By Edgar Mayer
Interaction between live person and puppet - in which Pastor is dissatisfied with his worldly goods.
Pa: Good morning, Mr Rocky.
Ro: Good morning, Pastor. Good morning, children.
Pa: Mr Rocky, today my mind is not focused on church. I have come to realize that life is more than hearing sermons and praying.
Ro: Yes certainly! Life is more than hearing your sermons, Pastor, but what do you mean?
Pa: I don't know whether a puppet would understand. You don't eat, you don't sleep, you don't buy things, you don't need anything ... you wouldn't understand.
Ro: Try me.
Pa: All right. I want to be rich.
Ro: Rich? But ... let an ignorant puppet tell you ... you are rich. You are in the top 1% of the richest people on earth.
Pa: It doesn't feel like it. And before you continue, let me remind you: Today my mind is not focused on church. I don't want to be reasonable and I don't want to be spiritual. I want to be rich.
Ro: Please yourself.
Pa: I have a talk to the children. They will relate to what I'm saying.
Let's see: Children, if you had money to buy anything you wanted, what would you buy?
Ch: A fishing boat. Play station. Super-computer. Hi-fi equipment. A room full of Barbie dolls. Enough chocolate to fill a fridge. ...
Pa: Yes, you are like me. See Mr Rocky, the children and I are not yet rich enough. There are many things we don't have but want to have.
Ro: Children, don't listen to your pastor. You are rich. You all look well fed with nice clothes. You all have smiles on your faces. I don't know what's wrong with Pastor today.
Speaking of which ... Pastor, what are you doing?
Pa: (Pastor has been scratching scratchies. He is deeply absorbed in his task.)
Ro: I don't think he can hear me. Pastor, what are you doing?
Pa: (Pastor doesn't stop scratching the lottery tickets.) What? Oh, it's you, Mr Rocky. I'm busy.
Ro: I can see that.
Pa: Since I cannot rely on my salary to make me rich, I try these scratchies.
Ro: Hmm. Any success?
Pa: Not yet. But I'm getting there. You need to stand on the tip of your toes and then close your eyes. Then you start scratching while saying 'I get the jackpot' 'I get the jackpot' 'I get the jackpot'. When you do all that, you got the best chances of winning the big prize.
Ro: The big prize. ... Pastor, you amaze me. What has your quest for money done to you? You've traded faith for superstitution. (In a mocking voice) "Stand on the tip of your toes and then close your eyes ... " Nonsense!
Pa: (All the while Pastor continued scratching. Finally he stopped with triumphant gestures.) Hooray. You are so wrong, Mr Rocky. You are so wrong. I did it. One of the children please come over here and confirm my win. (Pastor calls one of the children over.) What does this ticket say?
Ch: You have won five million dollars.
Pa: Thank you. Not bad. Not bad at all. I'm finally rich.
Ro: Congratulations, Pastor.
Pa: Thank you, Mr Rocky.
Ro: You want to say anthing to the congregation?
Pa: Why? What is there to say?
Ro: Well, think about it. You are still their pastor.
Pa: You are right. I should let them know. Members of St John's/Bethlehem, prepare yourselves for plenty of lay-reading services. I will be on a long, long holiday.
Ro: Pastor, excuse me. Don't you want to say anything else?
Pa: I can guess what you want me to say. All right. Members of St John's/Bethlehem, don't do as I did. Don't gamble.
So Mr Rocky, I once again preached God's good counsel.
Ro: But you didn't follow it yourself. However, that can't be helped now. ... There is still another thing you should tell your congregation.
Pa: What else?
Ro: Remember how you used to preach and teach on giving? Here is your chance to practise what you preached.
Pa: I guess a few five dollar notes wouldn't hurt.
Ro: I'm sorry, Pastor. Remember more carefully. When it came to giving, didn't you recommend tithing as a helpful biblical guide?
Pa: Tithing? Giving a tenth back to God? Mr Rocky, that can't apply here.
Ro: Why not?
Pa: Do you know how much money a tenth of five million dollars is? Let's ask our treasurer. How much would I have to give you?
Pa: Where is a chair. I need a chair.
Ro: Don't be so shocked. Just think what the money would be used for.
Pa: So much money would just be wasted.
Ro: Maybe our chairman and the church council need to remind you of the projects which you yourself used to support. Please Errol/Wayne make a start and then a few others remind Pastor of what he has forgotten.
Er/Wa: We want to get an adequate sound-system for our church. Otherwise musicians will not be heard. That costs a few thousand dollars.
V: People want to worship in a nice church. It costs another few thousand dollars a year to make church a welcoming place. [St John's: We just got a quote that a new carpet for the aisle and altar area costs about $4000.]
W: We like to read the bulletin and our church magazine. Photo-copies cost money.
Z: The pastor likes to support people when they are sick or in a crisis. He needs his car to get there. That costs petrol money.
X: Eventually Toowoomba needs more trained church-workers. We need to find money for their salaries.
Y: Mission work is always costly. It takes time and effort, and also money.
