Today's Lectionary Text
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
For nine years, I was part of a theater company that toured the musical “Godspell” to churches (and a few theaters and community centers) in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. We referred to ourselves as the “senior tour,” since cast members were in their 30s, 40s and 50s – our Jesus (also our director) was even 33 when we started!
For the uninitiated, “Godspell” is a musical by Stephen Schwartz (also known for “Wicked” and “Pippin”), debuting in 1971, based on the Gospel of Matthew. But Schwartz instructs casts in the opening of the script to make the show their own creation, which spawns a lot of creativity. It’s one of my favorite musicals, both for the content and the fact that the cast through the years became some of my best friends.
It was always at this point in our “Godspell” – a dramatized version of Matthew 23:37-39 – that signaled a change for the cast members playing disciples. The charismatic, wise and happy-go-lucky leader we looked to as Jesus was gone. “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’,” from the New International Version, is pretty close to the exact wording of the script. As disciples, we looked at each other silently questioning what we had just heard.
We like to think that the real disciples thought the same thing at the time. Now, we have the advantage of knowing how the story ends – as the ultimate sacrifice for the millennia to come.
Our “Godspell” had one other aspect that many others didn’t – we showed the resurrection of Jesus, greeted by his grateful disciples.
Prayer for Reflection
Day by day, day by day, oh dear Lord three things I pray: To see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly. Day by day. (Adapted from “Day by Day,” Schwartz.) Amen.
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