By Edgar Mayer
Interaction between live people and puppet - asking why Holy Communion can't be a more joyful occasion.
Isaiah 25:6-9, Philippians 4:4-13, Matthew 22:1-14
Pastor: Robin, in a minute I would like to introduce you to a man that was among the first disciples of Jesus. Children, can you tell Robin the name of that disciple?
Children: Mr Rocky.
Pastor: Yes, Mr Rocky, and Robin, don't forget the Mr. He insists on that. He's from the old school.
Robin: All right. I'll be on my best behaviour.
Pastor: You need to be. Most of the time he's a little grumpy. But he means well.
Mr Rocky: I heard that.
Pastor: Oh dear. I didn't mean to offend you, Mr Rocky.
Mr Rocky: We'll talk later. Who's that person with the curly hair?
Pa: That's Robin Mann. He's a singer-song-writer in our church.
Mr R: Hmm. Hmm. My eyes are old but you singer-song-writer: what colour is your guitar?
Mr R: I thought so. Is that acting your age? A middle-aged man playing a pink guitar?
Pa: Shhh. Mr Rocky, Robin is our guest. Don't you offend him like that. He's an artist and artists are sensitive people.
Rob: Pastor Edgar, I thought that we were going to have a party. This puppet turns out to be party pooper.
Mr R: Watch it, son.
Pa: That's enough you two. Let's have a party. The children are waiting for it.
Rob: I don't come here that often, so what sort of party should we have?
Pa: I thought we ask the children. Children, what is the best party that we can have? Which parties do you like best?
Children: Birthday party, dress-up party, Christmas party, pyjama party, wedding party, ...
Pa: Oh there are many kinds of parties. They are all good. What shall we do? I don't know. Maybe we ask Mr Rocky for advice. Mr Rocky, what is the best party that we can have?
Mr R: Celebrate Holy Communion.
Pa: You can't be serious. Did you hear that, children? ... Holy Communion. What do you think, Robin?
Rob: Well - it's not really that cool an affair. When people come up for Holy Communion hardly anyone smiles and no one lets loose.
Pa: Precisely. And there is no real food. The only bite that we get to eat is a thin, tasteless wafer.
Rob: Yes, I agree. And I hate how the wafer tends to stick to my gum. It's not really successful party food.
Pa: The wine is good but one sip is not enough for a party.
Rob: Yes, I agree again. There could be a decent glass for everyone.
Mr R: Are you two finished? Holy Communion is the best party that you can have. It's not the fault of Holy Communion that you don't know how to celebrate it.
Pa: What do you mean?
Mr R: Holy Communion is a meal that was given to us by Jesus. And when we first ate and drank with him, plenty of food and drink filled our tummies and satisfied our senses. At the end of it we sang for joy.
Rob: That's interesting, Mr Rocky. Why then did we end up with tasteless wafers and tiny sips from a common cup? Who spoilt the party?
Mr R: There are always people that reject past traditions. They sometimes play pink guitars.
Rob: Be nice, puppet man. You haven't answered the question yet.
Mr R: Puppet man? Puppet man? ...
Pa: Don't start again you two. I think I know why the meal of Holy Communion became the tasteless snack food of today. It's just more practical.
Mr R: What can be impractical about a good meal?
Pa: Oh come on. Can't you see? Celebrating Holy Communion Sunday after Sunday with so many people takes some organizing. Bread becomes hard and old after a while, but wafers can be stored for years and used whenever required. That's practical. Also, if we ate more than the wafer and drank more than a little sip of wine, we would be in church for hours. We needed to speed up the process. That's only practical.
Rob: That may all be practical, but it defeats the purpose. The atmosphere, the taste and the joy of the meal is gone.
Mr R: Robin, don't burden your sensitive soul. This church doesn't need another tormented artist. Let me cheer you up. Holy Communion is not just about a voluptuous meal. Everyone also receives something else.
Pa: What's that?
Mr R: You should know. What's written in the Bible? What did Jesus do and say when he set up the meal of Holy Communion?
Pa: You're right. I should know. I do say the words every Communion Sunday.
Mr R: Well, if you say the words every Communion Sunday, let's see whether the congregation has also learnt them by now.
Pa: You mean I should test them?
Mr R: Yes, that would be fun.
Pa: All right. (turning to the congregation) I'm sorry but you heard what Mr Rocky wants. I make a start and then please anyone that can continue, please stand up and do so. Here we go: "Our Lord Jesus Christ on the night when he was betrayed ... "
V: "took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said:"
W: "Take and eat. This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
X: "In the same way he took the cup after the supper and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them and said:"
Y: "Drink of it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant shed for you for the forgiveness of sins."
Z: "Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me."
Pa: Thank you very much. That was well done. What do you say, Mr Rocky.
Mr R: Yes, that was good, much better than their pastor who still gets the words wrong occasionally.
Pa: Don't be grumpy.
Mr. R: All right. Did you listen and understand, guitar-man? It is as I said. Holy Communion is not just about a voluptuous meal. Everyone also receives something else.
Rob: We also receive Jesus. Is that it?
Mr R: Yes. Explain.
Rob: Jesus said about the bread that it was his body, and about the wine that it was his blood. That means: Jesus himself is in the food and when we eat and drink bread and wine, God forgives us our sins.
