Thursday, September 29, 2016

Doing the Stuff at St. John's Church

Image result for flowers and vase


I offer this one as “shareware.” That is, you may read and enjoy it for free. If you do it as a church play for education and do not charge admission, that is also on me. If, however you charge admission, please remit the usual 10% of the receipts. Also, please send me a video of the performance, as I need it to present to a professional agent.

The play is set at a fictional Anglican Church in Atlanta. The rector has an uncanny resemblance to me and my spiritual journey. Actually, all of the miraculous events shown in the paly have happened in my ministry, although of course not in one day. The exception is the exorcism in the last scene. Both the proxy baptism and the laying of the ghost will be controversial to many. The latter is a regular ministry of many Anglican churches in the UK though not very common on this side of the pond.


Doing the Stuff at St John’s Church

©, 2012, 2016  The Rev. William L. De Arteaga

133 Spring Way Sq., Canton, GA  30114

770.704.8703

billdeart@mindspring.com





Cast of Characters:


Pastor George……………………………..……………………An Anglican priest in his late-sixties.

Tom O’Malley……………………………………………Same age as pastor George, in much better shape, with a full head of white hair

Mae………………………………………………….…………………………….The church secretary

Maria………………………………………………….…………..Hispanic woman in her late-thirties

Jose……………………………………………………….……..Maria’s son, about nineteen years old

Liz Garner…………………………………….….………..She looks younger than her fifty five years

Waitress……………………………………………………………………………………………………

Marci…………………………………………………………………….……………………Housewife.

Mrs. Watkins………………………………………………………………………………………………

Fed Ex Man……………………………………………………………...…………………………………


The Settings:

There are three locations represented in the play. The principal one is the St. John’s church office in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. The office has a built in book shelf at the back wall (may be painted) filled with books – all in some disorder. Pastor George’s desk is piled with books, and includes a picture of his wife, Nancy, with his daughter, and an open lap-top. On the desk are also a flower filled vase right in the middle of the desk, and a plastic bowl filled with hard candy. The desk is to the left side, and Pastor George sits on a high backed swivel office chair at his desk, on the inner side of the desk, towards the center of the room. To the right is a couch, and closer to the desk a matching stuffed chair. The door to the outer office divides the back wall.

The second location is an Italian restaurant, and the third is Mrs. Watkins’ kitchen. The backgrounds for each may be painted. The only physical props needed for the restaurant scene are a table, with appropriate table cloth, four chairs, menus and glasses for the drinks and dishes.

The third location is Mrs. Watkins’ dining room, and dinette set may be represented with the same table and tables as the restaurant, but different table cloth, and different painted background.





ACT 1 SCENE i:

At Pastor George’s office. George and Tom are seated. Tom on the couch, George is on his swivel chair, facing Tom.

GEORGE

If you would have given us a heads up, Nancy and I would have made up the guest room for you, and saved you some money.

TOM.

Thanks, I’m fine at the motel. Look, with this new account. I’ll be this way a couple of times a year, at least. So next time I come, you and Nancy can put up with me. Now tell me, do you always do your work with flowers tickling your nose?

GEORGE

No, no.

                                                (Chuckle)

Those are the altar flower from last Sunday. When the new ones for this week come in, the last weeks are put here until Mrs. Johnson picks them up for the hospital visitation ministry. But she is out of town and will pick them up tomorrow. You know, we noticed that they… seem to have a healing charge after they have been on the altar.

TOM

You mean something like Peters’ aprons in the Book of Acts.

GEORGE

Oh…yes, exactly. You know, I never made that connection, but that’s exactly right. You know it was providential the way the Lord taught us this. Sort of a Holy Spirit guided scientific experiment, or I guess a demonstration.

TOM

Oh?

GEORGE

Yes, really amazing. Back a year ago one of our couples had their fiftieth wedding anniversary.  We did a renewal of vows with a communion service, and the church was packed with our parish folks and their friends. A very worshipful service. Anyway, their children bought for them two identical and very expensive flower arrangements, one for the altar and the other for fellowship hall for the reception after. Well, a week later I brought in the alter flowers and placed it next to the fellowship flowers because someone else had donated a new arrangement for the coming Sunday.  So you had these two arrangement next to each other, altar and non-altar.  Well the non-altar flowers started wilting normally, but the altar arrangement didn’t. Some people started making jokes about the souped-up flowers versus the drooped down flowers.  Then Mrs. Johnson asked me if she could take the souped-up flowers for a hospital visitation. And sure enough the person got better quickly.

TOM

With flower power? Is that in the Bible anywhere? I mean specifically flowers?

GEORGE

No, but St. Augustine mentions a healing by blessed flowers in one of his letters. Well, on that healing… is so hard to nail down.  The man had a very serious kidney infection and it was not responding to antibiotics. Mrs. Johnson is a great prayer warrior, and she prayed for the man, and so did her prayer group, and the doctor was great. I know him personally.  I know for a fact that he starts his day with asking the Holy Spirit to guide him. So the causality of why his kidney infection disappeared is complex. I believe the flowers had absorbed the energies of God and played a part. But how do you prove that? Anyway, now every week we rotate the altar flowers out to hospitals, nursing homes, wherever Mrs. Johnson feels they are needed most.

TOM

I wonder if my Fr. Mark at home would buy into this. Could you write him a note about this that I could show him? And mention Augustine?

GEORGE

Consider it done. You know, it’s great to see you are doing so well money wise.

TOM

Hey, like, this contract I signed yesterday is super, really supper. Our stuff will soon be in every Home Depot in the country, and some overseas.

GEORGE

That’s really great. Now, last time we talked, you were going to this traditional Catholic Church, with the Latin mass, and all that. Father Mark’s church?

TOM

Yes, the church is great. Believe me; it will get a chunk of my commission money.  The people there really gave Joan lots of support during her last weeks. I mean, that hospital room was like Grand Central Station at times.

GEORGE

That’s great. How did they pray for her?

TOM

Oh really first class. The church did novenas for her, one after the other, and Fr. Mark did a beautiful job on the last rites. (Pastor GEORGE tries to hide his grimace.)  My consolation …(tearing up) is that she is in heaven, for sure.

GEORGE

Yes. So you are well established there.

TOM

Going on fifteen years now. You know, even the grief I have for losing Joan…it’s been a lousy, awful two years.  The grief, it like, lifts when I worship there.

GEORGE

And your daughter is doing better too?

TOM

Yes, she now has a serious boyfriend.

GEORGE

Great. So, what do you hear of our old lunch group from Fordham?

TOM

Well, Bill Hernadez has been promoted to the state supreme court. So his legal career if finishing well.  But not so good on his personal life. He is working on his third wife, and ending that too. But worse than that.

GEORGE

What?

TOM

Last time I saw him, at an alumni meeting, he was big time into this new atheist literature. He thought it was great stuff.

GEORGE

Oh, awful. What about Murphy?

TOM

Oh, that’s worse of all. You know he was a wine salesman way back.

GEORGE

Yes. And I remember… he was a connoisseur as a student, when he couldn’t afford it.

TOM

Yes. It turned out the wrong job for him. Literarily deadly.  He used to finish up the samples. You know, he could have been the president of the company or something like that, but he couldn’t stay sober.

GEORGE

Nasty. I always thought he’d really make it big.

TOM

So did I. His wife, Maureen, was really sweet. After he got fired from his wine distributer job he could never sober up enough to get another decent one. She mostly supported him. He died of cirrhosis of the liver, maybe… eight or ten years ago.

GEORGE

Oh…I didn’t know.  I wish I could have been in the New York area and ministered to Bob.

TOM

Don’t sweat it. It would have been too late for anything but the last rites.

GEORGE

No, Tom, no.  You don’t get it. Even for stuff like cirrhosis of the liver. We’ve been praying for a lady here with kidney failure from hepatitis. She was about to start the dialysis thing, and she was placed on the transplant list. No hope for recovery. Now her kidneys are doing seventy percent. The doctor can’t understand it.  He says kidneys never recover.

(Knock on the door, MAE, the church administrator peeps in)

MAE

Maria and Jose are in to see you. Here on their way out to Chicago. They want to say goodbye, and they can stay only a few minutes.

GEORGE

Oh great! Tom, this is providential, totally providential!

MAE

I’m off to Staples.

(MAE exits, leaving the door open).

GEORGE

                                    (Calling out towards MAE

Watch the budget!

            (To TOM)

Wait to you see our miracle boy Jose, a walking miracle. 

(MARIA and JOSE come in JOSE, somewhat slowly. GEORGE and TOM get up to greet them. GEORGE hugs them.)

MARIA

Buenos dias, Padre.

GEORGE

Muy Buenos dias. This is Mr. Tom O’Malley, a good friend from my college days. We used to sit every day at a corner table of the cafeteria and argue about theology and history and politics and stuff.

            (TOM shaking hands with MARIA and JOSE)

TOM

It’s my pleasure.

MARIA

I’m enchanted. I hope you like here.

                                                (To George)

We have no time. We come to see you, Padre, to say thanks to you. Nancy not here?

