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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)

TITLE: How do you Handle a Home-Grown Prophet?
By Noel Mitaxa


Late afternoon was bathing Bethsaida in golden light; summoning birds to their nests or to search for late lakeside suppers near the fishing boats.

A few families were seeing their fishermen off for another night’s work, but people were mostly at the well: women refilling water jars; men swapping stories or waiting near Benjamin’s spreading cedar tree to hear what he and the elders would say.

It was not really Benjamin’s tree, but he was always there; a beloved community figure; wearing his faded blue robe and headdress.

His inscrutable, grizzled visage surveyed the scene. Background squeals and shouts from children’s games and water jars scraping and clunking together all sounded normal, but yesterday’s picnic had filled the air with conflicting opinions.

Benjamin’s tree crowd was bigger today, and he scanned a kaleidoscope of expressions, silently praying about how to achieve any consensus.

Aaron was first to speak.

“Benjamin, this Yeshua will silence those Judeans who think we’re all fanatics up here. Oh, they welcome us in Jerusalem with their mouths, all the while rolling their eyes or winking at each other.”

“That’s right Aaron,” added Eliab. “Our Jewish roots are shorter than theirs, but they still accept our Temple taxes!”

“Yes, yes, my brothers,” replied Benjamin, “but what about that picnic yesterday? Did Yeshua really feed so many people from a boy’s lunch bag?”

Silas chimed in: “I was right beside Andrew, the disciple who brought the boy to him. I heard him ask: ‘What is this for so many?’ Yet it seemed enough for Yeshua. He told his disciples to sit us in groups of fifty while he blessed five loaves and two fish. Then he served out the food. And somehow it kept on coming!”

“Enough for us and five thousand of our closest friends!” smirked Manasseh.

“It boosted Reuben’s Recycling and Rubbish Removals business,” Josiah offered, “he collected twelve basketfuls of leftovers!”

Ephraim’s call rose above the murmurs of agreement: “Hey, Yeshua and I could build a catering business. Just imagine - a chain of "Galilean Gourmet" franchises that even Judeans might buy into!”

Benjamin’s eyebrows twisted slightly: “So Ephraim, one prophet for us and many profits for you?”

“He’s a fake!” sneered Jacob. “His disciples had hidden some food, so they could produce it so mirac-u-lous-ly after Yeshua gave the blessing. Either that or lots of people felt sorry that he had so little to pray for, so they shared the food they had. Humph, some prophet!”

“And they all knew beforehand that a boy would also appear with some food?” smiled Benjamin.

Isaac was more enthusiastic: “But it’s his teaching that held us for hours! He talks about heaven as if it’s happening here. He doesn’t argue about theories or what other rabbis say!

“We could help him set up this kingdom of heaven. Just imagine a return to King David’s days. We were a world power then, so let’s think about how we could drive the Romans into the sea and reclaim our land for ourselves!”

Isaac’s eloquence caught the wave of emotion swirling from the younger men behind him. “If Yeshua had our political support, we could support him so he would not have to disappear like he did yesterday after that miraculous picnic!”

Benjamin shifted uneasily, knowing he had to speak with reassurance and hope – and caution.

“My brothers, some people wish for a return to life in Bethsaida before this Yeshua arrived with his teaching and his miracles, but he is unlike anyone before him. I well remember Judas the Galilean’s rebellion and how he came to nothing. The Maccabean revolt also cost so many lives.

“Our history is littered with the remains of would-be Messiahs and their followers, but I sense that Yeshua’s mission may stretch beyond business or politics, and maybe even Galilee itself. Do you remember last month how that vicious storm burst over us and then stopped just as suddenly? Yeshua was across the lake that day, setting a man free of demons – a Gentile, and in Gadara at that!

“He is one of us, a Galilean. He knows our laws, but he neither fears nor resents Gentiles. He mixes with lepers and beggars and business people, and he respects fellow rabbis. He even welcomes children to be blessed.

“Let us withhold our judgement and keep listening to him; for who knows, as the great prophet Isaiah promised, he may be God’s light to the nations.”

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/12/12
This is lovely. I'll admit when I first started reading I thought oh this is going to be about the fish and bread. I asked several people their first idea when they heard the topic and that was a common answer.

But you took it in a totally fresh direction. You didn't just retell the familiar story but brought it to life with your characters. I absolutely love this line --His inscrutable, grizzled visage surveyed the scene. What a wonderful description! It read like poetry.

I also respect how you brought the history of the region in. Though I'm familiar with the stories, the history is something that's harder for me to keep in my head but the way you told it fascinated me and held my attention throughout.
Phyllis Inniss07/12/12
This is truly a fresh and creative way of looking at Jesus' feeding the multitude. I just accepted the story little thinking of those who would cast doubts about it. You made it seem alive in a way that we know detractors would do. I like the setting too as you named the various characters.
Genia Gilbert07/12/12
This was really interesting, and seems well written to me. You were careful to show honor for Yeshua and combat doubts and attacks that surely are always there.
C D Swanson 07/13/12
Just an all around well written piece giving honor to Yeshua along with an historical overview of the region. NIcely done. And, certainly on topic. Great job.

God bless~
Beth LaBuff 07/15/12
I enjoyed this in many respects. Your point of view was most definitely refreshing. The chatter of the eye-witnesses seemed so realistic. I also enjoyed how you wove your historical knowledge into your story. Then your concluding message "God's light to the nations!" is the capstone. Your writing is growing by leaps and bounds!
Danielle King 07/16/12
This is excellent writing! I was right there amongst the tree crowd - in fact I almost joined in the conversation. With your background knowledge and vivid descriptions you are soooo good at this style of writing. And a creative use of the topic too!
Leola Ogle 07/16/12
I read this twice just because I thought it so good! Great twist on this biblical story and very well written. You did an awesome job! God bless!
Lillian Rhoades 07/17/12
Oh Noel, you never disappoint me. Prophet vs. profit, indeed, and all the wonderful writing in between. Great story line, wonderful descriptive narrative. Thumbs up!
Hiram Claudio07/18/12
A well done and fresh take on the 5 loaves and 2 fishes tale. I don't know why but the line "He mixes with lepers and beggars and business people," just made me laugh ... including business people in with lepers and beggers. :-)

Nicely done!
C D Swanson 07/19/12
Congratulations Noel! God bless~
Genia Gilbert07/19/12
congratulations! I knew this was a great entry.
Leola Ogle 07/19/12
Congrats Noel! So pleased this placed! Good job!
Danielle King 07/19/12
Good on yer mate. Congratulations!
Hiram Claudio07/19/12
Congrats Noel ... and a well deserved 3rd place ribbon!
Beth LaBuff 07/19/12
That ribbon looks great perched up there, top right. :) Super congrats!!!
PamFord Davis 07/20/12
Congratulations, Noel! The dialogue is delightful.
Wing His Words!
Ellen Carr 07/20/12
Congratulations on your 3rd placing! This is a great take on how Jesus' contemporaries thought about him, who he really was. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/23/12
Congratulations on your ribbon and for placing 15th overall!
C D Swanson 07/26/12
Congrats! God Bless~