The three prophets Zechariah, Jeremiah and Elijah (Z, J and E) meet up for a chat.
Z. I’m trying to plan my sermon for Sunday but I’m getting nowhere.
J. Sermons… (sighs) hmmm. Why not bury your pants instead? I did. That really got people asking some pertinent questions.
E. Ooh good idea! Or you could cook with human poo.
Z. Don’t exaggerate! I remember that – you did it with cow dung instead.
E. Still, it got people’s attention.
J. A bit melodramatic though.
E. Says the man who presumably dug up his maggoty pants and wore them round town over his trousers till people asked him about the rotting smell.
Z. Didn’t you smash a tea set as well?
J. An expensive vase actually. It was a demonstration.
E. That’s nothing, I once recounted a horror story about dry bones standing up again. You know, the living dead. That worked.
J. Didn’t you shave your head as well?
E. Yes and I built a model and knocked a hole in my wall.
J. Ooh yes, holy DIY! Do that on Sunday, Zechariah, bash a hole in the pulpit, that’ll wake ‘em up! I buried some rocks once. Under Herod’s patio. They’re still there I think. That was just before I told everyone they were like lice being picked off a shepherd’s coat.
Z. I’m not sure. This is all well and good, but I still don’t have a sermon! I’m a prophet. Supposedly with a good teaching ministry.
J. Ah ah ah! That’s the point! It’s not about a teaching ministry – it’s about a learning ministry. How do people get the point and hold onto it? Do something. Make them react. Don’t just offer them a few bullet points. Make them cringe, laugh, argue, question.
E. Get a hefty bit of rock and pass it round. Tell people to feel how rough it is. How hard. How dense. And then tell them to imagine it’s their heart. Then bare your chest and show them the heart you drew on your flesh earlier. Talk about how God can give them a new heart, one that tunes into him and cares about the things God cares about. Offer them that. Sermon done.
Z. Won’t that be a bit startling?
E. Yea. Get it right and they’ll never forget it.
Z. I have seen lots of strange things you know, horns and blacksmiths and a man on a red horse, and flying scrolls. A lady in the sky…
E. With diamonds?
Z. …in a basket.
J. Well tell people about them. Doesn’t matter if they seem strange.
Z. Suppose no one listens?
E. Tell me about it. I was warned no one would ever listen.
Z. So what’s the point of all this creativity then?
J. It sneaks past the words. And it’ll be remembered by some, and passed on. Down the ages.
E. Yea who knows, maybe one day someone’ll put it in a bestseller.
J. You know, if God himself turned up one day, in regular clothes and dusty shoes, I reckon he’d be doing the same. Telling stories and surprising people with unexpected moves and interruptions and actions.
E. Yep. Inviting folk to debate and question and wonder about the earthy mystery of a life embedded in God. Connecting with his audience. Taking time to see them. Working out what will best help them move forward. Anyway, can’t stand around here all day, I’ve got to go and bash a hole in the church wall… keep keeping it real my friends.