Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jesus Christ Superstar

Every Lenten Season I pull out my copy of the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar". Superstar was one of those "modern" productions that came out after the sixties, when everything got "looser". The music of Andrew Lloyd Webber brings the Gospel out in a sassy and direct way.

I remember just how upset average church folks were over this production. It seemed to betray the solemnity and dignity of the church's Gospel. It seemed to mock everything that was precious to the church. But, youth groups caught on to it and this kind of raucous presentation of the Gospel was part of a new wave of music to give praise to God.

One of my favorite pieces in "Jesus Christ Superstar" is the piece sung by Mary Magdalene. She sings: "I don't know how to love him; what to do, how to move him..." Herod shouts and sings. The crowd sings: "Crucify him; crucify him."

I enjoy the energy and the power of it. All instruments and voices give God praise.

I saw a story yesterday about a church in England. Out front during Lent the church puts up a crucifix (the cross plus a Jesus figure on it). An outcry came from the community. The complaint was that it was just too gruesome. They said the children who passed by were put off by Jesus on a cross.

And, so it is. The cross, the crucifixion, is still and offense, a stumbling block to the world. It just seems strange to me that in a world where terrorism and violence reign, and where children spend most of their day in front of computers and televisions filled with violence, that a crucifix is what they complain about.

Of course it's gruesome; senseless violence is always gruesome. Innocent suffering is hard to watch. The cross is the way of the world. It was Roman violence at its best/worst. It's a stumbling block. That is, it's hard to understand. Yet, the Gospel is about a God who gave his son, gave him to the worst the world could dish out, and still...

In the cross we see just how far God was willing to go to save us...through suffering and violence, through death. "I don't know how to love him..."

Dave Nichols


  1. What a great post! I didn't know any one else felt that way about Superstar. I was a teen in the early '70's and God used the lyrics from that show (along with other things) to make me a Christian. I even remember the line that made me wonder if I shouldn't look into this Jesus person a bit more: "Jesus, you just won't believe the hit you've made around here/
    You are all we talk about, the wonder of the year/Oh what a pity if it's all a lie/Still, I'm sure that you can rock the cynics if you try."

    And just like you I still pull Superstar down and play it each year around Easter.

  2. Blessings on you Pleonic. Jesus still compels some kind of attention, even in this secular world.



Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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