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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

Music

It was as far back as the 18th century that European music was becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and two-term president of the United States referred to the Baroque classical of the 1700s as “a delightful recreation through life” and also “this favorite passion of my soul”.

This weekend I experienced two performances that stirred the passion of my soul. The ripple effects of a theater performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and a musical meditation given didn’t exactly blow me away……instead it deepened the vibration of the A note in my soul.

Festival of Arts Program

“Remember the A note,” violist Grace Byrd instructed us in the meditation audience. She was guiding us on the path to follow John Beall’s,  Variations on Wondrous Love 1942 composition. Grace united us with the centering effect love has as it ripples out into the world like  the rings created in the water when a pebble is thrown into it.

Follow the music of the strings, and you will see it always comes home to the solitary A note, she said. That is us. That is love. And you cannot love without vibrations and “rings” of it going out into the world, you know not where.

We listened. Sure enough, there was that A note the music returned to. Music sometime quiet and stirring, sometimes fusing into a dramatic fortissimo to where her partner accompanist on the Grand Piano, Joseph Byrd melded into one with the all octaves on the piano keys, and notes on the music sheets flying onto the next page.

I sensed he was only aware of the message of the music and the lead of the violo strings, which indeed, led us all back to the solitary A note of love.

The A note was heard between audience and performers. The grace received. The inspiration from it accompanying us into our week. One does not remain untouched by this beauty. This beauty is of God.

Kathleen - in charge of Jesus Christ Superstar

Passion overflowed at the Marshall Franke Center adult theater performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. As stated in the program, the play “loosely follows” the gospel accounts of the Passion Week of Jesus Christ, but it was close enough for us in the audience to feel the touchable presence of Christ, his apostles and the perplexed rulers of the day. Just what are we to do with this man-God Jesus?

The story came alive through the spectacular lyrics of the songs.  Under the direction of our daughter Kathleen, the musical compositions etched out the personalities and complexion of the whole story of the Passion.  The actors surrendered totally to the demands and nuances of their historical figures.

The play totally humanized the principle figures of that biblical time and the drama “got behind” the narrative to such an extent that you found yourself saying, “Yes, if I were there…..”

The A note was present throughout the play….Jesus was about love. People couldn’t understand this love, this divinity present in each of us. This was intensified in the character of Judas. They were so afraid of it in themselves, they could not stand to see it in Jesus.

Of course it is about power, but not the power of the land at the time. It was about the power of God’s love manifesting itself as human in the world. That could not be. The music  of love was off-key to the ancient politicians of the day. And so the cross became the answer….they thought.

But, as we know today,  the A note could not be ignored. The crescendo of the cross led to the Resurrection of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the growth of Christianity throughout the world.

Tribute to Kathleen

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I have decided to start my quiet prayer time in the morning with two short readings. I will read one Psalm per day because it entertains my creative, poetic muse and gives me imagery and verse to ponder.

My overall impressions of the Psalms, the longest book of the Bible, is that the authors (this book of hymns was written over a long period of time by different authors) were either pleading wholeheartedly, begging mercilessly for forgiveness and salvation or praising their God to the highest heavens, exalting all signs on earth as witness to God’s great power and glory.  There is little in-between.

This fits in with some of the emotional highs and lows I have known in my life.

Then, I am also going to read a chapter or part of a long chapter of one of the gospels each morning. The reason is that I want to, once again,  focus on the words and the actions of Jesus.  Then I want to apply this to what I think I believe about Jesus and see how this plays out in my daily life.

To be sure, I don’t count all of this reading and meditation as holy time.

For instance, I am reading Mark’s account of the holy word. In yesterday’s selection, Jesus called Andrew and Simon at Lake Galilee to “Come with me”, gathering up James and John, sons of Zebedee a little further down the road.  Then he began teaching and healing people at the synagogue.

The people are amazed (yes, they even used that overused word in the Bible) and begin to wonder who this man is who calls out evil spirits from people.  News about Jesus quickly began to spread.

So today, I pick up the story, and Jesus has left the synagogue and goes straight to the home of Simon where it says Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. Upon being told this, Jesus went to her, helped her up, and vanished the fever

Ok, I’m distracted now. First by the fact that she was Simon’s mother-in-law and right away I begin wondering about two things (actually three things, which I will get to).

First, if that is the case, Simon Peter is married and I wonder: What happened to Peter’s spouse and wife as he increasingly “hangs with Jesus”, and is groomed to be the founder of Christ’s church on earth after Jesus is gone. How did that affect his marriage; did he continue it, or abandon it to spread the faith across the land? What became of Peter’s wife? If he was about the gospel of love, then surely he had to continue it in his home.

Well, I don’t know the answers to these things. Maybe some bible scholar does whom I have not heard nor read yet. If I’ve been told any relating historical facts to this, I don’t remember them and I am sure there was never a question with a required memorized answer to it in the foundational Baltimore Catechism.

Secondly, I also wonder why the Catholic Church has made such a thing about priests not being married when the first  leader chosen by Christ was married. In fact, he was found to be so rock-solid, even with his many character flaws, that Jesus would declare: “Upon this rock, I will build my church”.

Perhaps I should read scripture in a study group, rather than alone.

But the ending of the sentence where Simon’s mother-in-law is healed throws me off track from holiness and spiritual inquiry.  Apparently, immediately upon recovering from her illness and fever from the touch of Jesus’ hand, she…..”began to wait on them.”  

What? No recovering respite? Ahhh, the long road women have travelled!

Now, I am no longer pondering the scripture, I am hearing the words to Jesus Christ Superstar start on my internal spiritual  itunes download.

“Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Who are you? What have you sacrificed?
Jesus Christ Superstar Do you think you’re what they say you are?

(Don’t you get me wrong, now) Don’t you get me wrong
(Only want to know) Only want to know.”

I pray, “Jesus, I really do want to know.” Just as Judas pleads to know  who you are in this super hit song of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical. I continue in prayer, “That’s why I’m reading your Word. I don’t want you to get me wrong, I only want to know. And that is why I listen for you….always.”

Now, I’m thinking of my daughter and her theater time coming up as she prepares for the musical direction of Jesus Christ Superstar in their community theater production. The performance and the music made a deep impression on me in the 1970s. I look forward to experiencing it in the new millennium, more than thirty years later.

I see on the lyrics page I can download the ringtone on my cellphone.

I want to do that. I’ll have to wait for my grandson to show me how.

My meditation will continue each time my phone rings. Maybe that counts for something?

 

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