I know it’s a sweeping generality but most, if not all Christians, should see a production of Godspell or Godspell Junior at some point. Since it’s a “rock opera” I suppose it works best for folks of my “baby boomer” generation which also gave birth to shows like Tommy by the Who. One might say we have a history in that department. But the show keeps speaking over the years and to other generations. Recently there was a very good local production of Godspell Junior that included one of our J2Aers. Many of us went to that. About 7 years ago there was a full production of the show at the Tang Center put on by a group of mostly young local musicians. At the time another of our young people was very much part of it (whose wedding is scheduled for 2015!). My son may have gone to every performance. I wonder whether that was the beginning of what has become a four year college hobby to find a part in musical productions.
Perhaps the overwhelming gift of Godspell which, by the way, uses our Episcopal hymnal for much of the words to the songs, is that it highlights the discovery and wonder of the disciples’ relationship with Jesus with an accent on the joy. I recall seeing it at a critical juncture of my own journey in the faith. The “tone” of the show as just described had a kind of “breaking open” effect on my imagination. Reading the Gospels after that was never the same. I was used to the solemnity of worship, the seriousness of moral choice, the grandeur and beauty of the great artistic statements of the faith (Handel’s Messiah, for eg.). All of which continue to resonate. Yet at that time (I was about 20 years old) I needed to know about the simplicity and directness of a relationship with God, and that dimension of excitement, discovery and joy which the show portrays so well. It’s so alive. For me it was a revelation.
At this time of the Christian year, Lent into Easter, this sense of a living faith, a living relationship that involves wonder and joy, is so important. The Lenten season for some seems somewhat old fashioned perhaps, for others way too serious. And Easter can seem remote and rather improbable. Yet in Godspell we see this powerful and simple truth of a living relationship which is at the heart of both. As they say at the end of the show…. “long live God, long live God”. Wishing you the joy of the Resurrection.