God save the people, for thine they are they children… Oh save the people from despairGod Save the People – Godspell
Godspell is a 1970’s play where Jesus and the disciples are a bunch of clowns. It follows the book of Matthew pretty closely and has some iconic songs! I’m pretty sure I got the soundtrack from my cousin who gave it to me with a bunch of CD’s she didn’t want anymore. But the soundtrack has become one of my favorite musical soundtracks.
It should be noted that the movie is definitely an acquired taste.
But it’s important to see it.
In the musical, the song is sung by Jesus after being baptized as he’s leading his new disciples through New York.
When wilt thou save the people; oh, God of Mercy, when? The People, Lord, the people; not thrones and crowns but men! Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they; let them not pass, like weeds, away; their heritage, a sunless day. God save the people!God Save the People – Godspell
I love the imagery of the people being the Flowers of God’s heart. How we are that which is precious to him, and then how that is juxtaposed with us passing away like weeds with our only heritage being a sunless day.
While I have been successful in many aspects of my life. I have made a difference in many peoples’ lives, have both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and have done good things with my life.
It’s crazy how not having a job that provides more than what you need can become that which weighs heavier – and I often question what I have to show for my life and all the money I spent on degrees.
But we can have faith that God does care about us. In Jesus’s talking in Matthew 6, he speaks about the birds and the lilies of the field and how God provides for them. After each of those he makes a comparison saying:
Look at the birds… And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life… And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith.Matthew 6:26 – 30 (NLT) excerpts
I love the way the NLT translates Jesus’s words so matter-of-factly, with such a non-condemning, ‘this is objective fact, why are you even doubting these words. The song continues:
Shall crime bring crime forever; strength aiding still the strong? Is it thy will, O Father, that men shall toil for wrong?God Save the People – Godspell
I absolutely relate to this. Much like in Matthew where Jesus says
… For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.Matthew 5:45 (GNT)
I was let go from my job shortly after reporting about unethical behavior from a director. My boss, friend, and fellow seminary graduate lied about me, falsified documents, and eventually told me to engage in unethical behavior to make the director happy and keep my job.
At the past church I was at, I was yelled at, lied about, had a campaign of misinformation waged against me. My family was attacked. They systematically eliminated and drove out allies in the church, and broke the constitution of the church in order t to get rid of me.
Even after I’ve left, I’ve received emails not intended for me where they inform others that I am no longer there because of evil and wrong things.
People who do evil seem to prosper much more than people who try and do the wrong thing. I’m reminded and especially frustrated when I see the people who actively lied or passively remained quiet prosper and buying all sorts of new things while I am trying to figure out which bills get paid this month.
Many times, I’ve thought about how much easier it would have been to keep my mouth quiet and not rock the boat and just leave after I had found a replacement job. But, I don’t think I would have been ok with that.
BACK TO GODSPELL.
So far in the song, we’ve asked God to save the people, been reminded that we are special to God, and asked that we not simply pass away. We’ve descended down into the depressing thought that evil will triumph, and right after that is my favorite part of the song.
“NO!” say thy mountains; “NO!” say thy skies. Man’s clouded sun shall brightly rise; and songs be heard instead of sighs. God save the people!God Save the People – Godspell
I love hope. I love the fact that no matter how dark it can be, that God will ultimately win. I interpret this as tying into Luke 19:40. That the people are full of despair and are losing hope, but like how Jesus said the rocks would cry out, the mountains and the skies are crying out to answer the question of the people. It also has echos of Romans 1:20, where Paul writes about how creation testifies to the Truth of God.
Here’s a link to the clip from the 1973 Movie: God Save the People!