Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)
TITLE: Final Act
By JoAnne Potter
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Tonight, as for every performance, more than four hundred people have watched for more than three patient hours as the life of Christ unfolded before them. Jesus has taught and healed. He has cleared the temple and questioned Nicodemus. He has raised Lazarus and battled Satan. He has died and risen. Now both cast and audience sit in the dark, but the play isn’t over yet. This is the moment of expectation. Other cast members begin to arrive in my backstage sanctuary. I let the curtain fall and stand up.
John the Baptist comes in first. Beneath his animal skins and ragged wig, he is a chiropractor whose son is doing time for drug possession. He’s followed by a high-strung leper who used to practice witchcraft and still hasn’t shaken her fear. A pharisee, adjusting his beard, follows. He works a day job as a utility repairman, and has a reputation for being pushy.
The group grows as we gather in earnest. Martha comes in, a lunch lady who doesn’t much like children. Then Peter, whose neighbors complain because he revs his motorcycle past midnight, and the Samaritan woman at the well, who wears too-tight jeans to church. Next enter Thomas, who occasionally overcharges customers he doesn’t like, Mary the gossip, and Philip the whiner. The group tightens up as everyone crowds in, more than a hundred cast members, plus stage hands, the costume, makeup, and prop crews, runners, stage managers, sound and lighting techs, and ushers. Everyone waits in expectant silence for the final scene, overflowing from this little room into other backstage areas. We stand in the same dark as the audience, but separated as sheep from goats.
Jesus said, “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” He was right. It takes love; love to have patience, love to have mercy, love to cover our multitude of sins. In our worst moments we don’t look very different from anyone else, but in this place, we know what joins us. We know Who waits for us. On stage, Jesus is standing beside His judgment seat.
The music rises and blue-white lights split the darkness. Everyone backstage turns toward the impossible glow pushing past the edges of the curtain. An angel I no longer recognize as my son’s schoolteacher pulls open the entry. I look up at Jesus. Struck by the glare from every spot and flood, I forget He is a plumber in a robe and wig. Instead, I stand with my flawed brothers and sisters in the light of hope. We hear Him call us by name and step forward together in faith, finally coming home.
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