'Out of Isolation' - the Autumn 2015 Vital Link Newsletter
The Autumn/Winter 2015 Vital Link is now available for download. This issue contains stories from our freedom-giving training in Mozambique, holiday reports from Treloar and Babbacombe, an update on the Wheels distribution in Kosovo, and much more. Take a look!
- Please 'Right-Click' and save the file. Please note that a donation form is included in this download.
Please get in touch (on 01372 749955 or by following this link to email us) if you have any problems downloading this, or if you’d like to receive future newsletters by post or email.
Don't Make Him Come Down There! (Ros' Blog)
I wrote this script for performance at my church last Christmas. The cast consists of just 5 angels. As I re-read it recently, it occurred to me that it could easily be played by a cast of disabled actors. Apart from the 2 angels at the beginning who are pointing out things they can see, it would make no difference if any of them were visually impaired. Most of the lines are simple enough to be mastered by someone with a learning disability (or the script could be pre-recorded and played over the performance if learning lines was too much of a challenge). When Exultato threads his/her way slowly though the congregation to the front, it would work perfectly well played by an actor in a wheelchair – and so on. Perhaps the only ability required is the ability to dress up in a white robe and a pair of wings! You are at liberty to change the names of the angels if you think these would cause confusion. Feel free to use it at your church, but if you do so, please mention Through the Roof somewhere on your programme or advertising.
Don’t make Him come down there! (A script for Christmas)
Cast: 5 angels, named Incredulo, Sympathico, Fideo, Jubilato, and Exultato
2 angels stand front of stage, shielding their eyes with their hands and peering intently at the audience.
Incredulo: Just look at them down there.
Sympathico: (turning aside) To be honest, I’d rather not.
Incredulo: (nodding) Not exactly a pretty sight, are they?
Sympathico: Well here’s the thing. I think they are a pretty sight. But I don’t think they can see that. That’s why they do the things they do to each other.
Incredulo: (pointing into the far distance, not at the congregation) Look at those ones over there. What are they doing?
Sympathico: I think they call it fighting.
Sympathico: (pointing at different groups in the distance) Because these ones want the land that belongs to those ones. So they attack them and try to take it from them.
Congregational carol: It came upon the midnight clear
Fideo comes running in from the side.
Fideo: O my goodness, I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
Fideo: All kinds of things! They’re hurting each other, they’re hurting themselves, and they can’t seem to stop.
Sympathico: Living up here, I never dreamed there could be so much pain and unhappiness.
Incredulo: Doesn’t God see what they’re doing?
Sympathico: Of course He sees; He sees everything.
Fideo: Don’t they realise how powerful He is?
Sympathico: I guess not, or they wouldn’t want to cross Him!
Fideo: (Turning to congregation and wagging his finger) Don’t make Him come down there! You’ll regret it! Just don’t make Him come down there!
Congregational carol: O little town of Bethlehem
Jubilato comes running in from the other side
Jubilato: Have you heard? Have you heard?
Sympathico: } (in unison) Heard what?
Jubilato: He’s going down there! Everyone says He’s going down there to sort them out.
Fideo: Oh no! I warned them!
Sympathico: They’ve had it now!
Fideo: I suppose He plans to destroy them and start again with a new creation.
Jubilato: Well, they’ve had it coming. They’ve asked for it.
Solo or small group: Nothing will ever be the same again (Graham Kendrick)
Another angel, Exultato enters silently at the back of the room and threads his/her way through the congregation to the front, joins the other angels, then slowly turns and faces the congregation.
Exultato: (in tones of wonder) Have you heard?
Incredulo: Yes, we’ve heard.
All: He’s going down there!
Exultato: Yes, but have you heard the rest?
Incredulo: No, but we can guess.
Fideo: I warned them. I warned them not to make Him come down there.
Sympathico: It’s curtains for them now.
Exultato: No, no, it’s not like that at all! He’s not going to destroy them, He’s going to save them!
Congregational carol: Joy to the world
Sympathico: So what’s the story?
Exultato: He’s going down there, but that’s not all, He’s going to become one of them.
Incredulo: What, a human?
Exultato: More unbelievable than you think. He’s going to contain the whole of Himself in one human embryo and be born as a baby and grow up among them.
