The curtain lifts on 2020 with excited anticipation. It’s something about a rising curtain that instills hope and expectations. My daughter and I recently saw the Winter Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in NYC starring the Rockettes and I leaned over and whispered to Alex how I was giddy even as the curtain lifted. Rightly so—it is the largest stage curtain in existence for the largest theater in the world, is 330 ft X 78 ft, weighs 4 tons, and cost $200,000! The show was merely beginning but for this hayseed it was a big deal!
A couple weeks later I was back home in rural Hacker Valley, WV at a traditional church play and noted the makeshift curtain safety-pinned together to conceal the stage (altar). Directions were written on masking tape and adhered to the edges, and it was held up by shower curtain hooks on a wire. The curtains were pulled back by local youth and actors entertained an audience of 100 friends and family with a well-practiced show filled with laughter and inspiration, less flashy but equal to the “Spectacular” we’d seen in NYC. Sunday morning the curtains were again pulled to the sides for the morning service revealing an Advent wreath and the 1940’s nativity mural great Aunt Anna Balli used in one-room schools where she taught. Near the altar were boxes of complete Christmas dinners, bags of homemade cookies, and toys all to give away. Notably, it didn’t take a $200,000 curtain to reveal the true spirit of Christmas.
As a child I was enthralled with a game-show airing on the only channel we received called Let’s Make a Deal. Monty Hall was the host who chose people from the audience based on their hilarious outlandish costumes. The contestants would be offered something of value and then had to decide if to keep it or trade it for something behind the curtain. I, along with all of America made that decision alongside them…would I keep what was offered or choose what was behind the curtain. Sometimes the “prize” would be a dud, which they called a “Zonk!” At the end of each show, contestants got to choose the prize behind curtains one, two, or three in what was called the “Bid Deal”.
And of course there was the famous curtain scene in the Wizard of Oz where the dog Toto yanks down the curtain, disclosing the fake wizard. Not wanting them to find out who he really is, he yells out in vain “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.
It might sound strange, but the most significant curtain is the one representing sin. God instructed Moses to hang a huge curtain in the temple prohibiting people from entering into the Holy of Holies where He resided, least they die. Some reports say it was 60 ft high and four inches thick but for sure is it was a formidable barrier just like our imperfections (big or little sins) which prevent us from being in the presence of a perfect God. The good news is God’s love made a way! Matthew 27:51 “…the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom…” At the exact time of Jesus’ death, the curtain in the temple was torn in only a way God could do it, from top to bottom, symbolizing we could now have direct access to Him.
My hope is we don’t wait until our final curtain call to get to know the “man” behind this curtain. God wants to reveal Himself to us more fully every day starting now. In Philippians 3:14 Paul says “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” That’s a prize offer of immeasurable value; one we can’t trade for anything better. You could say it’s the best decision we could ever make because it's way more than a "Big Deal".
Janet Cowger- Fliegel