GEORGE

She should be back any minute.  She’s showing our new children’s’ minister around in the education building.

JOSE

            (Speaking slowly and deliberately – no accent)

We came… to thank…you.  And to say… I hope you can come to… to visit…or…we can…can…come.

GEORGE

Oh yes. I’ll sorry you could not wait to leave on Sunday. We would have given you a royal goodbye and blessing.

MARIA

I know it would be great, but we have to leave right today.

GEORGE

But we’ll keep contact. So good you dropped in. Jose, your speech is getting better. Please everybody, there is coffee out there if you want. Don’t leave without a hug from Nancy.

MARIA

We no have time. We just say thanks once more before we go and get blessing. The U-Haul is stuffed like a… pavo on Thanksgiving, and I’m due in Chicago tomorrow afternoon for the new job.

GEORGE

I’m so glad that job came thru, even after it didn’t.

(Chuckle).

MARIA

Yes, all of a sudden. It is because the church’s prayers. The man who got the job turned out not so good.  They call to tell me they had to fire him. So they tell me to come right away.  It’s a miracle. And more too. The prayer group, as soon as I told that I had to go to Chicago by tomorrow, they made a “good by” pizza fiesta last night and to load the U-Haul for us. They are wonderful.

GEORGE

I know they are. I’m sad you are leaving us, but happy you got such a good job, you’re a great worker.

MARIA

Oh thank you. Guess what? Jose will be help with me to drive. Isn’t that so good! We went on a drive yesterday so see if he could drive this big troca. He did great, even backing up.

JOSE

Thanks to…you…and the prayer groups.

GEORGE

Hey, who did it?

MARIA and JOSE

                                                (Together)

Jesus!

MARIA.

But the prayer team, Nancy, and you did la misa at the hospital and all that.

GEORGE

Hey, that’s what’s supposed to happen.  Jose, it is so wonderful to see you come this far.

JOSE

I still have… therapy …but things are now … 80%.  I speak slow, but… can … do…most things OK.

GEORGE

You’re not afraid to drive?

JOSE

No. I… suppose…Jesus healed that…too.

GEORGE

Add that to the list.  We’ll keep praying for you here. But you need to find a good church that has the Holy Ghost!

MARIA

Oh yes. But it will be hard to find a church like this. We need to go now. Say adios to Nancy for us and a big kiss. Please, quick prayer for our going to Chicago.

GEORGE

Sure

(Taking their hands and moving to form a circle.)

Tom, join us.

(TOM takes JOSE hand to form a circle. All bow their heads.)

GEORGE

Father, we thank you for the miracles in the Gonzalez’s life. We thank you that Jose will soon be at 100% in spite of what the doctors said. Give him courage to witness wherever you place him to the great healing you have done for him.

MARIA

Amen!

GEORGE

Guide them to the church you have planned for them. And we ask for travel mercies, no annoying stuff. A happy arrival, and no problems in settling into a new place. Especially bless Maria in her new job. All this, in Jesus’s name.

MARIA and JOSE and TOM

Amen!

GEORGE

                        (Gives MARIA and JOSE another hug.)

Keep in touch! You know our phone and Facebook.

MARIA

Amen! Buy. Another kiss to Nancy.

JOSE

Thanks… again… Padre GEORGE.

                        (MARIA and JOSE exit and close the door)

TOM

So what was that about?

GEORGE

(Motions to TOM to sit, as he sits)

Probably the greatest healing miracle at this church so far… at least, that I know of.

TOM

Tell me.

GEORGE

A little over a year ago Jose was in a tremendous crash - a head-on with one of those really big pick-ups. He was lucky.  No, wrong word… He was spared providentially. But he left a piece of his skull  and hair on the side door. That night I got a call from Maria, she was at the ICU. She heard of our church from a friend. She said the doctors advised her to pull the plug on the ventilator and let Jose die. There was absolutely no hope for him. Only the tubes and ventilator were keeping him alive.

TOM

Something like that congress woman who was shot, Gifford?

GEORGE

Yes, I imagine, very similar, I think.  He actually had a chunk of his brain missing. You know, when I listened to the news about Gifford, I could see the reporters straining to avoid to say, “miracle” -  not politically correct.  But by gosh, all those people praying for her. It would have been strange had she not survived. Well, this was our Gifford case.

TOM

How did you guys do it?

GEORGE

Well, I got the call from Maria at nine. At ten we had a prayer team in the hospital room. Enrique, my healing captain, beat me there and was already praying. The first miracle was he was allowed in the ICU without being an ordained minister. I think the nurse figured Jose was going to die, so it didn’t matter. When I got there Maria explained what the doctor’s had told her, that the boy was brain dead. I had some doubts that anything serious could be done. But Enrique kept using the Hunter thing, and another prayer team member, Juanita, showed up and joined in.

TOM

The what thing?

GEORGE

Oh, yes, of course. Charles and Francis Hunter, a Pentecostal couple, wrote a book on healing in which they pointed out one of those things that are obvious after discovered, but none noticed before.

TOM

What?

GEORGE

That in the New Testament there are no “please-God-heal” type of prayers for healing or exorcism. It’s all commands in the authority and name of Jesus. Not only the Apostles, but Ananias of Damascus, the nobody, who commanded Paul’s sight to be restored.

(Mimicking bending over and laying hands on someone’s eyes.).

“Receive your sight!”

TOM

Which means?

GEORGE

That that’s the normative pattern Christians should follow. It seems to work better. Well anyway, when I go to Jose’s ICU, Enrique, was sticking his finger right close to JOSE’s unconscious face and shouting. (Mimicking) “You will not die! Spirit of death leave! Brain, be healed and restored in Jesus’ name!” Juanita, started doing the same thing. She also starts pacing back and forth and praying in tongues, and saying, “Spirit of death leave this room!” Then more tongues.

TOM

Tongues? Like the holly rolling Pentecostals?

GEORGE

It’s more polite to call them “charismatics.” Juanita has a great gift in tongues and prophecy, really amazing. Hey, Tom, these folks are nice, proper middle class folks, Enrique is a civil engineer and Juanita an accountant, both from Mexico. I know for a fact both of them attended Catholic schools in Mexico and went to mass for decades without once praying like that before I taught this stuff in church. Anyway, I was tickled pink at what was going on. I was also thinking and praying. “Lord, I taught them this stuff, it better work or I’ll have egg on my face, and You’ll have egg on your face too.”

(Chuckles)

TOM

But you’re an Anglican priest. Aren’t you supposed to be in charge? So shouldn’t have you prayed for the kid?

GEORGE

Well I did. But you see…

(Pause)

I understand… I’m the orchestra leader, not the primidone soloist.

                        (Waving an imaginary baton to an imaginary band)

Enrique has a stronger healing anointing than I do. Anyway, I did walk over to the bed, took out my oil and anointed Jose on the one patch of his head that was not covered with bandages, and proclaimed life over him. Then Enrique suggested we do a mass for Jose right there. So I said I was thinking the same thing. You know, it was real high church stuff.

                                    (Chuckling).

TOM

What?

GEORGE

Yes incense and bells. Ha! I’m kidding, joke! I stepped out to the nurse’s station and got a package of saltines and one of those juice boxes. I used the hospital pink plastic cup for the chalice.

TOM

Well, it was colorful at least.

GEORGE

…And the power and presence of the Lord was there… We all felt it. I placed a piece of the consecrated cracker in his mouth, and a few drops of juice. We all then prayed for Maria and left. The next day Maria calls and says the brain activity line started perking up after we left. The nurse was surprised. In four days they took him off the ventilator, and he was breathing on his own. The doctor was astounded. The doctor’s kept on telling Maria that there was no real hope for recovery, he would never see, talk or walk again. He probably was not hearing anything. A few days after that, his hand began communicating “yes” and “no” with squeezes. He was hearing fine. Our prayer team visited him twice a week. Nancy was really good about visiting. She does that kind of stuff better than I do. Every home group in the church prayed. Plus, God knows how many telephone chains here and in Mexico. We even did an all-night prayer service for Jose on a Friday. Well, actually, we really knocked off a little after twelve, I’m getting too old to last to sunrise. Anyway, he kept getting better and recovering one faculty after another, speaking came in last. The doctors were utterly astounded. One actually said to Maria, “This is a miracle. You must have a lot of people praying.”

TOM

Almost… unbelievable.

GEORGE

Ah, a trace of skepticism?

TOM

Look George, I know you don’t lie. But we were both trained in history. I have to go by the evidence I see, you just gave me a “secondary source,” so to speak. One that is reliable, yes, but I have never seen anything like that myself.

GEORGE

I understand. You have never actually seen a healing miracle, have you?


TOM

Well, I guess nothing flat out miraculous. A lot of good things happen to our folks in church. Like they say, “When you stop praying, the coincidences stop happening.” But nothing like what you say about Jose.


GEORGE


I wish you could stick around for our Saturday night healing service. You would see something miraculous, at the very least a back healed and straightened out.


