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..." 

Friday
Mar202015

DESTINY CALLS

Destiny Calls is the first of three plays for Holy Week. Performances for residents of Park Place and Esperanza in South Seattle are scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week.

When you see "(Beat)" in the text, it means that the character is changing the subject. "Beat" is a theatrical paragraph marker. 


Cast

John

Judas

Time:  The morning of the first Maundy Thursday—that is, the day before Jesus’ execution.

Set:  A hideout—an abandoned wine cellar in Jerusalem. A small room with one door.

Prop:  A Nerf ball painted like a rock.

At Rise:  Judas stalks in, speaking over his shoulder to John, who follows.

 

Version 6

 

JUDAS:  But John, Jesus claims he has to be crucified before the Passover.

JOHN:  We don’t have to worry. His Father—

JUDAS:  Yes, I do worry. Jesus and the priests are all talk. They won’t act—

JOHN:  But Judas, Jesus acted Monday—chasing the merchants out of the Gentile Court.

JUDAS:  Proves my point. Jesus acted out of character. Clearing the Temple and stampeding the pigs are the only times he’s used violence as a witness.

JOHN:  But Jesus does what his Father—

JUDAS:  You're always toadying to Jesus. Why didn’t you join us in spilling the tables?

JOHN:  I was stunned. I couldn’t—

JUDAS:  It was hilarious. The Zealot and I rampaging after Jesus, with Matthew helping the merchants scoop up their coins.

JOHN:  People in the Gentile Court cheered.

JUDAS:  Of course. They thought Jesus making himself king.

JOHN:  He’s popular here in Jerusa—

JUDAS:  You don’t have a clue what went on, do you?

JOHN:  The Temple merchants cheat the people. Jesus righted their wrongs.

JUDAS:  Obviously, but what was he really doing?

JOHN:  Aaaaah, uummm, restoring the Temple as a house of prayer?

JUDAS:  That too. But he was really daring the priests to arrest him.

JOHN:  I was scared the guards would arrest all of us.

JUDAS:  And why didn’t they? Why did the priesthood just watch?

JOHN:  Dunno. Why?

JUDAS:  Because they're steers. They’re scared of the people. If they lay a hand on Jesus, the people could riot and storm the Temple.

JOHN:  Wish they would.

JUDAS:  And there's a deeper reason. They don't want to arrest him; they want to execute him.

JOHN:  (John flips out with a PTSD attack.) Gaaaaaahh!  Don't. Don't. Don't. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

JUDAS:  Crybaby.

JOHN:  Jesus is innocent. Jesus is innocent.

JUDAS:  Of course.

JOHN:  Jesus preaches truth, drives out demons, heals people—

JUDAS:  That's why they want to kill him.

JOHN:  Jealousy?

JUDAS:  People see Jesus as the new Moses.

JOHN:  I don’t think—

JUDAS:  Of course you don’t. (Beat) The priests are steers. Pilate emasculated them.

JOHN:  What?

JUDAS:  He took away their power to stone for blasphemy. If they arrest Jesus, what can the priests do to him?

JOHN:  Send him back to Nazareth and make him stay in his house?

JUDAS:  And Jerusalem would stream to Nazareth to be healed. No, Jesus has to die.

JOHN:  Don't. Don't. Don't talk about death.

JUDAS:  Death surrounds us.

JOHN:  Not when I'm with Jesus.

JUDAS:  You’re always pawing him. Sometime I wonder about you.

JOHN:  Do you know why I cling to Jesus? Does it ever occur—

JUDAS:  No. Why do you cling?

JOHN:  Because, with Jesus there’s peace.

JUDAS:  Oh sure—

JOHN:  You think I’m just mouthing words?

JUDAS:  (Judas chuckles.)  Yeah, it’s obv—

JOHN:  For me, without Jesus, it’s terror. And panic—

JUDAS:  Wha?

JOHN:  —I wake up screaming at night. I can’t stop shaking or sweating. Nightmares all night. Flashbacks every day. Torture in my head.

JUDAS:  (He recognizes John’s PTSD and speaks with compassion. He puts his arm over John’s shoulder.) Sorry, John. I didn’t realize . . . (Beat) What happened to give you the terrors?

JOHN:  Two years ago, Roman soldiers crucified my uncle. On a tree near Cana.

JUDAS:  Why?

JOHN:  He was a fish merchant, but he was also the information center for the Zealots in Galilee.

JUDAS:  Ca'leb bar Ke'dar?

JOHN:  Yes.

JUDAS:  I knew him, Johnny. A great man.

JOHN:  I watched for the three days it took him to die. (Pause) He didn’t die well.

JUDAS:  No crucified man dies well. Did they use nails?

JOHN:  No, just rope.

