Life, Love and the Imperial Guards

Authentic

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Roman Soldiers appearing in the 2000 version of the film “Jesus Christ, Superstar”.

So, the last few days, I have been bed-bound. I hurt my back somehow, probably from lifting a box, dancing at my granddaughter’s prom, fishing, or a combination of all of the above. When you’re in your sixties, you really don’t have to do much. And that is a collective “you”. I’m not necessarily pointing any fingers here. I’m just saying, the older one gets, the easier it becomes to injure oneself. At least, that’s the way I look at it. I feel somewhat better about being so accident prone, It really is much nicer than saying that I’m just a  “lummox” or a”clutz”.

Needless to say, I’ve been taking it easy, even going back to bed for the day yesterday, which is very unlike me.

With no TV in my bedroom, I decided to download a movie onto my phone. After much deliberation, I decided on “Jesus Christ, Superstar”, an updated, contemporary version from the year 2000 instead of the archaic 1973 version of the film.

Overall, I felt the movie to be a bit campy, but other than that, true to its original intent.

In my opinion, the original was quite sacrilegious, almost blasphemous, but I loved the music and still know every word to most of the older songs. You see, we played the original soundtrack repeatedly in my eighth-grade parochial school class. The nuns and the students were none the wiser. I’m not sure anyone cared about the questionable words at the time.

However, as an adult, I know there are some definite “red flags” about watching this movie. I also know that there is a version including the resurrection. I didn’t know prior to watching if this was THE ONE with that ending but I wanted to find out. I felt that I HAD to know. I wasn’t sure why I was so compelled to watch this fictional interpretation of Jesus passion and death. I just was. I thought maybe it was because I knew all of the songs, however, it turned out to be something quite different.

There are two character interactions in this movie that profoundly affected me.

The first encounter we see is that of the turbulent relationship that developed between Jesus and Judas Iscariot. From the opening scene, Judas is at odds with Jesus’ teaching. He feels as though Jesus has gotten to be too “heavenly minded” to be of any “earthly good” (implied in the opening song “Heaven on Their Minds”). Additionally, Judas is feeling like they have gotten away from their original purpose: defeating the Roman occupation in Israel. In Judas’ anger and frustration, he looks to Jesus’ real opposition of the day, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees and agrees to identify a location for his arrest, all for the handsome sum of 30 silver pieces.

Interestingly enough, when the time comes for Judas to identify a sad and sorrow-filled Jesus, Judas kisses him on the cheek, which, at the time, was known as a greeting of endearment. Jesus, emotionally drained, broken-hearted, crushed, yet understanding of the mission ahead, takes Judas’ sad and glistening face which was co-mingled with sweat and tears, cupped his head in his hands and said, “Judas, must you….betray me..with….a kiss??” Then, Judas fell to his knees sobbing while Jesus held on tightly and stroked his head lovingly, much as a mother coddling her young, till the Roman guards intervened and they were separated.

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(Featured in the picture above is Glenn Carter as Jesus Christ and Jerome Pradon as Judas Iscariot in the 2000 remake of the film, “Jesus Christ, Superstar”.)

The second interaction was much like the first but with a character, no one would expect.

At first glance, I thought this person, as well as his cronies, might be the comic relief, but no, my mistake! You see, the Roman guards were all dressed like Darth Vader from Star Wars and Pontius Pilate was dressed more like a 1940’s German commandant or maybe even a Star Wars Imperial officer. At that point, I almost turned the movie off…almost.

Then something amazing happened. Pilate began to talk with Jesus, from his heart. After talking for a bit, Pilate comes to believe that Jesus is innocent of any crime. He may be confused or misguided but Jesus has done nothing deserving of punishment-no punishment of any kind. Then, Pilate does something totally unexpected. He tenderly looks into Jesus’ eyes and puts a gentle hand on his cheek and begs Jesus to say something on his own behalf, something that will spare this innocent man’s life. And then, Jesus cups Pilate’s face in his hands and speaks words something like this, “My life… is out of your hands”. 

