Art Is the Sermon

Last night, I attended a kids’ production of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe at The Bridge in Redmond, Oregon. The pastor, who also directed, pointed out that the set, the costumes, the makeup, the ideas in how to put on the play, the actors and actresses, and many other facets that go into a production were kid-directed. I came to watch Robin’s daughter transform into the White Witch. She was fantastic. The entire play was mesmerizing. Watching all ages of kids, from teenagers to kindergartners, busying about to change costumes, move a prop, hurry this little one to the entry, whispering backstage, and performing brought to the surface Charlotte Mason’s statement. Children need:

  • something to love,
  • something to do, and
  • something to think about.

A workshop on bullying isn’t needed. All ages work toward the common goal, everyone helping, everyone needed, all-hands-on-deck. Interaction between the sexes doesn’t require adult police. Adults are present, but the focus is external, outward, not unhealthily isolating each other. Instead of a single assignment given to 30 same-age kids, where usually the same three rise to the top, here is a project where all can participate, all can shine. There’s room for actors, for dancers, for carpenters, for techies, for writers, for administrators, for artists, for problem-solvers, for organizers, for marketers, for readers, for fashion designers and tailors or seamstresses, for make-up artists, for directors …

all producing instead of consuming, giving instead of taking, creating instead of destroying.

I appreciated that the pastor did not use the draw of the play to give a sermon at the end. I appreciated that he did not ask for an offering or a donation, but charged at the door — in other words, what these kids were doing had value. The place was packed. I sometimes wonder if people suspect that other things will be asked of them if they don’t charge.

Anyone could participate in the play. Catholics and Protestants acted side by side. I can’t say who were believers and unbelievers, but I doubt they were asked before joining. Anyone could come. Many of the kids were sporting T-shirts that said,

Don’t go to church

on the front. On the back, they said,

Be the church.

I found it refreshing that instead of drumming up a program to target this or that group, the church just produced art and shared it. Art is its own witness, and I feel that if you claim friendship with God, you have a responsibility to produce. It used to be that those who knew God had the corner on the market of art, writing, politics and science. Back in the days when we actually believed God was so powerful there was no need to bring Him into every conversation. It was understood. To discuss Him too much was like pointing to the fabric of our lives, like pointing to the obvious. Now, we think we do Him a favor by remembering to thank Him on our Acknowledgement page, but am I the only one who senses that it smacks of trying to convince ourselves? Somehow, Christians have allowed to be pushed aside, hovering in the corners peddling moral-making sermons full of worn-out and tired cliches and platitudes. We worship religious ideals of our own making, sometimes the Bible, sometimes the translation of the Bible, sometimes what we’re not, sometimes what we are. False idols constructed of our own beliefs shine like a golden image easily knocked over by an argument.

Isn’t God bigger than that? Bigger than us? Bigger than our understanding? Bigger than our beliefs?

I digress.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the kids who produced The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe were doing what kids naturally do — imitating their Father in heaven by …


If parents and teachers and pastors and youth leaders and all concerned adults would simply help children do this act, often, as a habit, as part of the daily routine, I believe it would create more of change in the world for good than all the sermons, youth programs, self-help books, educational systems, and parental advice wrapped together. And I’m not talking about assignments that are completed in a class period. I’m not including fill-in-the-blanks, most-of-it-is-already-done-for-you-so-I-can-control-the-masses type of activity. I’m not talking about pre-cut, choose-your-decoration-to-make-your-just-alike-but-different “creation.” That’s not creation at all. That is underestimating and hindering our children from the real act of creating. I’m talking about the chaotic struggle, the child-birthing type of labor to create.

A painting on a blank canvas. An essay. A story. A novel. A solution to a real problem. A play. A recital. A song sung. A song written. A performance given. A speech.

If our children were creating like this — not once — but as part of a lifestyle, I don’t think we’d have to worry so much.

Creation is better than listening to preaching. Action is better than following advice. Producing is education. Art is the sermon.


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