Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Tuesday
Jan032012

AARON & MOSES: THE PLAY

When two improv actors have the sketch cards for Aaron and Moses, they can do the sketch in many ways. This play spells out one alternative.

 

Roles

Aaron.   A fugitive slave.

Moses.   An excaped felon.

 

Scene:   In the desert at the foot of Mt. Sinai

Time:     About 1200 B.C.

Props:  The only props are a staff and water container for Moses.  Ideal container:  A Spanish bota.

Costumes

Contemporary casual wear. Both actors should wear hats to protect them from the Sinai Desert sun. Or, to give Moses a mid-Eastern touch, tie a dishtowel on his head with a necktie. The long end of the towel covers the back of his neck.

Make-up

Real make-up is not needed. However, Aaron will be more convincing as a slave if he has black dots in his ear lobes made with a marker. See Exodus 21:6.  (I assume that the Hebrews adopted the Egyptian practice of a pierced earlobe as the mark of a slave.)

Scripture

The actors should know Exodus, chapters 1 thru 4.  The play's narrative focuses on God's instructions to Moses from the burning bush.

Except for added material, the play is faithful to the Biblical account. 

 

PROLOGUE

The Almighty speaks to Moses through the burning bush in Exodus 3. But, do you realize that the LORD also spoke to Moses' brother, Aaron? Here's what it says in Exodus, chapter 4, verses 27 and 28:

"The LORD said to Aaron, 'Go into the desert to meet Moses.' So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform."

That's all the LORD said to Aaron: "Go into the desert to meet Moses." But Exodus doesn't tell us what Aaron and Moses said when they met.

Consider this same situation today. A corporate CEO gives one division vice-president detailed plans, goals and objectives for the next two years. To another, he says, "Do what's necessary."

That's the programmed disaster we find in "Aaron and Moses". 

 

THE  PLAY

At Rise

Moses: Enter deliberately. Stand, with staff, looking directly at the audience -- your father-in-law's flock of sheep. During this sketch, say your lines with a speech impediment, e.g. stuttering -- except when you're excited or angry.)

Aaron:  You're hiding to check whether it's safe to come into the open.

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AARON   (Stick your head out a little.) Pssst. Moses? 

MOSES   Aaron?  I've been expecting –

AARON   Any Egyptians around?

MOSES   None within a five-day walk.

AARON   Are you alone?

MOSES  Just me an 80 sheep.  (The number of people in the audience.)

AARON   Brother, I'm so relieved to find you -- (Hug) You'd never believe what happened. God spoke to me. To me, a slave. He told me to come see you in the desert –

MOSES   He spoke to me too -- (Hold up your hand to show that you want to talk.)

AARON   (Point north) I'm on my way to Canaan, but I had to see you first. (Beat) What? He spoke to you? 

MOSES   Yes. He said his name is Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay. "I will be who I will be."

AARON   Interesting. Interesting. But I'm on my way to Canaan -- to start a new life --

MOSES   See that bush?

AARON   Uh-huh..

MOSES   Yesterday morning, it was on fire.  But, it didn't burn.  The Almighty One spoke to me out of --

AARON   (Go to the bush and take a leaf.  Smell and bite it.) Nonsense. Fire leaves an odor and a taste. This bush never burned.

MOSES   But, it did. And God – God talked to me out of the fire. He said –

AARON   Been getting too much sun, haven't you, Moses? Sunstroke?

MOSES   No sunstroke. (Beat) God said to me, "Take off your sandals.  You're on holy ground."  He gave me orders: Go to the Elders of Israel. Tell them about the "I AM" –- the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He will free –

AARON   Do you expect me to believe this nonsense?

MOSES   (Hold up your hand.) There's more. . . . He will free the Hebrews from slavery. So, go to Pharaoh. Tell Pharaoh to let all the Hebrews go free. Lead the Hebrews back to the land of Canaan.

AARON   Oh, sure, that'll work just – (Beat) Moses, Moses, you've been eating harmala seeds again, haven't you? I thought you'd kicked the habit.

MOSES   No harmala.  This all happened.  Just yesterday.

AARON   Sure it did.

MOSES   It did. I told Him I couldn't go. Can't talk well. Can't go.

AARON   Well, that was smart.  What did God say then?

MOSES   Take Aaron.  He talks well.

