I used to run the Chapel drama group in the ’70s and we had great fun performing with a 60 strong cast in “Jesus Christ Superstar” to “Oliver” as well as one-act plays and pantomimes. At the same time I belonged to two other amateur dramatic groups, in my home town. Since then I’ve been a part of Chapel pantomimes in Ripley, theatre productions in Langley Mill & Swanwick (when I was told I was worryingly authentic as the devil !), front of house manager for Rob Frost (on 3 tours) and a brief appearance as a daffodil in Wimbledon theatre !!
Theatre has been a part of my life ever since the Consett Chapel anniversary at the age of three. I love the theatre, the action, the buzz and the smell of it. On Thursday of this week Alison and I are going to see Mamma Mia at the Novello theatre, London and although I’ve seen it before I’m really looking forward to going again. My sadness is that the nature of Ministry means there is very little time to attend a theatre and no opportunity for acting or producing any more.
So to me it’s particularly interesting that todays spiritual refreshment is ACT. I remember one production when the girl who I’d cast in the lead role became nervous and very conscious of her height. She looked the part, she sang beautifully but she was very tall and as I discovered this caused her nerves. In rehearsals she knew her lines but as the time for the production drew closer she got more and more nervous to the point when she declared one evening “I can’t do this, I quit !” and this was only about two weeks before we went ahead. As it happens we persuaded her to continue, but only on the promise that I spent every night hiding behind the piano so she could see me when the audience couldn’t. My role in that performance was to smile and keep her calm and focussed. She was a tremendous hit, but would have been a disaster if she’d got too nervous or had pulled out as she wanted.
It is no good an actor knowing his or her lines, cues, entrances if they don’t actually act on our knowledge; in the same way, as Christians it is no good having the knowledge and doing nothing about it. So far this week our spiritual exercise have included reading and reflecting, keeping silence and giving thanks. All three are worthy of mention but of no use if we don’t aim to discipline ourselves into acting upon them. 1 Corinthians 13 is a wonderful, memorable passage often used at weddings to speak of the necessity of love, but it contains a wonderful build-up towards it as it says “if I have no love it’s not worth having spiritual gifts such as prophecy or speaking in tongues. Without love it’s no use giving to the poor or having faith.”
In other words we must act on what we believe and as God is a God of love then our actions need to be that of love also, even towards those that hurt us or damage us (hard though it is). If we believe that God is in charge of our lives then we should act as though he is, and its no good trying to be in control all the time; If we believe in the power of prayer, then we should engage in pray. So the list goes on for it’s a relatively simple message to do something about it.
I’ve always liked the story of the congregation who turned up at Church one Sunday morning to find that the Minister had pinned a note to the door which read “You’ve all been coming here for at least 25 years: now do something about it !”
Don’t let us leave our Christian lives at the end of the hymn singing, or when we leave our particular places of worship; let’s go into the world and ACT upon what we believe.