Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Midweek Message for September 29

The same summer I did my clinical pastoral education unit in seminary, I was cast as a nun in the local community theatre’s production of The Sound of Music.  It wasn’t a big part, and sometimes during rehearsal I wondered if I’d even be missed if I were not there.  Rehearsals consisted largely of sitting around waiting to go on.  After all, the nuns’ chorus was on stage ten minutes or less.

I had lots of time to watch the behind the scenes activities involved in staging such a large musical (the musical is almost three hours long).  The cast was large – 7 children, the adult speaking parts, the soldiers and, 30 nuns.   All in all there were 50 of us.  And then during tech week (the last week before the show opened), the technical crew, costumers, orchestra swelled our numbers.  People were running everywhere – moving props, helping the children with their numerous costumes changes.  A hairdresser was brought in to help make the hairdos more authentic.   People seemed to just materialize out of the woodwork to help.

In the midst of all this frantic activity, I had time to reflect on why I wanted to be involved – especially when I was so busy with other things.  And especially when, at times, it seemed that my part was so insignificant that no one would notice if I was not there.  For that matter, why were so many people willing to take time out of schedules every bit as busy as mine to spend 4 or more hours each evening tech week to get ready for opening night?

I realized that the answer was that we wanted to be a part of something wonderful, something bigger than any one of us.  The knowledge that we were doing something that would bring joy to our audience was all the motivation we needed.  We loved being able to use our gifts – be it acting skills, musical ability, set design, costuming, choreography, or the many skills that are involved in making sure that everything was where it needed to be when it needed to be there.

I looked around during warm-ups at the cast and crew.  We were all very different people, with very different gifts.  And it occurred to me that a theatre company is a lot like the church.  There are different people in our congregations, and we all have different talents and gifts.  We all want to be part of something wonderful, something bigger than ourselves – we want to be part of God’s work in the world.  Some of us have roles that are obviously necessary and some of us think that we don’t matter much at all.  But we do!  We each have something to give, some way to contribute, something that will be missed if we choose not to be involved. 

          When I got to the theatre on the Saturday after opening night, the review had already been posted for all to read.  And I found out just how important the nun’s chorus was to the whole production – the reviewer felt we were the star of the show!  I discovered that all the time and effort I had put in to my little part was valuable – something that only I could give, my voice blended with the other “nuns” to make a joyous sound.

          We all have gifts that God has given us to use.  The Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12: 4-21, that the Spirit gives each one of us different gifts.  Paul uses the imagery of the body to teach us that each one of us is an integral part of the body of Christ.  We may not always be able to see just how God is using us.  We might not be able to tell how our unique gifts blend with the gifts of others – but our Audience of One enjoys the joyous harmony we make together.

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