                        (GEORGE’s cell phone rings, he motions to TOM)


Excuse…

                                                (Answering phone).


Hi sweetheart.


                        (Pause). 


Oh too bad.

                        (Pause)


Yes I can do that, we’ll all do lunch together.


                        (Pause)


Yes, love you, by.


                        (GEORGE hangs up, and places phone in his pocket.)


Nancy wanted to come to lunch with us, but she has to mind our grandchild -  our daughter was suddenly called to work. But Liz, our new children’s minister is coming over. It should be a very interesting lunch. She is very country and very Pentecostal, and…ah…


TOM

Yes, go ahead and say it. I’m a, stogy, ultra-traditional Catholic. Well, I’ll bite my tongue and not argue with her.  

GEORGE

Thanks.

TOM

You know, years ago I had dinner with a client who was in his soul a 1960s hippy communist jerk, but had co-opted into Wall Street and made it big. Here he was wearing a thousand-dollar suit but talking like Che Guevara. And, I mean, I managed to be nice the whole time even though I had this gargantuan urge to pour my bowl of hot soup on his head and all over his thousand-dollar suit. Hey, but I got even.  He signed a contract that kept our folks at work and gave me a good commission. Capitalism triumphant!

GEORGE

Great self-control. Well Elizabeth, we call her Liz, is really a lovely lady. We are lucky to get her. She came to us partly to get out of Blueridge, a town up in the mountains, to get away from the flack she was getting.

TOM

Oh?

GEORGE

Yeah. She was married to the local “Mr. Respectable,” who was deacon of the Baptist church there, and way up in the Masons.  Real nice in public, but a real SOB and abuser at home. Nancy counseled with them for some months, and finally advised her to get out for her own safety and divorce him. She did, but everybody in town was scandalized. “How could she leave Mr. Respectable?” Nancy has seen the bruises on her thighs.  Well, I guess it is all Providential and our gain. She is fantastic with kids. Our own children’s minister married off and went to Wisconsin last month.

(Knock at door)

LIZ

                        (From outside, with a noticeable Southern accent)

Nancy told me to come right in, Pastor George.

GEORGE

Yes, come in!

LIZ

                        (TOM stands as LIZ walks in.)

Hello you’ll.

GEORGE

Hi Mrs. Garner. This is Tom O’Mally, my best friend from back in college. He just finished some business in Atlanta, with Home Depot corporate, and dropped in to say hello. We hadn’t seen each other in twenty years.

TOM

                        (Tom and Liz shake hands)

My…pleasure, ah, Mrs. Garner, mam.

LIZ

Just call me Liz. The pleasure is all mine.

TOM

And call me Tom

GEORGE

Please sit down.

                        (All sit. LIZ and TOM sit down. LIZ on the stuffed chair, and TOM back on                                  the couch, but closer to the edge facing LIZ)

How did you like the children’s rooms?

LIZ

                                                (Looking at TOM)

Oh they are marvelous.

                                    (Pause)

But there are a few things I would add, when the church budget can afford it, I mean, like a sand table for one.

GEORGE

You need to make us a list. We have a tight budget, but we haven’t spent anything much in the children’s department in the last months. I bet we can swing at least that. The next vestry meeting is Monday, come with a plan.

                                                (Pause)

Is anybody else hungry for lunch?

TOM

Yes. And I’m buying.

GEORGE

Oh I’m getting to like your new contract more all the time. You can pay. Does everyone like Italian?

LIZ

Love it

TOM

My favorite.

GEORGE

                                    (To LIZ)

You noticed the fire station down the street?

LIZ

Yes.

GEORGE

Well next to it two stores down is Mama Maria’s. Why don’t you drive on ahead and get a table for us before the line gets long. I have to wait here until Mae comes back from Staples.

LIZ

Sure

                        (LIZ leaves.)

TOM

What a beautiful Lady.

GEORGE

And very gifted. She’s very Pentecostal.  So, you seem to have been attracted to her.

TOM

Wow. This is ridiculous. My hormones haven’t jostled like this in years. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. This… I’m too mature for this sort of stuff. Besides, Mary has been dead for only two years.

GEORGE

Hey, don’t sweat it.  If this is from God, she’s probably cheering you on. She sees things from God’s perspective now.  You know, the Puritans, who have a bum rap for being anti-sex, really had a great theology of sexuality and marriage. They really believed in rapid remarriage after the death of a spouse.

TOM

No, really?

GEORGE

Yes, really. Their novels are full of stories of distraught widows meeting this tall handsome, merchant widower…

                                                (Motions with his hands).

TOM

Well, I’m a distraught merchant widower.

GEORGE

Listen, with the type of person her ex was, it’s not hard to be a knight in shining armor for her. This may be God’s providential hand. Let’s just see how this comes along.

TOM

OK. Hey but, is it a good quality restaurant?

GEORGE

Really, the best food around here.

TOM

I asked because… you know… you always had this tendency to be …ah… sort of cheap, back then.

GEORGE

Oh but the Lord has changed me by grace. I now have “divine thriftiness.” That’s what it is, “divine thriftiness.” But this is the best place in town.

MAE

                        (Shouting from the inner office)

I’m back. Didn’t spend much money.

GEORGE

                        (Shouting back)

Thanks. We’re off to lunch. If the plumber comes you know where the problem is.

MAE

Right.

GEORGE

                                    (To TOM)

This is an old Presbyterian church. The congregation turned gray and died out, let us buy it for a song. But it’s not in good shape yet. Let’s go to lunch.



Scene ii: Mama Maria’s Restaurant

Background painted as an Italian restaurant. At a table GEORGE is looking at the menu, while LIZ and TOM are exchanging glances while looking at their menus.

GEORGE

Is your favorite still Lasagna?

TOM

Yes I’m always looking for one as good as the one Capalini’s mom used to make for us.

GEORGE

I remember…

                        (Off stage, sound of breaking glass and splashing liquid.)

WAITRESS

            (Offstage)

Oh! Owe! Owe…

GEORGE

Lord, let it not be serious…

LIZ

Amen

GEORGE

If I hear another moan I’ll go in…

            (Moment of silence)

TOM

I guess they have taken care of it. What are you going to have?

GEORGE

Humm…I like the spaghetti and meatballs here.

TOM

Your’ not being thrifty with me, are you? I’ve done very well.

GEORGE

No, really, it’s one of my favorites, with a nice salad. Liz, what are you going for.

LIZ

I like Tom, I mean, like Tom, the lasagna too.

WAITRESS

                        (Comes in with left hand and forearm bandaged in a wash towel.)

So what can I get you folks to drink.

TOM

 A glass of Red wine. The house stuff will be fine.

WAITRESS

And you, ma’am?

LIZ

Sweet tea.

GEORGE

Un-sweet tea, with lemon.

                                                (Pointing to her bandaged hand)

It that where the, crash, ouches and oohs came from?

WAITRESS

Yes, I was pulling out a coffee pot, and spilled boiling hot coffee all over my hand. We got ice on it right away.

GEORGE

It hurts?

WAITRESS

It hurts bad. I think it’s already blistering.

GEORGE

Would like me to pray for it?

WAITRESS

That can’t hurt.

GEORGE

                        (Places one hand above and another below Waitress’ bandaged hand.)

Father, let your healing energies flow into this wounded area.

                                    (Pause)

In the name of Jesus, I rebuke this accident. swollen and injured cells I command you to return to normal in Jesus’ name.

LIZ

(Raises her hands shoulder high and prays in tongues softly as GEORGE continues. TOM stares open mouthed at the scene.)

GEORGE

I rebuke all damage, all swelling or blistering to this hand and wrist area. Swelling down! In Jesus’ name, pain, be gone!

WAITRESS

(With an astounded look)

The pain…has gone away.

GEORGE

Praise the Lord!

WAITRESS

                        (Un-wrapping her bandage).

Wow, look! The color is… almost normal, the swelling is down. How did you do that?

TOM

Jesus did it!

                                    (Grins at LIZ)

GEORGE

Right on!

WAITRESS

Thank you, thank you. This is amazing.

GEORGE

No, it is normal.

WAITRESS

Well, I’ve never seen anything like this. Thank you for your prayer.  Ah…let me ask. Do you pray like this for really serious things? I mean, like… my sister has stage three breast cancer, and the chemo is really awful on her.

GEORGE

We have miracles of healing all the time at St. John’s. Does your sister live nearby?

WAITRESS

In Acworth.

GEORGE

Bring your sister in to the Wednesday evening healing service.  But actually, any of our Sunday services has a good healing team too. We’ll give her the full treatment, laying on of hands, the way I just did for you, anointing with blessed oil, Holy Communion, the whole nine yards.

WAITRESS

We’ll come. Your church is that brick one just down the street?

GEORGE

Yes. wednesday healing service is at seven.

WAITRESS

 I’ll have her there. Now, are you folks ready to order?

TOM

Yes, I’ll have the lasagna, and also for this charming lady.  He’ll have the spaghetti with meat balls.

WAITRESS

I’ll be back soon with your salads and drinks.