In the background, the chief priests work the crowds to their own advantage.  They are all chanting, at first softly, but gain volume with boldness,”Crucify Him!” Repeating it over and over till Pilate has Jesus flogged, beaten 39 times. At  40 lashes, one can lose their life. Pilate counts each and every whipping. When he reaches the 35, 36, 37, he begins to weep. At 39 lashes, Jesus falls to the ground in a bloody heap and begins to roll away

. Pilate runs over to him, scoops him up, and holds him tenderly in his arms. He cradles Jesus’ head and speaks gently to him. Pilate wants to know why he stays quiet and begs Christ to give him something, anything, that will give him a way out of this death sentence. The crowds are getting louder and bolder while chanting their angry refrain; “Remember Caesar. You have a duty..to keep the peace, so Crucify Him! Remember Caesar! You’ll be demoted. You’ll be deported. Crucify Him!”

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(Pontius Pilate, played by Fred Johanson, is seen here weeping while holding Jesus, played by Glenn Carter, in the 2000 version of the movie, “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”)

Seeing no other options, Pilate stands resolutely and walks away from Jesus to pass the death sentence that was decided on before the beginning of time. He is broken-hearted, angry and frustrated by this decision, however. He is upset that Jesus can’t or won’t change his fate, embittered by the two-faced mob of Jesus’ fellow Jews who won’t stand up to their own leaders and infuriated by the heretical, self-serving Jewish leaders who started this whole nasty business.

When looking back at both Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate, they were both portrayed as having the same type of response and reaction to their respective relationships with Jesus. I believe that Jesus forgave both Judas and Pilate at their point of contact with him. Both the Bible and Jewish historians tell us that they each felt regret and remorse for their respective actions. They both seemed to have an affection of some sort for Jesus. However, they were genuinely open with their feelings of anger, frustration, sadness and in the end, sorrow. We do see that, through it all, Jesus’ love was authentic. In all things, Jesus always loves because he IS love. And that love showed through perfectly.

I’m not sure if I would recommend this particular movie to friends and family. The “Darth Vader”/”Imperial Guard”, Roman Soldiers were a bit much, in my opinion.  But, if you’re looking for an authentic movie about Godly love, “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a down-to-earth movie about just that. And, if you’re looking for unconditional love that transcends anything that we could possibly say or do…you won’t want to miss this for the world.

Till we meet again!

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Don’t You Dare Get Near Me with That!

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fret/”>Fret</a&gt;

“I bet, just from the title, that your mind has gone to a variety of places. You are probably asking yourself, ” What could have provoked such a demonstrative response in that woman??” Well, this blog is actually a true story about an incident that occurred during my childhood.

Ever since I’ve been a small child, as far back as I can remember, I have been a “fretter”, one who frets, a world-class “Nervous Nellie”. I was afraid of my own shadow, so to speak: afraid of the dark, afraid of the water, afraid of storms and crowds and things that “go bump in the night”. Now, you may be saying that these are all common fears in children, and if you did, you would be correct in saying that. However, I had uncommonly odd and unusual fears (and I can’t believe that I’m sharing these publicly. I hope this is somehow therapeutic). I was afraid that a hand would come out from under my bed and grab me (the bogeyman, maybe). I thought this same hand might make its way to the bathroom fixtures and grab my backside when sitting on the commode. I definitely lived in a most frightening world. I’m not sure that child counselors even existed in the late Fifties/early Sixties. I think back and wonder if an exorcism wouldn’t have been more beneficial in my case.

So, by age 6, I was in first grade at St. Cecilia’s Parochial School in Leominster, Massachusetts. My teacher’s name was Sister (Sr.) Eugene and she was a ‘peach’. She needed to be. She had me for a student and a boy I’ll call Eddie D Munster who was kept back several times. We both were a handful. Sr. Eugene took many of the difficult children. She was patient, kind and a great teacher. She understood those children who weren’t quite like the rest. You see, Sr. Eugene herself, had Cerebral Palsy but she never let it interfere with her independence as a person, a nun or in her career as a teacher.

And so, at the tender age of six, just as the other first graders, I was required to get a vaccination in my arm and a polio drink which came as a suspension in a little paper cup. The drink I did not mind. The vaccination, however, I minded very much, as shots were one of my greatest fears.

