Giving Grace

By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Paul Leadabrand
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Justus George
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Courtney Grimes
By Jessie Yearwood
By Jeff Black
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
By Sandhya Curran
By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
By Erick Rodriguez
By Jenn Wright
By Kevin Harwood
By Nandi Roszhart
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Albán Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

A couple months ago, I was in a production of “Into the Woods.” We met at a church to rehearse, at night, on a road that divides a nicer section of town from a rougher section. We pulled our chairs around a piano against the far wall of the Fellowship Hall next to the door.

 For any uninitiated reader, “Into The Woods” is a brilliant mash-up of famous fairy tales. It won multiple Tonies and is probably Stephen Sondheim’s most popular achievement in his long and illustrious career. The characters converge in the wood and try to achieve their various means of happiness, which succeed, more or less, until Act II when all pandemonium breaks loose in the form of a renegade giant, a philandering Prince Charming, a runaway Rapunzel, and multiple murders and accidental deaths. It’s so brilliant.

On that second night of rehearsal, we were gathered like novices, ready to take our vows to Father Sondheim, penitent for lesser theatrical efforts in our former performing lives. We had begun tackling the Finale, when the door next to the piano opened.

 It was a woman who walked in through the open door. The music director stopped playing. We looked up from our scores.

 “Excuse me, is there someone from the church I can talk to?” she said. “Me and my kids need $34.95 to spend the night at the hotel. Ain’t got a place to stay tonight.”  

 Our fairy tale had been interrupted.

 If you looked around our group at that moment, you would have seen a variety of people — here’s a young adult guy who waits tables and acts at night; here’s an older lady with a jewelry business and an MBA. But we all had this OTHER thing, this other privilege: we each had the privilege of using our time to make art instead of finding shelter for our children.   

 The woman had come to a church building to find help in her moment of crisis, but instead of a minister, she got a Witch. She got a Witch, Cinderella, and various others, some of whom were maybe agnostic or of another faith all together, and all of whom did not attend that particular church. We pooled our cash — more than she needed — and gave it to her.

 The moment made me think about the breadth of Jesus’ reach, the highways and byways he   travels to reach people that for all our programs and planning and praying, a church staff cannot anticipate. I’m not sure if someone would have been at that particular church building at that particular time on that particular night at this woman’s particular moment of need. But there we were, a combination of believing misfits and unbelieving misfits, singing show tunes, and she saw the light on.

 The Bible describes a Kingdom. A reality of fairy-tale proportions with a Prince and a King and a world lost in the dark woods. As actors, we had a chance to mirror the deep magic of this reality, but on that night with that woman, we also had a chance to embody it. Maybe that moment wasn’t so much an interruption of our fairy tale as it was an incarnation of its deeper truth. Even those among us who didn’t believe in the kingdom narrative were still given the privilege of participating in it, which is deeper grace still.  

 And maybe all of us who follow Jesus should anticipate as a matter of course strange and unexpected moments where our vocation or hobby or job swerves into a chance to personify  grace to hurting people. Jesus goes out into the alleys, the promenades, the thoroughfares and under bridges and into country roads to invite people to his banquet, and detours must not be uncommon.  Let’s anticipate these moments, watch for them so they no longer seem odd, and celebrate them when they come.     

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. - Matthew 9:35

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