As the curtain rises, REV. MICHAEL SPOONER is standing nervously at the pulpit. He is young, not yet thirty, but already balding. He wears bookish glasses and a rather silly bow tie. Several members of the congregation are milling about just outside the sanctuary, exchanging pleasantries. Spooner taps his watch, then hesitantly leans into the microphone to speak.
Spooner: Will everyone split peas? I mean, sit—sit, please? It’s time for worship to begin! (He wipes his brow with a handkerchief, and can be barely heard mumbling). I can’t believe I did that…
The congregation files into their pews and looks up at their new pastor in expectant silence. Another pass of the handkerchief, a clearing of the throat, and Spooner addresses his flock, speaking slowly and deliberately.
Spooner: I’m delighted to be here with you this morning. Some of you may have heard that I share a certain—quirkiness—of speech with my great-great-great-grandfather, Rev. William Spooner. (He is warming up now.) Well, that tumor should not be rolled—not at all! (He stops, momentarily flustered, and clears his throat again.) Let us now stand, as the long seeder and the praise team lead us in a grand old hymn. “Sweet Power of Hair”, everyone!
With a mixture of laughter and confusion, the congregation stands to sing. At the conclusion of the hymn, Spooner indicates that they should remain standing.
Spooner: Wonderful, just wonderful! I just love the hound of an old Sim. Let’s remain standing, shall we, for two contemporary choruses. Team, will you lead us in “Larry the Kite” and “Late is the Gourd”?
Now the congregation is freely laughing, and Spooner—somewhat oblivious—joins in the laughter, full of the joy of the Lord. At the end of the last song, Spooner gestures to seat the congregation.
Spooner: Today’s scripture is Matthew 5:9, which reads “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called guns of sod.” Now, there are several places in the scriptures where the phrase “guns of sod” may be found…(He breaks off, puzzled, as the congregation stifles grins and giggles.) Guns of…oh dear, I’m doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do, aren’t I? (He glances back at the song leader, who nods, smiling.) Well, God rest his soul, my great-great-great-grandfather had a way with words. (He chuckles.) I’d like to get through this sermon, though, and I believe that God will wake a May. How many of you believe with me that God—(there is a dramatic pause)—will WAKE—a MAY?
Several people in the congregation raise their hands. A few “amens” are heard. Near the front, an elderly woman whose nametag reads “May” snores loudly, wakes, and looks around sheepishly.
The sermon continues. Lights in the auditorium dim for several seconds at a time and the sound is reduced so that the sermon in the background is heard as from a great distance. While this is happening, the spotlight features several members of the congregation, who can be seen in varying degrees of attentiveness. Occasionally, the spotlight finds Spooner again, and as the volume increases, snippets of his sermon can be heard.
Spooner: …The world may say that peace cannot be yours, but that is a lack of pies, I tell you, a lack of pies!
A mother is seen shushing her child.
Spooner: …reminds me of the time I was driving in the fog. It was as thick as sea poop…
A man leans forward and writes in a small notebook.
Spooner: ...as the Psalmist said, “Give me an undivided heart, that I may near your fame.”
Somewhere near the rear of the congregation, a teen squints his eyes and cocks his head—was that last bit quite right?
Spooner: We must always remember, dear friends, that those who tow in Sears will reap with songs of joy!
A woman reaches for the pew Bible and begins to thumb through it in the vicinity of the Psalms.
Spooner: …and God will give you His peace, or my name’s not Spike Mooner! Let us pray…(He leads the congregation in a benediction, then extends his hands.) I know that I am new here, but I hope that noon I will get to sew each one of you…And let me say, on a personal note, that I have been punned by the steeple here—by your warm welcome, your sense of humor, and your exceedingly hind carts. Go with God.
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