Love Will Tear Us Apart

While wandering the streets of Edinburgh this past summer, I discovered a poster advertising a concert by Edinburgh’s community choir that was to take place the following evening inside the historic Usher Hall musical venue.  

The poster proclaimed that the choir would perform numbers by The Beatles, The Proclaimers, and Joy Division, among others.  

They had me at Joy Division. I figured if a community choir was going to attempt a song by one of the more melancholy progressive bands of the early 1980s, I had to see it.  So naturally, I went online and bought a ticket for the best seat I could find. 

I’m almost 100% positive that I was the only person in the venue who didn’t have a friend or family member in the choir, and I was definitely the only American.  The ladies who sat next to me couldn’t believe I’d wanted to attend.  

They’d also visited Austin, TX, once, which was an odd coincidence.  

There was also this pleasant surprise…  When I decided to attend the show, I had no idea that it was the first time the choir had performed a live concert in over two years.  Covid had kept them from doing anything other than virtual concerts, which, as we all know, sorely lack the energy of the real thing.  

Believe me, there’s nothing like listening to 300 voices sing at the top of their lungs when they’ve been kept from doing so in front of a live audience for a long time.  The energy in the room was electric.  

The theme for the show was Love and how love gets tested during hard times.  It was the perfect theme for the moment, and I could feel my soul lifted up as I listened.  

And the song they picked to sing from Joy Division was “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which I’ve heard at least a hundred times or more in my life… but not like it was performed that night.  

To say that the choir’s rendition of the song was achingly beautiful doesn’t even do it justice.  I also found myself genuinely understanding the meaning of the lyrics, which I had never really grasped in all of the other times I’d heard it.  

The chorus has this haunting line: “And Love… Love will tear us apart again….”  

I finally got it as I sang along with tears streaming down my face.  This wasn’t a song about lost love, as I’d always imagined.  It was a song about how love has the potential to rend our hearts wide open, leaving us bare to not only pain and loss but also to tenderness and grace. 

If Love doesn’t tear us apart, maybe it isn’t love.

Most of us spend our lives guarding our hearts against being rent open.  We close ourselves off to avoid pain, betrayal, and deep disappointment.  But when we do, we also keep our hearts closed off to the things we long to feel.  

May we all learn the strength of vulnerability and find the courage to let our hearts be bare despite our fears of being wounded.  May we know that the God who became one of us to endure the worst the world has to offer did so out of vulnerability and love for us.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever.  Amen.  


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