By RUEBEN PRIETO
Last Monday, I received a phone call from a friend to join them in attending Tyler Perry’s production, The Have and The Have Not’s; the performance would occur at the Orpheum Theatre located in downtown Minneapolis.
The Have and the Have Not’s is a story about two families that experience a variety of difficulty, including family dynamics in struggles, income inequality, and their belief and faith in Christ.
The blended dynamic of the families captures the story of a faith journey of the character Rose, and how she remains a woman who keeps faith in God through the weight of difficult circumstances, as well as being a loving support to those surrounding her.
Tyler Perry is known for incorporating Christian themes and messages through his production company, as well as his portrayal of the character of Madea throughout most of his productions.
I felt the play captured the Christian message in a more compelling way, which left me feeling encouraged while being challenged in my faith. During intermission, I was so moved that I began using my phone to search for dates to purchase tickets for my parents as an early Christmas present. Fortunately, the tour cast was performing in Chicago, IL at the Arie Crown Theater that same weekend, after the show I called my parents to confirm their plans for the weekend, to see if they were able to attend. Later that night I purchased the tickets and talked to them about the show, they informed me they both “loved it.”
Tyler Perry typically incorporates original compositions in his productions, and most pieces could be either interpreted as worship or are worship songs. During the production, I gazed over the crowd for reactions to a character’s salvation experience that a leading character was experiencing, and a feeling of connectedness rushed over me because a number of spectators began worshiping in their own way—this was the reaction of some audience members— a very powerful public experience.
Music is powerful and can strike people to evoke a variety of emotions. More importantly, music should be recognized as a gift from God and as an avenue that we are able to utilize to connect to Him. I began thinking of how unexpected and unique this experience was to me. This public experience of Christians worshiping, in a setting that some people would only view as to fill solely entertainment purposes, was an astonishing moment of cohesiveness to experience.
Regardless of the setting, we can worship God, with or without music. Being open to have the heart of a worshiper, I believe, includes having the ability to receive and participate in new worship experiences. This is to include when we are worshiping when old or less familiar worship songs are played, when guest speakers that bring a message that you “dislike,” and regardless of what current season you are in. Worship is ongoing and a life-long learning process should never be assumed as being “figured-out,” and remaining active in pursuit of new horizons for both personal and corporate settings. This type of behavior is to be expected for all participants of the kingdom of God.
My recommendation would be to watch a few of Tyler’s movies and/or plays. Perry’s productions all contain thought-provoking Christian messages leaving me challenged with having much more gratitude for my blessings and driven to focus on how I can personally contribute to be more of a blessing to my surroundings.