Godspell

Phew, well I’ve taken a short Sabbatical while the country got itself in order (I mainly just didn’t blog about the Australian election because I, like every other commentator had no idea what was going to happen!). But now for something completely different

Last night Anna and I went on a date to go see the St. Stephens Newtown production of Godspell. It was a great night out and if you’re in Sydney you should definitely get tickets as there’s only four more shows and the pre-booked tickets are way better than the at-the-door ones.

Here’s what I loved about it:

– It was great fun. The costumes, the energy of the cast, the band, it all added up to a really great night out. To put what I’m saying in context I should note that I hate musicals and I still had a good time. I mean I haven’t seen the Sound of Music or Grease and I STILL had a good time. Kudos to Megan Hanger for having her hair in a beehive (what were they thinking in the 60s ad 70s?) and to Andrew Ford (playing Jesus) who donned an army crew cut.

– I loved the first Act in particular. I loved the “tower of Babble” prologue. For those of you who haven’t seen Godspell before, the prologue begins with the philosophies of various philosophers (I couldn’t pick all of them but I did recognise Socrates, Jean-Paul Satre, Friedrich Nietzsche, perhaps Thomas Aquinas) in song, first individually and then in a cacophony. This is sliced through with the piercing clarity of the declaration that God was entering the world. Beautiful, powerful. I also loved that it was packed with Jesus teaching and when you are confronted with it in it’s shocking simplicity you can’t help but be drawn to it. 

Here’s what I found… interesting… about the script

Now I don’t want to seem like a nitpicker but there was one little thing that bugged me. There was only a muted sense that Jesus death achieved anything. It was hard to understand exactly why Jesus had to die. The Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark about this one. Sure, Jesus in part died because his teaching and miracles got up the nose of the establishment. But mostly he died to restore relationship shattered by the sin of humanity.

How does a person’s death restore relationship? Well to understand that you have to understand the nature of what broke our relationship with God in the first place. Sin in the Bible is not just a litigious issue, it’s also deeply relational. We tell God, the giver of life, that we want to be cut off from him and so God gives us what we ask for. But God isn’t satisfied with this being our end. He deals with our guilt on the cross (kinda but not exactly like this). With his anger and our guilt dealt with on the cross we can now have right relationship with God again. This is part of what the cross achieved. But the script doesn’t give this sense as strongly as it could have.

Having said that though, this is really a minor hang up (there’s only so much you can say in a musical). All in all though I thought it was excellent, I’ve got a nasty case of the covets (I don’t think that my church couldn’t pull it off) and I’m thrilled to see the old Godspell script dusted off. Beehives and all.

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