(Incredulo’s jaw drops and he stands, open-mouthed)
Fideo: Unbelievable. (Points at Incredulo) He’s speechless.
Congregational carol: O little town of Bethlehem
Sympathico: I guess we were all overlooking one thing.
Sympathico: He really, really loves them. He would never destroy them.
Exultato: It’s more amazing than you think. He loves them so much, He would actually rather die than live without them. And if that’s what it takes to save them, He’ll do it.
Incredulo: Unbelievable! But it must be true. Amazing!
Solo or small group: Earth lies spellbound in darkness (Graham Kendrick)
Optional: Sermon at this point
Congregational carol: Hark the Herald angels sing
Outside Our Four Walls (Ros' Blog)
There are comparatively few instances in the Gospels where we see Jesus in the religious environment. There is the occasion when He was twelve years old and His parents lost Him on their way home from Jerusalem, and found Him in discussion with the religious leaders in the temple. And there was the time at the synagogue, recorded by both Mark and Luke, when He set out the mandate for His ministry, based on His reading from Isaiah 61. At least one of His healings took place at the synagogue.
But these were the exceptions. Jesus was not in the habit of occupying the pulpit; nor did He have a publicity machine that organised campaign meetings with slick advertising. In short, He didn’t expect people to come to Him; He went to where they were.
Jesus was most often to be found in the domestic environment like the home at Bethany, or the workplace, where fishermen were drying their nets, for example. This is why so many of His stories drew on the lives of ordinary people – a woman who has lost a coin from her wedding headband; a farmer scattering seed; a judge refusing to give a woman justice; an employer hiring workers for his grape harvest; a wayward son whose greed leads him to insult his parents and leave home.
Even when He taught large crowds, it was not because He had set up an evangelistic crusade, but because they had followed Him up a mountain or out onto the seashore. He was present with them often enough for them to realise there was something about Him that was worth following.
The early Church followed His model. Yes, we read of them meeting in Solomon’s portico within the temple precincts. But more often we read of them breaking bread from house to house, sitting down and working alongside other tent makers, responding to people they met in the street, or heading for a river bank where they knew the worship of Greek gods would be taking place.
For a long time, the church of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries seems to have abandoned this Biblical model. We build our wheelchair ramps, put in our induction loops and wait for people to come to us. We can’t help it if there are not many disabled people in our congregations; if they don’t come, it’s not our fault. From time to time we hold an evangelistic outreach with a big name speaker in a frantic attempt to get people to come in (although reaching the disabled community is seldom uppermost in the organisers’ minds, I’m sure), with varying degrees of success, often temporary. Hopefully the tide is now turning, but there is still some way to go.
Where would Jesus be if He’d been born today? I’m pretty sure He would be serving at the local food bank, going swimming with the Down’s Syndrome lad next door, having a coffee with the lady in the wheelchair so He can ask her advice about the best present to buy His mother, carrying the shopping home for the elderly veteran in the supermarket queue, accepting a meal from the housebound person who can’t get out to meetings but wants fellowship all the same, helping the blind lady to fill out her forty-two page Employment and Support Allowance form, maybe even asking his deaf neighbour for help filling out His own Job Seeker’s Allowance form!
By the time He had done all that, I don’t think He would be having to look for gimmicks to get people to come to church; if He was there they would go, just to be near Him. I’m sure, in fact, that He would be less interested in 'going to church' than in 'being the Church'. And here’s the mystery of being one with Christ; when we go out and do these things, we’re not just being like Him; we’re not just following His example; we are actually being Christ in those situations. We are bringing Him to the people around us, not in some figurative way but literally. People will gravitate to us, not simply because we’ve been nice to them but because the life of God in us is like a magnet, it’s the power of the Holy Spirit drawing people to Jesus.
My church has recently decided to come out of its four walls and go to where the people are. We’ve sold our building, and are meeting in various locations in the community. It’s not entirely clear how this is going to develop over time, but like Abraham we have obeyed a call to leave home without knowing entirely where we are going, except that God is calling us deep into the heart of our community. I’m not suggesting it would be right for every church to do that; for some their building is what enables them to serve the community. I am encouraging us to try and follow the Biblical model of going where the people are – including disabled people – and not just hoping they’ll come to us.