Epiphany 7 February 20, 2011

This was one of our periodic “Come with Joy” Sundays. The readings were incorporated into a little skit, which follows. The skit served in lieu of a homily, with the congregation responding with comments afterwards.

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

Matthew 5:38-48

Builders of Holy Lives

 

The Lord God enters, dressed in white, and proclaims the reading from Leviticus:

Hear this, my people: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not gather everything for yourself, but you shall leave something there in the fields for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another: I am the LORD.

You shall not cheat your neighbor and you shall not hold back fair wages for those who work for you. You shall not make fun of the handicapped or make life difficult for those who struggle; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Hear, my people: I give you these blocks that you may follow my commandments and build yourselves lives that are holy, a just and peaceful world for all my people.

The Lord God departs, leaving a box of building blocks.

 

The teacher enters and begins to stack up the blocks into a tower on the altar. A politician appears and speaks to her.

Politician: Who are you? What are you doing?

Teacher: I am a teacher. I am working to build up young people who will lead holy lives, happy and productive members of society. It is hard work, but I am doing what God has called me to do.

Politician: Ha!  Where are your results? Why can’t you teach more children? You need to work harder. We pay you too much. Your pension is ridiculously high. I was elected to cut taxes and get rid of waste, and I’m starting with you. He knocks over the block tower and departs. The teacher patiently begins to build again.

The parent enters, taking the teacher’s place, continuing to build with the blocks. Her child appears and speaks to her.

Child: Who are you? What are you doing?

Parent: I am your mother. I am working to build you up as a child of God, holy and happy, confident and useful to society. It’s what I do for God.

Child: Well, I think that’s ridiculous. I hate you! All you do is set limits for me. It’s not fair. I don’t want to be your building! I think holiness is for losers! She knocks over the block tower and departs. The parent begins patiently to build again.

The businessman enters, taking the parent’s place, continuing to build with the blocks. Recession appears (dressed in black) and speaks to him.

Recession: Who are you? What are you doing?

Businessman: I’m a small businessman. I’m working to build up my business in order to serve my customers and support my family. I’m proud of what I do. I give good value. It’s a service to society. It’s part of holiness. It’s my vocation, what I do for God. Who are you?

Recession: Ha! My name is Recession, and I’ve been sent by a bunch of greedy speculators and careless government regulators who failed to do their jobs. I don’t care what you’re doing or what happens to you. Holiness? What a sucker you are! There is no God. This is the free market. Get used to it! Recession knocks over the tower and departs. The businessman resumes patiently building.

The vicar enters, taking the businessman’s place, continuing to build with the blocks. Time and Chance appear and speak to him, Time holding a clock and Chance holding a sickle.

Time: Well, I know who you are! You’re the vicar of Holy Cross Church.

Vicar: Yup! Going on 14 years now. But who’s counting?

Time: As it happens, I am. My name is Time, and your time is up, buddy boy. (Time holds up the clock.) Retirement’s here! Gotta stop working on building that church of yours.

Vicar: But wait! I’m not finished yet. There’s a lot left to do, and . . . well, what if . . .  what if . . . ?

Chance: Did I hear someone call my name? Hey, there, Vicar. My name is Chance. I hang around with Time, you see. I’m in charge of “what if.” Everything you and your congregation have worked so hard on – this building, your worship services, the programs, the things you do to bring people in and try to help them – well, Time and I can come along and take them all down. Chance swings the sickle.

Teacher, Parent and Businessman reappear and stand with Vicar, confronting Time and Chance.

Teacher: You know, it’s not that simple, Time and Chance. Yes, time passes, chance comes along that you can’t predict. But you two don’t have the last word. God has the last word in life. Always!

Parent: You saw what we were doing. In life, you just keep working away, just keep working on your building. Patience, commitment,  forgiveness, adjusting course when you need to, but not giving up. Just like God does with all of us.

Businessman: That’s right. You know, we’re not just teachers and parents and businessmen and clergy. Beneath those roles we’re the people of God. Through everything, all the times life’s blocks get knocked down, we remember what God said to us: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”

Time and Chance draw back, bowing their heads.

Vicar speaks to Teacher, Parent and Businessman: Thanks, guys. You’ve learned the lesson well. Maybe better than I have! Be like God – doesn’t it all boil down to that? Set-backs, ungrateful people, bad people, people who scoff at the whole idea of God, those habitual offenders Time and Chance – they always come along, but the goal never changes. I think Jesus said something about it, if I can find it here in the Bible.

Vicar goes to the lectern and reads the gospel for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

proud of what I do. I give good value. It’s a service to society. It’s part of holiness. It’s my vocation, what I do for God. Who are you?

 

Recession: Ha! My name is Recession, and I’ve been sent by a bunch of greedy speculators and careless government regulators who failed to do their jobs. I don’t care what you’re doing or what happens to you. Holiness? What a sucker you are! There is no God. This is the free market. Get used to it! Recession knocks over the tower and departs. The businessman resumes patiently building.

 

The vicar enters, taking the businessman’s place, continuing to build with the blocks. Time and Chance appear and speak to him, Time holding a clock and Chance holding a sickle.

 

Time: Well, I know who you are! You’re the vicar of Holy Cross Church.

 

Vicar: Yup! Going on 14 years now. But who’s counting?

 

Time: As it happens, I am. My name is Time, and your time is up, buddy boy. (Time holds up the clock.) Retirement’s here! Gotta stop working on building that church of yours.

 

Vicar: But wait! I’m not finished yet. There’s a lot left to do, and . . . well, what if . . .  what if . . . ?

 

Chance: Did I hear someone call my name? Hey, there, Vicar. My name is Chance. I hang around with Time, you see. I’m in charge of “what if.” Everything you and your congregation have worked so hard on – this building, your worship services, the programs, the things you do to bring people in and try to help them – well, Time and I can come along and take them all down. Chance swings the sickle.

 

 

 

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Teacher, Parent and Businessman reappear and stand with Vicar, confronting Time and Chance.

 

Teacher: You know, it’s not that simple, Time and Chance. Yes, time passes, chance comes along that you can’t predict. But you two don’t have the last word. God has the last word in life. Always!

 

Parent: You saw what we were doing. In life, you just keep working away, just keep working on your building. Patience, commitment,  forgiveness, adjusting course when you need to, but not giving up.

Just like God does with all of us.

 

Businessman: That’s right. You know, we’re not just teachers and parents and businessmen and clergy. Beneath those roles we’re the people of God. Through everything, all the times life’s blocks get knocked down, we remember what God said to us: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”

 

Time and Chance draw back, bowing their heads.

 

Vicar speaks to Teacher, Parent and Businessman: Thanks, guys. You’ve learned the lesson well. Maybe better than I have! Be like God – doesn’t it all boil down to that? Set-backs, ungrateful people, bad people, people who scoff at the whole idea of God, those habitual offenders Time and Chance – they always come along, but the goal never changes. I think Jesus said something about it, if I can find it here in the Bible.

 

Vicar goes to the lectern and reads the gospel for the day:

 

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Matthew.

People Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if

 

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anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

People Praise to you, Lord Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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