My Good Friday tradition, for more years than you can count on fingers and toes, involved spinning the old album on the record player, clicking in an eight track tape, pushing in a condensed “modern” tape, and eventually inserting a CD into the player.
Listening to what, you ask?
How many of you can sing the entire score? If you can, shall we Skype and sing it together? (Just kidding. I’m not singing in public. Even in the relative “private” of Skype, thank you very much.)
If you want to listen to the ENTIRE 1970 CD here’s your Easter weekend jamming:
A few years ago at Book Club Pam and I sang half of the rock lyrics of this treasured favorite musical to the rest of Book Club. It’s a wonder we weren’t kicked out. Members still raise their eyebrows at the craziness. I suppose we could blame it on the glass of wine which lowered our social standards. (We would have stopped any time–honest–except the rest of Book Club seemed mesmerized. It never occurred to us that they were mesmerized for other reasons than enjoying the impromptu sing-a-long.)
You may be wondering where I developed this passionate love of Jesus Christ Superstar. Let’s step back through the years, shall we? Let’s stop at the footsteps of the year 1972.
We were teenagers in a small Presbyterian church in Yale, Michigan. Our pastor was Floyd Shafer, a most wonderful man who energized and inspired the youth of our congregation in ways which still resound years later. He saw what we couldn’t see in ourselves yet. He lit a match beneath our undeveloped capabilities and fanned the fire of our youth, attempting to show us how God and Jesus could be welcomed into our hearts.
He wasn’t always popular with the elders who were recoiling from mini skirts and long hair and hippies and rumors of drugs up at the high school. The class above us even had a sit-in protesting something or other! We girls had recently been allowed to wear pants to school, no kidding.
We were a bit too young–by just a year or so–to be part of the hippy movement of the late 1960’s, but we rode on the shirt tails of this societal change.
Pastor played his guitar in church and we sang “Bridge over Troubled Waters” and later we put on a play based on Jesus Christ Superstar. I remember dressing as Satan with a red suit and long red tail and carrying a wand. (Of course, we can’t be sure it was me. It could have been another Youth Group member. Perhaps I dreamed I wore the suit, because it seems impossible given that I was so shy I never said “boo”.)
But I could whip out every word in Jesus Christ Superstar. At home, in my bedroom, next to the red manual typewriter where I typed stories about King David’s love life. Both his love of God and of…well, Google it. You’ll see the name of his earthly passion.
Every Good Friday, years and years later, I would listen and sing, listen and wail, listen and cry, listen and dance, listen and imagine it all. The Palm Sunday ride into town on that hot dusty donkey. The Last Supper. Pilate begging Jesus to plead to lesser charges. The Garden of Gethsemane. Herod’s mocking swimming pool song. The whipping. The Crucifixion. The Resurrection. All come alive in a way the Bible couldn’t so perfectly communicate, according to my heart.
(I only want to say
If there is a way
Take this cup away from me
For I don’t want to taste its poison
Feel it burn me,
I have changed I’m not as sure
As when we started
Then I was inspired
Now I’m sad and tired
Listen surely I’ve exceeded
Tried for three years
Seems like thirty
Could you ask as much
From any other man?)
Yesterday–unexpectedly–listened to the entire score on YouTube.
The heart soared once again! The spirit shivered. The soul rocked. It’s a classic, truly a classic.
(One reason I like this story so much is to imagine that we’re ALL of the characters in the rock opera. We’re Jesus, Peter, Judas, Herod, Pilate. In our lifetime, we’ve acted like almost every character. We’ve betrayed, we’ve hoped, we’ve begged, we’ve judged, we’ve been crucified, and Pray God, we’re going to rise, we’re going to rise out of any grave of limiting beliefs and opinions and we’re going to resurrect into the fullness of our humanity, Amen, Amen, and Amen again!)
Happy Easter, my friends. May you feel deeply the hope of this Holy Week, the possibility of it in your everyday spirit, no matter what your religion or spirituality.
What Easter traditions do you follow, if any?