The time came for our class to stand in line for the vaccination and polio drink. we stood in alphabetical order. Since my maiden surname began with the letter “D”, I was pretty close to the front of the line. The closer I got to the vaccination, the more nervous I became. At first, I started to cry, next, I’m assuming that my stomach started to get upset because I remember retching, then I started screaming. Before I knew it, Sr. Eugene scooped my small, frail body up in her one, good arm and held me close. She told me it would be okay. She pulled me out of line and we watched everyone else get their vaccine while I waited comfortable in Sr. Eugene’s warm embrace. I don’t remember anyone else screaming or crying. It may just be a time long forgotten. I know I got a vaccine and a polio drink eventually that day.

I don’t remember any pain from the vaccination. I remember getting a bandaid. The things I remember most is the fretting and the retching and the screaming and the dread and the terror and for what?

In the end, there was only kindness, instead of helplessness. Love instead of pain. Peace instead of fear. There was calmness instead of fretfulness and dread.

Isn’t that what God wants to do for us? How often do we hold onto those terrible feelings instead of giving them to him? We can go to him in prayer and lay them at the foot of the cross. In exchange, he will give us those very same gifts of love, peace, kindness, calmness, even joy and contentment. Yes, They are there for the asking.

So, the next time you feel nervous or become fret-filled, remember me and my dreadful first grade vaccination. Better still, remember Sr. Eugene and the Godly love she modeled to a group of students and teachers that autumn day so very long ago and seek that. You’ll be glad you did.

Till we meet again!

Classic Cars

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/crank/”>Crank</a&gt;

I love classic cars! By “classic”, I mean antique cars, preferably from 1950’s and older. I’m into Edsels, Studebakers, Chevys, Buicks, any MG model and most Thunderbirds, to name a few. My favorite model is from the early 20th century, and that would be none other than, the infamous Model T Ford, which had a hand crank engine. You can still see an occasional Model T at car shows  today, but many have had their cranks removed and engines replaced with a newer model. In my opinion, there is just something not right about that. I like when everything is restored to its original beauty and function, the way it was meant to be from the beginning. I am especially delighted to see a classic car driven by its original owner, though, in the case of the Model T, most have passed on, and it’s their grandchildren that you may find driving the car.

As much as I know their names and, just maybe, I can tell you around what year the car was made, I cannot tell you much about how they run or what makes them “tick”, so to speak.

My husband can. He’s an expert on all things classic, including cars. He knows an eight cylinder engine from a six cylinder. He knows a water plump from a fuel pump. Me, not so much. I can tell you if it’s pretty, if it has original parts (usually) and if it drives well for its age.

As I was writing this post about cars, I began to think about how God relates to us. When Jesus died and rose from the grave, he did so to restore our relationship with the Father. He didn’t just want to revive a long dead relationship, he wants to restore it to its original intent; to bring about Godly beauty and functionality, according to our Master Designer, just like a classic car. Our personal, one-on-one time with our Creator was meant to be intimate, loving and experiential! So many of us miss out on this type of fulfilling relationship with our Lord. Why? In my humble opinion, I think many people just aren’t aware that it’s available through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I can’t wait till the next car show. Not only will I appreciate the beauty of these early model autos, I will also be reminded of Christ’s restorative work on Calvary for you and for me. And, unlike the intrinsic value of the car which is markedly capped at a certain amount, a restored relationship with the Father is priceless. In the end, which would you rather have in your possession? One will travel the world over while the Other travels this world and beyond. Just food for thought.

Till we meet again!

 

 

God’s Answer To Prayer

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/glimmer/”>Glimmer</a&gt;

Today, I woke up feeling like I had a bright, new day, full of possibilities. Like the morning dew that forms on the soft, green carpet of grass  or the glimmer of sunshine that appears with each morning sunrise, I felt refreshed and ready to take on the day. My goal was to make a difference in someone’s life, to take a kindness received yesterday and pay it forward.

As I leaped out of bed and made my way to the coffee pot, I could already feel my energy begin to wane. I quickly grabbed a tall, Snoopy Christmas mug in hopes of maintaining some of that energy that was fading away quickly.  I closed the  kitchen cupboard  door, walked to the coffee pot  and poured the dark, Columbian brew into the mug. I took a sip of the “elixir of life” hoping to revive my weary body and soul , getting wearier by the moment.

