my music mates just asking questions.
You are the go-to guy.
Yeah, which is quite a delightful thing to take that role in friendship. You know, as you all know, you collide in sometimes very intense ways, but only for a short time, and then you slide out of each other’s lives. You know, you might be on tour together or doing a concert or a show or shooting a TV project, and then you slide out of each other’s lives again. So, you know, it is an interesting sort of relational climate to play a part as a Christian, and I’m very grateful for it.
Outside the camp, you see them coming
First a trickle then a flow
They’re hungry for forgiveness
They got nowhere else to go
Grace is never cheap or easy
It puts nails in hands
Jesus knew what He was doing outside the camp
Jesus knew what He was doing outside the camp
Oh, you’re suffering in that place
There’s pain, and there’s disgrace
There’s everlasting grace outside the camp
Outside the camp
Lyrics to Outside The Camp by Colin Buchanan