                        (Leaves)

TOM

Do you do this prayer thing everywhere?

GEORGE

Well, sort of, yes. Once my youth leader was having a bout of food poisoning, and was throwing up in the church men’s room. I prayed for him right there, over the potty. In principal, I guess there is no place where you shouldn’t pray.

TOM

What about a bar? Would you do the prayer stuff there?

GEORGE

Sure, why not? But I haven’t had the occasion yet…

                                                (Chuckling).

Hey, you know, you just used the word “stuff’ for healing prayer. Reminds me of one of the great stories of modern Pentecostalism. This guy, called John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard churches.

TOM

Oh, there’s one down the avenue from us at home. But I never investigated.

LIZ

There is one in Kennesaw, not far from here, if you get a chance to stay some Wednesday or Sunday I can take you to it.

TOM

Thank you, I’ll take you up on that.

GEORGE

They are usually really good churches. Well, John Wimber came from a family that didn’t believe in God. For three generations no one in the Wimber family had set foot in a church except for friends’ weddings. Anyway, John was having some marital problems and thought maybe some of this Christian stuff would help the marriage. So he goes to a next door neighbor’s home Bible study group. They were Quakers. There for six months he learns the Bible, they pray for his marriage and it’s healed, and he even develops a gift for evangelization. Then he thinks, “You know, I should go to a real church.” So he and his wife up and go to a local Baptist church. Now, he was a professional keyboardist, a rock musician at the time. His band played warm up for the Beatles on their US tours.

LIZ

I didn’t know that about him. Oh, that’s why Vineyard music is always so… contemporary.

GEORGE

Yes exactly. Very providential. Well anyway, this is the first time they have been in a regular church service, ever. He notices the music is a generation old and badly played, the singing mediocre, and the sermon is repetitious and boring.

TOM

Sounds like the Methodist service I once attended.

GEORGE

Hey, hey, let’s not compare. Catholic priests don’t have reputations as great preachers.

TOM

You have a point. Actually, our Father Mark is pretty good.

GEORGE

Good for you. Well anyway, so after the service, Wimber and his wife go up to the pastor and he asks him, “When do you do the stuff?” The pastor asks, “What stuff?”

            (Mimicking Wimber pointing to his Bible)

“You know, the stuff in the Bible, the casting out of devils, the healing of the sick. That stuff!” The pastor answers…

                                    (Laughs)

This cracks me up every time I tell it. So the pastor answers,

(I n a very serious voice)

Well, the church doesn’t do that anymore. But sometimes we sing about it.

                                    (Laughs).

LIZ

                                    (Giggling)

That must have been my old Baptist pastor.

WAITRESS

                        (Comes back with drinks and salad and bread and places them on the table.)

Thanks again, I’ve never had anything like that in my life. I had a bad burn on my leg when I was a little girl, and it still has a scar.

GEORGE

That’s sad.

                        (WAITRESS leaves.)

TOM

Before we eat I need to go to the rest room. Excuse me

                        (TOM leaves).

GEORGE

Liz I see you have eyes for Tom.

LIZ

Oh I think he is sooo… cute. My heart is at a flitter-flatter every time he looks at me. Tell me, is he really very Catholic?

GEORGE

Yes, very.

LIZ

Well is he saved? I mean…

GEORGE

Yes, he is saved. He really is dedicated to the Lord. He’s a lay Eucharistic minister.

LIZ

What’s that?

GEORGE

That means he helps the priest distribute Holy Communion on Sundays, and brings it to people in hospitals or home bound folks.

LIZ

He seems like such a nice man, but I just don’t want to get interested in anyone who is not saved.

GEORGE

Was John saved?

LIZ

When we first got married he said he was. But he never walked a hundred percent with the Lord, and got involved in his business, and with the Masons, and didn’t have time for prayer or Bible reading.

GEORGE

Well, Tom has always been involved in his church, and has been on the church counsel and all sorts of stuff, like assistant to the youth group. Besides, he was wonderful to his wife. Years ago I stayed a week with them in New York and watched how they loved on each other. Tom tells me they had a few squabbles about child rearing, but their marriage never got stale.

LIZ

Thanks for the info. Oh, now I need to go to the ladies’ room now.

                        (Liz stands up and leaves, and moments later TOM comes back)

GEORGE

Liz had to go to the ladies’ room.

TOM

                                                            (Sitting down)

Oh. She really is good looking. Tell me about her. I mean, how Pentecostal is she? I mean, I see she prays in tongues, but does she do crazy stuff like roll over the floor and wrestle with snakes?

GEORGE

Well, I know for a fact she hates snakes. She spent most of her life in a Baptist church that never even prayed for healing, or any stuff like that. She went to a Pentecostal church only after her marriage got really rough a few years back. But on rolling around the floor, you’ll have to ask her. You know, once, fifteen years ago or so, I was at a revival, and I got struck down to the floor by the Spirit. The polite term is “resting in the Spirit.” 

TOM

Oh?

GEORGE

As a matter of fact a Catholic charismatic theologian thought up the phrase. Well anyway, I was on the floor, sort of softly babbling in tongues and rocking back and forth for about five minutes, maybe more. I guess a hostile observer would think,

            (Mimicking outrage)

“This guy is a holy roller!”

                                    (Chuckles)

But when I got up I was healed of a nasty arthritis on my left knee. But I haven’t done the “rock around the floor” since. You’ll have to ask Liz about how many rugs and tiles she’s experienced up close.

                        (LIZ come back, nods hallo. Tom rises and helps her into her seat)

GEORGE

Great. We’re ready to say a blessing and eat.

                        (GEORGE’s cell phone rings, he takes it out and answers).

Hi Mrs. Kramer.

                                    (Pause)

Well thank you for offering to help.

                                    (Pause)

I will need you for a house cleansing. All sorts of things are flying around, and I think it may be a ghost, and you have such good discernment of spirits.

                                    (Pause)

Yes, at three. The house is two houses down from “Eli’s sea food and more,” Number144. It’s brown brick.

                                    (Pause)

Thanks again.

                                    (Pause)

God bless, see you then.

                                    (Disconnects and puts phone away).

TOM

So you do the ghost busting routine?

GEORGE

Yes. It’s a shame that in the popular mind it has been surrendered to the occult.

LIZ

Oh that is so right. But no pastor has explained it to me.

TOM

What do you do?

LIZ

Yes?

GEORGE

It depends. If the ghost is a demon I speak the words of exorcism and command it to leave. Then usually I anoint the house with oil on the doors and windows. If it is a disoriented or attached soul I do a funeral service and commend the soul to God’s judgment and mercy. Usually I do a communion service. I think Catholic priests do some of this too.

TOM

I’ve never heard of it in our parish. So, you’re saying, ghosts are these lost souls in Purgatory?

GEORGE

Well actually, I think it’s better to use the Old Testament word Sheol. Saint Augustine, decided that Sheol was Old Testament stuff, and didn’t carry forward to New Testament times. A big mistake which has clouded Christian theology of the afterlife ever since.

LIZ

Saint Augustine?

GEORGE

A very important, BIG man for both Catholic and Protestant theologians. Calvin was deeply influenced by him. I have a great paperback on Augustine in my office if you have the time to read it.

LIZ

I think I’ll have time.

GEORGE

Well anyway, I think understanding a ghost as a soul trapped in sheol is a good biblical fit. The important thing is that when we do this kind of service the strange sounds and flying stuff stop, and people can get their rest. And perhaps ultimately more important, we do this stuff in Jesus’ name and He gets the glory.

Ray

OK, I’ll buy that. But how do you tell the difference between a lost soul and demon?

GEORGE

Mrs. Kramer, lets me know. If I take Nancy with me she has good discernment of spirits too. It takes the gift of the discernment of spirit. When I first did this stuff years ago I was still single and hadn’t met Nancy and so I had to do trial and error. I would go into a house and do an exorcism over the place, but nothing happened, and the dishes and pots kept moving around. Then I found out about the Anglican literature on this. It is called, “laying a ghost to rest.”  But like I said, once in a while it really is a demon and the commands of exorcism are effective.

LIZ

Oh praise the Lord! This seems so right. I’ve never heard it explained.

TOM

How often do you do this sort of thing?

GEORGE

Oh, not too often. I’ve been at St. John’s now almost five years, and I have done maybe one or two a year. One year I did five, I think. I haven’t counted them. Hey, we better eat, we need to be back at the office by one thirty. Let’s say a blessing.

(Lights fade as they hold hands for a blessing.)



Scene iii

(Pastor’s office: GEORGE is seated on his swivel chair, facing TOM and LIZ who are on the sofa. A knock on the door).

GEORGE

Come on in Marci! 

                        (MARCI enters timidly.)

MARCI

Hi, you’ll.

                        (GEORGE and TOM stand up).

GEORGE

Marci, this is Mr. Tom O’Malley, old friend from college days, and a good Christian man and man of prayer. And Mrs. Liz Gardner, our new Children’s education director.  I talked about her last Sunday

MARCI

Oh yes. How nice to meet you both.

TOM

Good to meet you.