Mr R: Well done. That promises a party. Don't you think? No matter whether we only have a tiny wafer and a tiny sip of wine, we receive Jesus himself and all his benefits. What more can you want from food? That's real food, real drink.
Rob: I know a song about that.
Mr R: I was afraid, you would.
Pa: Mr Rocky, give Robin a break. I'd like to hear a song.
Rob: We sing the song together. It's on your songsheet on page X. The song is called 'Real Food, Real Drink' ...
Pa: Dear puppet, I saw you rocking with the music.
Mr R: Does that surprise you? My name is Mr Rocky.
Pa: But I thought ... Never mind! Thank you for the song, Robin. Did you like it, children?
Rob: Mr Rocky, you are one of the earliest disciples of Jesus. Maybe you are the person I can ask a question.
Mr R: Go ahead.
Rob: Holy Communion seems to be a pretty serious matter. Not only was Jesus nailed to the cross and gave up his life that way, now he continues to give himself as our food for eternal life.
Mr R: What's the question?
Rob: I'm getting to that. If Holy Communion is such a serious matter, who can really dare to eat and drink that meal?
Pa: What do you mean, Robin?
Rob: Don't you see? Holy Communion is far too mysterious and mind-boggling to be relaxed about it. It's called Holy Communion because Jesus is holy who in turn makes the food holy and so on.
Pa: I'm not getting it.
Rob: Don't you see? We are not holy. So how can we eat a holy meal without getting into trouble? It's bad enough not to wash your hands before a meal, but how can you as an unholy sinner come into the presence of our holy God. That has always spelled trouble for people of all times.
Mr R: That's the sensitive artist speaking again. You always see reality with different eyes. But you are right. We should not be invited to Holy Communion because we don't deserve it. However listen carefully: We are invited.
Pa: Hang on, Mr Rocky. Are there no hindrances for anyone? Can really anybody come forward?
Mr R: Well, those people that do not want to party with God and that do not want to live with God, they better stay away. But if you know that you receive Jesus' body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, and if you know that you need forgiveness, then you are more than welcome.
Rob: Why then aren't children welcome?
Mr R: What do you mean?
Rob: Children, are you allowed to eat bread and drink wine at Holy Communion?
Rob: How do you feel about it? Do you think that's good?
Children. Yes. No.
Rob: Mr Rocky, why are they not invited?
Mr R: Children, this gets a little complicated. You may not yet eat and drink at Holy Communion, but you are invited. When you come up, you receive the blessing that flows from the meal.
Pa: Mr Rocky, I wouldn't like my daughters to drink wine yet. They are too young.
Mr R: No pastor, that's not it. Children, you are invited to Holy Communion but you may only eat and drink Jesus' body and blood when you are a little older and understand a little more about it.
Rob: Are you saying that adults fully understand what they are doing?
Mr R: No. I know that Holy Communion remains a mystery for anyone, but still: children may wait until they do understand more and can show more respect.
Rob: All right. I have another song. Children, I'll sing it with you, because it is certain that you are invited to be with God.
(Robin and the children sing 'You are invited'.)
Pa: Now, I have to confess something. I don't want to be a spoil-sport, but I don't think it's right to call Holy Communion a party.
Rob: Why not? Didn't we decide together that today's theme would be: 'Let's have a party'?
Pa: Yes, we did. But you said yourself that Holy Communion is a serious matter. It has to do with Jesus' body that was given into death and his blood that was shed for us. Don't you think the word 'party' sounds a little irreverent?
Rob: I don't know. What do you think, Mr Rocky?
Mr R: I appreciate your sentiment, Pastor. However, the Bible says that there will be a huge banquet in heaven. Do you think that banquet at least will be a party?
Pa: Yes, heaven is a wonderful place and I expect a festive atmosphere.
Mr R: If the banquet in heaven can be called a party, so can Holy Communion.
Mr R: It's simple Holy Communion is nothing less than a foretaste of heaven. In Holy Communion we anticipate the great party in paradise that God has already prepared for us.
Rob: Does that mean that at Holy Communion a little bit of heaven comes down to earth.
Mr R: You can put it that way.
Rob: Then that would mean that some of the joys of heaven also come down to earth.
Mr R: Most certainly. We have already mentioned forgiveness.
Rob: But there is more. I do have another song and it's about that.
Pa: Spell it out a bit more, Robin.
Rob: All right. Holy Communion can create a party atmosphere because we receive Jesus and through Jesus heaven comes down to earth. Already now we may receive healing, comfort, strength and become free to be God's people. Everyone, please open your songsheet on page X and let's sing together the song 'Face to face'.
Pa: Mr Rocky, it's time to go. Would you like to sum up what we've learned today?
Mr R: Sure. Holy Communion is the best party there is, because the bread and wine are Jesus himself and we eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. That's mysterious but wonderful. At that meal we are given a foretaste of the great party in heaven. Taste it and be free from sin, death and the devil.
Pa: Thank you, Mr Rocky. And thank you, Robin.
Mr. R: Good bye, children.
Children: Good bye, Mr Rocky.
Rob: Good bye, Mr Rocky.
Pa: Good bye, Mr Rocky.
Mr R: Good bye, Pastor and Robin.
© Edgar Mayer
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