luciferAdam and Eve are sitting under a tree in Eden.

Eve: What about Serpent?

Adam: What do you mean?

Eve: Well, for one thing, he talks. Says his name is Lucifer.

Adam: Yeah, I call him Lucky. I think he’s connected to a spirit or something. I’m pretty sure he knows God. I’ve seen ‘em talking.

Eve: Yeah, me, too. And he’s tall and handsome and strong.

Adam: Yeah, at least 6’4′ and 200 pounds.

Eve: He’s easy on the eyes.

Adam: Sometimes when we walk with God in the garden? Lucky’s asked if we’ll go with him instead to the orchard. I laughed, but didn’t think it was funny.

Eve: Lucky seems different–sort of like God, but not as much. He’s approached me, too. He’s always talking to me by the river. He’s a charmer. I’m pretty sure he has a crush on me.

Adam: That’s cool. Glad Lucky likes you. What does he talk about?

Eve: He’s full of complements and asks me if I love him.

Adam: Really? He asked me the same thing today. Once again, I laughed–what a goof!

Eve: Totally. He asked me if I thought he looked like God…bizarro!

They sit quietly for a few minutes, then Adam sits up.

Adam: It’s almost 6:00. What’s for dinner?

Eve: I thought we’d have spaghetti, French bread and fruit cocktail for dessert.

Adam: Sounds good! I’m gonna go ask God if he wants to join us. He loves your spaghetti.

Eve: Perfect. I’m going to go pick some fruit.

Adam heads toward the river as Eve heads toward the orchard. While she’s on the path Lucky slides up beside her.

Lucky: Where you headed?

Eve (looking over her shoulder): To the orchard. Wanna come along?

Lucky: Sure! Where’s Adam?

Eve: He’s inviting God to dinner.

Lucky (enviously): No kidding? Wouldn’t you rather have supper with me?

Eve (laughing): Where do you get that stuff?! No, but you can join us. Bring some monkeys. They’re always fun, too.

Lucky: Hmm. You know, I’m like God. Come over here, I wanna show you something.

They walk up to a banana tree.

Lucky (touching a branch): Recognize this tree?

Eve: You crazy serpent! That’s the tree God said to leave alone.

Lucky (reaches up, snaps off a banana, peels it and eats it): Voilà!

Eve (startled): So?

Lucky (confidently): So?

Eve (snapping off a banana, peeling it and taking a bite): You know, Lucky, I don’t think we should be alone together. I’m starting to feel naked.

Tr8: Love God with all your heart. Don’t be alone with Lucky.

theophilusJames, the brother of Jesus, and Luke, a doctor in Capernaum, are at the back of a room watching Jesus heal people. Both are scratching their heads.

Luke (with raised eyebrows): Did you see that? Healed Max–the guy who stands at the corner of Broad Street and Jericho Road–brushes down oxen and horses for a quarter.

James (raised eyebrow): I wondered where Max went.

Luke: A Goth cavalryman didn’t want his horse touched and hacked him with his sword. I sewed him up, but it looked infected on Wednesday. I treated him for two weeks–Jesus tags him and he’s good to go.

James (nodding): Yeah, he got all the healing genes in our family.

Luke (glances at James, stands and shuffles toward the door, over his shoulder to James): Don’t see much need for a doctor around here. I may head to Caesarea or become a barber. I can do hair and teeth pretty good…

James (standing, too): Feel unneeded? Let me walk you out. People say I’m “blessed” being Jesus’ brother, but it gets old. Does your brother think he’s God?

Luke (smiling): I guess if he needs us, he’ll know where we are!

People get up and step aside as James and Luke head for the door. They almost make it.

Jesus (calling out): Yo! James! Luke! Wait for me outside a second. (To the crowd,) that’s it for now. Let’s take a break and get some fresh air. I need to talk to my brother.

Lady: How blessed to be your brother!

Jesus: It’s more blessed to be a friend of God.

Jesus steps out and joins James and Luke by the curb. Luke is smoking a cigar.

Jesus: What’s with doctors and smoking? Stop it. It’s not good for you.

Luke (stomping out his smoke): Where does it say, “Thou shalt not smoke?”

Jesus (rolling his eyes): Whatever. I need you guys to help me out when I’m gone. I’m heading to Jerusalem soon.

James: What?

Jesus: I’m going there on a special mission. So, who do you think I am?

