Sunday, 26 April 2009

For Easter 4

MABEL THE SHEEP MEETS THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Hello. I’m Mabel. Mabel the sheep. Well, obviously the sheep. I mean you can tell by my ears/[woolly jumper/whatever…]

Do you all belong to the Good Shepherd? I must say I’m so pleased that I do now too.
I mean, I used to think it was great, when I belonged to the old shepherd. OK, I won’t say I didn’t sometimes wonder what it might be like, to belong to another shepherd. I mean – the grass is always greener, isn’t it! But we were happy. Me and my friends Ethel the sheep and Molly the sheep and Dolly the sheep.

But one day our shepherd came round and he was such a kind shepherd, he said he’d like to have one of us round for his dinner party! So he took my friend Ethel. He told her he reckoned she’d really enjoy a bit of mint sauce. Now I don’t know what mint sauce is, but it sounded so nice. So when he took Ethel, I said to Dolly why don’t we follow the shepherd and see if maybe we’ll get some mint sauce from him as well. But Dolly said no, she was going to stick with the herd. She’s such a clone, is Dolly.

But I followed the shepherd – up through the gate, down the lane, across the field – but it was getting a bit dark, and suddenly we heard a howling noise. And the shepherd took one look – and he ran for it. And in the dark I lost him and he left me there all on my own. And then I heard this really scaring growling noise, and I saw this scary figure with all these big white teeth and I thought – “Oh no! It’s Simon Cowell!”

But it wasn’t. It was a wolf. And he came bounding down the hill after me, and I was so scared I just sat there with my knees knocking together. And just as he sprang at me – that’s when the Good Shepherd arrived. I didn’t even know he was there – with the dark and the howling and all the rest of it. But he fought the wolf, and chased it off. And then he picked me up and brought me here.

So I’m ever so pleased to meet you, and it’s great to be here. And I’m so grateful to belong to the Good Shepherd now. I just know he’s going to look after me forever.
But I can’t help wondering about Ethel. I wonder how she got on with the mint sauce? Still, she’s a great character is Ethel. Great personality. I’m sure she went down really well at that dinner.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

St Mary's Islington

Sitting around waiting for the new bike to be delivered, and remembered these photos of St Mary's Islington.  That's Islington Norfolk... 

Becalmed half a mile from the road, unused, with the roof fallen in - a metaphor for modern English Christianity?

Monday, 13 April 2009

Around Britain by Train

Transport minister, Lord Adonis, is setting off for a six-day train trip.  Should get him to Wellingborough from St Pancras, if he's lucky...

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A Puritan's Mind

Slightly concerned after I found this website, a Puritan's Mind, and its associated books site. I spent a while rolling with laughter, and then thought - but surely it's not serious? I've spent so much time following the (real, life-affirming and orthodox) Beaker Folk (and a quick note of praise for Affirming Laudianism...)that maybe I can't tell earnestness from parody anymore. In which case I must be truly post-modern.....

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Drama Thread for Palm Sunday

CAIAPHAS (1)

The name’s Joseph, son of Caiaphas. High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple.
A powerful post, I’m sure you’re all aware. I’m a very important man.
Now we Jews aren’t as independent as we were. In the old days, the High Priest inherited his job from his dad. Now, the Romans decide who the High Priest should be. Means it’s open to bribery, to political calculation – to outside influence. Some people think that’s a bad thing.
Not me, obviously. After all, that’s how I got the job. But I take it seriously. I’m the latest in a line that comes all the way from Aaron. I’m the chief representative of the Jews to God. I get to enter the Holy of Holies. I’m the closest man to God you can get.
But we seem to have a problem. This Jesus – heading down here on a donkey. The crowds are going after him. They think they’ve found a new David. They’re hoping for God’s kingdom on earth. A new Jerusalem, cleaned from the Greeks and the Romans. Can you imagine? If it happened who’d be High Priest? This new Messiah, not Joseph Caiaphas. And if they rise up and the Romans strike back [smacks fist into palm] – the city ceases to exist, and what’s the point of being high priest then?
This Jesus thing can’t be allowed to last.

AARON

Hello. Are you all waiting for Jesus to arrive as well? I must say, I was so excited when I found out who he was. I was having a drink in the Jericho Arms on Friday, and somebody came in and said, Jesus of Nazareth has just arrived in Bethany. I said, Jesus of where? And they said you must have heard of Nazareth - in Galilee, population 213? Famous for its carpentry. And I said look - I come from Rome - in Italy, population.... too high to write down in Roman numerals. Famous for ruling the world. Why should I have heard of Nazareth? And they said, because Jesus comes from there. And I said, Jesus who? They said, you know - Jesus the Messiah. The one who’s going to set us free. The King of the Jews.
I mean – how lucky could I get? I’ve come all the way down here from Rome, for the Passover – only time I’ll ever be here, I should think. This year in Jerusalem. And it’s only the year the Messiah comes down. Pretty good eh? Anyway, he’ll be here any minute - they say that Jesus the Messiah is actually coming down this road. I can’t wait.
He’s on his way! I can’t see much - oh yes, here he comes - I can just see a cloud of dust in the distance..... There he is!..... He’s riding on a big warhorse, and his army are all walking alongside him. There must be hundreds of them!...... I can hear the crowd all cheering now... they’re waving something - must be swords or spears or something.... he’s going to kick all the Romans out..... Brilliant.... He’s getting nearer - oh, they’re not swords; they’re waving, they’re palm leaves. Palm leaves? I mean – you can’t beat an army with them…
Anyway, I can see him really clearly now - oh, it’s not a warhorse, he’s riding a donkey..... it’s not an army, either, it’s just a bunch of blokes and some women and kids. They’re all looking tired, and a bit dusty. Still, everyone else is getting ever so excited.... Here he is! He’s coming past! Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!
Well, there he goes. They said he was a king. But he’s just a chap on a donkey. Messiah? Who’s gonna follow him?

CAIAPHAS & ANANIAS

Caiaphas – So where are they now?
Ananias – “They’re heading this way. They’re coming down to the temple.”
Caiaphas – “Don’t you realise what this means? The Romans see this, they’re going to have us nailed up all over the city. Are they armed?Ananias – Only with branches
Caiaphas – So what are they doing?
Ananias – They’re shouting. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna”
Caiaphas – “Shut that noise up! Did you tell them to be quiet?”
Ananias – “Of course. They told us, if they’re quiet then the stones will cry out.”
Caiaphas – “Fool. That man must be stopped.” (turns to congregation) –“It is better that one man dies for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

MARTHA


I’m so glad he’s back. I tell you, when Jesus and the lads went off up to Jerusalem this morning, I didn’t think he’d ever return.
Me? Oh my name’s Martha. You may have heard of my sister Mary? She’s the dreamer. The religious one! She’s the one who introduced us all to Jesus. Or Lazarus – my brother? He’s the one that Jesus raised up again after he’d died. But me? I just keep the house clean. Cook the food. Look after everyone. Everyone calls me the home-maker. Nobody very important.
But I tell you, I can worry and care and cry just as much as anyone else. I’ve barely swept the floor all day. And did you hear what he’s done? He’s only trashed the stalls in the temple. Pigeons and sheep all over the place (laughs)…. Well, I laugh. But he says he’s going back down there tomorrow. Can’t bear thinking about it. I just watch them all out in the morning, and count them back in at night. But for how long?
All I can do is be glad when they’re here – feed them and give them water and wine. And when they’re not – I stand on that hill over there and I watch till they come back.
(Pause)
I hope Jesus knows what he’s doing. I just don’t like to think where this is all going to end.