By Melody Watts

Toward the end of August, The WordPlayers Playback Troupe was invited to join in an Open Table event where Knoxville’s youth of all faiths come together to bridge the gap among them. One young lady shared her story of the opportunity she had to go swimming with her friends. There were conflicting emotions from this day: though she enjoyed swimming, one friend was not ready for the deep end. This youth wanted her friend to be able to enjoy swimming as much as she does, but she did not want her friend to have bad memories from not being ready to go into deeper waters. Likewise, there was conflict in our Playback Troupe going to this event. Were we going to be giving the impression anything goes when it comes to faith? Apprehensions about creating a story which did not speak Truth lurked in some of our minds.

When it comes to different faith backgrounds our common commandment is to love one another. Being a Christian theatre company, we express that love by going out into the harvest field. With Playback Theatre, we express that Agape love by saying, “I hear your story. Let me retell it in a meaningful and honoring way.” Being an actor, sometimes you tell a person’s story to which you may not relate and that is okay! Holy Spirit is there bringing wisdom and truth to everyone through us even when we may not understand. He calls us into deep waters. But sometimes we aren’t ready. Yet, God is patient and He understands. He tells us, “I hear you and you are significant to Me!”

On the thought of the harvest field: today I went to dig up some canna lilies in my yard that were being choked out by vines and weeds. As I was rescuing them from the things which were out to take over these plants in order to take them to good soil, I was reminded of the parable Jesus told of the farmer who scattered seeds everywhere:

“ ‘A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on a footpath, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it.  Other seed fell among rocks. It began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seed fell among thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed grew and produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted!’ When [Jesus] had said this, he called out, ‘Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand’…This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” (Luke 8: 5-8,11-15 NLT)

 I also recalled how Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Gardening takes time and care.  If we never venture outside our comfort zone, we may miss the opportunity to nourish seeds which have already been planted. Or maybe there are weeds trying to choke out Truth who already dwells in a person’s heart.  If we only go out to those like us, we will never be ready for deep waters. The WordPlayers are prepared to go out and work in the field. We hear Holy Spirit beckoning us to stretch and kick, little by little, farther into the deep waters. We cling to the Word of God and patiently continue to produce a harvest from the seeds the Farmer scattered everywhere.

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. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ ” (Matthew 9:35-38 NIV)