Sunday, August 09, 2009

Major Washington church puts on skit on the "two" prodigal son stories (a major political inference?)


Today, August 9, 2009, college summer intern Sam Hill (from Kansas City, MO area, attending William Jewell College in Liberty MO) gave the sermon to a large congregation at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, a few blocks from the White House. The title of the 25 minute address was “Waiting at the Gate”, but what was interesting was that he turned into a micro-play, somewhat in the same style as a skit at Revolutionary City at Colonial Williamsburg.

Spurning pastoral robes and with sleeves rolled up, Mr. Hill set up a chair and music stand and started to speak without mike (I wondered if he needed a wire). Pretty soon, he set up two more stage props at the narthex, simulating a gate, as he related two stories about absent sons.

The first son is the Prodigal Son from Luke 15, who passes through the gate in the skit; the second story is the tragedy of David’s rebellious son Absalom in 2 Samuel 18. The charismatic and handsome son was snared in a low tech accident while riding in a mule and then killed by David’s forces, after he had led a rebellion. In the skit, a messenger comes to tell a grieving David that his rebellious son is gone. The particular Bible story (well illustrated by Hendrik Van Loon in his “The Story of the Bible” from 1928) is highly political, dealing with wills and succession, as well as Absalom’s claim that he represented the poor, and that King David had become too entrenched as the establishment.

Mr. Hill then mapped the stories to some politics of today – especially the desire of the Religious Right (and fundamentalists of any religion, including Islam) to “be right” rather than deal with the tough problems that transcend “personal responsibility” as we unusually understand it. I just hope someone from the Obama White House, as well as someone from each party in Congress, was there to hear this prescient presentation.

Afterwards (and after a reception), I adjourned to the Rhodeside Grille in Arlington, no relation to “Roadside Attractions”, although the material in this little play makes for the kind of indie film that “R.A.” likes to distribute. But so would “Revolutionary City.”

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