Ro: (Pastor, opened a newspaper and started reading.) Dear people, I think Pastor is no longer listening. He is reading and he looks worried. What are we going to do with him?
Pa: Sighs. It's depressing.
Ro: What's wrong?
Pa: I show you.
Children, we will do a little experiment. You all get a lolly. Please don't open it yet. What you need to do, is to guard your lolly against thieves. I know for a fact that there is a lolly monster outside just waiting to steal lollies from anyone that is not careful. Before the monster comes in, let me explain the rules: You can only guard the lolly with your hands. You can run away but you can't hide it. It's enough to hold on to it tightly. (Monster comes in and tries to snatch lollies out of the children's hands but does not succeed.)
I need a volunteer. (Pastor picks a volunteer.) Please return the lollies to me for a minute. You will get them back. Now you (volunteer) have to guard all lollies by yourself. Remember, you can only use your hands. Try to do your best. The monster is coming. (The monster manages to snatch a few lollies.)
Why couldn't N defend the lollies against the lolly monster?
Ch: There were too many lollies and his hands were not big enough.
Pa: Yes, thank you. That's a very important point. (The Pastor thanks the children and distributes the lollies to all the children.) Mr Rocky, did you watch and listen. Do you know now why I have reason to be worried?
Ro: You fear that you cannot protect five million dollars from thieves.
Ro: Has it ever occurred to you that you don't actually carry around five million dollars in small coins. There are places where your money can be safe.
Pa: Oh, blessed are the poor. What do you know about these matters, Mr Rocky? That's an even more perplexing problem: Where should I put all my money?
Ro: That can't be so hard. Children, where do you put your money when you want to save it.
Ch: Savings account. Money box.
Ro: There you are, Pastor.
Pa: I'm sorry, Mr Rocky. Today you are not the expert that knows everything better. Have you ever heard of investment portfolios, super annuation, share options, negative gearing, growth certificates, tax minimisation, and so on?
Ro: What's the problem?
Pa: The problem is that I don't know where my five million dollars will produce the best return for my investment.
Ro: Poor Pastor. It's time to read a Bible passage. Who of you children may read the parable of the rich fool for me? (Rocky chooses a child.)
Ch1: Luke 12:16-21: "A rich man's farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, 'What can I do? I haven't got a place large enough to store everything.' Later, he said, 'Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I'll say to myself, 'You've stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.'' But God said to him, 'You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?' 'This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.'"
Ro: Thank you.
Pa: Why do I need to hear the parable of the rich fool?
Ro: Because you are one, Pastor.
Pa: That's hurtful. Don't insult me in public.
Ro: Don't you see? The rich man in the parable received a big crop and you received five million dollars. None of you enjoys what you have received.
Pa: I guess you're right. I worry about thieves, taxes and investment options. The rich man in the parable worries about bigger barns for adequate storage. Maybe it is better to be poor. I don't know.
Ro: Listen Pastor. God wants to make you rich. In heaven you will certainly be rich. The tragedy lies somewhere else.
Pa: What are you driving at?
Ro: Money corrupted your faith. Money became number one. And what was the result of that?
Pa: I became worried about money.
Ro: Yes. And whoever worries too much is actually rather poor.
Pa: Mr Rocky, it's certainly good that you drop in here every now and then.
Ro: When Jesus told the parable of the rich fool, he continued with more good words. Listen to them also. Another child please.
Ch2: Luke 12:22-31: Jesus said: "I tell you not to worry about your life! Don't worry about having something to eat or wear. Life is more than food or clothing. Look at the crows! They don't plant or harvest, and they don't have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them. You are much more important than any birds ... Don't keep worrying about having something to eat or drink. Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father knows what you need. But put God's work first, and these things will be yours as well."
Ro: Thank you.
Jesus said: "Don't worry. Put God first and he will take care of the rest."
Pa: That's a good promise. What should I do with my five million dollars now?
Ro: Still think about what to do with them, but no longer worry about it. God is in charge and he promised to take care of your needs.
Pa: Okay. Good advice.
Ro: Pastor, do you remember what you said in the beginning?
Pa: I don't want to. I was rather foolish this morning.
Ro: You said before: "Today my mind is not focused on church. I have come to realize that life is more than hearing sermons and praying."
Pa: Well, I can't deny it. That's what I said.
Ro: We all make mistakes but taking up what you said, I want to finish with another quote from Jesus. One day he was starving and the devil tempted him with delicious bread.
Pa: You say that he was hungry.
Ro: Yes. He was very hungry ... not for riches but the very basics. However he said: "Life is more than eating bread and winning lotto. People do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Pa: That's a good quote. Not money but the word of God makes us rich.
Ro: You are getting there, Pastor. The word of God promises forgiveness, love, freedom and eternal life. In other words: the wealth that counts.
Pa: That's all we have time for this morning, Mr Rocky. You've saved the day for us. Thank you very much. Good-bye.
Ro: Good-bye, Pastor. Good-bye, children.
Ch: Good-bye, Mr Rocky.
© Edgar Mayer
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