JUDAS:  Doesn’t matter. Nails are extra torture. Being unable to move kills ya.

JOHN:  Yes. After a day, he couldn’t breathe. Then his body spasmed to grab air. Especially after his arms pulled out of their sockets. But every couple of minutes the body spasmed. Night and day.

JUDAS:  Worst torture death ever invented.

JOHN:  I wanted to give him water. I wanted to kill him and bless him with death. I couldn’t do anything. Roman guards were there day and night. (Beat) I was surprised. They just tied him to a tree.

JUDAS:  What did you expect?

JOHN:  They call it crucifixion. I thought the Romans put two beams togeth—

JUDAS:  Why would they do that?

JOHN:  Well—

JUDAS:  Romans do hundreds of crucifixions every year. If they chopped trees, squared them off, with a half lap joint—well, they'd need half the Israeli population just to make those things.

JOHN:  But don't—

JUDAS:  All they need is a tree with a trunk that divides— (like a Y)

JOHN:  Then why call it crucifixion?

JUDAS:  Dolt. The cross is not the execution stake. The cross is the man.

JOHN:  Oh.

JUDAS:  (Beat) How old were you at Caleb's death?

JOHN:  Fifteen. . . . Those sights are still in my mind.

JUDAS:  You were too young to see a crucifixion. . . .What am I saying? We're never old enough to see a crucifixion. (Beat) John, I have the terrors too. Not as bad as you—

JOHN:  How?

JUDAS:  Zealot Simon brought me into the gang. We operated at the north end of Galilee Lake. I saw friends chopped to bits, saw them tortured, saw them crucified. Those sights don’t go away.

JOHN:  They go away when I’m with Jesus.

JUDAS:  Alright.

JOHN:  How long were you a Zealot?

JUDAS:  Two years. (Beat) Enough of this. Time's running out. Passover starts tomorrow night at sundown.

JOHN:  Yes. Our task is to pray.

JUDAS:  For you, maybe. I'm called to act.

JOHN:  How?

JUDAS:  To see that Jesus fulfills his destiny.

JOHN:  To become king?

JUDAS:  You're like the rest. You don't understand him. You expect him to become king of Israel. (Beat) Peter thinks he'll be Jesus' admiral of the Mediterranean fleet. James, his prime minister. Simon Zelotes, the army commander. Matthew, the treasurer. And all the rest of you are with him to scoop the loot.

JOHN:  Not me. I just want to be with him.

JUDAS:  Good. You're wiser than the rest. (Beat) Meanwhile, there's this great drama in the Temple. The priesthood is losing.

JOHN:  People flock to hear him. For the entry Sunday, there were hundreds. Yesterday, there were thousands in the Gentile Court.

JUDAS:  Do you understand what's going on?

JOHN:  Well, we've got problems. People are so eager for healing and deliverance they'd crush Jesus if—

JUDAS:  Right. For us twelve, our main job is crowd control.

JOHN:  Everyday Jesus teaches and heals. The healing line is longer every day. It was dark last night when we—

JUDAS:  Again, you haven't a clue.

JOHN:  About?

JUDAS:  Jesus damaged the animal sellers and money exchangers on Monday. Now, he's hurting business even more.

 JOHN:  Hurting them? He ignores them.

JUDAS:  And so does the crowd. Passover starts tomorrow night. This is prime time for Temple merchants, but they don't have customers.

JOHN:  So?

JUDAS:  He's shut down the Temple sacrifices. The priests and merchants aren't making money. They have to get rid of Jesus, but they're steers—

JOHN:  They may trap him yet.

JUDAS:  Not likely. The priests scheme, but Jesus gets wisdom from the Father. Wy yesterday—

JOHN:  That was so great—when the priests asked Jesus about paying taxes to Rome. They had him—whether he said yes or no, he'd lose half his followers.

JUDAS:  The crowd drowned the priests in laughter when he told them to give Emperor Tiberius what belongs to him.

JOHN:  But, if they can't trick him—

JUDAS:  They have to kill him. Because he's a robber.

JOHN:  No! Jesus is completely—

JUDAS:  A thief. He steals the peoples' allegiance.

JOHN:  Oh yes. They abandon Temple ritual to experience the Father.

JUDAS:  So. they'll kill him.

JOHN:  But only the Romans—

JUDAS:  And Pilate won't kill him.

JOHN:  Because Jesus is the Messiah.

JUDAS:  You know that. I know that. But Pilate doesn't care. To him it's just Judean piety—

JOHN:  And no threat to Rome?

JUDAS:  No threat to Rome. Jesus has done nothing, said nothing against Rome. In fact, Jesus is mistrusted by my old Zealot cronies. They think he's pro-Roman. Remember, Jesus healed a centurion's slave. My Zealot brothers would have killed them both.

