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What I Beheld at the Ryman Auditorium



By Eric Rutherford


I had an awesome opportunity to see “Behold the Lamb of God” in December, and if it ever comes near your town, you must go see it too. Andrew Peterson wrote the music and designed the show to tell the Christmas story starting with Moses and running through the birth of Christ. There are no jingle bells and no halls to deck, instead the lyrics describe the amazing, wonderful design of God’s providence from Genesis to the Gospels. He takes it on tour in November and December each year (this was year 20), so mark your calendars for next year and see it if you can.

It is a great album, but an even better show. The show is not set up like most shows, but that makes it even more special. The first half of the show is a montage of music by other artists who join him on the tour, showcasing some amazing music that glorifies the Lord. The second half of the show is a performance of the album, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

I had the chance to see it here in Nashville, Tennessee at the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman is one of the places Peterson brings the show each year. The show was special, but to see it at the Ryman made it even more so. The Ryman has an incredible musical history and is just a neat place to see a show (google Ryman Auditorium and see for yourself). My wife, our three children, and I sat in the balcony and were delighted through the evening (some of the best seats in the house are in the balcony because you can see all of the stage – it is not a huge auditorium).

LOOKING BACKWARD

Sitting before the show, looking around at the auditorium, soaking in the atmosphere, my mind started wandering, as it is wont to do. I thought of the history of the auditorium and the acts that have played here. I then thought about other venues around the country in different decades and in that strange stream-of-consciousness way my mind travels, I ended up thinking about Jim Morrison and The Doors. It was an unexpected place to land in thought – such mental travels are often unexpected – but maybe not, especially considering the circumstances and the atmosphere.

When I was a junior in high school (many years ago), I acquired a copy of the book, No One Here Get Out Alive, by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman. It is a biography of Jim Morrison, lead singer for The Doors, and for better or for worse, the book made a huge impact on my life. You see, I was not a reader when I was young. Oh, I read most of the assigned reading for school and would occasionally read an article or something, but I was not that into books. The circumstances for reading it were strange and unexpected, and yet it landed in my possession and on a whim, I started reading it and thus fell down the rabbit hole.

I found in it a guy who was intelligent and read insatiably throughout his life, who wrote poetry and music, and who made books seem interesting. A quote attributed to Jim Morrison (noted in the Foreword of the book) is “There are things known, and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors.” He wanted to be the gateway to it all. Through excess, through music, through thought, he wanted to experience everything.

After reading it, I re-read it. I wanted to be like him, that is whatever he had or was chasing, it sounded good to me. I started writing and journaling. I started reading everything I could find (I am still a voracious reader). I realized I wanted to transcend the muddy, murky prison of daily life. I thought self was the answer to my problems – essentially, I wanted to be a god. I wanted to glorify me.

THE MIRROR OF GOD

I do not know if I could recommend the book today. In many ways, it was a classic narrative of “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll,” but at the time, the book hit when I was very vulnerable and searching for something – anything – for an answer. Only by the grace of the Lord did I not travel a total path to self-destruction. When I look back now at how my ideas were shaped and affected through these events and influences, I am appalled – appalled at my arrogance, appalled at my foolishness, appalled at my idolatry, appalled at my sin.

BEHOLD THE LAMB

My thoughts could no longer wander because the show started, and once it did, I was blown away. I watched and heard amazing musicians on stage glorifying the Lord through their music. During the first part of the show, each of the performers were using their talents given by the Lord to direct us, the audience, to look to the One who provides all things and who is worthy to be praised. The second half of the show told the story of God’s plan of redemption, promised 3500 years ago to Moses and coming to fulfillment 2000 years ago in the birth of Christ and His death and resurrection.

The second to the last song is “Behold the Lamb of God.” As they played these lyrics, I was overwhelmed.

“Broken hearts, behold our broken hearts

Fallen far, we need you

Behold the sin of man

Behold, the Lamb of God

Who takes away our sin

Behold the Lamb of God

The life and light of men

Behold the Lamb of God

Who died and rose again

Behold the Lamb of God who comes

To take away our sin”

As they sang, I wept. I wept over my sin. I wept over my brokenness. I wept over the arrogance that still raises its head up into in my life. I wept as I held onto the promises of God and the grace of Jesus Christ. I wept because I heard the message of Christ and believed it to be true while billions around the world have not even heard his name at all.

GOING HOME

On the drive home, each of my family shared about their favorite parts of the show. It was a lively conversation as we described what caught our eyes and hearts most. At some point before we reached home, the conversation lulled and I reflected for a moment upon the whole event. I remembered my ponderings about Jim Morrison before the show and then I thought about the musicians on stage during the show.


The contrast was stark and unsettling – one wanted to be the door while the others pointed to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Oh Lord, please help me also to point to You.



Eric Rutherford is a writer and thinker. He blogs for Stage & Story on topics such as cinema, literature and culture. Eric is a graduate of the University of Louisville, and earned his MDiv from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Eric also serves on the Stage & Story Board of Directors.







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