Gaga Gospel

I’m sitting in my office, doing the Holy Week Hustle–the painful and sacred dance that church leaders learn while simultaneously planning services for Good Friday and Easter. All the awkwardness of dancing at prom, with the joy of dancing at a wedding and the pain of the morning AFTER dancing at said wedding, realizing that you are far too old and out of shape to dance for hours in 3-inch-heels. It’s that kind of dance.

So, here i am, trying to get into a dark and twisty (thanks, Drs. Grey and Yang) friday place, while still trying to whip up not one but TWO high holy and joyful Easter sermons… and wondering what in the world one should listen to as the foundation of this sacred and uncomfortable routine. What is the music that speaks to the tension of this week, the shared living space of grief and hope?

Quite alot, actually. Turns out, alot of it is country. Let me qualify that–GOOD country. Real country. Also, some folk and rock. And let us not forget Lady Gaga.

Maybe country music goes with this unique bit of choreography because there’s really quite alot of pain at it’s core. A bittersweet connection with the land, of knowing what it is to live and die with the earth at your feet; but also knowing that, even in seasons of death, there is life just beneath the surface, waiting to spring forth.

So, my good playlist for Good Friday.  Emmylou, “Prayer in Open D.” Allison and Robert, “Your Long Journey.” Patti, “Mary.” Allison again, “A Living Prayer.”  A little Zeppelin goes a long way to take you into the darkness and rock your socks back out of it. Throw in the prophetic prose of Bono, Dylan, and–need i say it?–Johnny Cash (with one song, he not only wrote the soundtrack for Good Friday, he prescribed the dress code…) And yes, i’ll have to shout out to Lady Gaga this year. I was already working “Born This Way” into my Easter sermon, but with her timely release of  “Judas” today, i’m finding i’m not nearly done with her.

 It is interesting to me that many of these artists speak to all the darkness and hope of this week without ever saying the name “Jesus,” and yet–someone so Gaga dares to mention his name and all hell breaks loose on the dance floor… I’m not quite done processing why that is, but i have a feeling it’s got something to do with this dance between Friday and Sunday, and the many ways we want Jesus to stay in an “us” sized box, an us-sized world, a we-sized tomb.  And what do we learn on Friday, but the harm that comes of that desire? And what do we hope for Sunday, but that God will overcome us, yet again…

Dance, folks. Preachers, teachers, singers, writers, mothers, fathers, farmers, cowgirls, rockstars and everybody that drives the truck in between. Dance as if your life depends on it today. Sore as your feet might be tomorrow…

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://pleemiller.blogspot.com Pam Lee-MIler

    wow Erin..you hit it on the nose….I must admit though…this year, I miss the ritual of the church in a way I have not expected. sending you kentucky Easter love…

  • http://anothermindstreasure.wordpress.com Another Mind’s Treasure

    I think most good art straddles the line between darkness and joy. I’m not sure I had ever thought of Good Friday/Easter in those terms…I honestly haven’t thought much at all about Good Friday or Easter in years. This Sunday, though, I’ll be hearing about Jesus, the radical and rebel. I’ll let you know how it goes. ;)

    Oh, and I don’t buy for a moment that you’re too old to dance in 3″ heels. xoxo

  • Hollie

    I rocked it in 5 (!!!) inch heels three weeks ago, and didn’t regret it for a moment! Joy and Pain, fo’ sho. But I love the Holy Week soundtrack… that’s food for thought.


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