Two Boys From Nazareth (a sketch about John the Baptist’s ministry)

This is a monologue / narrative sermon based on Matthew 3:1–12. It’s told from the point of view of an anonymous man.

James and I grew up in Nazareth. We were best friends; inseparable; always getting into scrapes together. 

One Sabbath, at the synagogue, we crept up behind Rabbi Cohen and tied the tassels on his shawl together. We nearly got away with it too, but then he leaned forward in his prayers when we weren’t expecting it and he felt the tug from behind. He was furious. Of course we said we were sorry but, the truth be told, we were only sorry that we got caught!

Rabbi Cohen would say, [grandiose] “Repentance is like the sea: one can bathe in it at any time.” [wry] Except that in the case of our sorry sinful state, our repentance had to be there and then. It had to satisfy him. James and I hated him for that. 

It seemed that Rabbi Cohen always wanted us turn away from something good, or else face something bad. It felt like a pretty miserable deal so you can guess how much repenting James and I have done since we grew up. 

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Skandalon: Mary teaches the boy Jesus

This is a short story / sketch based on the events recorded in Luke 2:41–50. It is told from Mary’s point of view.

We went to Jerusalem again this year to celebrate Passover. It was the third time we’ve been able to do so since Joseph and I returned to Galilee, but still it conjured so many emotions for me.

On the one hand it was good to be amongst family and friends, walking with them and seeing the children play together. On the other hand it reminded me of all that I missed during the years we were in Egypt. I heard the young mothers asking questions of the older women, receiving good advice and homely encouragement. It stung to be reminded how I didn’t have that community and I tried so hard not to begrudge them.

The children were a handful, as ever.

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Black and white picture of New Jerusalem Bible open at the passage for the circumcision of John the Baptist

His name is John: Elizabeth writes to Mary

I was contemplating what it must have been like for Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. She went  through childbirth in her old age, knowing she would not live see her son minister and having to wrestle with the religious and political tensions of her culture. It can’t have been easy. This is an imagined letter written from Elizabeth to Mary (her cousin and the mother of Jesus), inspired by the events told in Luke’s gospel chapter 1, verses 5-25 and 57-80.

By the way: this piece was so popular when I first wrote it, that I wrote a sequel: a monologue from Mary’s point of view when Jesus is 12 years old and they travel to Jerusalem. If you like this sketch, be sure to read that one too: Skandalon: Mary teaches the boy Jesus.

Elizabeth, a delighted mother whom God has mercifully remembered in her old age,

To Mary, my dear cousin and blessed mother to be,

Peace be with you.

It seems but a day since you returned to Galilee, and yet I know it has already been some three months. Please forgive me for taking so long to write to you.

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