marriage-equalityAndrew, Peter, James and John are at Starbuck’s for bagels and coffee while Jesus is at the synagogue in Capernaum with Nathaniel and Simon.

Andrew: So, what’s the deal with Jesus and gays? Isn’t he against them?

James: He’s gotta be, right?  It’s unnatural, biologically futile, socially awkward and scripturally forbidden — Leviticus 18:22 — they’re on the stoning list.

John: Really? We’re all on the stoning list. I’ve never heard him say anything directly against gays, but he’s said a lot about the Law. Remember the Sermon on the Mount?

Peter (shaking his head): Whoa! Jesus pretty much closed all the exits — don’t think of people as fools, don’t look at women, turn the other cheek, walk a second mile — he nailed everyone on the mountain. Yep, we’re all on the stoning list.

Andrew: Yeah, but he didn’t mention gays.

James (shaking his index finger): And he didn’t mention incest or bestiality. Do you think he gave them the ‘all clear’ by not mentioning them?

John (holding up his hand): Hang on. If I asked Jesus, ‘Is gay marriage okay?’ you know what he’d say, ‘What do you think?’ ‘What does the Scripture say?’ ‘How does the Golden Rule apply?’

James: True. He’d walk you through it and end up asking, “What does love require of you?”

Peter: Yeah, I think Jesus sees sin everywhere…in a redeeming way. It’s weird. I know he knows all my faults — all of them — and he treats me with love and respect. He encourages me to be good and clean up my act, but overall he loves me ‘as is.’

Andrew: I agree. With him, whether something is wrong or not isn’t the question. He changes us through relationship. He makes me want to be like him. I become more and more truthful with myself when I’m with him.

James: Are you saying Jesus doesn’t care about whether someone is gay or not?

John: He’s saying it doesn’t really matter because if you hang around Jesus you’ll eventually face the truth within yourself. I used to do stuff, but I quit because of him and I can’t exactly explain why, I just knew it was better.

Peter: We’re back to truth and grace. Again. Remember: The Spirit reveals truth, we reveal grace. Truth revelation to others is the Spirit’s business. Jesus says our business is to love one another.

John: That pharisee, Jacob-bar-Pinhead, said Jesus and I were lovers. Jesus just shook his head and smiled. I was ready to break a commandment right there. Yet, immediately I knew the truth and that Jesus expected me to let it go, so I did as he did. After all, we’re a bunch of guys hanging out together–who’s surprised we get this stuff?

Andrew: Yeah. It is what it is. The truth about truth is whether you can be that way with Jesus in the room. Jesus has never said anything about Judas’ smoking, but everyone, including Judas, knows where he stands.

Peter: Personally, I think two genders in one body runs contrary to God’s best plan for a human, but we run contrary to God’s best plan all the time. That’s pretty much why Jesus keeps reminding us he loves us anyway.

Andrew: Seems to me, if a covenant marriage is good for believers, why would we want to withhold it from unbelievers? Shouldn’t we want good things for those who don’t know Jesus or us?

James: Hmmm. We see marriage as being under the jurisdiction of religion, not the government – a religious ceremony with spiritual significance. However, the average person sees it as a civil ceremony with legal implications. Whatever, it’s not our call.

Peter: Well, I know Jesus and nothing’s changed–we’re to love others as he loves us.

Jesus walks in with Nathaniel and Simon.

Jesus (smiling): Live according to the truth, act according to grace.

Tr8: What Jesus said.

First published August 2, 2012.

Peanut-Butter-JellyJesus: Okay, who has the sack lunch Salome sent?

Peter: I think Murph has it. He’s back there askin’ Judas to cash a check for him.

John (yelling): Murph! Lunch!

The disciples and followers gather.

Murphy (coming forward with the lunch sack and Judas): Here it is. I think we have peanut butter and chips again. Chicken salad would be nice, but it’d spoil…or would it? I guess you could fix it when you multiply it.

Jesus (taking the sack): Ah, Murphy–a Gentile without doubt. Let’s give thanks. Peter, you do it.

Peter (startled): Will it work if I do it? I’ve never multiplied before.

Jesus: Sure, I’m here. I’ll help.

Peter prays and there are sandwiches and chips to spare.

Murphy: Jude-ass wants you to give him lottery numbers. (Judas punches him in the arm.)

Jesus (raised eyebrow): Murph…stop it. Love one another.

Murphy: Sorry, but you could do it couldn’t you? You’re God, so I’m thinkin’ you can.

Jesus (looking at Murphy and Judas): Well, yeah, I can.

Judas (expectantly): Well?

Jesus (smiling): Okay, today’s digits are the smallest real number more than one that is a perfect square, perfect cube, fourth, fifth through tenth powers.

Judas (getting out a slate; walking away): Hmm. 2×2, 4, x2, 8, x2…

Murphy (to Jesus): Will he get it?

Jesus: Not today.