LIZ

My pleasure.

GEORGE

Is it alright with you if they help me pray over your situation? I know it’s a personal issue, but these folks a strong in prayer. And your type of case is something I want them to see and minster to others in the future.

MARCI

If you think it’s a good idea, it’s OK with me.

                        (MARCI sits at the stuffed chair, TOM and LIZ sit in the couch, and                                              GEORGE on his swivel chair.)

GEORGE

Could you tell Tom and Liz the brief version of what happened to you years ago?

MARCI

Well, alright. It’s all under the blood.

GEORGE

Yes it is. You are a new creature in Christ. Marci.

MARCI

This happened before I was saved.  Or, I guess, better said, I was backslidden. I was eighteen and living with this man. He was really good looking and big. He had played tackle in high school football. He was pretty nice - except when he was drunk. Well, I was three months pregnant with his child, and he came home really, really drunk, and got really, really mean.

            (Biting her lip, holding back tears.)

He didn’t like the mashed potatoes… and… he started beating me. He beat the crap out of… oh, sorry.

GEORGE

Hey, that’s OK.

MARCI

Yes, he beat me real bad. Left me on the floor unconscious. I came to later, made it to the bathroom and then the baby came out, just a little tiny thing. I flushed it down the toilet. I guess he knew I’d call the police. But he had gathered his things and left and I never saw him again. You know, I never even knew his last name or exactly where he worked. Well anyway, I’m now right with the Lord and have a really great husband and two lovely girls.

GEORGE

She has the cueist two little girls. Her husband, John, is an usher here and a really great Christian. You know, you and John have formed a wonderful family

MARCI

Yes, thank you.

GEORGE

Now tell Liz and Tom why you came today.

MARCI

Last week I read this book about a three year old boy who died on the operating table and went to heaven, and then was brought back to life. It was all very interesting about heaven and all that. Anyway, in heaven he met his sister, who had been a mis-carriage years before he was born. But the girl had no name because the parents hadn’t named it. So it was in heaven without a name. Isn’t that strange? So I immediately thought, “Oh, maybe my first baby is running around heaven without a name.” I better talk to Pastor George about this. So here I am.

GEORGE

We’re going to do a proxy baptism of Marci’s child, and name it.

MARCI

Pastor George, that’s OK with me. But I was raised Baptist and…I backslid bad I admit… and…

GEORGE

You would like a scripture about this baptism.

MARCI

Yes.

LIZ

I would too.

GEORGE

                        (Reaching over and getting the Bible from his desk)

I thought you might. It is very good you asked in fact. Let’s go to First Corinthians, fifteen. I think about twenty-seven, or something. It’s not the subject of many sermons, or any at all that I know of.

                                    (Finding it,)

Ah, here. Verse twenty-nine.

                                                (Quoting.)

“Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?”

                                    (Looking at MARCI.)

You see the plain meaning? Christians in Paul’s church were baptizing their dead.  And most important, Paul does not correct them like he does in other sections when they were doing something wrong.  But to the contrary, uses the practice to back up his specific point about the resurrection.

MARCI

But the Mormons do that. So isn’t this a cultic thing?

GEORGE

They take it to an extreme.  But, in this case, of your miscarriage, what we have is a good fit for what Paul wrote.

MARCI

Oh… Yes. This makes me feel better too. Do your stuff Padre George!

GEORGE

            (GEORGE picks up a bottle of water and small towel from his desk.)

Here, so your blouse won’t get soaked.

MARCI

No problem with that. You know, I…I ah…oh…

                        (Motioning with her hand, next to her.)

I feel a presence next to me, here.

LIZ

                        (Raising her hands and praying in tongues softly)

GEORGE

A-hum. What should we call your child? Did you know if it was a boy or girl?

MARCI

No, at the time it was too small and I was too sick to look or care. The baby just went down the toilet.

GEORGE

Well than, you have to give your child a name that could be both male or female, like Billy or Jamie that could be male or female with different spelling.

MARCI

Oh, I like that. Billy will be fine.

GEORGE

                         (TOM looks intently at the side of MARCI, leaning over open mouthed)

Good. How about giving this child John’s surname? As if he were adopted.

MARCI

Oh, I think…that would be good, really good.

GEORGE

                        (Taking the towel and wrapping it around her shoulders.)

Child of Marci, your mother names you Billy. And now…we name you Billy Peterson, after your stepfather, who would have taken you in and loved you as his own.

MARCI

                        (With her eyes closed, and almost inaudibly, crying)

Yes, he would have Billy.  I love you.

GEORGE

                        (Pouring the water on MARCI’S head)

Billy, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

MARCI

I just felt this… incredible joy.

GEORGE

                        (Placing the glass and towel back on the desk)

TOM

I saw the whole thing! I saw the whole thing! Marci, you don’t have to wonder. Billy is a boy, a handsome seven or eight-year-old kid, brown hair and gray eyes.

LIZ

I confirm that.

MARCI

Like his father.  

TOM

Wow!

MARCI

Thank you sir, I didn’t see anything, a vision, or anything, but I felt my son here. Thank you all.

GEORGE

It’s been our joy.

TOM

Yes! And as you guys say around here, praise the Lord!

GEORGE

You’re catching on. Now, Marci, I can’t legally write Billy down in the parish register, but you need to be assured that he’s part of your family and our parish. The parish register in heaven will show that.

MARCI

You think that?

GEORGE

Yes. You know, the Bible say we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. I don’t think we know the half of it, how much they pray for us and cheer us on,

                                                (Looking at TOM)

In our sorrows and romances and all the stuff of life.

MARCI

Do you think I will feel Billy’s presence when I come with John and my girls to church?

GEORGE

Probably not. You can ask the Lord, but don’t insist on it. Satan can tempt you into spiritualism if you demand it. New Age folks have all sorts of techniques of supposed “channeling” to contact the dead, but you wind up contacting a demon. But the Lord might gift you with a touch of his presence now and them. I know that happens to widows or widowers with their spouses on occasion. They just don’t talk about it much.

                        (TOM drops his jaws, shakes his head yes, and almost says something but                          doesn’t)

MARCI

Thank you both so much.

                        (Gets up to leave. GEORGE, stands up and shakes her hand to say goodbye.)

GEORGE

See your family this Sunday?

MARCI

You bet.

GEORGE

Tell John I appreciate his pinch hitting at the audio console last Sunday. He did a great job.

                        (As MARCI leaves, but still at the door.)

Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you bring a birthday cake with “Happy birthday Billy” and we’ll sing happy birthday to him, celebrating his baptism and naming? I’m sure he’ll watch and hear from Heaven.

MARCI

Oh…That’s a wonderful idea. What kind of cake do you like, Pastor?

GEORGE

Hey, whatever your girls like. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as bad cake.

MARCI

Miss Liz, can you be there?

LIZ

Wouldn’t miss it

MARCIe

Mr. Ah…Tom?

TOM

A great invitation, but I’m due in New York tonight. Thank you.

MARCI

Oh… but thank you all again.

(Marci leaves).

TOM

This is incredible. I never had a spiritual experience like that. I mean, I’m not into a lot of visions and stuff.

GEORGE

But you have the gifting. I bet you’ve had prophetic dreams.

TOM

How did you know? You know, I never even discussed that even with Father Mark. A week before Joan died I had a dream of the funeral, just the way it was.

GEORGE

That helped you prepare…a bit.

TOM

Yes, sort of. At least it was not a total shock.

GEORGE

And now you know. And if you keep your gift hidden under a bushel basket you’ll have to account to the Lord.

TOM

Wow! Yeah. This is incredible. You know, being here is like a spiritual grad school.

LIZ

Amen to that!

GEORGE

Thanks. This should be normal stuff in church, but I guess it isn’t.

                        (GEORGE’s phone rings and he answers).

Hallo, Pastor GEORGE here.

                                    (Pause)

Oh, how serious?

                                    (Pause)

Well if she gets any worse let me know.

                                    (Pause)

No, don’t worry about the house cleansing; it can be done tomorrow or maybe Thursday.

                                    (Pause)

Don’t feel sorry. You take care of your granddaughter, and the ghost will wait. He’s probably been waiting for a long time already. Call if she gets worse. Blessings.

                                    (Closes phone.)

Shoot!

LIZ

Somebody is sick.

GEORGE

Yes, Melissa, Mrs. Kramer’s seven-year-old granddaughter. She was sent home from school with diarrhea. Her mom’s at work… Mrs. Kramer is my ace in discerning of spirits. Nancy is hung up too. But maybe this is… providential.

                        (Looking at TOM and LIZ, and pointing at them.)

Hey!...You guys just showed you have the gifts for this sort of stuff…

TOM

Wow, more grad school stuff. I’m gain, let’s go ghost busting.

LIZ

Me too. Wait till they hear about this in First Baptist.

GEORGE

But wait TOM, You have a six o’clock plane to catch. What if you miss your plane?

TOM

I’ll catch a later one.

GEORGE

But that’ll cost you extra money.

