Jesus Christ…Superstar?

Reverend Dr Helen Jacobi, the new vicar of inclusive Auckland church, St Matthew-in-the-City, ponders if the new musical about to take over our super city will make us ask bigger questions about life.

For those of us who were teenagers in the 70s, songs like “I don’t know how to love him” and “Could we start again please?” were part of our lives as we fell in and out of love.

For those of us who were churchgoers back then Jesus Christ Superstar broke into our world and shook us up. It presented the Jesus story as we had never imagined. The story was no longer isolated to a wooden pew, but was given a new lease of life, on stage.

Through music, Jesus Christ Superstar asks the question, “Who is Jesus – is he just a man, or is he some kind of superstar?” This is the same question the Biblical writers asked, and the same question people of faith continue to ask. Who is this Jesus, for us, and does it matter anyway?

At St Matthew-in-the-City we enjoy wrestling with this question and know that everyone has a different perspective.

Each individual’s life experience means we see Jesus through different lenses. We enjoy knowing that there is no one ‘right’ way to see him. Just like Jesus Christ Superstar can make us see Jesus from a different perspective, so being part of a diverse community helps us to understand our own humanity and our relationship to the divine in our world.

Over the years the St Matthew’s billboards have been designed to get people thinking and challenge the way we see Jesus and Christianity. And so we were really glad to team up with Auckland Theatre Company last month to run a billboard design competition to advertise their season of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Our regular billboard is based on the well-known story of Noah and says, “Welcoming two of every kind.” It is a message from us, and the Auckland Rainbow Community Church who have worshipped at St Matthew’s for over 30 years, to the GLBT community. While many churches continue to exclude their GLBT members, we at St Matthew’s would be lost without them. We both need and enjoy a diversity of people if we are ever to come close to answering the question – who is this Jesus?

I am looking forward to seeing what the cast and crew of ATC do to bring my 70s memories alive again, with a 21st century take on the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic. It will no doubt give me something new to think (and sing) about, which I will add into the conversations we have on any day at St Matthew’s.

Article | gayexpress

Reverend Dr Helen Jacobi is the new vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City, an Anglican church with a tradition of being inclusive of all people, especially the LGBT community. Before moving to Auckland Helen was Dean of Napier Cathedral.