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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Role-playing gives new meaning to ancient scripture

The Prophet Isaiah - Gustav Dore, Wikimedia commons
Joyce Sasse - A young farmer tried to re-enact a scene from the life of the 6th century BC Prophet Isaiah. It was a life-changing experience.

My friend knew this Scripture passage was always read at church on the first Sunday of Advent. So, when we invited the community to re-enact a “Bethlehem Market Scene” as our way of preparing for Christmas, his family came costumed as the Prophet’s family.

Our setting was the day-after-Christmas. Many attendees were in costume: shepherds, Roman soldiers, the women at the well, scribes, merchants, even one who had leprosy. The would-be Prophet hung a white sheet across a door-way beside the “Bethlehem Café”. From behind, he projected scenes of wonders and battles, then stood in the midst of the milling people and tried to get their attention as he made his prophecies.

But nobody stopped to listen. They were too busy greeting friends, checking the various display booths, tasting refreshments from the café and listening to the roving choristers.

Our Prophet’s wife and children huddled wide-eyed on the edge of the crowd. They had never seen their usually prominent dad, ignored in this way.

Later he talked about how totally futile he felt, and the respect he gained for the likes of Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah … These discerning men foresaw the perils that threatened the survival of their community. “Repent! Change your ways!” But they were ignored. No one believed them to be “Messengers of God”.

The faithful message of these determined Prophets conveyed even more. “God will not abandon you… God will be your strength when you have no strength. The God who loves what has been Created will find ways to help you carry on … even to sending a beloved Messiah to dwell as one with you and show you how to live!”

This one family, who shared their role-playing experience, encouraged me to listen more closely to the insights of the Ancient Ones.

It also makes me wonder if modern day Prophets, often dressed like scientists, are calling us to “repent and change our ways”. The changes in climate are threatening lives and livelihoods. Do we carry on as usually, still asking “where do we find God”?

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