Opening our Easter heart

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?

Listening to Jesus Christ Superstar, my friends.  Thank you, Lori, from this post at Lori’s Lane for the inspiration!

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?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in March 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Opening our Easter heart

  1. Heather says:

    For some reason I am just not surprised that the musical is what found its way to your brain-heart. I’m not sure if I’m surprised or not about your impromptu singing.
    And thank you for your openness, for wishing everyone hope and happiness regardless of beliefs. For that, I am every slightly more hopeful. May you have a blessed weekend.

  2. It is a classic! And while I suspect the movie version pales in comparison, it is available on Netflix — thinking it would be a good Easter weekend movie!

  3. lisaspiral says:

    Godspell is accessible and fun but Superstar is brilliant. It was my first exposure to Andrew Lloyd Weber and in many ways musically it is still some of his best work. I didn’t like the movie as well as I like the play but I think it tried to underline your observation that we are all ALL of the characters. Blessings on you this Easter weekend.

  4. Kathy – May unleashed, unlimited inner peace and joy rain down on you and all of your readers!

  5. Stacy says:

    I loved that musical, too. I think I was in fifth grade or so when it came out.
    Our Easter tradition is a crawfish boil!!

    Happy Easter, Kathy! ❤

  6. My daughter was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat this year. I was surprised to find out how catchy those tunes were–we were all complaining they were stuck in our heads for weeks. Guess that would make listening to it a potentially dangerous tradition! Happy Easter!

  7. Brenda Hardie says:

    Kathy, thank you for posting individual videos…I will try to get a couple of them to play 🙂 And if I can, I’ll show them to Alex…he’ll like them a lot.
    Our Easter traditions are different than they used to be…we used to spend nearly the whole week at church. We were all so involved in different ministries and this was the holiest and biggest holiday in the church. Then we would spend Easter Sunday with family…the little kids enjoying an Easter egg hunt and the adults enjoying time together visiting. Now, it’s a much quieter holiday. Not so much time at church, no involvement in the ministries, more family time and now that new babies have been born (and more expected this summer–twins!) in the family, next Easter will be over run with little children seeking out brightly colored Easter eggs! 🙂
    My personal tradition during Easter has been to watch “The Passion of the Christ” (which I mentioned to you before). But it breaks my heart so much that I end up in a depression and that’s not healthy so I need to let that movie “rest” for awhile.
    Kathy…I hope you and Barry and all your family enjoy a richly blessed Easter ♥ And lots of brightly colored Easter eggs! 🙂

  8. Lori D says:

    I love that song “Could we start again please.” I also love Judas’ opening song “Heaven on their minds.” It’s funny, Robin came and posted on my blog about her experience with JCS back in the 70’s too, and it wasn’t too unlike yours. I first saw the movie when they showed it to us in our auditorium at my public high school (late 70’s). Have been hooked ever since. Saw it live on stage with the Ted Neely and Carl Anderson, and with Neely a few times since Carl passed away. I can become obsessed with the movie and listen over and over again to the music. In fact, I’ve listened to Gethsemane a few times already today.

    You shared recently about your visions/nightmares from the holocaust. I’ve had visions/dreams about living in the times of Jesus (whose real name was Y’eshua). I’ve often wondered why I could touch, taste and feel so vividly in those dreams. That time period has always fascinated me. Who knows.

  9. Sara says:

    I could totally sing the entire score to Jesus Christ Superstar. Did I say “sing?” I meant warble. I know all the words, that’s for sure. It made a huge impression on me when I saw the movie at the theater all those many years ago. You’ve inspired me to pop the soundtrack into my CD player! Happy Easter!

  10. Dana says:

    LOVE Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the soundtrack, but I could probably still belt out a line or two… or ten… if prompted. 🙂 I agree– it makes the Bible so much more alive and accessible than the usual dose of Sunday school and/or Religious Studies class. Great idea to imagine ourselves as EVERY character in the opera, too. Happy Easter weekend, Kathy!

  11. sophiebowns says:

    I adore the show! Steve Balsamo is magnificent as Jesus! (on the 1996 cast recording) I wish i could have seen him live! I’m going to see Ben Forster as Jesus in October in the UK leg of the arena tour! I can’t wait! What do people think of him in the role?

  12. solitaryspinster says:

    My younger brother and I use to sing along to the Lp as well. I own the 70s version and a UK version, that is much darker, that I taped off PBS. Perhaps I’ll watch one of them tonight. I like having them on tape so that I can fast forward the whipping. Even though I’m not sure what I believe anymore, I try to watch this every Easter.


  13. john says:

    Every Easter we make Lamb cakes from my grandfather’s cast iron molds that are nearly 100 years old. We serve that as dessert after dinner as a remembrance to those who came before us, by us who are here now to those who will take over when we are gone.

  14. Chris Roddy says:

    Maybe Brenda Hardie would feel better/worse to know that the actor who played Jesus in, Passion of the Christ. name of Jim Cavizel, also plays in a very hard hitting drama on CBS. Christ is alive and well. Happy Easter Kathy and Barry!

  15. just one more side of our Kathy revealed–you have a lovely depth my friend–but I do love that you belted it out to your book club–you are a girl of multi-talents! Happy Easter!

  16. Dawn says:

    If it only took one glass of wine to sing half the lyrics to your book club…wonder if we could get the whole show fro you with a bottle? Thanks for sharing your special Easter tradition!

  17. penpusherpen says:

    Happy Easter, to you and your family Kathy… and Jesus Christ Superstar is a firm favourite… Tradition wise we haven’t anything other than enjoying the family getting together,,. Since my Mother died it seems the family has become a bit lax and hardly keeps in touch, so the extra effort we all make at such times makes it worth all the more… xPenx

  18. Kathy, your post is such a wonderful insight not only about you but about how the arts can communicate to us like nothing else. The roots of my religious traditions have always been through music, too. My father had been a professonal opera singer and when my sister and I were growing up he would be invited to sing professionally at many churches. We always went with him and at Easter he usually sang from Handel’s “Messiah.” My sister and I adored this music and my father’s bass baritone voice. We got to see many types of religious services growing up and we loved the church ladies who would tell us how wonderful our Dad sang and how cute we are. They’d give us cookies. Music and spirituality are very closely bound for me. Have a wonderful Easter!

  19. Janet says:

    I loved this. Last year I listened to the songs I could remember on youtube. When I was a young girl, my church played the record for us to hear. They played it several times during the day. I attended each one.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s