Murphy (sitting under a fig tree with Jesus): The other guys don’t push it much, but I sort of wonder…you are God, so I’m guessin’ you can do more than heal and multiply, right? You obviously know algebra and that’s impressive.

Jesus (drawing in the dirt): I like numbers. Like what are you wondering?

Murphy: Well, can you fly? Be two places at once? Talk with animals?

Jesus: Why?

Murphy (smiling): Just wondering…it’d be neat to see. Maybe something for the Jerusalem crew. They want some signs or wonders. How ’bout we fly into the Temple courtyard and land like a bunch of Power Rangers?

Jesus (smiling): Why don’t I just make their legs grow together until they recognize me as their messiah?

Murphy: That’d work, too. I think you could do it if you wanted, but you don’t do anything unless your Father tells you and he doesn’t seem to work like that. More a personal approach.

Jesus: Yeah, I, we, like to lean toward faith and love. We’re calling everyone, but not everyone listens. They’ve hardened their hearts so much they’re stone–tombstones.

Murphy: Hmm. Stoners. Thanks for letting my ears hear.

Jesus: My pleasure, Murph. When it’s all said and done, I’m going to Jerusalem and will give ’em a sign and wonder they’ll not believe, but not forget.

Murphy: More impressive than being able to fly?

Jesus: Definitely.

___

Tr8: Jesus is more than you imagine. He can hold the universe in the span of his hand.

 

god with us“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1).

Adam & Eve: You’re kickin’ us out of the garden?!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Noah: A flood?! Are you kidding?

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Abraham: A nation?! I don’t even have a son!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Issac: Ah! My son, great meal! Come and be blessed (hmm, seems a bit like Jacob).

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Jacob: I hope this fools Dad long enough to get his blessing.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Joseph: I’m a slave, falsely accused and in prison!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Moses: These people are driving me crazy!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Joshua: Canaan! Ready or not, here we come!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

David: My son has taken over my kingdom!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Solomon: Man, raising teenagers is gonna kill me!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Elijah: These people will never listen!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Elisha: These people never listen!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Jonah: Nineveh?! I’m not listening.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Isaiah: Here am I, send me!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Jeremiah: Ticks me off! These people won’t listen!

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Ezekiel: God? I don’t think they’re listening.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Mary & Joseph: A baby?! But how…

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help. You shall call his name ‘Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God with us.’

John the Baptist: I don’t think the ‘temple dudes’ are listening.

God: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

“But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2).

Peter: Where are you going? Can’t we go?

Jesus: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Disciples: You’re leaving?! Now what?

Jesus: Don’t worry, I’m leaving my Spirit (the ‘Helper’) with you always to help.

James & Peter: How shall we shepherd these sheep?

Holy Spirit: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

Paul: Uh oh, I think I’m about to get stoned…

Holy Spirit: Don’t worry, I am with you aways, to help.

You: [Insert your crisis, here.]

Holy Spirit: Don’t worry, I am with you always, to help.

——-

Tr8: Right now, God is with you to help. Lean into Him.

churchJesus and his disciples are standing in the middle of the Women’s Courtyard of Herod’s Temple. Jesus stands looking toward the Holy of Holies and gestures to some passing Levites.

Jesus: Destroy this temple and I’ll raise it in three days!

Levites (surprised): Look at this, he’s got a demon! He’s cursing the temple! He is so going to hell.

Disciples: Wha?

Jesus: This is just a pile of rocks. The day is coming when a holy mountain here, in Samaria or in Sinai won’t mean a thing. I am the cornerstone of the temple.

Levites (indignantly): Somebody get the guards and a couple of Pharisees. ‘Mr. Messiah’ doesn’t appreciate the Scripture or the temple.

A pharisee arrives.

Pharisee: Let’s stone him!

Levites: Yeah! A stoning!

Scribes and sadducees gather.

Scribes: We can get him for blasphemy and swearing…yeah, he’ll stone real good.

Peter (trying to calm folks down): Here! Here! Let’s not go overboard…he’s speaking in mysteries. You’ve heard his parables! We hear this all the time.

Crowd (mumbling): Isn’t this Jesus, the rabbi from Galilee who heals everyone?

Levites: Doesn’t matter who he is. He’s got a demon and is talking about destroying the temple.

Jesus (holding up his hands): If you can hear, listen! Within a generation THIS temple (motioning toward the courts) will be destroyed. But THIS temple (pointing to himself) will rise again in three days.

Disciples: Um, Jesus, maybe take a minute and explain your parable…or, we could slip out about now…

Jesus (pauses, then heads for the Beautiful Gate): Let’s go back to Bethany–the ladies have dinner waiting.

Disciples (hustling Jesus on): Yes! Dinner time! (To the crowd) Sorry for the inconvenience, we’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll tell you what he’s saying.

Levites: Well, what about stoning the demon?

Scribes: He got away…maybe we get him tomorrow.

Jesus and the disciples head toward Bethany. They take a short break for a drink at Siloam Fountain.

Peter: Jesus, what were you talking about back there?

