To Read: Click on song title to watch a video
from A Chorus Line
(The song starts at 1min 35sec but why not watch from the beginning?)
One singular sensation, every little step she takes
One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do
You know you’ll never be lonely with you-know-who
One moment in her presence and you can forget the rest
For the girl is second best to none, son
Oooh! Sigh! Give her your attention
Do I really have to mention she’s the one
She walks into a room and you know she’s
uncommonly rare, very unique
peripatetic, poetic and chic
She walks into a room and you know from her
maddening poise, effortless whirl
(One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
She’s a special girl)
Can’t help all of her qualities extolling
Loaded with charisma is my
jauntily, sauntering, ambling, shambler
One, and you know you must
Shuffle along, join the parade
She’s the quintessence of making the grade
This is whatcha call trav’ling!
Oh strut your stuff!
Can’t get enough!
Ooh! Sigh! Give her your attention
Do I really have to mention
She’s the one!
From the Scriptures:
As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.
1 Corinthians 12.20-26
The relationships between chorus line and director and audience in ‘A Chorus Line’ are complex and intense. There was a certain genius in Bob Fosse placing the Director in the middle of the audience which brought everyone into the agonising place of choosing ‘how many boys, how many girls’ all of whom ‘really need this job’. We, the ones who are being entertained are forced to make the choice as to who it is will be ‘The One’.
And then there is the sub-plot between the Director and Cassie, an old flame of his. Used to being a prima donna, Cassie finds it difficult to temper her performance to become part of the Chorus. To be ‘The One’ she has to learn to be ‘at one’ with the ‘many’.
For the others auditioning for the job the Director demands that they unravel their soul before their voice and dance is added to the Company. They must tell of their journey, their hopes, their dreams, their failures, and of their determination to add their distinctiveness to the Company to become ‘One’.
So too in the church. Each of us is called to bring our distinctiveness to the song of God’s great love but there is only one melody and our different voices are to be added together to make the harmony.
When we choose to put our own voice first we easily drown out the cry of our weaker sisters and brothers. For some being a ‘prima donna’ is easy and humility is a lesson that is essential and often hard to learn.
I remember the time when I was one of just four White students amongst 120 others at a Black Seminary in Apartheid South Africa. It was difficult to learn that just because I ‘could’ speak on an issue did not mean that I ‘should’ speak. I had to learn to listen to the gentle quiet stories of those whose voice was a whisper compared to my brashness and I am forever grateful to fellow students who turned to me and said, ‘Dotchin, be quiet!’
After all how can we hear another’s voice if our own words drown their story? How can we dance in step if we always insist on marching to the beat of a different drum? To be part of ‘A Chorus Line’ demands unity, forbearance, and compassion. Characteristics that should be the hallmark of the Church of Christ.
Sometimes, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance and with the prayers of the Church, we step out of the Chorus and into the limelight for a season. We can only do this because our sisters and brothers ‘hold the line’ behind us. And then, when our words have been spoken and our deeds done, we can, with thanks and humility, return to being part of the Chorus and lean that it is not ‘she’ nor ‘he’ but ‘we’ who are ‘The One’.
look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
only the human family
has strayed away from the sacred way.
We know that we are the ones
who are divided,
and we are the ones
who must come back together
to walk in the sacred way.
Grandfather, sacred one,
teach us love, compassion and honour
that we may heal the earth
and heal each other.
The Ojibway nation of Canada
1) Tomorrow is Sunday, when you go to church find a sister or a brother whom you have not embraced or welcomed recently and let them know that you appreciate them.
2) If your voice is heard often, let someone speak before you.
3) If yours is a quiet voice, pray for the moment to tell those
around you what it is that the Holy Spirit has laid on your
heart about the common life of your church.
Encore: Click on song title to watch a video
What I Did For Love Is Cassie’s lament of how much she has poured into the career that she is in danger of losing. The One Who Loves Us Best gave much more than a song and dance routine to show us how much we are loved. Say. ‘thank you’.
Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018