Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Writing on the Wall

I am currently in rehearsal of a production of 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood', a musical based on Charles Dickens' uncompleted novel of the same name. (How do you make a musical out of an incomplete novel? You ask the audience to vote on the ending.)

In the show there is a song entitled 'The Writing On The Wall'. In rehearsal last night we discussed what the writing might be for the character who sings the song (who I'm not going to reveal here!) The discussion made me think of the origins of the story from the book of Daniel.

'Belshazzar's Feast' by Rembrandt

The story is accounted in the book of Daniel. During a drunken feast King Belshazzar orders the sacred Gold and Silver vessels (which his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem) brought to him. He proceeds to use them to praise 'the gods of gold and silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone'. Immediately a hand appears a writes a sentence on the wall that nobody can interpret. Belshazzar sends for Daniel who warns him of his arrogant blasphemy before interpreting the text.

'Mene Mene Tekel u-Pharsin' - God has numbered your days brought your kingdom to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

That very night the kingdom is invaded, Belshazzar is killed and Darius becomes the new king.

As I was heading to the store this morning I saw 2 young Mormon missionaries witnessing to a man at the bus stop. I found some anger rising within me because of some of the recent political machinations of the Mormon church.

Suddenly I thought of Belshazzar desecrating the vessels - taking something that God declared holy, and reducing it to something 'less than'. I was guilty of doing the same thing. Here were two people who were created in God's image, that I was dehumanizing. I devalued them because of what I assumed they represented.

I disagree with many people about many things, but for me 'The Writing on the Wall' is a warning to not reduce anyone to less than their sacred worth. Differences of Culture, Religion, Politics, Sexuality, Race, Theology exist, but we are not to denigrate someone who holds different views, even if they espouse ideas we despise. The writing on the wall reminds us that all of us fall short of who we can be. We are all lacking and wanting.

I hate being judged, being reduced to 'less than'. I need to extend the same love to others that I want people to extend to me...

...and so I stopped and said a quick prayer for those 2 missionaries, that God would bless them. When we see everyone as a precious child, as God sees them, then our judgements dissolve in the warm light of His love.

No comments: