Monday, August 25, 2008

Exciting Happenings!

Masterwork Productions will sponsor two regional events in New England this fall. The first is a networking/training time for worship and music leaders from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Burlington, Williston Church of the Nazarene in Williston, VT.

A representative of LifeWay Publishing will be on hand for a time of training and an opportunity to sample some of the latest product available. Bring a bag lunch, get to know some others in ministry in this area. Cost is $28 and each attendee will receive free materials, a chance to win some door prizes and a $20 credit toward a $50 purchase. Don't miss an opportunity to equip yourself and build your resources right here in New England!

Masterworks will fly Rory Noland in to conduct a "Heart of the Artist" retreat from 9am to 4pm Saturday, Oct. 25 at Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon, CT. Bring your whole team and anyone else from your church who sings, plays an instrument, is involved with drama or writes for a time of worship and learning with one of the nation's foremost worship leaders. The investment will yield eternal dividends for you and your congregation. The cost? Only $40 (includes lunch).

For more information or to register for these programs, email masterworkproductions@yahoo.com. Also, if you're located in New England, but not close enough to attend and would like to see either of these events in your area, let us know!

We're also excited to present a stage reading of our new dinner theater this fall at Community Alliance Church in Hinesburg, VT this fall. More details coming soon. Fall looks exciting, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Talking With God and Getting Some Answers

By Lauren Yarger
Every so often I realize that my times of prayer have been heavy on the "I" side. I feel this way; I'd like to see these things happen; I'd like an answer about something (and usually I want this right now and I want the answer to be this....).

Expressing these feelings is part of communicating with God. Because He desires a relationship with us on a personal level, it's OK to express our feelings, hopes and desires and even our disappointments. That's how we communicate with friends.

Have you ever been in a conversation, though, that is one-sided? It can be frustrating. Sometimes it's because the person is lonely and needs to talk. Sometimes it's a unique situation and there a major issue happening and it is all about that person this time. Too often, it's because self importance has crept in and somehow the dominant speaker feels that what he or she has to say is the most important thing.

I find that when I start to wonder why I haven't heard from God, it's usually because I haven't given Him a chance to speak. The last time that happened, I spent a long time with the Lord, just listening for His voice. I was amazed at the how much he had to say when I gave Him half a chance. I started recording the insights in a notebook. Here are a few gems from that day:

• Spending time thinking, worrying and reasoning takes away from time I could hear Him speaking.
• Spending time wishing for what I don’t have keeps me from spending time appreciating what I do have.
• He will always show me a way out.
• He always parts the storm clouds and shines through.
• If I spend my time being busy and going at high speed, I’ll rush right past Him and end up going nowhere fast.
• He is a rock and a foundation.

This really wasn't a private conversation. All of this is in His word where you can hear from Him too. So the next time you are upset, worried, disappointed or looking for answers, be still, know He is God and ask Him to speak. He will.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Asking for God's Blessing


"If you're a Christian and believe God is in control, then why do you need to ask for His help?"

And so began a long reflective discussion with my son about free will, the inability to be perfect no matter how much we'd like to be or sometimes think we are, and in the end, standing before God like everyone else who would be lost without Jesus, but being able to say you tried your best to serve Him because you loved Him. It really comes down to the trying. God loves it when we serve Him because we want to, not because we're forced to. My children's hugs bring untold joy when they are spontaneous, an expression of the love in their hearts, instead of a response to a prompt from me: "Come give me a hug."

So it is with God, and one of my favorite events where performing artists take some time to honor Him with their talents and stop to ask His blessing on what they are doing is coming up: The Broadway Blessing.

If you're in the New York area, I hope you'll mark your calendar for this expression of love 7 pm Monday, Sept. 8 at St. John the Divine Cathedral, 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 12th Street. Lynn Redgrave and Boyd Gaines will be among the performers participating. My mentor and friend Retta Blaney directs the event. The event, in its 11th year, is free and reservations are not necessary.

The evening will begin with a lively dance number featuring dozens of performers from the internationally recognized Project Dance. Gaines, the four-time Tony Award-winning stage, film and television actor, will perform and Redgrave will offer a theatre reflection. Also taking the stage will be The Essentials, a New York-based company that collaboratively creates innovative theatre. (The Essentials’ a cappella comedy Perfect Harmony is running at the Clurman Theatre.)

Adam Jacobs, last seen on Broadway as Marius in the revival of Les Miserables, will sing “Nothing There To Love” from the new musical Amazing Grace: The True Story, which is being produced by Carolyn Rossi Copeland. Opera singer Jerry Curry will sing “I’ll Walk With God,” a song from The Student Prince which he sings on his CD “Generally Singing.”

The annual candle lighting will feature prayers for the new season and its performers, led by Rabbi Jill Hausman from the Actors’ Temple and the Cathedral’s Rev. Canon Tom Miller, canon for liturgy and the arts. The Broadway Blessing Choir will sing show tunes and lead the audience in a sing-along at the end of the service. In addition, the Rev. Mitties DeChamplain will represent St. Clement’s Episcopal Church.

Actor Edward Herrmann had this to say about it before making his second Broadway Blessing appearance: “It’s reassuring to know there are so many people out there you know that believe in God and want to take that part of their life and dedicate it to the theatre because theatre is a very spiritual endeavor."

For more information, call 212-794-6163.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

But I Don't Have Time!


Time flies, or so the saying goes, and it never seems so evident as during the summer when in the blink of an eye, it's August and I always hear myself say, "What happened to July?"

The ephemeral quality of time was brought home to me recently when I was on deadline. At midnight, I decided I needed sleep and after a short rest, I intended to get up, finish the article and send it by the 7 am deadline. At 6:50am, I glanced at the clock, leapt out of bed and completed some of the fastest writing I've ever done. All the while, the clock in the lower right hand corner of my computer whirred away the minutes with a speed I didn't think possible. Life really is that short. The seconds are whizzing by.

Yet the bible is full of assurances that life is full of time. In fact, we have all the time in every day to accomplish everything necessary. It's only when we don't manage our time well, or when we add unnecessary tasks to our schedule that we start to feel as though we need God to add a few hours to the day.

A quick search for the word "time" in the bible brought an abundance of entries. Some phrases seemed to leap out at me:

“in the course of time”
Sometimes we have to wait, but over time, God speaks or the answer becomes clear.
• “at that time”
We want the solution now, but there is an appointed time.
“in the times of trouble”
We don’t want or like them, but troubled times are part of our journey. They’re not a surprise to God who provides instruction and comfort to help us go through them
A number of times
Many references mention specific numbers of times like three times, or seven times, or seventy times seven times. Life is full of repeats. Solutions don’t always happen the first time.
“at all times”
All kinds of times collide to make one giant timeline speeding by on the clocks of our computers. And God has an answer for that too. There’s a time for everything, so give it all to Him.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV)

Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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