AARON   What? Are you crazy? Me talk to Pharaoh? Never happen. They'd kill me. I'm never going back to Egypt.

MOSES   Yes. You go. Speak for me. Speak for God.

AARON   If your God wants me to be your mouthpiece, why did he tell you? Why didn't he tell me directly?

MOSES   (Aaron angers you. So, become the aristocrat again. Make a sweeping motion with your right palm, downward, from your left shoulder to your right hip.)

AARON   (Keel – and then jump up.) Moses, you rat. You stinking aristocrat. You knew you'd get my slave reaction. Well, no more. That's the last time I kneel to anyone. I'm free now. Free. Understand?

MOSES   Oh brother, I'm sorry.  So sorry—

AARON   You're my little brother, but it's hard not to hate you.

MOSES   Reflex action.  Can you forgive me?

AARON   Forgive?  Not likely.  And don't do it again.

MOSES   So sorry. (Beat) When I was a child, the palace was my prison. I was the only Hebrew in the Royal Family. I was always tense, uncertain. The boys teased me. Left me out. Beat me up. On Saturday afternoons, Mother smuggled you into the palace. You taught me Hebrew. Those sessions with you were the best times of my life. The only times I could relax. (Beat) I love you Aaron.  And, I really need you to come back to Egypt and do the talking.

AARON   Back to Egypt?  No.  I'm on my way to Canaan –

MOSES   You must –

AARON   Don't tell me what I must do. You don't understand the mess I'm in. In Egypt, I'm valuable property. I'm the skilled lackey for the pyramid construction manager. A great job for a slave.

MOSES   Oh, I didn't realize –

AARON   You don't have any idea–my boss is lazy and stupid. I do his thinking, planning, calculations, reports--

MOSES   You're honored.

AARON   Never. I'm blamed. He's supervisor because he's the Pharaoh's nephew. But, when he makes mistakes, I get a beating.

MOSES   Is Ashraf your master?

AARON   Yes, how –

MOSES   He used to beat me too.

AARON   To him, I'm a deserter.  He'd enjoy torturing me.

MOSES   Do you think you’re the only one in danger? I'm terrified too.  Maybe you will get a sword in your guts, but they’ll take joy in torturing me. Those little monsters who used to torment me now run Egypt.

AARON   I love it when –

MOSES   They'll pull me to pieces with red hot pincers.

AARON   Moses, you’re amazing when you’re angry. You don’t have trouble talking. You don’t need me in Egypt – just stay angry.

MOSES   Ridiculous. I can’t stay angry – and shouldn’t. I need cool reason and God’s Spirit to negotiate with Pharaoh.

AARON   But you don’t need me.

MOSES   I really do. Don’t be scared. The LORD will protect us.

AARON   Scared? Scared? I'm a fugitive slave. Any Egyptian can capture or kill me. I'm terrified of Egypt. I can't go back.

MOSES   But, we must. Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay commands us – in spite of our terror.

AARON   So you say.  But even if I believed you, your plan can't work.

MOSES   Why not? (Aaron keeps on talking and talking and talking. Show that your frustration and anger keep building and building and building.)

AARON   First, the Elders of Israel fear and hate you.

MOSES   Oh?

AARON   You grew up in the Palace. A little princeling. But, we . . are . . all . . slaves. Hebrews cut and move pyramid stones. The heaviest thing you ever lifted was a scroll. So then you tried to show what a good Hebrew you were. You slugged that Egyptian slave-driver. His head hit a rock. He died. So, you ran off to Midian.  Now you’re an escaped felon. We all hoped that you'd use your power in the palace to get us better working conditions. But now, you're useless. 

MOSES   I know, I know.  I don't want to hear about it.

AARON   Better hear it kindly from me than rough from the Elders. And unless you have their enthusiastic backing – plus the backing of all Hebrews – there's no point in talking to Pharaoh.

MOSES   But, God . . .

AARON   OK.  OK.  Supposing a crazy miracle happened and you convinced the Elders.  But, there's no way we could ever talk to Pharaoh. You told me yourself that you weren't allowed to talk to him – even when you were part of his family.

MOSES   But –

AARON   Wy, Egyptians believe he's a god-man – (Beat) Oh, the guards! Guards. How many guard stations to the throne room?