TOM

Look, “Padre Thrifty,” it’s my money. I have enough of it to pay the charges without a second thought. It happens all the time in business. But I have never seen a real honest to God Christian ghost busting, or any ghost busting. This may be normal to you but it’s hot stuff to me.

GEORGE

OK, let’s go ghost busting.  Let me get my high tech ghost busting paraphernalia.

                        (Picks up his Bible and the Book of Common Prayer).

Let’s go ghost busting.

(Scene fades).


Act II: Scene i

(The home of Mrs. WATKINS, TOM, GEORGE, LIZ and WATKINS are seated around the kitchen table)

GEORGE

So when did you notice that you had abnormal things going on.

Mrs. WATKINS

Well, actually, when Bob and I first came to look at the house I had this icky, creepy feeling - hard to describe. I mentioned it to Bob. He didn’t notice it. Everything else was perfect: five minutes away from work, the price was a bargain, a great school for our kids. It’s really a beautiful house with everything we wanted. But the night we first moved in things started to happen.

GEORGE

Tell us.

Mrs. WATKINS

Well… even that first night… a cupboard door kept opening and closing without reason. I mean the house is perfectly level. We checked. Then, a few days later some of the plates started to jump out of the cupboard and break. Or a pot would move from the counter to the stove top by itself, and the food was burned. We weren’t sleeping well. As a matter of fact, Bob and I have tossed around the idea of selling. But also… and I don’t know if this is related. Here I often dream, I guess, a nightmare is a better word, of a weeping man, no one I know. He is…like dressed formally, with a top hat that Fred Astaire used to wear. He just sits and weeps. The dream doesn’t change. But sometimes I can hear the word “Helen” from him, or “Oh, Helen,” said in desperation. Then I wake up.

GEORGE

Ah hum…

Mrs. WATKINS

It seems to have gotten worse lately, we now here noises in the attic. We had that checked for squirrels. Nothing. Yesterday a plate of my best china flew out of the cabinet and smashed.

GEORGE

Hum… That’ll get your attention. Now, you and Bob are Christians?

Mrs. WATKINS

Yes, we have been life-long Presbyterians.

GEORGE

Were you even into the occult? Or New Age stuff?

Mrs. WATKINS

No, nothing like that, ever. But when I talked to our minister about this, he seemed to hint we were having hallucination, or maybe a psychological problem. He didn’t help at all.

GEORGE

Sad. Now, this is what I think we need to do. We will pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show us if your dreams about this man with a top hat were accurate to the situation, and anything else the Spirit would want to show. So far, I believe we will be doing a funeral for this ghost, closing with a communion service. Let’s begin to pray. Mrs. Watkins, would it disturb you if we prayed in tongues?

WATKINS

No, not at all. A lady in our home Bible study does that. I’m fine with that.

                        (Phone rings off stage)

WATKINS

Oh excuse me. I have to answer that. My son has a minor emergency going on with his first girlfriend. For him it’s a big thing.

                        (Getting up to leave.)

GEORGE

Of course.

                        (Mrs. Watkins exists)

TOM

So this one is a ghost and not a demon?

GEORGE

I think so. But the Holy Spirit may show us different.

                        (GEORGE’S smart phone rings, he looks at it.)

Oh shoot! Lucie. One of my extra needy sheep. Always bhaaing….

                                                (Presses the answer section)

Hello Mrs. Dubay.

                                    (Pause)

But I am right in the middle of something important. Can I call you back in an hour?

                                    (Pause, places the phone to his chest to cover the mike.)

I have to talk to her for a few minutes. I’ll go to the living room.

                        (George gets up and leaves.)

TOM

Well, all of this is most interesting. Have you ever been at a ghost busting?

LIZ

Never. Never had any teaching on it either.

TOM

Are your kids coming down to live with you?

LIZ

No, one is in college, about to graduate, and go into the military. The other is in his last year of high-school, and he wants to finish there, so he will stay with his father.

TOM

Oh, rough.

LIZ

Not too bad. He texts me all the time, and I drive up there on Mondays and stay at a girlfriend’s house until Wednesday afternoon. Did you have children?

TOM

A girl, she graduated from pre-med, but decided to enter the business world. It was a part time job that kept on growing. She’s happy with that, and doing great. Now she has a good Catholic boyfriend and a ring on her finger.

LIZ

Nice.

TOM

So you had two children?

LIZ

Three. I lost my baby girl when she was two from a stupid accident.

TOM

Oh I’m sorry that’s rough.

LIZ

Very. The closest I ever came to losing my faith in God

                        (TOM reaches over to touch LIZ’s hand. When they make contact they                              realize some sort of energy is going between them and twitch.)

Wow! Do you feel that?

LIZ

Of course.

TOM

Wow, this is strange. Could that be the ghost in the house?

LIZ

No, silly. It’s the Holy Ghost.

TOM

Oh, wow. Strange…and wonderful.

                        (Twitching subsides.)

WATKINS

                        (Enter from the side)

Well my son will be alright, for at least a few hours. Where is Pastor George?

GEORGE

                        (Entering from the other side.)

Here! Just calming one of my sheep.

                        (Both Mrs. Watkins and George sit down.)

OK. I think we can start. Let’s pray.

                        (Mrs. WATKINS and TOM bow their heads in prayer. GEORGE and LIZ                         raise their hands and pray softly in tongues.)

Holy Spirit, illuminate the situation, so that Christ may be glorified, and this house rid of these bothersome manifestations.

                                                (Pause)

TOM

Holy Toledo!

GEORGE

What do you see Tom?

TOM

Like a pale movie. This older man, top hat. Hay… dressed in a formal suit of the 1900s, white tie, the whole bit.  He strangles this woman. I got the word, “jealously.” I saw him strangling this woman.

GEORGE

Good Tom, very good. Let’s see if there is more. Let’s continue praying. See if the Lord will show us his name.

                        (GEORGE and LIZ continue to pray in tongues, TOM and WATKINS                               resume praying. In a few moments)

LIZ

Fredrick. His name is Fredrick.

Mrs. WATKINS

Funny, I got the same thing.

GEORGE

Good. Let’s pray again if there is anything else, the Lord wants us to know.

(All pray again. Pause)

Well, I fell we have all that we need.

LIZ

Yes, that’s right.

GEORGE

We’ll start with a funeral service and commend Fredrick to God’s judgment and mercy. Tom, I want you to read one of the scriptures on behalf of Frederick. Psalm fifty-one speaks of God’s mercy. Frederick needs plenty of that.

TOM

Sure

LIZ

Wow, pastor George, my spirit is going, great! But my head is saying this is funny theology. This Frederick, if that vision is right… he kills this woman, dies but doesn’t go to hell. You say he is stuck in shoel?

GEORGE

I think that the best explanation for ghosts.

LIZ

And you’re about to do a funeral service, and send him to God for mercy. Sort of a second chance? Where does that make biblical sense? It sounds like the New Age thing that all dogs go to heaven and nobody goes to hell no matter what they do.

GEORGE

Not by a long shot. Ah, long story. For a starter, read First Peter three and four carefully. There is described how Jesus led some “disobedient spirits” out of Shoel. Then we’ll talk some more. Stay away from the standard commentaries. They go messed up by a false gospel called the Gospel of  Nicodemus that was invented in the Third Century an screwed up the interpretation of First Peter ever since. Just read first Peter literally and naturally.  Then turn to Ephesians Four.

LIZ

That’s my homework?

GEORGE

Ah-hum.

TOM

Hey, this is graduate school.

GEORGE

But for now…look at it this way. What did Paul say was the minimum for salvation?

LIZ

Well, I guess it’s in Romans ten, nine: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

GEORGE

Yep. Now consider your ex, John.  He was “saved” as a teen ager and walked the walk for a few years.

LIZ

Oh, I’ll say. When we were high school sweet hearts he took me to youth retreats as sort of the big date.

GEORGE

But after a while he lost that passion for the Lord.

LIZ

Back slid real bad.

GEORGE

So let’s suppose you hadn’t providentially met Nancy at the souvenir shop back months ago, and had not gone to her for counseling. He might have killed you by now in one of his fits.

TOM

Like Frederick

LIZ

He came close.

GEORGE

Again supposing, after he strangles you, or shoots you, whatever, the demons in his head convince him to commit suicide, like so often happens. Now see, he is saved, but demonized, the product of a Christian life that misfired.

LIZ

Yes.

GEORGE

But according to some Protestant theology, “Once saved, always saved.” So, like Paul, he goes straight to heaven. Right?

LIZ

Oh, I see. I never thought about that.

GEORGE

You see the logic that drove Catholic theologians to invent purgatory? But really, an understanding of sheol would have been better.

LIZ

                                    (Exhaling deeply)

Wow, this is heavy, all of a sudden.  So you think Frederick is in shoel because he was a Christian and couldn’t go to hell, but couldn’t slip into heaven either?

GEORGE

I don’t really know for sure, but this is as close to the truth as I can figure out this side of heaven.  I do know that the traditional theology of the after-life was badly bungled by Catholics in the Middle Ages, and the Protestants didn’t notice. They were fighting other issues, like faith and works, and accepted the Catholic confusion about hell and shoel.

