The Emperor's New Clothes

 By Faye Ruddenklau


The attitudes of the Seven Churches addressed in Revelations 3 are caricatured in this parable on humility.



No.1: Pompous Joe
No. 2: Humble Harry
No.3: Humble Henrietta



Three reversible cloaks, one white surplice


Joe: richly coloured outside; inside, grey and black with tattered rags attached.
Harry and Henrietta: Dowdy/dull outside, white or gold inside.



(Scene: The beginning of a church service in a small church.)

Song: "Mr Simon" (c) Ken Medema

Greeter takes up position at the church door.

Numbers 2, and 3 and 1 line up outside imaginary door to shake hands with Greeter.

Numbers 2 and 3 shake hands warmly, converse, go in talking to each other before reaching seats, slowly, so that number 1 arrives at same time.

No. 1 (wearing blinkers) looks down his nose at proffered hand of Greeter, takes it only at arm's length, marches in proudly, pushes past numbers 2 and 3 to get to middle seat.

Number 1 sits, ignoring numbers two and three who attempt to smile at him.

Numbers 1, 2 and 3 kneel for Lord's Prayer, said out loud.

Numbers 2 and 3 kneel humbly, heads bowed, pray quietly and expressively.

No. 1 kneels head up, hands clasped, superior expression on face, says prayer loudly, especially " give us this day our daily bread", then softly, " and forgive us our sins as we forgive those - (looks sneeringly at numbers 2 and 3) who sin against us" - continues in loud monotone.

All stand for hymn " Praise, my soul, the King of heaven "

Numbers 2 and 3 sing with smiling uplifting faces and lift hands at "alleluia, alleluia."

No. 1 sings loudly and mechanically and finishes first by singing quicker.

Greeter brings collection plate. Numbers 2 and 3 quickly drop a coin in as Greeter brings plate to each.

No. 1 has Greeter wait (with imperious gesture) as he gets his wallet out, makes sure all are watching, and with a flourish puts twenty-dollar note in plate.

Greeter: May we all now share the kiss of peace with each other.

Goes to No. 2 and shakes hand warmly.

No. 2 turns to No. 1 with outstretched hand and smile. Number 1 ignores him, mutters "confounded nonsense" and sits down, arms folded, eyes front. Ignores No. 2, who then moves around No. 1 to No. 3 and embraces No.3.

All three are startled at the entrance of a Messenger in white surplice, who comes and stands in front of them.

No. 1 stands, and Messenger notices him, turning to him and saying:

"Here is the message of the Amen, the faithful, the true witness, the ultimate source of God's creation. I know all about you. You are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. You say to yourself "I am rich. I have made a fortune and have everything I want," never realising that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too. I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you really rich, and white robes to clothe you and cover your shameful nakedness, and eye ointment to put on your eyes so that you are able to see. I am the one who recruits and disciplines all those whom he loves. So repent in earnest."

He takes off No. One's cloak, turns it inside out, and puts it back on No.1. He then turns to Numbers 2 and 3 and says:

"Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress. Put on the beauty of the glory of God forever. Wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you, put on the diadem of the glory of the eternal on your head, since God means to show your splendour to every nation under him, and since the name God gives you forever will be " peace through integrity, and honour through devotedness."

He then takes each of their cloaks off, reverses them and replaces them on numbers 2 and 3, good side out.

All turn to the audience.

Messenger: Think of God's mercy my brothers, and worship him by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind.

(Numbers 1, 2 and 3 move down Centre aisle during rest of speech)

You are God's chosen race, his Saints; he loves you and you should be clothed with sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Over all these clothes to keep them together and complete them, put on LOVE. May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as part of one body.



© Faye Ruddenklau 1978
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