A Brand New State
It’s easy to miss these days. We have so many kinds of news coming at us. And every year we hear that the art form is fading, dwindling. Some say it’s for rich people and tourists. But the Tony Awards this past Sunday, the annual awards for Broadway theatrical productions, held some surprises for its audience. For one, a musical about the descent to hell, a retelling of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, called Hadestown won eight Tony Awards after being nominated for fourteen, a modern record, surpassing even Hamilton. But more noteworthy was an award for supporting performance in a musical.
Ali Stroker was not a new face in the world of performing. Her performance on the hit television show Glee was roundly praised, as was her portrayal by the show’s creative leaders who wrote a powerful arc for her character. But in this season’s revival and reimagining of the classic Oklahoma!, Stroker plays Ado Annie, the always loveable and, by her own account, sometimes overly lovable character who sings the famous song “I Can’t Say No!” And her performance, by all accounts, ranks with some of the luminaries who have inhabited this iconic role.
Rewarding the hard work of eminently talented performers is what the Tony Awards do. And they did their part. But rewarding legions of persons who move though our shared world in a manner other than by the dominant form of movement with an image of something entirely new—that was entirely Stroker’s achievement. Since childhood, Stroker has used assistance for mobility after her legs didn’t serve her for mobility any longer. There are many ways I could neither understand nor fully appreciate the challenges this created. But I think we all can appreciate the effect that facing and then transcending those challenges has on those watching her.
Please take three minutes to watch this special report on Stroker’s Tony Award: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxwogVt6yZo.
On Saturday, our community will move its minister’s office to the first floor of our building, where it will be accessible to more people who may wish to visit it. Virtually all of the comfortable furnishings will remain while the current minister’s office becomes a meeting room. And the space will continue to serve in many respects as the church’s “living room.” I want that to keep happening. And if a group would like the space while I am in there, I will happily move elsewhere.
Congregations at their best, who seek truly to uphold the inherent worth and dignity of all, imagine their spaces accommodating all who enter. The many groups who thoughtfully, generously, and graciously offered their time and attention to this change, like the Aesthetics, Buildings & Grounds, Building Use, and Shared Ministry Teams, as well as the Board, have taken part in that kind of sacred imagining. And it is a gift of their time and energy. We are not done with this task, for it is a lifelong practice in humility. But if we are serious about this call, “We Can’t Say No!”
And may it ever be so.
Rev. T. J.