Taking the mug into the living room, I began to pray “Papa (my pet name for my Father in heaven), who will you have me bless today? What can I do for you today? I’m fading fast. This illness of mine robs me of strength and desire to do your will. Please be my strength and give me your desire. In Jesus I come before you, my Papa. Amen.

When we pray, it is not always answered in a way we want or expect, however, it is answered. Today, my answer was, “Yes, Child, I will use you. I will be your strength and will give you the desire.” You see, my family was going one way and I was going another. I was going to minister to a lonely mother of a child with special needs. My family was going to have a delightful night out to eat a steak dinner and then onto a fishing excursion. Most times, family time is something we do together and that is sacrosanct. Tonight would be an exception to that rule. For what reason, I don’t know. I will just obey.

Tonight, when I get back in my very comfortable bed, I will pray a prayer of thanksgiving for strength, desire and being used by God to make a difference in someone’s life today. And it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Till we meet again!

To Froth! The Word of the Day

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/froth/”>Froth</a&gt;

So, I would like to write a little blurb today about the Daily Prompt word “Froth”. Instead of using it to describe that foamy, luscious top on latte or the bubbly cap on an ocean wave, I’d rather talk about the word itself. It rhymes with both broth and cloth, and can be used nicely in poetry. It’s really quite versatile in storytelling, as we have previously seen in this blog. There is no need to go on and on about it except to say that I find it a fun little word to repeat! Froth!

Have fun with the word of the day, my co-writing collaborators, and kudos to all who compose blogs, poetry and other publications in the Daily Prompts!

 

In the Dead of Night

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disrupt/”>Disrupt</a&gt;

In the dead of night, I sleep

After a busy, fractured day

Exhausted beyond all comprehension, I awake suddenly

The incessant ringing disrupts my peaceful slumber

“Hello” my groggy husband says, “Yes, this is”

“What! Where? When, he yells frantically

Unable to speak, I only stare with mouth agape

He responds to the unknown caller and turns

“It’s our son. We must go!”

Those unwelcome words pierce my heart

Knowing the dread that I feel

Yet not knowing the extent of its cause

I arise and join my husband

To hold our precious, child-like son

One…

Last…

Time.

 

Moments By the Creek: Musings and Memories

via Daily Prompt: Rush

In the still of the night, a hush fell over the over the old homestead. It was peaceful and quiet down by the creek that ran near the tall, stately cypress tree. The only sound that I could hear was the occasional dog barking in the distance. It was nearly midnight as I sat by myself in a little red and orange lawn chair on the weathered, wooden dock. While gazing at the stars, I began to ponder on the activities of yesteryear.

Only a decade ago, it was one of busyness. I ran at a frenetic pace to keep up with the needs of work, family and friends. It was a rush of activity from 5:00 AM until 9:00 PM, at the very least. There were clerical duties including paperwork deadlines, executive meetings and supervisory presentations. On the homefront, there were precious children to care for, home-cooked meals to make, regular school functions to attend. Then, I had time and energy for Friday date night, church ministries and girl’s day out!

When did the passing of old man time, the enemy of aging and the abuse of illness abscond with the life I once knew? Yes, I do miss those days; however, when I began to contemplate on the rushed days, the tough work weeks and oftentimes, very short nights, there are some parts, including time consuming tasks, that robbed me of precious time with family and friends. Those, I must say, I do not miss. On the contrary, I am grateful for the change in lifestyle! You see, not all change is bad. If we do not move forward with some change, then we are stuck in the background. Time doesn’t wait for us. We must move with the changes or it is like we have moved backwards because, like they say, “Time marches on”. It was then that I realized  I had just reached a time to move forward, a time to move on.

Back on the dock, I began to smile for the peace and quiet under the pale moonlight. As the creek moved along ever so slowly toward the lake, I bid the moon, the stars, and my Creator a good night. I then headed back to the comfort of my home, to kiss my sleeping husband goodnight, and thank the Lord above for such a full and blessed life.

Till we meet again!