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T: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. That’s so depressing. Really, the last thing I need right now is to be focusing on my death. There’s enough going on in my life right now without thinking about dying. I wonder why its so important to be reminded about our death every year when Lent starts. It’s not like we don’t already know that we’re all going to die. Is smearing ashes on our foreheads really necessary to drive the point home? S: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. I wonder if I’m the only one here who really loves Ash Wednesday. I wonder if you’re supposed to love Ash Wednesday. People would probably say I’m morbid, but I find being reminded about my death energizing. The gritty feel of the ashes drives the point home is such a powerful way. T: But maybe I’m being too negative. Of course no one likes to be reminded about death. In fact that’s probably the last thing any of us like to think about. If the rest of the people here are anything like me they put off thinking about bad things as long as they can. I suppose that’s exactly the point. Maybe if we’re forced to think about our death, it will encourage us to think about our lives. S: I’m probably being too positive about all this. I shouldn’t get energized thinking about my death. Its just so easy to get swept up in everything going on in my life that I never slow down long enough to really think about if my life’s even going in the right direction. Everything’s going so smoothly right now that it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. If I were to die next week, or next month, would my life have really mattered? T: Unfortunately, thinking about my life right now is as about as depressing as thinking about my death. I can’t believe this has been hanging over me this long. Well I guess ignoring your problems doesn’t make them go away. Well at least I’ve got God on my side. Surly God won’t let things get too bad. S: I really do have a lot to be thankful for, but I really don’t think I have a lot to show for my life. There’s got to be more to life than just being happy. When it is my time to return to dust I want to feel like I’ve done something worthwhile with my life. God, I’m not sure what you’ve got planned for me, but I’m ready. I really do want to do something useful, please help me. T: Well everyone’s done getting their ashes. Glad that’s over. Hope the sermon’s good tonight. S: Well everyone’s done getting their ashes. I’m so glad I came tonight. I’m sure the sermon will be great.
just something I have to get through. I shouldn’t have intruded. and it seemed like you were upset that I should just come over and. I’ll let you get back to your lunch. tries to pretend that everything is OK. Wednesday’s the only lunch I have free so I’m hoping to get out of the office once a week and enjoy the fresh air. But your problems are none of my business. I’m not worried about it really. I mean its not really a problem. but before he can speak Sarah turns back to him and continues:) It’s just that since we go to the same church. I’m Sarah.) Not that you have any problems. (Again Tim tries to enter the conversation. but after looking at his food he throws it all back in the bag and looks angry/frustrated/sad. S: Well let’s not get carried away. But maybe it would help to talk about it. S: I think I saw you last week at the Ash Wednesday service. Once he puts his lunch away.. but when I do I go to the late service. or someone just to listen. T: I don’t make it as often as I should. . S: We must go to different services because I see you in the parking lot more than I see you in church. (Awkward pause.) I’m sorry.. I’m glad you came over. Sarah sees all this without directly looking at Tim. I just started working downtown. is everything OK. I thought I recognized you. first time? T: Yeah. I just wanted to say hi. but I couldn’t help but notice you seemed a upset a minute ago. I do have a problem. just a little thing I have to get through. S: Tim its OK. T: Yeah I was there. T: No really.) T: (Tim smiles. St. S: I don’t mean to interrupt your lunch. he hesitates trying to think of something to say. but Sarah interrupts. S: Excuse me. Marks? T: (Pulls himself together. Maybe God sent you here today so I could have someone to talk to. I think we go to the same church. Hi. Tim enters and sits down to eat his lunch on a bench some distance away. can we pretend this conversation never happened? Can we just pretend that I just walked over introduced myself and then went back to eating my lunch? (Sarah turns to go.) Oh yeah. though they have not formally met before.. Scene opens with Sarah. S: (Awkwardly) I don’t mean to be nosey or anything. Tim opens his lunch. I was just over there eating my lunch when I looked up and saw you. sitting down eating her lunch on a park bench. S: I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eating here in the park before. Maybe you’re an angel in disguise. Sarah rushes on fumbling on her words:) I’m sorry.(Sarah trails off). (Sarah turns to go. It’s none of my business. before he can get anything out. I just thought that if you needed someone to talk to. Tim motions to her. (Tim is taken aback. T: Hi. trying to form words. Tim and Sarah both work downtown and just happen to be eating lunch in the same park as the scene opens. You must go to the late service.) Sarah. she cautiously approaches. I just thought I’d come over and say hi.Week 1: “Entering into Suffering” Background: Tim and Sarah belong to the same church. is your name Tim. its just that I saw you unwrap your lunch and then not eat any of it and so I figured maybe something was wrong.. maybe this is one of those “God-encounters” that Pastor Sue was talking about. its none of my business. I really haven’t told anyone about it. It’s no big deal.