MOSES    . . . Five.  No, six.

AARON   Six guard stations. Probably 24 guards. They'll look at my ears and know I'm a slave. Any of them can kill me. 

MOSES   Guards won't stop –

AARON   OK, supposing your God blinds the guards' eyes and we walk through.  Do you seriously think that Pharaoh is going to listen to us?

MOSES   Yes.

AARON   No. (Beat) Do you expect him to free the Hebrews?

MOSES   Yes.  God said –

AARON   I don't care what God said. Use some sense. Hebrew slaves are a tremendous Egyptian resource. Counting women and children, there must be over two million of us.

MOSES   And so we must –

AARON   First, we're the slave labor that builds the pyramid. Second, we're free labor. Third, we're capital assets. Wy, my master has a chattel mortgage loan on me for nine thousand.

MOSES   I never thought --

AARON   Right. You haven't thought this thing through. It can't work. (Beat) Supposing each Hebrew slave is worth a hundred. And a hundred is way low. But two million at a hundred each is two hundred million.

MOSES   But, that's not how God –

AARON   Sure. You and God just dance up there to Pharaoh's throne and tell him, "Let my people go." And, of course he'll say, "Certainly. Please take this pitiful asset of two-hundred million off my hands. You'll be doing me a real favor. My pyramid will just build itself."

MOSES   It won't happen that –

AARON   That's right.  It won't happen.

One, Pharaoh won't do it.

Two, the Guards won't do it.

Three, the Elders won't do it.

And four, I won't do it.

MOSES   Enough!   (Throw down your staff. When you do, you are not sure what will happen. You know that it will become a cobra for Pharaoh, but for Aaron?)

AARON   (Notice five realities during your next four lines  (1) You are negotiating intensely with both God and Moses. (2) Moses has no lines. (3) Your "Oh's" are either a terrified shriek or a gasping for breath. (4) Improvise freely. Use the script if it helps. (5) Make the snake real to the audience by your reactions. Jump on something -- a chair or table. Get as high and as far from the snake as fast as you can.)

AARON   Snake!? Cobra!? Aaaaeeeee. Oh, oh, oh. Take him away. Moses, please. Get him. Get him. OK, I'll do what you say. Anything. Get him out of here.

MOSES   (Grab the snake's tail. It again becomes your staff.)

AARON   Oh, thank you. Thank you. You know I'm terrified of snakes. Oh. Oh. Why did you do that to me, Moses? Oh. Oh. (You're still trying to catch your breath.) OK, I'll talk to the Elders for you.  It's a tough sell, but with that snake, maybe we can pull it off. (More heavy breathing.) But, it's no deal. I won't go to Pharaoh. I will not go near the palace.

MOSES   (Stick your right hand inside your shirt. Pull it out and shove it right in Aaron's face, about an inch away.)

AARON   Leprosy!? Leprosy!? Ooooooohhhh. That's worse than the snake. Oh. Oh. Oh.

(This time, don't react violently.  Instead, wilt.  Go to pieces.  Collapse.) OK. Alright, God. You win. Just get rid of the leprosy, Moses. Please. I'll go with you to Pharaoh. Please.

MOSES   (Stick your right hand back in your shirt. Pull it out. Show the audience that it's now clean. Then, reach out with your right hand to help Aaron up.)

AARON   Don't touch me. (Get up. Work to catch your breath.) Oh. Oh. OK, I'm persuaded.

MOSES   You'll go?

AARON   Yes.

MOSES   Really?

AARON   Yes.

MOSES   Shake. (Hold out your right hand.)

AARON   (Reject Moses' right hand. Hold out your left hand. You both shake left-handed.) But, I'm still terrified of going back.  It's gonna be just two of us against the most powerful ruler and most powerful army in the world.  Mission impossible.

MOSES   No.  Mission possible.  There are three of us.   We'll win.

AARON   Win? Win!? How?

MOSES   I have no idea. But, it’ll sure be a great adventure.

AARON   (You begin to leave, walking west.  As you do so, put your hand on Moses' back as a fraternal gesture.)

MOSES   (Slip away from Aaron to downstage center.  Look at the audience and gesture.)  Come on sheep.

AARON AND MOSES    (Exit west)

 

CURTAIN  or  BLACKOUT

 

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

Copyright © 2010 by Jack Towe

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