The Rev. Dr. Anna S. Pearson
Last Sunday evening, after my first Annual Meeting at Holy Apostles, I settled in front of the television to watch a live telecast of the musical RENT. Although I have always been a lover of all kinds of music as well as a self-confessed “theater-geek,” I missed RENT in its first incarnation. The show opened at the New York Theater Workshop early in 1996 and moved to Broadway later that same year—a period when I was consumed with balancing work and family life that included two toddlers in diapers and a third on the way. In the fog of that time I was vaguely aware of RENT and the growing sensation it would become, but didn’t know much more than that.
It wasn’t until eighteen years later, when my youngest son was cast in his high school production that I was pulled into this modern rendition of Puccini’s La Boheme. Much had changed in the world during the intervening years, but it was impossible not to connect with the show as performed with the earnest energy of young people (even as they considered the New York of the 1980s and 90s ancient history!) And for all its purported “edginess,” the plot is actually quite beautiful: an open community of acceptance and creative commitment conquers corporate greed and the fear of disease and death (in this case HIV/AIDS). Love and human connection win.
So, there was a poetic synchronicity in being able to revisit RENT after having experienced our Annual Meeting. Because even though the Chelsea of today is hardly the East Village of twenty-five years ago, we too aspire to be an open community of welcome and faithful commitment. And while some of the particulars that frighten us may have shifted or changed shape over the years, we hope to stand together in opposition to fear, or greed, or any rupturing activity that draws us away from the love of God. We greet one another in the Spirit, seeking connection both human and transcendent. And we root our lives in the ultimate revelation insisting that love wins: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.