Summary: A monologue by a newcomer to church, thinking about what's going on around him, and what he's heard.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 12min
Scripture: Mark 1: 14-20
Character: a newcomer to the church, sitting, thinking out loud.
Man, that was some story. Just when you think the Bible is slow and ponderous, kinda plodding along and confusing, along comes that story. It was like I was watching a movie with the remote on fast forward.
One minute Jesus is preaching about the kingdom of God. Telling people they need to repent and believe the gospel. The next thing you know he’s out by the Sea of Galilee, he sees these two brothers Andrew and Simon out fishing. He calls out to them and says he will make them fish for people. So down go the nets. Just like that. No questions asked. They follow him along a ways and find two more brothers, mending their nets. Calls them, too. And they leave their poor old dad scratching his head in the boat. Then the whole bunch of them head off into who knows where.
Well, I guess we do know where. I must admit I do know some of the rest of the story. Bits of it, anyway. And those same guys keep showing up in the story. Mostly screwing things up, if I remember right.
Actually, I find that vaguely comforting. Knowing that Jesus called imperfect people who didn’t always know the right thing to say and often made things worse because of it.
I really should read my bible more, I guess. I wonder if I know it any better than those fellows did. I suppose I do. Heck, chances are they were illiterate. That’s kinda comforting too. I mean if I actually did bother to read it, I would already know it better than they did.
Anyway, here I am sitting in *** Church. And I wonder: why am I here? This is only my second time at this church. Came last Christmas and kinda enjoyed myself. At least I knew the hymns. Saw some friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Met some nice folks in the lobby outside. It all seems friendly enough. Lots going on, for sure, if the bulletin is any indication.
But I wonder, what really brought me here? On a Sunday morning when I could be home reading the Home section in the newspaper and planning those renovations to the basement, or playing some Nintendo with the kids.
I guess it’s them that really brought me here. They said they wanted to go to church. I wonder if my mother-in-law put them up to it. She’s the religious one in our family. Not preachy, but you know, earnest in a kinda righteous way. My wife brought them here a couple of times. And now it’s my turn.
Anyhow, here I am, and the kids are in Sunday School. But honestly, it all seems kinda strange. I mean, there’s all this stuff happening, and it seems like everybody in the place seems to know what’s going on, except for me. They seem to know when to stand, and how to find their way through the hymn book, heck they even know the music. Or seem to.
Then there’s the guy leading the service. In all those funny clothes. What do they mean? Is he supposed to wear that stuff? You couldn’t pay me to wear a dress in church!
And the music is something I don’t get. Some of it is alright, but I wish they’d have something a bit livelier. Something with a beat. Maybe some guitars and drums. That’s the stuff I grew up with. Not an organ or a choir. O well, I suppose I’ll get used to it. Assuming we stay around. God knows there’s lots of other churches around, with lots of other younger families, so I hear.
But for now, here we are. And the kids seem happy. I guess I am, too, though a little bewildered by it all.
All the praying and singing and reading the Bible. It seems like a strange world in here. But something about it seems to hold my attention. It’s like I keep waiting for something to happen, and I’m not always sure what it will be.
I guess if I came more often, things would make more sense. More familiar, I suppose.
I wonder, now that I think about it, if those disciples Jesus called felt a bit like I do. after all, they got called out of their familiar routines - not Nintendos on a Sunday morning but their jobs, for God’s sake. What would that feel like? How would old Zebedee or whatever his name was - their dad - what would he have thought of his kids just packing it in to follow the preacher fellow? Mad, I suppose. Confused likely.
And following Jesus would have meant letting go of everything they knew, walking into a world they never experienced before. Meeting people they hadn’t met. Seeing things they could hardly have imagined. It makes going to church seem like small potatoes.
Can you imagine just doing that? I wonder if I could. If I would. Say, I wonder. Even though that story is 2000 years old, I don’t imagine people today are all that much different than they were then. Sure, the world is different. In every way possible.
But people. They don’t change. They still get hungry, and lonely. And fearful of things they don’t understand. And sick people. And people still fall in love and have incredible joy when a baby is born. They still grieve when someone dies. They worry when they lose things.
And a lot of people don’t have a clue what to do with their lives, and feel trapped in things they can’t get out of.
Jesus spoke to people like that - people like me, I guess. God knows I have my doubts and struggles. Every time I watch the news I have them. And that time we lost our baby. I wonder where God is sometimes. And I sure could have used someone to talk to who had some faith.
I wonder how Jesus did it. And how he responded to questions of faith other people had. All I know is that he gave them faith and blessed them and gave them something hopeful to hold onto. He healed them and lifted them up. At least that’s what I think I remember.
And he called them by name and invited them to go with him. He called his society to repent and find good news. We read that part today.
I wonder what this church does with a story like that. I suppose it’s full of people who also laugh and grieve and struggle with faith - and hope the world will turn itself around. Maybe I should ask about that. I wonder if anyone would be willing to talk about what their faith means to them? How it’s changed their lives? Did it give them hope? Did it help them face the world? If I knew this was a place where I could ask those questions, and didn’t get a bunch of preachy answers, but could actually find some honest people with honest faith, I just might keep coming back.
Now that I think about it, I really should give this church a chance. I may not understand everything that goes on in a service, but this place is probably full of people who understand this story. Who have found good news in their lives.
Maybe we could talk about that.
(c) Copyright Jim Hatherly.
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