Sunday, July 29, 2012

Late to the party

As I sit down to write this post, I have to wonder: how did I miss it?

I am a huge fan of musical theatre - it's my favorite thing about New York and even London. (Although right now the Olympics are a pretty cool London thing.) And I've loved Elton John's music since middle school. So how did I go until last night without seeing Aida, or even knowing much about it?

For those as clueless as I was, Aida is a musical with music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice. It's a story of love and war, fate and choices, life and death, set in ancient Egypt. The short synopsis from goes like this:
Egypt has enslaved Nubia and the great power's prince, Radames, is engaged to the fashionable Amneris. However, when Aida, the princess of Nubia, comes to the palace as a slave, love turns everything upside down and leads everyone down paths they never could have imagined.
A complete synopsis can be found here.

So last night, I went to see a local production at Tallahassee Little Theatre. It was extremely well done with some talented actors and singers, and I was spellbound. In fact, I've been humming the tunes from it all day long. But it was not just fun - it was a compelling story in so many ways. I want to briefly write about just one. To set it up, watch this video of the one song from the show that made it into popular music:

This song takes place as the Egyptian prince Radames and the slave (and Nubian princess) Aida realize that their love is doomed by the hatred and war between their two nations. It is born of frustration, and causes them to wonder about whether they had any choice at all, or was their love some cruel twist of fate.

We all wonder things like this sometimes, don't we? Things go wrong, tragedy strikes us, or even we have a bad day, and we think, "why me?" Is it, as the play asks, just some god's experiment in which we have no say? Is this stretch of mortal time all that we are good for? Or is there something more?

These are excellent questions! I love when culture asks all the right questions. and this is a question for which the gospel has an answer. There is a greater purpose. When we go through suffering, it is just the birth pangs for something much greater, the coming of God's Kingdom. Yes, for each of us some day. but even more important, for the world. The Scriptures make clear that we are to welcome the chance to be like him in suffering, because it gives us the chance to effect change in the world.

Aida portrays a model of that. Because although the lovers are doomed to die for their treason (come on - you didn't see that coming?), their deaths inspire Princess Amneris (Radames' fiancé) to bring about peace between their two kingdoms, and so they didn't die in vain. Yet another redemption story that provides a reflection (albeit dim) of the redemption that Jesus' death brings to us.

Another great story, giving a glimpse of the Great Story. I'm glad I saw it. Even if I was about twelve years late to the party.

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