(Tim looks at his watch. before the cock crows. maybe I’ll see you next Wednesday here for lunch. It’s really out of my control. "Though all become deserters because of you. but I guess how it works is a mystery for me. "You will all become deserters because of me this night. S: So how are you going to get through it? T: Well there’s not really a lot I can do. (Unsure) Isn’t that what we’re supposed to believe? S: I’d like to believe that.. I will go ahead of you to Galilee. There must be a reason we do it. and said. I’m sure God won’t let me down. I just believe that God never gives you more than you can handle. We pray for people going through tough times at church all the time. But is has. they went out to the Mount of Olives. which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.. I guess. and after blessing it he broke it.." 35Peter said to him." 30When they had sung the hymn. (Tim hesitates)." 33Peter said to him. "Drink from it. that sound right. You’ve just gotta have faith. Prayer must make a difference. 28for this is my blood of the covenant. T: But like I said earlier. If God brought me to this. so I didn’t.." And so said all the disciples. (Tim moves off. all of you. S: How long have you known about it? T: I knew something was wrong for awhile. its not going away.I’m just going to turn it over to God. gave it to the disciples. to let God know what we need? S: (Still hesitantly) I don’t think you can go wrong with prayer.T: Please sit down. but I didn’t really want to think about it. S: I believe prayer does make a difference. Hope things turn out OK. I will not deny you. "Truly I tell you. Peter’s Monologue . "Even though I must die with you. (Tim makes room for her to sit down. Matthew 26:26-35. And so I’m just. It’s here. otherwise next week. I’ve got to run.. but that’s what we’re supposed to do isn’t it? Just turn it over to God? Pray about it? Let God fix it? S: (Hesitantly) Well yeah. and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. for it is written. this is my body. (thoughtful pause) It’s just that I never thought." 34Jesus said to him. T: Sure. this is really no big deal. I’m sure it will turn out fine.' 32But after I am raised up.) S: I’ll watch for you Sunday. and after giving thanks he gave it to them. Tim. 31Then Jesus said to them. (Embarrassed) I don’t mean to go all Christian on you. but I’m not sure its always that simple. I will never desert you. Just something I’ve got to get through. is there a difference between “turning it over to God” and “God fixing it?” T: I don’t want to be too simplistic.) Well as I said it really isn’t anything. I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.well I never thought it would happen to me. and now it’s just something I’ve got to get through." 27Then he took a cup. Sometimes our problems just seem so big. But don’t you think God knows what we need even before we pray. but isn’t that what God’s there for? To handle the things we can’t? That’s why we’re supposed to pray isn’t it. "Take. uh. But I just can’t pretend any longer.. But. Jesus took a loaf of bread. (Tim gets up to leave. this very night. T: Well I’m not saying I understand it either. but we’re still supposed to pray aren’t we.While they were eating.) Look what time it is. you will deny me three times. I just have to get through it. People go through this all the time. saying. That’s what I believe. eat. 'I will strike the shepherd. Bye. then God will bring me through this. 29I tell you. Nothing to worry about really.) Hey if I don’t see you in the parking lot this Sunday. Sarah sits...
“How can I be so sure how the other disciples will act if the going gets tough?” Well to be honest I can’t. At least not me. For some reason Jesus thinks we’re going to let him down. God will bring you through it. when that cock crows tomorrow morning. “If God brings you to it. which is exactly what I told Jesus: "Though all become deserters because of you." I’m not going to let Jesus down. but none of us are brave enough to admit that we don’t understand. Jesus says something that none of us really understand. How does that saying go. Jesus seemed different somehow. I’ll be right there beside him. Usually he picks right up on our cluelessness and then goes on to explain what he meant. as I said. I don’t fully understand it yet. Jesus nicknamed me the Rock for a reason. but I know better. tonight I’m the one who has complete trust in God. We might not always understand him. but we’d never desert him.” I believe that. Jesus is the one who always puts his trust in God and knows that everything will work out. body and blood wasn’t nearly as confusing as all this talk about us deserting him. Maybe Jesus was partially right. evan agitated. God has put us disciples here for a reason. God won’t let me let Jesus down. he just doesn’t quite seem himself. But not me.What a strange meal that was that night. But all this talk about bread and wine. I will never desert you. I guess we’ll just have to wait for Jesus to explain to us what he meant with all that talk about the bread and the wine being his body and blood. I might be as thick as a rock sometimes. and I know that God won’t let me down. I won’t let him down. That’s what so strange about tonight. Maybe if the shepherd is struck some of the sheep will scatter. Tonight he seemed preoccupied. I know what your thinking. but what I do know is this. As usual. But not tonight. Obviously something’s up. But this is different. I’ve already admitted that we disciples aren’t always the brightest bunch. He usually seemed so calm and in control. and I have complete trust that God is going to use us to help get Jesus through whatever it is that has him so upset. but I’m always rock-solid in my loyalty. . in spite of what Jesus said. But tonight the tables seemed to be turned.
