Messiah and Rent: The Anti-Idols
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the extra DVD material about the making of the musical Rent, but I’d recommend that you watch it sometime. I love the musical, love the music, and found the story of how it all came about to be just as remarkable as the musical itself. If you’ve no time to watch, maybe check out the web site about its origins. It rivals the remarkable story of how Handel’s Messiah came to be.
The thoughts about the writing of these two musicals were on my mind today as I finished up writing my sermon, which is on idolatry this week. What’s the connection? The warnings in the Bible against idolatry are really warnings against having too many lovers – and any number more than one is too many. We’re called to live our lives with complete and unreserved devotion to one cause: The Love of God and out from that, the Love of People. There’s to be no holding back – all our endeavors are to be about this purpose, so that our recreation, our sexuality, our free time, and our financial choices are made because of our love for God and others. Jonathan Larson held nothing back in the making of Rent – it was a destiny for him. Handel held nothing back in the making of Messiah. They were different people, from different eras; but both demonstrated the power that comes from single minded devotion.
Our lives can have diverse interests, justice, art, sport, music– that’s not the point. The point is that everything we do derives from, and moves back towards a single purpose. “We learn to love – our live in fear” - the words are invitation to put away all our petty pockets of self preservation and really be spent, joyfully, in the service of the One who alone can fill our lives with meaning. Come on – let’s simplify: No day but today.