Jesus: God’s temple is not a place, it’s me and you–all you guys. Your bodies are God’s temple. Everywhere you go is a holy place.

John: We are God’s temple? I thought the Holy of Holies was God’s footstool and his glory is behind the veil with Moses’ ark.

Jesus: Yes. You won’t understand the three day thing until later, but remember: No more temples. We are done with holy places, holy guys, holy rituals and stuff. You are to do two things: Love God and love others as I have loved you. From now on, all you need to be doing is loving. When you take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and imprisoned you are taking care of me.

Peter: What about holy places?

Jesus: You are a holy place and you have the Keys to heaven and hell. The temple model is over and done. The model temple is you loving those around you.

______

Tr8: Things have changed. In Jesus, you are okay, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about those around you.

Temple Model – The Old Way

  • holy places
  • holy texts
  • holy guys
  • holy rituals
  • supporting holy people

Model TempleThe Way

  • You loving others as Christ loved.

References: John 2:19, John 15:12, Matthew 25:27, 1 Cor. 13, Galatians 5:6 (b)

A MUST SEE series: www.brandnewseries.org

 

pick_one

Murphy, the non-disciple, and his wife, Harpreet, have just settled in for the night–kids are in bed and sleeping. Ten feet away.

Harpreet (whispering): You’ve been talking a lot of Jesus who was executed recently.

Murhpy (whispering): Yeah, he’s back. Amazing. I think he’s God… (pause) I talked with him in Jerusalem last week. ‘Said, his way was THE WAY to live and know God.

Harpreet (louder, Murph puts a finger to her lips): God! (quieter) Sounds like India. We have gods by the bundle at home in Cambay. Which god do you think Jesus is?

Murph: Not a god–the god. How many of your family’s gods have risen from the dead and talked with you lately? Have you seen Buddha at the well this week? Jesus is the real deal.

Harpreet:  Hmm. Don’t all religions have the same end–nirvana, heaven, hope and peace with major helpings of health and prosperity? In India, we have–Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Krishna, Rama, Hanuman, and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga, Kali and Saraswati–and that’s just getting started. We also have Buddha, who teaches noble truths and an eightfold path.

Murph: Yeah, Buddha had some good things to say about self-denial, but apart from a work-around on suffering, he left you with a wheel-of-life or oblivion. While some of his followers say he passed on nirvana to get people off the wheel–he didn’t do a Pentecost with wind and languages, right?  The other gods haven’t much to offer either.

Harpreet: Well, Jesus was different.

Murph: Jesus was, or is, different because he lived/lives as you’d imagine God would live if he were a human. He was awesomely god 24/7. You met him. I’ve been with his disciples for years.

Harpreet: Yes, such a caring man! He was the nicest person you ever brought into this house. The kids loved him.

Murph: See, you get it–you know him. For those who don’t, he not only lived truth and grace perfectly–he rose from the dead! He was too much for a grave to hold. He couldn’t not live–the Jews and the Romans couldn’t put him down. They got rid of him and he came back! Everybody in Jerusalem and Judea know this story. And it’s spreading. How embarrassing for the Temple dudes.

Harpreet: Well, that does put him in a class above all the other gods and religious leaders I’ve ever heard of. So, he can’t not live?

Murph: Yep. He can’t be stopped. Not only that, he told me that if I abided in him, I’d also be unstoppable. I believe him! No grave for me–I’ve hitched my cart to him and trust his word. Ultimately, I’ll be with him, wherever he is.

Harpreet: What about me? I, too, have met him. And after what you’ve said, I believe he’s God, too.

Murph: You repent and–his words, not mine–“Love God with all you have and love your neighbors as yourself.” Most of his group were baptized, some maybe twice, when they repented and put faith in God for forgiveness. John the Baptist baptized me before he was taken to prison and executed.

Harpreet: Well, I certainly repent of my sins and I know God’s forgiven me. Who’ll baptize me?

Murph: We’ll ask the disciples who should do it, but they’ll have trouble with you, not being a Jew and all. Barnabas might help us out. Right now it’s kind of a Jewish thing. Even so, they’ve heard all the different languages when the Holy Spirit descended. That ought to be a clue. They also saw how Jesus loved me even though I’m not a Jew or a disciple. Jesus told me to wait ’cause Peter was going to have a dream and us non-disicples were going to be allowed to join The Way.

Harpreet: I guess there are lots of gods and religions, but they all have different ends. Only Jesus gives me a personal relationship with God, his Father. My faith reveals truth and grace for application in my life. I never got that through faith in Hindu gods, Buddha or the sacred rocks and trees at home.

Murph (giving Harpreet a hug; she reciprocates): Our mutual faith increases our mutual love. Love you, honey. Have a good night’s sleep.

Tr8: Pick Jesus (see the Gospels).  Jesus offers unconditional love, unmerited forgiveness and comprehensive peace.

Homework: What do other religions offer? With whom do you wish to walk at the end of your journey? Moses, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Buddha, Maitreya, Caesar, Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Yoda?