S: I’m sorry to hear that. T: What do you mean? Help means help doesn’t it? God is supposed to help us. I mean sure God is there to help us. All I know is I keeping asking for help. T: I don’t know. People need food and he feeds them. Or maybe I haven’t really given it over to God. but was confident that God would “fix everything. Maybe God wants to see if I have enough faith. they’re actually worse. who happen to go the same church. There must be a reason. that God would do something. (Pause) Things do seem to have changed since the Bible-times. Is it wrong to think that God should have done something by now? Isn’t God supposed to help us? S: Well yes.) I hate to admit this. but do you know who I find myself blaming? God. If he did all that. T: Me too. And maybe I don’t. I was hoping we’d meet up again this Wednesday.” Sarah seemed unsure. S: I’m sorry. Scene opens with Sarah just finishing her lunch when Tim enters.Week 2: “I thought God would fix everything” Background: Tim and Sarah. (Pause) But do you know what always bothers me about that? Why didn’t God help Jesus? T: What do you mean? .) Hi Sarah. People even die and he raises them from the dead. why can’t he help me? S: That a good question. but wanted to remain supportive and so didn’t question Tim’s belief’s very much. God is supposed to fix problems and make things right. But here I am a week later and things are only getting worse. How am I doing? Well to be honest not as well as I had hoped. its my life. Last week Tim explained to Sarah that he was going through some difficulty. but I don’t get it. (Awkward silence. I was wondering if you’d be here. I really thought things would be better by now. And on top of that I don’t understand why God is letting it continue. In fact. T: (Interrupting) Maybe I’m not doing it right. then maybe God would have helped me. S: I don’t know. Maybe if I’d gone to church more often and read my Bible more often and prayed more often and helped out down at the homeless shelter like I always said I wanted to but never got around to. T: But isn’t that what Jesus does in the Bible all the time? Someone is sick and he heals them. S: Hey Tim. I just don’t understand why God let this happen in the first place. maybe this is all my fault. (Pause. maybe if I’d done all that. Or maybe this is some kind of test.) I really thought that once I started praying about it and once I turned it over to God. (Pause. How are you doing? T: (Tim feigns a smile. Do you really don’t think God sets up hoops for us to jump through before he helps us. T: It’s not your fault. But they aren’t. S: I guess I’m just not too sure what “help” means. S: Doing what right? T: Praying. But I don’t think I deserve all this. I’m not sure that God is there to just fix our problems and make everything right. but I’m not so sure its that simple. I suppose. Who’s fault is it? Of course I have to take some responsibility. met last week and are now back together in the park for lunch a week later. S: Please don’t take this wrong. there you are.) But that’s what’s really bothering me.
