Saturday, October 13, 2007

Grateful for the Gift

I love Saturday mornings. My dear, calm husband stays home with our oldest and two youngest, while the three middle children and I frantically gather scripts, ticket orders, my laptop and makeup folder, treats for Big/Lil' Bro/Sis, encouragement notes for others in the cast, costume pieces, etc., etc., and pile into the car to head for theater rehearsal.

Our conversation in the car is always lively as we talk about the show and the off-stage social dramas...go over lines and discuss their parts...and pray aloud for them, their friends, the directors and the whole show. Those car rides are treasured times to me.

Usually, I drop them off and head to Panera to enjoy a cup of coffee, a bagel, and free wireless. It's my chance to pray, work up a few blog posts, return emails and concentrate on paperwork. Today, however, I first went inside and spent a quarter hour in prayer with some of the other parents before coming here, and my heart is especially full.

We parents were all full of thanks for the blessing that this Christian children's theater group is to our families. One man prayed that we wouldn't take this gift for granted--and that our children wouldn't either. These productions will no doubt be highlights of their childhood, of their middle school and high school memories, just as he and I had just reminisced about our marching band days--but with that added element of "Christian."

What makes a theater group--or a sports team or a summer camp--"Christian"? Ever since we joined this organization, I have asked myself various forms of this question, especially when I've heard people refer to it as a "ministry." It's not overtly evangelistic. Not all the kids or all of the adults are perfect models of mature Christian faith. Sometimes it seems that what we're doing is no different from what public high schools do every spring when they present a musical--only with prayer "tacked on" (from the kids' point of view). The bottom line: Is it really worth all the time, the effort and the money we parents put into it?

I keep concluding that this theater program is, indeed, a ministry--not just to kids, but to whole families. In the first place, it is no small thing to offer quality, family-oriented entertainment to our communities, though I often overlook this truth.

Also, it's unusual to find activities for our kids that offer involvement to as wide a range of ages as theater. Typical school, church and sports programs segregate by age, but in children's theater, 8-year-olds and 18-year olds dance side by side; parents and preschoolers help build sets, do makeup and sell refreshments; siblings run spotlights and shift sets. The "Cast Party" isn't just for the cast--it's attended by every family represented in the cast!

Since parents are so heavily involved, opportunities for prayer and discipleship abound, especially when problems arise. And with so many kids (88) on such a tight schedule (10 weeks), there are always crises. Costumes and sets aren't done, kids still don't know the dance, someone loses their voice, one show may be cancelled if we don't sell more tickets! Directors, coordinators, parents and mature kids model taking all these problems to the God of the great and the small.

One of our mantras in prayer is that the show would give glory to God, not to us. The youngest child will tell you that we're doing this for God's glory. Yet, how is God glorified through a theater production? There is the story, of course, and the intention of our efforts. But it hit me recently that God is glorified by unity in his body, and one of the ways we glorify God in this group is by striving for unity. That's not an easy task in a relational crucible like theater, where kids--immature by definition-- are learning to handle success, failure, jealousy, being the object of jealousy, gossip, popularity, pride and self-doubt. It really is a crucible, where the intensity is high, but refinement happens--all praise to God! Even when other kids (or we adults) don't have the most mature or Christ-like responses, I have seen God's hand, over and over, directing these off-stage dramas--and my children have too--to bring about a supernatural unity by Opening Night. All glory to God--indeed!

So, Lord, I give you thanks today. Things are about to get really crazy next week, but I will remember that this IS a ministry. I will do makeup for YOUR glory, as my part of a unified effort to glorify and honor You. May my children perform for Your glory, not their own. May Blondechick, as Charlotte, portray more than she alone is capable of your Friendship, love and self-sacrifice. I am humbled and grateful for the number of people who bought tickets to support this show and this ministry; may they and their families be blessed by it. Amen.

1 comment:

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Interesting to get more of a glimpse into your activities!