In lieu of preaching this Sunday, I wrote this dramatic exploration of the Matthew passage.
How do you answer the Priest's final question - are Jesus' words believable? He was, we must remember, completely unauthorized by the Powers that Be - which in part were the Priestly class, the Levites, the only one of the 12 tribes of Israel given authority via God's law given to Moses to be priests and to speak for God - to do what he did.
The parables that the Jesus in this drama offers are parables that Jesus said, though I tried to make them a bit more contemporary and less male-centric, to be less patriarchal and less kyriarchal.
Your dialogue is appreciated.
Drama for September 28, 2014
(c) 2014 Rev. David J. Huber
Used in worship in lieu of a sermon on 9/29/2014, original performance by Hannah Zehms (Priest) and Sandy Moore (Jesus). Read the drama, or listen to theperformance.
PERMISSIONS!!! - You are completely free to use this drama without charge, but YOU MUST give me credit as the author in any bulletins or powerpoints or whatever media you use to display/broadcast what you are doing. Such credit must include my name (Rev. David J. Huber) and a link to this specific blog post, a link to my church's website (http://www.pcucc.com), mention of my facebook page (RevDavidHuber) my twitter (@revdavidhuber) and my church's facebook page and twitter (PlymouthUnitedChurchOfChrist and @plymouthec). And if you could make a donation to my church's Street Ministry, that will be Very Much Appreciated! Not necessary, but appreciated. Like I said, usage is free. But we have a lot of homeless folks here who could se some help.
Just unbelievable. I’ve been the chief priest of this temple – God’s temple! The only temple!! - for decades, and now this Jesus guy is stirring up trouble.
Oh, he’s been here before. He’s spent most of time out in the country, but he’s come here a few times. I remember he came here when he was a child, couldn’t have been any more than twelve or thirteen years old. Wise for a child. Wiser than most adults, really! Wonderful insights into scripture. He was here for days talking with the priests and holding his own, asking questions, offering ideas. I thought he would go places. He would have made an excellent priest.
I was surprised that a twelve year old kid would come back for so many days, but I heard later it was because he didn’t bother to join his family when they left! (laughter) They traveled for two days before they realized he wasn’t with them, and had to come back to get him. But that gave more time to listen to him, to teach him and learn from him.
Sad, kind of, that he had to leave. If we could have kept him here, had a chance to train him properly... [trailing off in wistful thought]
Then he shows up again a couple years ago, out there with that Baptising madman. That John. Now he goes around a self-proclaimed prophet and teacher, people call him Rabbi. Rabbi of all things! He causes problems wherever he goes. Sure, he heals the sick, but … he hangs out with women! And he has a group of followers made of prostitutes, tax collectors, traitors to his people, even terrorists! Terrorists like Simon Peter! Many of them are unclean. Not proper for a good patriotic, faithful man. And his teachings!
If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.
I tell you, in God’s world, many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.
Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Do you hear that?
What is God like? God is like a banker who was ready to foreclose on hundreds of people’s homes. They owed more money than they could earn in thousands of years. But instead of foreclosing on them, the banker forgave their loans and gave them ownership of their homes.
See? See what I mean? Banks forgiving loans? Selling all you have to give to the poor? Hanging out with the tattooed people, the folks who to go bars, the gamblers, the people who don’t have citizenship cards?
And now he’s getting physical. When he and his followers arrived a couple days ago he came to the temple with a whip and threw over the tables of our money changers and the faithful men selling animals for sacrifices so that the people can worship.
My house shall be called a house of prayer;
but you are making it a den of robbers!
But, anyway, that was two days ago...
He’s teaching in the temple now. I’m going to go listen.
God’s world is like a mother who had a child who demanded all his inheritance from her. He took it and ran away and squandered it all, but the mother welcomed him back, forgiving his recklessness, throwing a huge party, she was so happy to be reunited with him again.
[To Jesus] You have gone too far, sir! Who said you could teach these words? Who gave you authority to do these things? It certainly does not come from me or the temple.
Let me ask you a question. And then I will answer yours.
Did John’s baptism come from heaven, or was it just something he did on his own authority?
[back to audience] I can’t answer that! See what I mean about his trickery and causing problems? Whichever way I answer, I lose. If I say that his authority came from heaven, then Jesus will ask me why I didn’t believe him.
I grow tired of the arguing. I wish these people would just go away!
But if I say that John was just another in a long line of crazy men who only think they speak for God, I know the people will rise up against me because they think he was a prophet! I’m stuck either way.
[sighing] And it’s Passover, there are thousands of visitors here, crowding the city and creating a tinderbox ready to go off at any moment. The Romans are breathing down my neck to keep things under control and make sure a riot doesn’t break out, while the terrorists – the zealots – are threatening to rise up against the Romans... and now this to deal with. There is no good way to answer this question.
[Pause a moment; then, to Jesus] I don’t know.
Then I won’t answer your question.
Think about this: There was a factory owner who had two children. He said to the oldest one, his daughter, “I need you to go work today and watch over the factory.” She said, “No. I don’t want to. I have other plans. Tell my brother to go.” So the father went to the son and said, “I need you to go to work today and watch over the factory.” He said, “Yes, sir, I will. I was going to go out today with a friend, but I’ll cancel and go to work.” And yet, when the father came later to the factory, his son was not there and had not been there. And his daughter, the one who had refused to go, was there working diligently.
So I ask you, which of the two children did the will of their father?
The daughter. Even though she said she would not go, she did. Her actions are more important than her words.
And so I say to you that the prostitutes, the poor, the prisoners, all these people you say that I should not be with, they will go to God’s house before you do.
When our people were thirsty in the desert after being led to freedom from slavery under Egypt, God provided them water through the prophet Moses. Now the people are thirsty again, but this time thirsty for life and justice from you, from Rome, from every one keeping them down. As Moses provided water in the desert, I provide water to sooth the thirst of their oppression. Perhaps if you spent more time listening to them instead of talking to them, you would know.
John came to you, baptizing in the hope and love of God, and yet you did not believe him. But these people, these whom you scorn: the tax collectors, the terrorists, the people you try to hide behind barriers, or in projects away from your nice homes so you don’t have to see them, or enclose in fences, these people believed!
And even after you saw all this, you still have not changed your minds or your hearts.
The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
[looks at Jesus in silence for a moment; then to audience] See? See what he says and does?! Outrageous! Disruptive!
Like I said, unbelievable!
You don’t believe him, do you? Do you?
What do you think?
[walk off stage]