"What will you give me if I betray him to you?" They paid him thirty pieces of silver.) Oh. "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. Matthew 26:14-25. you should look for him in the bed next to you.) I want to believe. Its so bad no one even names there child Judas anymore. 16And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. Heaven forbid some innocent child would be associated with the likes of Judas Iscariot. hopefully God has it figured out. technically I betrayed him. said. (Tim glances at his watch. and they prepared the Passover meal. saying. . instead of a patient. "Go into the city to a certain man. Hopefully by next week things will be better. one of you will betray me. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples. maybe we can think of God as someone who goes through suffering with us. T: Thanks." Judas’ Monologue I do not mean to complain. See you next week? S: Yeah. Instead of just seeing God as just someone who’s supposed to fix everything. And I’m not trying to make excuses. the one who betrayed Jesus. See you later. I know I’m not making much sense. why didn’t God help him? Why didn’t God fix that? T: It doesn’t really make sense does it? S: Well at least not to us. It’s just the more I thought it the more it kind of made sense to me. It’s not like it was my idea for them to arrest them." 25Judas.. S: I’m not sure if this will help at all. (Pause. I hope so too. But it feels good to talk about things. “Well your guilty aren’t you? You did betray Jesus didn’t you?” The answer to that question is both yes and no. "Truly I tell you. My time is near. "Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" 18He said. I’ll be here.'" 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them. Rabbi?" He replied. If I had my way they would have arrested him without my help that day he came riding into Jerusalem when everyone was waving their palm branches and shouting alleluia. maybe that’s not helpful. like you said Jesus helped all kind of people in trouble. T: (After a moment of thought) That’s a strange image of God isn’t it? I always pictured God more like a doctor. T: I sure wouldn’t mind being let in on the secret. who betrayed him. "Surely not I. Sarah. but I once heard someone say that if your lying in a hospital bed wondering where God is. They just didn’t have the guts to do it by themselves. T: I’ll have to think about that..Then one of the twelve. and say to him. but it just doesn’t make much sense right now. Lord?" 23He answered. 20When it was evening. went to the chief priests 15and said. Maybe that’s part of what Jesus dying on the cross is about. Yes. I can just hear you now. They had been planning that for months. I told the chief priests where they could find Jesus far enough away from the crowds that they might finally have the guts to arrest him. But I feel like I’m completely misunderstood. thanks for taking the time to listen. 21and while they were eating. "Surely not I. 17On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus. but then when he got in trouble. he took his place with the twelve. 'The Teacher says. I’ve got to run." 22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him. who was called Judas Iscariot. My reputation is ruined.S: Well. S: Like I said. when he was on trial and then nailed to a cross. but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born. he said. "You have said so. I want to trust God.
I knew that once I got the ball rolling. and begin to care for each other. they were too afraid of Jesus’ popularity. some how or other he was beginning to turn things upside down. Using him to reshape our nation. I was helping God move on to the next phase of the project. once the religious and political leaders took the bold and foolish step of directly attaching Jesus. that God would step in and take over. but this was only the beginning. And why not. put him on trial. You see I know how God works. and even to care for complete strangers and Samaritans and even Gentiles.But no. but the common people loved him. or more accurately been terrified of Jesus. God would be the one doing the shoving. I mean what choice would God have. How could it play out any other way? What? Was God going to let the chief priests arrest Jesus. As I said. The religious and political leaders might have hated Jesus. yes. You just watch. I knew that once Jesus was arrested. I showed them where it was safe to arrest him far from the crowds. I had seen with my own eyes how God was working through Jesus. . And so yes. He was really making a difference. God would never let anything happen to Jesus. to stop worrying only about themselves. God will fix everything. But as I said they were too afraid to get the ball rolling. I technically betrayed him. and then hand him over to the Romans to be executed? And what about the Romans? Do you think God would let these barbarians nail Jesus to some cross like they did to other trouble makers? Of course not! That’s not how God works. But as you and I know. Jesus was showing himself to be a better leader than those in power. I wasn’t betraying Jesus. I betrayed Jesus. Somehow he got people. God always comes out on top. I forced God’s hand. but I was just doing it so that Jesus would be forced into action. people who didn’t have two dime to rub together. That’s where I came in. once push came to shove. and those in power had to put a stop to it.
I mean that makes sense doesn’t it? I’ve done something wrong and now God is punishing me. but at the same time nudged Tim to maybe see God somewhat differently. Hi Tim. Maybe God isn’t punishing me. but I can’t think of anything I’ve done to deserve this. I must say though. How are things going if your don’t mind me asking? Not much better I’m afraid. but it just doesn’t sound right. I can understand why you would feel that way. Any idea what those reasons may be? Well the one I keep coming back to is that. do I?” Background: Tim and Sarah. I’m no saint. but there has to be a reason. we meet again. you seem a little more at peace about it than when we talked last week.. its hard to imagine God punishing you for something you did wrong. And you’re right. in which case you are getting what you deserve. T: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: T: S: Hi Sarah. Either God treats us as we deserve or God forgives us... It’s good to see you.Week 3: “I don't deserve this. but one who shares our pain and suffering. I guess I’m not sure how to hold two things like being forgiving and being just in balance. If that’s the case doesn’t that just make God the big score keeper in the sky who’s job it is to make sure the bad get punished and the good get rewarded. And if that is the way God works. I know a lot of people who’ve done a lot worse things than you’ve done and they don’t seem to be suffering. And I’m pretty sure there are worse people out there than me. If she’s right. I’m afraid we’re dealing with one of those unanswerable questions. I don’t know. In fact maybe even worse. Week after week Pastor Sue keeps telling us how forgiving God is. Rest assured I’m not a mass murderer. Last week Tim expressed his frustration that God hadn’t “fixed” his problem like he had expected God to. I’ve thought a lot about it and since I believe there must be some kind of reason for all this. I’m so sorry. Sarah shared Tim’s lack of understanding of why God doesn’t act the way we want God to. Well.If that’s the way God works. but I’m sure God must have his reasons. but I really do want some answers. Well of course God is forgiving.(Tim fades off. who happen to go the same church. Do you feel good about that? Good about it? No not really. This suffering I’m going through can’t just be some random event. It’s good to see you too. “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” Well I’m sorry Sarah. are now meeting for the third week in a row during their lunch break in a park. doesn’t he? T: S: T: . God has to be involved somehow.. it doesn’t seem to me that God is doing a very good job. not as someone who is just there to fix things. They almost seem like opposites.) The one I keep coming back to is that I must have something to deserve this. I guess I’ve just kind of resigned myself to the whole thing. but I doubt it. I’d have to say it seems more like we get what we deserve than God forgives. Of course for all I know you could be a mass murderer. Well based on what I’m going through right now. Scene opens with Sarah just finishing her lunch when Tim enters. But isn’t God also supposed to be just? Wouldn’t a just God have to make us pay for our mistakes.
