Rolling

Joshua 5: 2-12

The first Passover in The Promised Land

The first thing ‘The People’ did on entering the Promised Land was to have a mass circumcision and celebrate the Passover with a re-commitment to God. Throughout Christian (and Jewish) history we see many times where groups of devout believers re-commit themselves to God. In more modern history this has been represented by many splits in the Church movement as people tried to get back to living the way they believed God called them to in the scriptures: this is certainly still the case today.
I’m not sure if there is another song about a mass circumcision: certainly many cultures mark rights of passage with rituals, often painful, at the heart of their spiritual beliefs. Its hard to imagine the men of Israel celebrating after such an event. During their time in the wilderness the practice of circumcision had not been followed and Joshua was clear that The People needed to dedicate themselves to God, to re-connect through their obedience to His word. I’m not sure how long it took for them to recover but I’m sure it was a while before they were all ready to march on!
The idea of the song is, in a way, a bit of a marching song, rhythmical and charged with an energy. Gilgal is the name of the place where this all took place. One interpretation of the name ‘Gilgal’ is ‘Circle of Stones’, as we see it mentioned many times in the Bible about different places. Another meaning of ‘Gilgal’ is ‘Rolling’ or ‘Wheel’ which is where the name comes from. In a way it is a song about turning away from the past, from previous mistakes, and re-connecting with God: a fresh beginning. The song refers to the fathers of the soldiers, who all died in the wilderness after not having the faith to enter The Promised Land forty years previous. The song also makes reference to the raising of Lazarus, in John 11, and, to a degree, the discovery of the empty tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke 24:2. The breeze mentioned refers to God’s Spirit, the Spirit that can touch, and change, and move, and breath life into the deadest of hearts.



Roll away the stone
No one here could move for days
Something in the pain, that’s ok
We built a hill of skin
And what I feel is more than skin deep
Something in the pain, that’s ok
My father was a second son, he cried oh yeah, oh yeah
A soldier till he came undone, he cried oh yeah, oh yeah
Everybody doubts sometimes, he paid the price and here I stand
 
Caught by the breeze, Child of the times
Cut to the quick with a knife made of flint
We’re all healing up nicely, ready to roll away reproach
Fruits of the land here we come
 
Roll away the stone
No one here could walk for weeping
Something in the pain, it’s alright
We built a hill of skin
But no one had the legs to climb up
Something in the name, it’s alright
My father was a second son, we cried oh yeah, oh yeah
A soldier till the fight had come, we cried oh yeah, oh yeah
He said believing is seeing what no one can see
Don’t make the same mistakes as me
 
I was caught by the breeze, a child of the times
Cut to the heart with a knife made of flint
But your ra ra ra rolling, ready to move
The mountains to the sea, here we come

He said believing is seeing what no one can see
Don’t make the same mistakes as me
 
We’re all caught by the breeze, child of the times
Cut to the quick with a knife made of flint
We’re all ra ra ra rolling, ready to roll away reproach
Fruits of the land here we come

R Packham, 2019