Today at 2:30 p.m. is the last opportunity to witness the Youngtown Playhouse’s phenomenal staging of “The Color Purple,” a musical adaption of Alice Walker’s best-selling novel at the DeYor Performing Arts Center.
“The Color Purple” — whether in print, film or stage play — continues to share the timeless tale of the human experience. It also captures the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of adversity. The premise of the story is not just one about suffering alone, but one that offers a message of hope, faith, power, acceptance and, the greatest of all, love.
Trevail Maurice Smith, the director of the production, observes, “If there was any story that should be told right now after overcoming what many are saying is one of the most traumatic years in human history, it is this story,”
Despite Smith’s youthfulness, he successfully tackles such mature themes as a seasoned veteran. The stellar ensemble of talent — on stage and behind the scenes — from within our community were all worthy of Tony awards!
As I attentively observed each character evolve, it was the realization of each awakening that immersed me to deeply understand their experiences. Often what we see as our biggest regrets, failures and mistakes becomes what God uses the most in our lives. It is our own story that ultimately shapes our testimony.
Romans 8:28 serves as a reminder, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” In essence, “Broken crayons still color!” God is the Holy Artisan and desires to use our individual lives as His canvas. Gospel artist Tramaine Hawkins describes a similar situation in “The Potter’s House.”
Remember Genesis 1:1-1 declares God used His thoughts alone in the beginning to create the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. What will you allow God to create from the broken pieces in your life? You are a masterpiece when your pieces are placed in the Hands of the Master.
Apostle Paul shared how Christ was empowering when he might have faltered. He wrote in II Corinthians 12:9-11, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Buried within the pages of my grandmother’s Bible was a yellowed clipping of a poem entitled “The Touch of the Master's Hand” by Myra Brooks Welch in 1921. The elegy tells of a battered and tattered violin that was presented as the final object to be sold at auction. Lacking any visible value, the bidding started at three dollars. However, a skillful violinist emerges from the audience and begins to masterfully play the instrument. The impromptu performance demonstrated the string instrument’s beauty and intrinsic worth. The bidding resumes and is ultimately sold for $3,000. The message is clear: Like the instrument touched by the hand of a master musician, the same principle applies to the life of a sinner that is touched by the hand of God.
'T'was battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
From the room far back a gray-bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone," said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Master’s Hand."
"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
I am eternally grateful that God can transform our brokenness into something more beautiful than we could imagine. He can use the macabre of chaos within our lives to create a masterpiece to behold.
Did you incur funeral expenses after losing someone to the coronavirus? The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering assistance which is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 for multiple deaths per application. Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.
Funeral assistance, which may take up top 90 days to process, may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies or from other government programs or agencies. Go here for information.
Prayer for grieving families and friends
Heavenly Father: I ask that You would come and present Yourself in the hearts and lives of families suffering from loss. Comfort them in their loss, hold them in their sorrow and sustain them through their grief. Enfold them all with Your love Lord that they may rest within Your arms. Watch over as them as they sleep and take their hands each morning as they face a new day. Bind their hearts as one and bless their relationships. May they be united in their loss but also blessed with smiles and goodness. Lead these precious families onwards to embrace life together, yet hold on to the promise of heaven while keeping the faith. In Your Strong Name, it is so!
— The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.
— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.