7even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. I need to begin with an apology. If you want to say that God “blessed” me with special mystical experiences. Sometimes as I wrote these letters I got a little carried away. I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses. for whenever I am weak. I want to believe that God is involved in this somehow. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. So what’s left? S: The only thing that comes to mind right now are those two sayings. see you then. to keep me from being too elated. But how do you tell people something like that without sounding all high and mighty. T: Well at least it feels better not thinking that I had done something to deserve all this.. 3And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know. 9but he said to me. Maybe we’ll figure it out next week. “God works in mysterious ways. "My grace is sufficient for you. “who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven or into Paradise. that no mortal is permitted to repeat. . T: Me too. T: Well so far we’ve established that God doesn’t just swoop down and fix everything. And that’s exactly what I went on to talk about. but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. Paul’s Monologue OK. except of my weaknesses. nothing is to be gained by it. that doesn’t mean I’m special.S: I guess I want to believe that God is involved in all parts of our lives. aren’t I special?” God did give me those kind of special mystical experiences now and again. 6But if I wish to boast.” and “God ways are not our ways. insults.” was me. and the clear simple point I wanted to make ended up getting lost. God knows—4was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told. to keep me from being too elated. but trust me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses.” But I’m afraid neither of those are very comforting right now. God knows." So. this person. “Oh look at me. I realize it would have been easier to just explain that I had some kind of mystical experience.It is necessary to boast. I have mystical experiences. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this. Like you said. 2I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know. S: I’m not sure we’ll solve all the mysteries of God next week but I’ll be here. what is important is what it taught me. but on my own behalf I will not boast. 5On behalf of such a one I will boast. so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. even in our pain and suffering. But let me assure you the learning did not come easy. for I will be speaking the truth. then I am strong. I would get caught up in my writing. then you also have to say that God “cursed” me as well. First of all. One minute everything was normal. so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me. What exactly the thorn in my flesh was isn’t important. that it would leave me. Therefore. a thorn was given me in the flesh. or that God likes me better than people who don’t have mystical experiences. Looking back on it now. and now that God isn’t the big score keeper in the sky handing out rewards and punishments. the next minute I could have swore that I was standing in heaven hearing all kinds of things. I refer to these “curses” as the thorn in my flesh. but I sure don’t know how to explain it. hardships. I’m afraid that maybe the case with what you just read. But I refrain from it.. persecutions. I will not be a fool. a messenger of Satan to torment me. and calamities for the sake of Christ. for power is made perfect in weakness.