James: You are my brother, Jesus. Maybe the Messiah. But I’m not seeing it. You aren’t King material. You’ll have to do more than heal people and preach to make me believe you are anointed. I love you and you are amazing with people, but at the end of the day you’re the guy I shared a room with for 15 years.

Jesus: Luke, how ’bout you?

Luke: I find your story really interesting, that’s why I’ve been following you around. What you do is amazing. I love God, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t him.

Jesus (to both): That’s okay. This will all come together on Easter.

James: What’s Easter?

Jesus (smiling): You’ll see.

Luke: Hmm. Well, you said you needed something?

Jesus (nodding): James, after Easter, I need a leader–someone who understands belief is more than just thinking. Just act according to what you believe about me. We’ll talk again when you believe I’m God.

James (waving him off): You know I love you Jesus, but that’s not going to happen. Go with Peter or John. I don’t believe all the Messiah stuff like they do.

Jesus: Wait and see. When the time comes, I want you to write about the joy of persevering.

James kicks at the curb and shakes his head.

Jesus (turning to Luke): I need you to write down everything for Theophilus. “Theophilus” is code for anyone who seriously loves God. You don’t have to become a barber, you’re our historian. Matthew, Mark and John will write memoirs, but you’ll write from a non-disciple perspective. Kinda like Murphy. After I’m gone, keep writing for “Theophilus.” In a few years I’m going to send a real humdinger to join The Way. You’ll be friends.

Luke: I’ll follow. I’ll write.

James: I’ll wait and see.

Tr8: May you perceive YOU are “Theophilus”–God’s beloved. Luke wrote his gospel and The Acts of the Apostles especially for you. After the resurrection James indeed believed his brother was God! He wrote to you about his brother in The Epistle of James, near the back of your Bible. Enjoy.

John the BaptistJohn the Baptist and Benny (his last loyal disciple) sit talking through prison bars.
Benny: Brought you some honey and locusts. And a thermos of coffee from my mom.
John (head down): Thanks. Hey to your mama.
Benny: Man you look really depressed. Sorry.
John: Tell me again what Jesus said.
Benny: Well, I asked just like you said: “Are you the one or shall we look for another?”
John: And…
Benny: He looked really sad–maybe even a tear–and said, “Tell Cousin John everything you’ve seen–blind see, sick healed, dead raised, demons running, people comforted–tell him to remember Isaiah 61.”
John (smiling slightly): Ah, break out the faith…
Benny (reaching through the bars to touch John’s robe): Then he said you were the greatest man to ever be born of a woman. John, he loves you. I know he does. It was clear as day.
John (hopefully): Did he say he’d try to come visit? Man, I been praying day and night to see him again.
Benny (dropping his head): Uhh, no. Said he was moving to Capernaum. Further north. Near the beach…
John: Well, maybe John and Andrew could visit? They were good guys while they were with us. I could use some encouragement here.
Benny (shaking his head): No, they’re staying with Jesus and going to Capernaum, too.
John: Oh.
Benny (quietly): John, nobody’s coming. It’s just me.
John (looking into Benny’s eyes): Thanks, Ben. Means a lot.
Benny: It’s nothing. No trouble coming in tonight. There’s some kind of huge banquet going on in the palace. I heard Herod promised up to half his kingdom to his step-daughter for dancing.
John: I’m glad you are here. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been totally forgotten. I pray, sing and meditate and review Scripture and stuff, but seems pointless. Even so, I continue.
Benny: Sure. Things are bound to look up pretty soon.
John: Maybe. I’m God’s man, good or bad. He sent me to make a pathway in the wilderness and to declare it’s time. I wavered for a bit, but of course Jesus is THE Messiah, the Chosen One.
John: I can feel his spirit with us now. And, yeah, Jesus is here. How could I doubt?
Ben and John look up as keys rattle in the dungeon door. Two guards enter. One carries a sword, the other a dinner platter.

Tr8: Persevere in trials. We are loved and cared for in adversity. God’s plan isn’t always easy or painless, but it can be full of faith, hope, love, peace and joy regardless of the circumstances.

References: Matthew 11:11 and “In the Meantime” by Andy Stanley.

frappuccinoJesus is sitting with some disciples, followers and Murphy (the non-disciple) at the Starbucks in Capernaum.

Jesus: Hey, guys, I want to show you something. Take your coffee, a bit of milk, sugar, add a spoon of cocoa, touch of cinnamon, some shaved ice, shake it, top with some whipped cream…voila! Mocha frappuccino! (Jesus passes the drink around.)

