Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Do We Surround the Cross?

A dramatic narrative for Good Friday

Why Do We Surround the Cross?

(this is a brief excerpt posted on my blog. Let me know if you'd like to read more)

MAN
Please--I can't hear if you're all speaking at once—Now quiet! What happened here to have created so much chaos? Please, one at a time...


AID
Sir, if I may. . .


MAN
Who are you?


AID
I am the Governor's aid.


MAN
Can you shed light on the events that took place here?

Jesus is Sentenced to Death
AID
Well, the governor and I were just about to settle some civil matter when they led him into the room--hands bound behind his back. His head cast down, hair hanging over his face--a tired little man. We stopped our conversation to address the matter at hand--the governor, however was quite impatient. The Jewish leaders started in --I just stared at this poor, weak man. I looked him up and down as the governor circled him listening to the Jews--he seems so small and harmless. A king--that is what the Jewish leaders said--this man must be disillusioned if he thinks he is a king. He slowly lifted his head and instead of looking at the governor he pierced my vision with his eyes. He was searching for something. For some reason I could not look away--his stare was one that suggested I should know who he was and he waiting for my recollection--that's it--my eyes pierced him right back with acknowledgment--this was the man who cured that soldier's servant. We had all heard about it. Jesus, from Nazareth. Soon as I realized who he was he took a final search of my eyes and then faced the governor. The governor yelled cursing the noise rising outside, Jesus remained silent. The more vicious the accusations grew against him the calmer he appeared--quiet and secure. In exasperation to the Jewish leaders' pressure the governor turned to me and ordered me to take this man to be crucified. "Treason, he claimed to be a king." As the order left the governor's lips my heart fell--Jesus turned and trapped my eyes again--to remind me of what I already knew--but what could I do? I had to follow my orders--this man was sentenced to death.

MAN
Yes--then what happened?

GUARDS
He was given to us guards. He'd been whipped badly......

MAN
and...

Jesus Falls To the Ground
GUARD
We followed behind him trying to keep the crowd away. I've never seen anything like it--the people seemed so wild. From behind I could see that his back was all torn up from the beatings--his head dripped with blood and sweat--people screaming, pushing, cursing--some even crying. He was slowing down at one point--the other guard pushed him forward and I could see him writhe with pain. Just leave him alone, I thought--how could this man be treated so cruelly? Crying women lined the street. Next to a doorway I caught site of an old man with tear-filled eyes--what got my attention was the large mat folded up under his arm. He just stared and cried in disbelief, calling out the name--Jesus. I looked at the old man and, then, at this man--Jesus--hmm--what have you done to cause so much confusion? He began to sway back and forth--the weight of the beam was too much for him. He stopped like in a daze--probably from the loss of too much blood. The other guard started to push him again--but I stopped him-- I don't even know why. Then, this man Jesus turned around and I found him face to face with me. Time stopped and all the noise ceased--his eyes pierced mine and my heart understood. The man with the mat ran up and threw his mat on the ground--but Jesus' eyes were still fixed on me--he sighed for help--he fainted--he started to fall--his body was coming right towards me--my first instinct was to stretch out my arms and catch him--to hold him--but the noise filled my head again, I broke out in fear, I saw this falling bloody body, I had to-I stepped back. His body fell to the ground crushed by the weight of the beam. What could I do? This man was sentenced to death.

MAN
Why didn't you try to get someone to help him?

PILGRIM
He did. . .

GUARD
Well, tell him--tell him what happened. . . 
(continued in full version)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Teacher's Lie...

A Teacher's Story

True or not - who cares, How many times do we "misjudge" by appearance? 



Her name was Mrs. Thompson. As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.



Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children. His clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers. 



At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise. 

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...He is a joy to be around." 

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home is a struggle." 

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death had been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." 

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class." 



By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs.Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. 

Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter-full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. 



Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mother used to." 



After the children left she cried for at least an hour. 

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. 



Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets." 

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. 

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. 

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life. 

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD. 



The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. 

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. 



They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs.Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." 



Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."



Dear Teachers, remember - that wherever you go, and whatever you do, you will have the opportunity to touch and/or change a person's outlook. Please try to do it in a positive way.