starting up churches. there must be more to it than meets the eye. God joins us in our suffering and leads us through it. He even found the strength the forgive those who crucified him. Let’s be honest. but I kind of thought God owed it to me to deal with this thorn in my flesh. God seems to allow it. but I know God is with me. I might even go as far to say that I was offended. For reasons beyond my understanding. God and I are on pretty good terms. as painful as ever. and then I waited. and I waited. I have come to understand it differently. As I’ve mentioned. If God is willing to suffer with us. I may be suffering. I’ve taken a lot of heat going for him going around all over the Roman Empire talking about Jesus. I was shocked. and what I expected. I know that God loves a little perseverance. . the pain was still there. I asked God to take it away. God responded to our pain and suffering by sending Christ. and what I thought I deserved. I wish I could say that once I stopped and listened the answer became perfectly clear. I prayed again. the suffering was still there. God’s grace will see me through. and I was quite sure God would answer. While I still don’t enjoy the pain and suffering cause by the thorn in my flesh. The “answer. Instead of some kind of punishment from God. God and I are on pretty good terms. But that doesn’t mean that God has no response to it. and show us how to be loving even in the midst of our suffering. but that would be untrue. Suffering seems to simply be a part of this broken world. Slowly it dawned in me. The thorn was still there. I did what we all do when confronted with pain and suffering.” if that’s what you want to call it. Once again I don’t want to brag. And I waited. I prayed a little more fervently this time. slowly dawned on me. God wasn’t doing anything about it. this time gently reminding God of all the good work I had done. I don’t want to be too blunt. so I prayed again. Through Christ. Once again I was surprised. and all the good I still hoped to do assuming this pain would go away. And then I waited some more. But I wasn’t concerned. Maybe instead of me telling God what I wanted. But nothing happened. I must admit it came as quite a shock when I discovered by prayer was not answered.When I was first “pieced” by this thorn. And of course I assumed God would do exactly that. maybe it was time to listen. Maybe I was going about this the wrong way. Jesus suffered with us on the cross. The thorn was still there. it’s a reminder that God’s strength shows itself in weakness. So trusting that the third time would be a charm.
And I definitely can’t explain why this happening to you.) Look I don’t want to take this out on you. It just doesn’t make any sense.. After awhile. My lunch hour is almost up. Tim enters.none of it matters. And I’m not trying to change your mind or anything. T: I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Why should they? Let’s face it. We can sit here all day asking why God allows people he supposedly loves to suffer and we’ll never figure it out. He calms himself down. Have things gotten better? T: (Sharply) Better? No things haven’t gotten better. I wasn’t going to come at all. I don’t mean to take any of this out on you. The best they have come up with is that God works in mysterious ways. do you want to hear it? T: Sure. OK that’s great. But. no one protecting us. and that everything’s going to be alright. Why believe in a God who can’t. and not everything’s going to be alright. S: I’m not sure what you mean. S: Look.) S: Wow. Because there is no God. And I’m not going to judge you if you still believe in God. Scene opens with Sarah looking at her watch nervously and then looking around. S: I thought maybe you weren’t going to make it this week. I’ve appreciated all the time you spent talking to me these past weeks. and sits next to Sarah. this doesn’t feel like love! I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I’m beginning to wonder if we didn’t just make up all this stuff about God to fool ourselves into thinking that someone cares. S: Remember when Jesus was on the cross and he said: “My God. Each week their conversation centers around a time of pain and suffering that Tim is currently experiencing. Or if there is. Here’s the bottom line: If God can’t fix my problems. You’ve been very kind. nor is our pain and suffering punishment from God. my God. why have you forsaken me?” It just hit me last week that Jesus was asking the same questions we are. (Trying to calm himself down. In fact it almost sounds like you and Jesus came to the same conclusion: God can’t be trusted. I’m not sure there’s anything for us to talk about anyway. Either way I’m through with him! (Tim becomes aware of how loud and animated he’s become. In fact I was just about to give up and head back to work. Jesus felt just as alone and frustrated as you do. but one thought has been going through my mind all week. or won’t. do anything to help? Doesn’t the word “God” mean some all-powerful being who can do whatever he wants? Then why doesn’t God want to help me? Last week you said it wasn’t because of anything I’d done wrong.Week 4: “Maybe there is no God!” Background: This will be Tim and Sarah’s fourth weekly meeting in a park during their lunch break. But let’s face it. To be honest. . there’s no one looking out for us.. but then why? At least that would have made some sense. And you know why? (He doesn’t give her a chance to respond. what good is he? If God won’t fix my problems. T: I’m sorry. Maybe you’d rather I didn’t say anything. Thus far Tim and Sarah have discussed that God obviously doesn’t simply fix our problems. But this makes no sense.) I’ll tell you why. But I just can’t anymore. (Long pause) I’m not sure what to say. I can’t put myself in your place. Go ahead and head back to work. I don’t want to make you late. I’ve been told all my life that God is love. life’s a bitch and then you die! That’s why I wasn’t going to come today. he’s so messed up I don’t want anything to do with him. he’s not good. Well guess what. I don’t what it’s like to go through what you’re going through.