LIZ

Wow…

TOM

Graduate school stretches the brain…

LIZ

Yes. And to think five years ago I was a contented Baptist who thought healing and speaking in tongues was of the devil.

WATKINS

Pastor George, can you come to our church and explain this to us. I’m fascinated.

GEORGE

If they’d have me, sure. 

                                    (Looking at his watch)

Oh, we’ better not waste time. Liz, you have that meeting with the children’s volunteers?

LIZ

At four thirty.

GEORGE

OK then, let’s start. Tom, get ready with Psalm Fifty-One, and I’ll start the funeral service for Fredrick from the book of Common Prayer

                        (TOM begins searching for Psalm 51 and LIZ helps him find it and smiles.                                    GEORGE opens his Book of Common Prayer, begins reading.)

“I am the Resurrection and the Life  ….

(Scene fades).


Intermission


Act II (At the pastor’s office, TOM and GEORGE )

TOM

Well, what else have you going? How about resuscitation from the dead or an exorcism? Or walking on water? You have a pond out back.

GEORGE

Gosh, Tom, I really wanted to practice resuscitation from the dead today, but I had no volunteers to do the dying stuff, and it’s against the law to chase ambulances. You know, everyone wants to go to heaven, but not just yet.

                                    (Chuckle)

Well, actually, if you could stay till Tuesday evening I have a man coming in from out of town who needs some serious deliverance prayer. I have a team lined up for that. The case was referred to me by a minster who didn’t have training or experience in this stuff.  But I give him credit that he just didn’t chalk it up as psychological stuff.

TOM

Do you do those often? Like, will you have another one going the next time I come down?

GEORGE

No guarantees, but there is always stuff happening around this place. Nancy says living with me is an adventure. But doing the stuff should be an adventure in every church.

TOM

I can see that. Hey, but, do I get a ghost-busting pin or something for this afternoon? Like, I have a nice certificate and lapel pin for being a Eucharistic minister at my church.

GEORGE

No, but you know?

                                    (Stroking his chin.)

I was thinking of something similar. We are always handing out these certificates, like for being a Sunday school teacher, or usher, and kitchen volunteer. Hum…

                        (Raising his hands as if picturing a frame on the wall. And in mock serious                                    voice.)

“Certificate of Christian ghost busting.  For distinguished service of shoel emptying, and of the harrowing of hell.”  Hum… Not a bad idea. I’ll make one up on the computer, put the parish seal on it, sign it and send you one.

TOM

I’d love it. 

GEORGE

Done. I think Mrs. Kramer would get kick out of one too.

TOM

Seriously. Why don’t other churches do this stuff?

GEORGE

As I said, the Catholic’s invented Purgatory, but forgot about sheol, and the Protestants didn’t like either. So ghosts don’t make sense, and they’re abandoned to the occult or shoved over to the dust bin of demon activity, but not dealt with.

TOM

That’s right. You know, some time ago my wife and I went to Vermont at this bed and breakfast.  And the place was sponsoring a ghost tour of the local villages. Weird. But what would happen if the priests up there started to make the ghosts take a hike, like you do?

GEORGE

Well, they’d have to do something else for the tourists. Maybe they would hang up plaques, like the ones you see that say, “Washington slept here.” These would say “There was a ghost here,” or “The resident demon got kicked out.”

TOM

                                                (Interrupting)

By Padre George.

(All Laugh)

I’m taking this all in. So you don’t like purgatory?

GEORGE

Purgatory is fine for Catholics, if they want to go there.  Hey, we’ll settle this argument when we meet in heaven.

TOM

But maybe you’ll still be in Purgatory for skipping out of the Catholic Church.

GEORGE

                                                (Chuckling)

Could be, Tom, could be.

TOM

Seriously, being here is like going to spiritual graduate school. I wish we could re-convene our lunch group at Fordham and have you show them this stuff.

GEORGE

Oh so do I. Let me know when the time machine is invented. Sad, sad, one dead of alcoholism. Bill an atheist. What about McGovern?

TOM

You know, I met up with him in a wedding in Long Island a couple of years ago. Apparently that’s the only time he sees the inside of a church.

GEORGE

Oh… It figures, but just look at the junk we were fed in theology and philosophy classes. Oh how the professors wanted to be modern and catch up with the poison they were teaching at Protestant seminaries. So advent guard. Oh…Tom, remember that awful book, Honest to God, we had to read. Everybody thought it was so cool.

TOM

Honest to God? Oh, yeah, now that you mention it.

GEORGE

These liberal guys claimed there were no miracles, and no effective prayer or things like healing or exorcisms. They proved it by citing other theologian in other liberal seminaries. I mean, look, back in the Sixties and Seventies there were plenty of Pentecostals around, and evangelists like Katherine Kuhlman were doing great healing crusades. But they were written off as impossible, because they were “holy rollers” and lower class. Pure snobbism, an awful, stupid methodology.

TOM

We never took Oral Roberts and those folks seriously, did we?

GEORGE

Yes, exactly. The great snobbism!  A theology built on data avoidance.  It made the cover of that terrible article in Time Magazine.  Horrible.  Ignorance dressed up as modern and scientific. All liberal theology is like that.

TOM

It was called… ah...

GEORGE

“Death of God” theology, after the phrase from Nietzsche.  You know what? I call it by its acronym.

TOM

What?

GEORGE

Its acronym, Tom - “Death of God.” Hint, they were barking up the wrong tree.

TOM

                                                (Chuckle)

Oh, that’s good.

GEORGE

So much damage, for… such a longtime. You know, for thirty years Catholic seminaries taught nothing about exorcism. Gloriously imitating the… “BS” of Liberal Protestantism and the DOG theologians.

TOM

Hey, but they’re doing it now again.

GEORGE

Thank God. But you know, the mainline seminaries were even worse hit by DOG theology, and never recovered. Tom, how did you escape back into orthodoxy?

TOM

Well, you know, I guess ultimately, it was God’s grace. But I remember I was suspicious of how this liberal, eh… this DOG theology was playing out. So I found my way to one conservative parish after another, and I’m glad I did.

GEORGE

I’m glad for you too.

TOM

And you George?

GEORGE

Well, I followed the logical path of DOG theology and became an atheist.  Tried to live the swinging life, but was miserable. Then fell into the occult.

TOM

The occult?

GEORGE

Yeah. But it taught me that the spiritual world was real. I saw a levitation and séances and that sort of thing, and understood that the spiritual world was real, and thus, God must exist. I think when I visited you years ago I was into that, but didn’t mention it, as I didn’t want to start an argument.

TOM

That’s a rough way to come to faith in God.

GEORGE

I certainly do not recommend it. But, providentially, I remembered a few things from traditional theology. Especially, that spiritual phenomenon can come from either the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Satan, or may just be a psychological-psychic phenomenon. I think I got that from… my senior high school religion class. Well anyway, at this place where I was doing these occult and New Age classes, I became a real pest. I kept asking, “How do you know this experience is from God?” They said,

                                                (Mimicking a detached look and using his had in a dismissive                                                         gesture)

“Oh jut use your higher consciousness and don’t worry about it.” I became suspicious. Then I started reading some of the classics of discernment literature. So I caught on that much of the New Age stuff I was learning was really the old Gnosticism, and demonic. And at the same time I ran into a Charismatic prayer group, and as they say…”The rest is history.”

TOM

You know, I went to a couple of Catholic charismatic meetings back in the late seventies. They even laid hands on me for the baptism of Spirit. I didn’t feel anything. They wanted me to start jabbering in tongues. But I wouldn’t fake it for them.

GEORGE

Oh, that bit. Oh…Oh!  That explains your gift of discerning of spirits during the ghost busting. You got that gift, and not tongues, but they didn’t know, and you didn’t know.

TOM

Well maybe, you’re the expert on this stuff. So how did you become an Anglican priest?

GEORGE

Well the long and the short of it was that I got married to Nancy who was divorced, and could no longer legally receive Holy Communion. But I noticed a really good Episcopal Church in the neighborhood that was charismatic. This was over thirty years ago.  It’s now in bad shape. So Nancy and I went Episcopal until the Church became too far gone into heresy - the result of all those DOG theologians peeing on the basic doctrines of the Church and pooping on the scriptures.

TOM

                                                (Chuckle)

That’s good. And now an Anglican priest. Neat.

GEORGE

Oh, this is really a wonderful church. I was called here to start the Hispanic service, and then the rector died of a sudden heart attack, so now I am in charge of both Hispanics and Anglos. The volunteers here are incredible. That was his great legacy. You need to come some Sunday.

TOM

I’ll make sure my next trip down starts on Friday so I have to layover.

GEORGE

And now you have another incentive.

TOM

You read my mind. I’m going to emphasize to my boss how competitive this Home Depot account is, and how I have to be here to tweak it.