JOHN:  If the San-he-DREEN turns Jesus over to Pilate, what crime—

JUDAS:  Probably blasphemy. And Pilate will dismiss the charge. He knows Jesus is innocent. He only makes trouble for the priesthood.

JOHN:  Then Pilate won't—

JUDAS:  The Governor will notice if the priests charge Jesus with treason.

JOHN:  But Jesus hasn't committed treason.

JUDAS:  No, not in the normal sense. Simon and I committed treason as Zealots. Jesus hasn't done that. But in a vast sense Jesus committed treason by being born. Treason against both the Temple and Rome.

JOHN:  Yes, the man born to be king.

JUDAS:  So the question is—Can the priesthood get Pilate to think that Jesus is a threat to Rome.

JOHN:  But the people—

JUDAS:  Yes. Pilate fears the people. They're with Jesus. We've got him surrounded. With the Passover coming, we have two hundred thousand Galileans and Judeans camped around Jerusalem.

JOHN:  Here to celebrate our deliverance from Egyptian oppression.

JUDAS:  Pilate probably sees the parallel. That's why he brought a whole legion— six-thousand troops from Caesarea (Kaz-a-RAY-uh). He fears a revolt.

JOHN:  Why? He has the power to crush—

JUDAS:  For him, revolts are bad politics and bad business.

JOHN:  I think he enjoys—

JUDAS:  Again, you don't get the picture. Why is Rome here?

JOHN:  Wy, for control—

JUDAS:  Naw, for taxes. For the money. Every time Pilate does riot control, he kills taxpayers. The Emperor doesn't like riots. If Pilate has too many riots, he'll be sent back to Rome in disgrace. 

JOHN:  So Pilate has to go along with the people?

JUDAS:  Of course. Pilate is vicious, but he's also crafty. (Beat) Meanwhile, Jesus just goes to the Temple at dawn, teaches in the morning, and heals in the afternoon. He's not acting to meet his destiny.

JOHN:  Let's wait. Maybe the people will make him king.

JUDAS:  No John. Jesus is not called to become king of Israel, but king of the world. As the prophecy says in the second Psalm: You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. Ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your possession. You will break them with an iron rod. You will smash them to pieces like pottery.

JOHN:  I differ.

JUDAS:  Oh? How?

JOHN:  The Scripture that speaks to me is from Isaiah—A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. It goes on to say—He was wounded for our transgressions . . .and by his stripes we are healed. . . .The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

JUDAS:  Of course. It's all part of the same crazy pattern of divine action. Jesus has to die to get to his kingdom.

JOHN:  Maybe. Maybe not. I do know we should leave everything to the Father.

JUDAS:  Now I differ. The Father expects us to do what is necessary.

JOHN:  You're going to the high priest, aren't you?

JUDAS:  Of course, he's the one who has to act.

JOHN:  Will they pay you for turning Jesus in?

JUDAS:  Probably. That's how they think.

JOHN:  You're doing it for the money.

JUDAS:  For money? Naw. Johnny, if I were doing it for money, I'd turn you in.

JOHN:  You're joking.

JUDAS:  Only half. (Beat. Judas snaps his fingers.) I was joking, but I'm onto something here. If the Sanhedrin really wants Jesus dead, they should arrest us twelve.

JOHN:  On what charge?

JUDAS:  Doesn't matter. With us gone, Jesus would have no protection against the mob. They'd be so eager for healing that they'd trample him. Very neat. It'd be a public execution, but the priesthood would have clean hands.

JOHN:  Judas, you're the vicious one.

JUDAS:  Thanks. (Beat) But it's Jesus' destiny to be killed. I have to make it happen.

JOHN:  You can't. I'll stop you.

JUDAS:  You?

JOHN:  (He stands in the doorway with his arms stretched out.) Yes, me.

JUDAS:  (He chuckles.) Johnny, I know a dozen ways to kill you. With three of them, you won't even make a sound.

JOHN:  So kill me.

JUDAS:  What good would that do?

JOHN:  I'd protect Jesus.

JUDAS:  Not likely. You'd just be dead. And I'd leave anyway.

JOHN:  So do it.

JUDAS:  (He grabs John and throws him to the floor.) Out of my way, boy. (Judas leaves.)

JOHN:  (He runs across the room to pick up the Nerf ball/rock. He throws the rock at Judas, but hits the door frame instead. John collapses on the floor.) Forgive me, Father, I wanted to murder him. . . .And also. . .forgive me 'cause I missed.

 

BLACKOUT

 

Walled Out is the second play in this Holy Week cycle. To read Walled Out click on the following link:

http://leadings.squarespace.com/walled-out/

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

Copyright © 2014 by Jack Towe

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