And so I’m going still be with you if you want. "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" 40But the other rebuked him. Now don’t misunderstand me. some of the most prominent religious leaders were there too. (Tim begins to say something but Sarah cuts him off. Don’t say anything now. Of course it’s not unusual for those being crucified to be called names and to be mocked. I don’t have any answers. Even in all my pain and agony I found the strength to join in the fun: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” If that guy was the Messiah. beaten." Monologue: Thief on the Cross Now let me be the first to admit that when you’ve been nailed to a cross. and nailed to a cross. they were just saying that to make fun of him.) Look I don’t want to argue with you. it was what they were saying. Even though you’ve given up on God. for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds. remember me when you come into your kingdom.. but this man has done nothing wrong. the other guy didn’t join in the fun. then we’re all in trouble. Of course crucifixions were meant to be a public spectacle. But be that as it may. But this was different. It just wasn’t who was there.One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying. but one of us was getting all the attention. Apparently this guy had gotten a group of followers together and convinced them all that he really was the king of the Jews. "Do you not fear God.T: (Tim pauses with a confused look on his face. it didn’t take a genius to see that something just wasn’t right. "Truly I tell you. But I’ll be here next week. even though Jesus seemed to give up on God. For some reason this guy had really drawn the crowds. God didn’t give up on Jesus. Luke 23:39-43. I’m sure I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I would have if I had been in more comfortable circumstances. since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly. Have you ever heard anything so outrageous in your life. Besides the Roman soldiers and the usual rabble." 42Then he said.. There were three of us being crucified that day. I don’t believe God has given up on you. What kind of king is that? In fact it was so outrageous that I couldn’t help but join in.) So both Jesus and I gave up on God what does that mean? S: Maybe it means that if even Jesus doesn’t understand exactly where God was in his suffering. In fact it almost seemed that the other guy had bought into all that ." 43 He replied. But this guy had drawn a whole different crowd than those who usually came out to see who was being tortured. there were three of us being crucified that day. Well guess what. The whole point was to show everyone what happened to people who got in Rome’s way. "Jesus. if that guy was the King of the Jews. how should you. today you will be with me in Paradise. stripped. I just believe God is still with you. But what a weird way to make fun of someone. Instead of the usual name calling these people were calling this guy the King of the Jews. And for some reason. if this guy’s the King of the Jews. then I’m the Prince of Persia. Here’s a guy. But the more I listened the more I began to understand. What good is a king who’s hanging on a cross? But as I said. I’m not saying they thought he was the King of the Jews. you’re not thinking too clearly. But even more importantly. But that was only part of what made things so strange. saying.
Crosses and kingdoms just don’t go together. a place for losers and lowlifes. humiliation and heartache. Who wants a king who hangs on a cross? . remember me when you come into your kingdom." What kind of kingdom could someone who hangs on a cross have? The cross is a place of shame and suffering.nonsense about him being the Messiah and the king. What was it that he said: "Jesus.
That’s a whole other set of questions. you joined me in my questioning. Tim rushes over to her. S: I’m free next Wednesday for lunch. That’s what you did. Just knowing that I’m not alone makes it bearable. The only answer is that we have to go through it together. you wrestled with me. S: I’m sorry I still don’t understand.) I’m so glad you came today. S: I must admit it was a little overwhelming. Want to talk about. S: So what does that mean? T: I don’t know for sure. but I wasn’t sure if your were going to show or not. Sarah held on to her belief that God was still somehow present in Tim’s suffering and she vowed to stick with him as well. and no matter what you said. but I believe God is with you. Last week Tim’s suffering drove him to the point declaring there is no God. S: I don’t understand. you suffered with me. I hope so. I didn’t give you any answers. I don’t remember exactly what you said but it was something like: “I don’t have any answers. I could sense all your pain and frustration but I didn’t know what to say or what to do. S: Is that really enough? Is it really enough if God just suffers with us? Doesn’t God do more than just that? T: I don’t know. T: But Sarah. nothing was going to change my mind. . T: I came back to apologize to you and to thank you. the story ends with God raising him from the dead. It wasn’t fair of me to lay into you last week. instead God is the patient in the next bed. But last week you did something even more. At least no answer that’s ever going to truly satisfy us. You listened. suffering with us. T: Look. that’s exactly the point. I was afraid that the way I acted last week might make you find someplace else to eat your lunch. you said and did exactly the right thing. anxiously waiting for Sarah to arrive. I just got so completely overwhelmed and felt so completely alone. ever since this whole thing started I’ve been looking for answers and explanations. and I’m going to be with you. T: But you did! There is no answer for why we suffer. T: To be honest. When we got done talking last week. Why me? Why doesn’t God fix it? Does God really care? Does God really exist? Why must I suffer? And through it all you’ve been with me. Scene opens with Tim eagerly pacing to and fro. It was pretty clear to me that there was no God. that’s why I need to thank you. In the midst of Tim’s despair. I had pretty much decided that there was nothing left for us to say to one another. Each week their conversation has centered around a time of pain and suffering that Tim is currently experiencing. Isn’t that what you said God was like? God isn’t the doctor who’s there to fix everything. Finally Sarah arrives. The story doesn’t end with Jesus just suffering with us.” Once I cooled down I realized that what you said is probably the best answer that I’m ever going to get. T: (As soon as Sarah comes into sight. I’m kind of surprised I’m here too. S: I told you last week that I’d be here if you wanted to talk. Even though you didn’t know what to say or what to do. S: So what happened? Why’d you come back.Week 5: “Can I let God be God?” Background: This will be Tim and Sarah’s fifth weekly meeting in a park during their lunch break. that all my frustration toward my situation just came pouring out on you and on God.
