Anything is Possible!

With Hope, Faith, and Perseverance


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The Human Side of Jesus

Jesus_Washing_the_Feet_of_his_Disciples_(Albert_Edelfelt)_-_Nationalmuseum_-_18677.tif.jpg Wikimedia commons

Painting by Albert Edelfelt 1854-1905

Tonight at my church, someone’s going to wash my feet. Then I’ll wash someone else’s feet. In the past, I’ve skipped this ceremony in our “Maundy Thursday” service, mainly because Holy Week is so busy. I figured Wednesday potluck, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday was enough. But singing in the choir, it’s my responsibility to be there. So, I decided to look deeper into this foot washing business.

Jesus washed his disciples feet during the time of Passover when he knew his time on this earth was coming to an end.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.  John 13:1 (NLT)

It is this love that pulls me in to Jesus. Like the humility that comes next.

After supper, Jesus took off his outer robe, tied a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he washed his disciples feet and dried them with the towel. (John 13: 4-5)

The foot washing was a expression of love and servitude. A precursor to the ultimate act of love to come. The disciples were no doubt embarrassed by their leader and teacher performing such a humble and personal service. But Jesus told them that, later, they would understand.

(How often has it taken me years for to understand the significance of events that once baffled me?)

Then Jesus gives them the mandate from which the word Maundy comes in tonight’s service:

And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.                 John 13: 14-15 (NLT)

Jesus is telling his disciples to be of humble service to each other. I believe he intended us to serve one another. But he is willing to be first. He used his humanity to set an example.

There are many other times when Jesus showed his humanity.  One was in the garden of Gethsemane.  He asked the disciples to stay and watch with him. But they fell asleep. Then Jesus prays.

 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26: 39 (NLT)

It sounds to me like Jesus was scared. He knew what was coming and he felt real human fear. Yet, he wanted God’s will to be done, understanding and trusting, that God had a much bigger plan.

This scene from Gethsemane is depicted in the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar. Some people may criticize the movie for not being strictly in line with the Bible, but it opened my heart many years ago at a time when my mind was firmly agnostic. That’s why I did a series on the movie a couple years ago and would like to share the Gethsemane post again.

I know Jesus is much more than human, but for me, his humanity is what made and makes him more accessible.

https://joannaoftheforest.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/gethsemane-facing-fear/


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Gethsemane: Facing Fear

The rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, planted it’s seeds in fertile ground toward the end of my agnostic years. I loved the story and the music so much, I bought the album and learned most of the songs by heart. So here, I’m re-posting my favorite from last year’s series.

Anything is Possible!

This post is part of my week long series revisiting the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. Thanks for joining the journey!

Ted Neely’s powerful performance as Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, gets me at the core of my being, every time.

Seeing the human fear and the weariness Jesus feels in this scene inspires me and even comforts me. He died for us in spite of his fear. His powerful connection with his loving Father gave him courage, but it was far from easy for him. Otherwise, He would not have asked for a reprieve.

This scene reminds me that each of us can deepen our connection with God, to give us courage to face our own trials, large and small.

We can ask God questions: Do you really want me to do this?

We can ask for help: Okay, God. Show me how. Help me feel your presence…

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He’s Alive!

Happy Easter!

As part of the completion of this series on, Jesus Christ Superstar, I offer the theme song:

I like seeing Judas hangin’ out with the angels. It looks like he’s been forgiven.

When I first thought of doing this as a series, I thought it was just a good idea.

But it turned into something more.

Listening to the songs and watching the scenes from Jesus Christ Superstar, reflecting on their meaning to me, more than 30 years after my first encounter with the movie, I’ve come to feel the story of Jesus more deeply. I was drawn back to the Passion of the Christ to relive some of that experience too.

I’ve come to realize that this project is not just from me. I am grateful to have been led this week by the spirit of the living Jesus.

To conclude this week, I want to leave you with this beautiful song, Alive, by Natalie Grant.

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey.


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Could We Start Again, Please?

(This week, I’ve been revisiting the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar.  You can read more about the film and the role it played in my life here.)

“Could We Start Again Please” is one of my favorite songs from this movie. I’m posting it a little out of sequence from the movie, but for me,  it seems to fit here.

I’m imagining the friends of Jesus waking up the morning after the crucifixion and hoping it was all just a bad dream.

The good thing is that, with Jesus, we can always start again. No matter what mistakes we’ve made, we can be forgiven. All we need to do is ask, and open our hearts and minds to the profound love of Jesus.


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Jesus, Judas, and the Deeper Story

This week, I’m revisiting the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar.  You can read more about the film and the role it played in my life here.

As I experience these scenes thirty of so years later, I understand more. I understand some of the struggle Judas must have felt, so well depicted in the performance of Carl Anderson. I also appreciate the modern day instruments of war framing the dream scene:

 

Today, the last supper scene sharpens my awareness of the self- righteous complacency we can fall into with, “Always hoped that I’d be an apostle…”

But Jesus brings us back to a complicated reality. He knows the deeper story as he orders Judas to go and betray him. We see some of Jesus’ human side and feel the turmoil, and the love, between Judas and Jesus.

 


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Mary Magdalene and Me

This week, I’m revisiting the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar.  You can read more about the film and the role it played in my life here.

Of all the songs in this movie, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” drew me in most intensely, during my agnostic twenties. I questioned: Who is this Jesus guy really? And who is this woman who doesn’t know how to love him? What’s it all about?

I related to her confusion. The song implies that Mary Magdalene first seems to consider her relationship with Jesus from a romantic, or sexual, frame of reference.  This is understandable, not because she was a prostitute as she was historically, and wrongly, labeled to discredit her, but because she was human. 

As I watched and listened to her song, I saw that Jesus was like no other man Mary had encountered. Her love for him was different from any thing she’d felt before. She was afraid of the power of that  love. I understood her fear of being overpowered by love. I understood her fear of losing herself in his love.

And yet, she was drawn to him, by his goodness and his kindness.

And so was I.

 


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“Everything’s Alright”

This week, I’m revisiting the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar.  You can read more about the film and the role it played in my life here.

When I watched this scene, “Everything’s Alright,” again, after many years of just singing the song to sooth myself or some one else, it was different from what I remembered. I had not remembered how much tension the scene contained. Tension between Jesus and Judas which then turns into all those other feelings of love, and fear, and foreshadowing of something really big, and terrible, and amazing on the horizon.

Sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed by the world, I try to tell myself, “everything’s alright.” But it’s not all right. The world’s got huge messes that desperately need cleaning up.

Yet, as Mary Magdalene reminds us, we all need to take a break now and then, to rest up for the work ahead of us.  And so we don’t go crazy.