Thursday, March 05, 2009

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1201 - Covenant Players


My cousin has been part of a Christian ministry for a very long time. The ministry is different from what you might expect. It is an international repertory theatre with more than 61 units on 6 continents doing dramatic presentations in more than 10 languages.

As their web page says, "Drama is what we do." Imagine that! A ministry that tells stories, especially plays exclusively written by one man, Charles M. Tanner (he authored about 3000 plays). Performances are done in churches, schools, on the street, to military units, in prisons, etc.

The emphasis for Covenant Players is on communications, especially stories retelling the gospel by means of drama. They have been doing so since 1963.

I am intrigued with this ministry - not so much their statement of faith, which is virtually identical to many evangelical ministries - but by the medium chosen to communicate with their audience. As a former student of the origin and developmental trajectory of early Christianity, I think their chosen emphasis a wise and potentially rich one.

But in my private communications with Anita, now working in South America, it is clear to me that members of her team are just as concerned with community as they are with communications. After all, conversation occurring among people who care for and depend upon one another will naturally gravitate towards communal transformation, not just individual transformation. That's way, on a superficial level at least, the gospel of Christianity is just as much about building a fellowship as it is about individual rebirth.

In a recent reflection shared with Anita by David and Sarah Kitch, the point was made that "mountain top" experiences are enriched by sharing, by conversation, by simply being in the moment with the other person.

I relate this to my own experience dealing with cancer. The times when a care giver, a friend, a family member, or a colleague have spent time by my bedside simply giving in to the flow of conversation - those are times that come close to "mountain top" experiences. There is a healing process involved. There is something miraculous about the ebb and flow of dialog, a kind of dramatic replay of the gospel story told of Jesus and three of his closest friends on a mountain, a story commonly called the transfiguration.

Medicines cannot deliver this. Radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy. None of them come close.

I wish many more years of success for the Covenant Players in bringing the drama of the gospel to those in need of community. As long as the teams allow open-ended conversations to evolve naturally, I strongly suspect that all will benefit...shall we say, dramatically?

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