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. I tell you. and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. But for all my education and wisdom Jesus’ simple teaching of being reborn was beyond my grasp. Well at least I used to think so. there was something so compelling about him that I secretly kept informed of his activities. and its kind of an embarrassing part. My name is Nicodemus. We leaders had heard of Jesus. I just got more and more confused. for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God. And since we didn’t deem it proper to join the common crowds to hear him for ourselves. "How can these things be?" Nicodemus’ Monologue: I don’t know if you remember me. Jesus threw me for a complete loop with that statement. And I don’t mean to blow my own horn.. "Very truly. S: Same time. we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For someone so young and from such humble beginnings. same place? T: I’ll be here if you will. I first met Jesus early in his ministry. My last words to Jesus that night were a humble and confused: "How can these things be?" I left that night with my head swimming. no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. As he pressed his point and tried to make it clear to me. "Rabbi. I tell you. no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. As I said. being born was kind of a one time event. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him. That’s where I came into the picture. "Very truly. a leader of the Jews. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. Jesus has beginning to make quite a name for himself.T: Me too. I’m a very well educated man and considered to be quite wise. "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 5Jesus answered.” But before I could ask my first question. As I listened to the reports of what Jesus said and what Jesus did. things started to fall into place. As far as I knew. I tell you. I only have a small part in Jesus’ story.Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus. for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God. And most importantly we had heard about the affect it was having among the people. What did he mean be born from above? We had all already been born. but I’m a rather learned and well educated man.." As embarrassed as I am to admit it. It seemed like where ever he taught he drew large crowds who were very impressed with his teaching. it was decided that I would go alone at night and find out what exactly this Jesus was about. 'You must be born from above. we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. I’m a Pharisees and a leader among the Jewish people. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh. But Jesus was quite certain some kind of rebirth was necessary. And that’s when it began to happen. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you. John 3:1-9. no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. But even though I didn’t understand where he was coming from." 3Jesus answered him. I didn’t want to appear confrontational so I began our conversation with praise and deference: "Rabbi. Jesus wanted us to live as if God’s Kingdom was . Jesus took control of the conversation: "Very truly.' 8The wind blows where it chooses." 9Nicodemus said to him." 4Nicodemus said to him. We had heard about what he was teaching and preaching. and you hear the sound of it.
this wasn’t all talk. But the amazing thing. The one God would send to make all things right. and how God works in the world. We were to love instead of hate. if there is one thing I’ve learned. Jesus was forming communities who were living in this new way. Slowly but surely Jesus was nudging me to rethink my understanding of God. . forgive instead of get revenge. We were to treat one another with dignity and respect. I had begun to hope that maybe he was the one we had been waiting for. My story does have one redeeming point. After Jesus was crucified. bury Jesus. It was as if people were being born again into a new way of living. Jesus was doing it. Just hearing about this began to change me.already here. Standing here at Jesus’ tomb it seems kind of hopeless. I have to admit I don’t understand why God allowed Jesus to die that way. God works in mysterious ways. But how can that be now? How can God use someone who was crucified to set the world right? But on the other hand. but this simple man from Nazareth of all places. ways beyond my understanding. But I’m not ready to give up on God quite yet. I found enough courage to help Joseph of Arimathea. There is one other time you may have come across my name. It didn’t make any sense. was reshaping things and turning the world upside down. Maybe he still has some surprise for us.