A number of weeks ago I sat down and watched a dvd of the play Pilgrim, performed by the high school students of Covenant Life Church. I was definitely not prepared for what i was about to watch. By the end I had laughed, been reduced to tears multiple times, been quite impressed by some of the talent, found my soul encouraged and my heart refreshed with new excitement to be a follower of The King.
This play was absolutely outstanding. I wish I could have seen it performed live! The video quality isn’t amazing, but i mean come on, it’s a filmed version of a stage production. what do you expect? If you are a big film snob, you’re going to have to just get over that for a couple hours, ok? Although I must say, the lead actor in particular is incredibly talented and did an excellent job! I was extremely impressed.
Pilgrim is based on the book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and is an allegory of the Christian life through the tale of a young man named Christian who is has left his hometown of destruction and, with a newfound belief in The King, is traveling to the Celestial City to be with The King forever. Along the way he encounters many people who sometimes try to deter Christian from the path The King has laid out for him, or who sometimes encourage Christian on his trek.
I was blown away by how powerful the visual depictions of this story were. By far one of my favorite aspects was the character of The King himself. Although the audience could see The King, He was invisible to Christian. However, The King was always very near to Christian literally wherever he went. Followed him around stage, through the crowd, etc. But even though Christian couldn’t see The King, that didn’t mean they didn’t interact. The King would often speak to Christian, guiding him, leading him, protecting him, and [even] allowing him to fall, stray, wander, wonder, question, reason, struggle, and rejoice along the journey. I was most impressed by how the writers and directors of this production managed to capture (not fully, but enough) all three persons of the Trinity in The King’s character! He was a loving Father who drew Christian with His love and kindness, saving him and preserving him every step of the way. The King was also the Son who died so that Christian could even be on this journey. And The King is also the Holy Spirit who comforts Christian, convicts him of sin, gives him strength and power to battle the enemy and helps him. It was awesome!
Speaking of battling the enemy – one of my favorite scenes was the one where Christian faces Apollyon. As a child, I grew up reading the child’s version of this story, The Dangerous Journey, where Apollyon was a fierce and fearful dragon character that Christian literally battles with sword and shield. In keeping with a more real-every-day-Christian-life theme, Christian’s battle with Apollyon is one of words, yet still using the full armor of God that every Christian is equipped with from scripture. It went something like this:
Apollyon would growl at Christian, “You are worthless. You have done terrible things. What makes you think the king will accept you?”
Standing just behind Christian, The King would lean into Christian’s ear and say, “Christian, the breastplate of righteousness.”
Christian would immediately respond, “No Apollyon. The King sees me through His Son and loves me. I will be accepted because of what The King’s Son did on the cross to make me His child!”
Apollyon would try again. “You are weak and small. You won’t make it. You will die before you arrive.”
The King – “Shield of Faith.”
Christian – “The King will protect me and give me strength for the journey. He will help me.”
Over and over Apollyon would accuse Christian and speak lies. And every time The King provided a piece of armor that Christian could [verbally] use to fight. This scene in the play made that passage of scripture come alive to me in a way it never had before! I was immensely encouraged.
The scene where Christian encounters the cross and his burden is removed is unbelievably powerful, largely due to the music selection and composition. I was in tears.
Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, the Slough of Despond, Christian’s friends Faithful and Hopeful, the House Beautiful… they are all there. They all show various aspects of our Christian life – the realness (despair, failing, loss, struggling) and the wonderfulness (encouragement, refreshment, victories, gifts, and eventually arriving home to at the Celestial City).
I have read Pilgrim’s Progress before and it is excellent. But there was something particularly amazing and impacting about SEEING many of the characters and concepts portrayed in this production. I’m so grateful for the writers and directors who have created this play and produced it for our enjoyment and encouragement. I highly recommend it for viewing! It will encourage your soul!
(The dvd can be purchased here if you are interested.)