Fear and Hope

godspell
I saw Godspell on Broadway just a few months after I’d been ordained.  I was listening to the soundtrack this week, hearing once again the story of Jesus’ life and ministry told through song.  There was John the Baptist, singing “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” to begin the show, and Jesus and the disciples (the ensemble) singing various teachings and texts—
you are the salt of the earth…
all good gifts around us are sent from heaven above…
o bless the Lord, my soul.
The music is upbeat, the tunes are catchy—they make you want to sing along.

And then comes the finale.  The music shifts to angry electric guitars and the drama progresses, as the disciples look on while Jesus is crucified and then dies.  The music pauses to mark the moment, and then a single voice begins to sing, slowly, mournfully, defiantly, “Long live God” over and over again.  The others begin to join in on this refrain, (“Long live God, long live God, long live God, long live God”).

The mood begins to change, as the themes from previous songs intertwine, and the ensemble sings:
We may not reach the ending
But we can start
Slowly but truly mending
Brick by brick, heart by heart
Now, maybe now
We start learning how
We can build a beautiful city
Yes, we can; Yes, we can
We can build a beautiful city
Not a city of angels
But we can build a city of man

At the end of these words, the tune is triumphant once again, returning to the melody and the lyrics that begin the show—“Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”  The next chapter has begun.  The disciples set out to continue the mission.

Following the way of Jesus means that we too join in this chorus, singing “Long live God”, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”, and “We can build a beautiful city.” There are times when we sing it joyfully, times when we sing it mournfully, times when we sing it defiantly.  Following the way of Jesus means that we join God’s mission of newness, of renewal—of building this beautiful city, this glorious new heaven and earth—as we walk between fear and hope.

The Rev. Elizabeth Smith-Bartlett is the Associate Pastor at the Larchmont Avenue Church. This is an excerpt from her sermon on Nov

[1] “Beautiful City” from Godspell by Stephen Schwartz (http://www.letssingit.com/stephen-schwartz-lyrics-beautiful-city-updated-version-z22f5tb#ixzz4PqOtIsqM)

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One Response to Fear and Hope

  1. Dorothy Muller says:

    Elizabeth, Thank you for these thoughts. The image of the cycle of “Long live God” and “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” is helpful to me in these difficult days.

    Like

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