Phillip (sips): Whoa! This is great! A miracle!

James (sips): Interesting. Good, but I’ll stick with Italian roast.

Thomas (sips): Yeah, it’s good, but could WE make one of these?

Jesus: Mastering coffees like this takes patience, time and a personal commitment, but you could do it.

Joan (Starbucks barista, sips): Mmmm. Could I use your recipe?

Jesus (smiles): Consider it yours.

John (to Joan): Could you whip one up for me?

Murphy: Me, too. And add a bit of hazelnut.

Joan (getting busy): Coming right up–just a second, let me get the chariot in drive-thru.

A few minutes pass and the guys sip their drinks.

Peter: Seems a bit much for a “coffee.” Kinda whimpy–is it really coffee?

Jesus: Coffee is what it is–some like it straight and strong, some like it cold and smooth. It’s still coffee. If you get the coffee part straight, you can mess around with it. No one likes coffee snobs–a bit rude and clueless if you ask me. Why get upset with people for liking what you like?

Peter: I guess so. But what about all the non-coffee junk in it?

Jesus: What do you think?

Murphy: It’s not coffee when it doesn’t have coffee in it.

Peter: But won’t it get confusing when people go for coffee? Think of the menu Joan’ll have if you start adding this and that.

Jesus: I like the idea of everyone agreeing on the main thing, then personalizing it and sharing with others. Who says everyone has to be exactly the same? I like unity, not uniformity.

Joan (smiling): I love giving customers exactly what they want. I want them to enjoy it.

James: Makes sense to me–like relationships. You relate to everyone, but no two the same way. Jesus, YOU are SO personal and different to each of us, yet completely grace and truth. Thanks for that.

Jesus: My pleasure, James. I’m the coffee, you’re the flavors. Make it good for everyone. My joy is seeing how each of you make the coffee that much more interesting.

Peter: I still like it strong, black and hot.

Phillip: I like it flavored, creamy and cold.

Murphy: I like it with Bailey’s Irish Creme!

Jesus (smiling): I’m glad you don’t fight about coffee.

Tr8: Faiths and pilgrimages come in all flavors, just be sure the key ingredient is genuine Jesus – love, grace and truth blended into joy.

#tr8s #jesusfrappuccino

heavenIt’s 72 A.D. and Murphy, the non-disciple, sits with his family at the funeral of his son, Micky. They are near Capernaum, where Mick was killed in a construction accident. Murphy is getting on in years. While sitting with his wife, Murphy is approached by a neighbor, Sem, a Kurdish buddhist.

Sem (respectfully):May Mick be one with the universe.

Murphy: Hogwash.

Sem (surprised): What?!

Murphy: Hogwash. Mick is with Jesus right now in heaven.

Sem: That’s right, y’all are members of The Way.

Murphy: Quite right. I actually followed Jesus and spoke with him AFTER he didn’t die at the hands of the chief priests and Romans. Mick was a kid back then.

Sem: So, you believe in heaven? Where is it and what’s it like?

Murphy: Can’t say as I really know, but Jesus said there was such a place. When a guy who works signs and wonders rises from the dead says something, you can take it to the bank.

Sem: Does the Torah or any of your holy books teach about heaven?

Murphy: Can’t say for sure. I don’t really know the Scriptures like I should. But, if Jesus says it, I believe it. In fact, that’s why I believe the Jewish laws and prophets–Jesus did and that’s good enough for me.

Sem: I see. So, it’s all a matter of faith for you.

Murphy: Yep. Jesus said, “Life will be hard, but I go to prepare a place for you, that where I go you may be also.” I saw him live. I saw him die. I saw him alive again. AND, I saw him ascend into the sky.

Sem: Seriously?

Murphy: You can look it up. Dr. Luke wrote it all down for his friend Theophilus who lives in Alexandria, or maybe Antioch, by a library. There’s a copy of his letters down at our gathering place on the corner of Mud and Fish streets near my other son’s pub.

Sem: You believe Mick is with Jesus now?

Murphy: Yes, I do. Mick believed in the one who has risen. He repented of his sin, was baptized in the sea by Matthew the tax collector. Mick kept Jesus’ truth in his heart and acted graciously toward others.

Sem: That’s good.

Murphy: Yep. We’re parted for now, but we’ll meet up again. You wanna come along?

Tr8: Belief in Jesus settles our doubts about the hereafter. We may not know the answers, but we know the one who does.