Our church is hosting a Holy Week event Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The guts of the buildings have been transformed into the scenes from the Passion; a children's classroom is now the Garden of Gethsemane, the sanctuary now the hill called Golgotha.
I was invited to be a part of this. I'd love to think the invitation came due to some acting aura I naturally emit or that my level of compassion is just so overwhelmingly biblical that folks said "Oh, John must be asked." But our church tries to deal in the real, not the fantastical, so for now, for this week, it was the beard and hair; a Holy Week presentation has to have a Jesus.
I will play Footwashing/Last Supper Jesus. I wasn't asked to be Garden of Gethsemane Jesus (dark and moody, very few lines) or Crucifixion Jesus (kinda the superstar); no, I'll be literally washing feet, breaking pita bread, and passing around a chalice of Mogen David. Hey, you play the cards you're dealt.
We practiced yesterday afternoon and I feel it'll go well come Wednesday. I really do. Although we had some background mood music playing, my head was filled with the soundtrack from the film The Gospel Road, featuring Johnny Cash. I was exposed to the movie at a very young age; a gift from my dad. Johnny sings and narrates the Passion week scenes. My parents have told me that I used to believe Cash's voice was God's voice. For some reason, I believe God would be o.k. with that. The song in that film which accompanies the scene I'm in this week is a rollicking ballad with that hallmark steam engine feel; it shows the disciples and Jesus enjoying a meal. But there's one line in the lyrics which kept repeating itself in my head yesterday afternoon: For tomorrow, I must die.
There's plenty of keyboards out there writing about the divinity of God, about the holiness inherent in this week so long ago. It should be so. However, my keyboard tends toward the human facet. There's got to be a few of us who keep saying "Yes, he was fully God...but he was also fully man." If this was your last week, your last meal, your last lecture, your last whatever, what would you be doing? How would you feel? What would you say?
There's a part of me that says Jesus knew he had to return to the Father; it was the next scene to be played. That same part of me also says that Jesus looked around at his ragtag friends and the pita bread and the Mogen David and the dust kicked up by unbroken colts in the street and the children playing in earshot and the old men standing around telling of the loaves and fish and the beautiful dusk and way divinity was wrapped up in flesh and bone and sweat and said "You know, I'm gonna miss this. I really am."
Did e're such love and sorrow meet?
I've renamed my scene Lake Wobegon Jesus; that descriptor won't show up in the printed material for this week; it's a card I'm playing close. I pray, I really do, that whatever aura I emit later this week is overwhelmingly melancholic grace; a snapshot of the Son of Man who inhaled tomorrow, I must die and exhaled I'm gonna miss this. I really am.
You know how the story ends...but I'll let you know how it goes.