Based on the Sermons of . . .

HollerAs we debrief last night’s Tony Awards this morning (loved The Music Man rap) I’m also looking ahead at the new season on Broadway. Plays are often “based on” the songs or books or lives of great and random people.

The 2014 season brings us Holler If Ya Hear Me based on the songs of Tupac Shakur.  In this article, August Wilson is quoted as saying, “There’s nothing contained in your life that’s not contained in that music. There’s love, honor, duty, betrayal, love of a people. There’s a whole universe in that music.” I’ve heard sermons like that. Sure most preachers have the habit of preaching virtually the same single message each week no matter what the season (“God loves us.” “Life can be different.” “Serve the least of these.”)

But occasionally there is a sermon so transformative, so absolutely inspiring that there is a whole universe in that message.

Clearly the Bible covers “love, honor, duty, betrayal, love of a people.” So why hasn’t someone written a play based on the sermons of MLK or some of the famous-ish preachers we all know? I’m not talking about satire or a cartoonish version of the Gospel. I’m not talking about the sermons of Joel Osteen.

Imagine hearing a message after which someone could say “There’s nothing contained in my life that’s not contained in that sermon.” Even better: imagine writing and then preaching that sermon.

Let’s face it. Even the word “preaching” prompts rolled eyes and sagging shoulders. Preachers are considered by both the secular and sacred world to be dry and inconsequential.  And yet, we have the privilege and responsibility to speak to universal truths (and most of us clergy are actually paid to do this.) Imagine doing it with the possibility in mind that someone might one day write a fabulous play based on our words.

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