Monday, November 24, 2014

Acting the Parable

Yesterday, after a good morning jog and listening to a fascinating show on Islam on NPR's show On Being (you can listen/read here), we headed off to church.

We had a variety of experiences at church, but I want to focus on the one that's most intriguing.  At our more interactive service, we divided into 2 groups.  One group prepared the story of the rich man and Lazarus with puppets.  The other put on a skit.

It was the exact same story, of course.  We already had the puppets on hand and a box of costumes.  We had 15 minutes to get ready.

Then we presented our dramas.  And I spent the rest of the day thinking about how this is such an effective way to explore the Biblical texts.

Many of us go to churches where worship revolves around a good sermon.  Now I like a good sermon as much as the next person, but there are all sorts of problems with a sermon.  Many of us don't learn well that way--it's why we might not do well with schools set up with this kind of lecture.  And too many sermons I've heard over 48 years have not been worth the time it took to sit still to hear them.  For more on this subject, see this post over at Jan Edmiston's wonderful blog.

What happens when we act out the story, rather than listen to someone explicate it?  I suspect it lives longer within us.  I suspect that we remember it longer.  I suspect that it nudges us at key points in our lives.

I realize that this approach might have some problems too.  Not everyone is up for this kind of interactivity.  Some people might feel paralyzed with fear at the very idea.

I think of my Quaker friends who would prefer to sit quietly with the text.  Full silence has its pull on me too.

I think of my friends who work in other art forms who would tell us that singing a text or painting a text would work in similar ways.  I suspect they are right.  We have whole libraries of hymnals that show that past generations have thought so.  We have gorgeous stained glass windows and paintings that show that in a pre-literate population, we can learn by other ways.

I am glad to go to a Lutheran church where we experiment with all sorts of ways to hear the Good News.  Our late service was full of testimony--several people who gave stewardship sermonettes.  Our early service before the interactive service has no sermon at all.  And our interactive service contains dramas and art projects and all sorts of alternate ways of coming to an understanding of Jesus and his message.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perfect example of sacramental entrepreneurs in action. When will you separate from your 'church' and start your own?