GEORGE

Tom, seriously, changing topics. I need to tell you something. Some time ago, I drifted into thinking and praying about the Catholic Church during my morning time with the Lord. And I asked the Lord how come the Catholic Charismatic renewal started so big in the nineteen seventies, and ended so small, like it is today. And the Lord didn’t answer directly, but I had a strong impression that God was not through with the Catholic Church yet, and that the scandals were all a necessary preliminary to a new…offering of renewal.

TOM

Like what we are going through is a cleansing?

GEORGE

Yes, exactly. But the important thing is, don’t miss the wave this time. Don’t get put off by mistakes and immature leadership. Maybe its providential you have met Liz. Even if it doesn’t go very far, at least you will have been touched by the better strand of Pentecostalism.

TOM

Homework?

GEORGE

Definitely.

TOM

Hey, this is graduate school. I’m taking in everything you are saying. But…But I wonder. I’m thinking after what I have seen today… that Mary… might have been made well with this Pentecostal prayer stuff you guys do?

GEORGE

Well… it’s kind of hard to say definitely. Scripture says that our days are numbered by the Lord. But on the other hand… I think Satan often takes the Saints before they finish their work. It’s the job of the Church not to let that happen.

TOM

So if your man Enrique had been up there in Mary’s hospital room, shouting and sticking his figure in her face?

(Mimicking poking his finger out.)

And this other lady hopping around shouting “Spirit of death, take a hike!” Then maybe…

GEORGE

Maybe. Look. Any of a dozen intercessors we have here would have prayed for Mary that way. But the results are always up to God. There was really a special presence and anointing in Jose’s hospital room that night that I have not experienced since.  Here I have had people cured of cancer, but some die of cancer or “MS” and other stuff in spite of all our prayers.

TOM

Even after tongues and shouting and jumping around?

GEORGE

And fasting, and all night prayer vigils. Just last month the wife of my junior warden died of breast cancer.  She was a wonderful Christian and only in her forties, with three children still at home. We did a tremendous prayer campaign for her. I don’t understand. I sent a complaint to the Lord.

TOM

But maybe even the loses are providential, in a way you don’t understand?

GEORGE

Good, good. Or maybe the churches still have more things to learn about healing. Hey, change of topic. When Liz comes in from her meeting, how if I make some excuse for why I can’t take you to the airport and she has to drive you instead.

TOM

Hey, I love that one. But that’s devious and untruthful.

GEORGE

Oh no, I never lie! Watch.

                        (Pulls out his smart phone and punches a digit. Pause)

Hi sweetheart.

                                    (Pause)

Yes we had a great lunch, I’ll tell you about it. We missed you.

                                    (Pause)

I need a favor. I want you right now to ask me to come home and help with Shannon.

                                    (Pause).

Will you please just do it?  

                                    (Pause)

I’ll explain it tonight at dinner. Please do it.

                                    (Pause)

Listen, I’ll take you Friday to Mama Maria’s.

                                    (Pause)

Thank you, love you, buy

                                    (Hangs up)

TOM

Devious

GEORGE

Slightly, and it cost me an extra dinner I can’t charge to the church. But no lie is involved, you see

TOM

Devious

GEORGE

You want me to get LIZ to drive you to the airport or not?

TOM

Bring devious on! Hey, you know I better get rid of some of the wine and coffee before the drive to the airport.

GEORGE

Go. Liz should be here any minute now.

                        (TOM leaves.  A moment later, a knock at the door.)

MAE

                        (From the office side)

Can you see a Mr. Louis Volk for a minute? He wants to speak with you.

GEORGE

Sure.

(VOLK comes in, a man in his middle age, thin and frail looking.)

VOLK

How do you do Pastor George?

GEORGE

Fine. My pleasure. Have a seat. We can get you coffee or tea if you.

VOLK

                        (Sitting down on the stuffed chair)

Thank you, no.

GEORGE

How can I help you?

VOLK

I’ve been referred to you by Mrs. Buchman of Methodist Church who told me you might help me better than they could. I mean, the problem is that for some time now, I hear voices. Sometimes they tell me to do terrible things, like kill my neighbor’s dog. Do you think I’m going crazy?

GEORGE

No. We’ve helped people with that type of problem before. It’s not difficult to send the voices away.

VOLK

That’s good to know. Sometimes they don’t let me sleep too well either.

GEORGE

They tell you, you’re no good, and a total failure?

VOLK

How did you know?

GEORGE

It’s always the same.

VOLK

Sometimes I lose time. I mean, I don’t remember what’s been going on for some time, or I’m some place and I don’t know how I got there.  And the strangest thing that happened to me last week. I found myself standing in my back yard, and my neighbor’s dog was at my feet, with her neck broken, dead. It was a really cute dog. Frisby was her name, and I liked her, gave her snacks and tidbits every day. But she was dead at my feet. I don’t remember anything. I couldn’t explain to my neighbor how she wound up in my yard with a broken neck.

GEORGE

Well, this needs to be attended to right away.

                        (Standing up and opening the door and speaking to Mae in the inner office.)

Mae, as soon as Liz comes back send her in. Also call Claudia and see if she can come in immediately, like in five minutes. Tell Tom when he comes back, to stay out here but keep his ears open. I may need him, and your prayer help too. I am leaving the door open.

MAE

OK, got it.

GEORGE

                        (GEORGE goes back to his swivel chair)

Let me ask some questions, some of which may be personal.

VOLK

Anything that can help.

GEORGE

Were you sexually or physically abused as a child?

VOLK

No, my parents were really great, but my father died when I was six.

GEORGE

Do you go to church regularly?

VOLK

Not as often as I should.

GEORGE

How often?

                        (LIZ enters)

Mr. Volk, this is Mrs. Liz Garner, our new children’s’ minister, and my prayer assistant.              

                        (Motions to LIZ to sit down on the couch.)

VOLK

Howdy.

                        (LIZ smiles and sits on the couch.)

GEORGE

So how often do you make it to church?

VOLK

Oh, I guess not often. Since my wife died I guess I have been going much less than I should. She used to get me to go. But I go to the Lutheran church in Clearwater when I go down to visit my son and daughter-in-law. But you see, the voices give me a hard time if I plan to go to church, and sometimes a headache too.

GEORGE

I’m sure.

LIZ

                        (Begins praying in tongues softly.)

GEORGE

Yes, thanks Liz. Mr. Volk, were you ever into the occult, or metaphysical movement?

LIZ

                        (Continues to pray in tongues and motions with her head “yes.”)

VOLK

No, never. Nothing like that.

LIZ

                        (Still speaking softly in tongues, shakes her head “no.” Mr. VOLK is looking                                at Pastor GEORGE and does not notice LIZ.)

GEORGE

You never fooled around with Tarot Cards or Ouija boards or that stuff?

VOLK

No. Well… not much. When I was a young lad I used to go to my friend’s house across the street and he had a Ouija board.  It was fun, and… very strange. But after I told my mother about it she forbade me to go over and I never did it again. That was over forty years ago.

GEORGE

A hum.

LIZ

                        (Nods “yes” as she continues in tongues.)

VOLK

What’s that crazy mumbling she is doing over there?

GEORGE

Oh, you’ve never heard tongues before?

VOLK

Whatever it is, it’s annoying me greatly, and please have her stop that mumbo-jumbo.

MAE

                        (In loud voice from inside)

Emergency, emergency! Water is gushing out of the men’s rest room and soaking the rug in the sanctuary like crazy.

GEORGE

                        (Stands up, says to LIZ)

I need to attend to that. 

                                    (In whisper to her)

Keep it to small talk. I’ll be back as soon as I shut the water valve.

                        (Leaves in a rush. He meets TOM in the outer office.)

Stay here close by. Mae, grab the duct tape and the wrench from the supply room and meet me there.

VOLK

Those flowers really stink, It’s time to trash them. So you have trouble with English?

LIZ

No sir. It’s a special prayer language.

VOLK

Oh. So God is too stupid to understand English?

LIZ

No sir, but I’ll be happy to explain it to you.

VOLK

                        (In a gruff voice)

I don’t want to hear anything about any of that crap! Those flowers stink!

LIZ

Tell me about your son in Florida, and his family.

VOLK

                        (Standing, and now speaking in a loud, gruff voice).

And if you say one more word of your gibberish, I’ll break your neck.

TOM

                        (Breaking in suddenly)

What is going on here!

VOLK

Well, here is prince charming. You jerk. I’ll break your neck too!

TOM

                        (Approaches VOLK and places his hand on his arm.)

You need to leave now, sir.

VOLK

                        (Pushes TOM away with easy)

I’ll kill you easy if you touch me again.

TOM

Holy cow!

LIZ

It’s a demon Tom

TOM

Holy cow!

VOLK

                        (Approaches LIZ)

No one can stop me. I am king!

LIZ

Jesus!

TOM

No you don’t.  Jesus is King! You sit down!

                        (Coming between VOLK and LIZ, and pointing his figure at VOLK)

In Jesus’ name you, whoever you are, sit down! In Jesus’ name!

VOLK

                        (Stops in his tracks, and with less strength)

I’ll break…

TOM

No you won’t. In Jesus name, SIT DOWN!

                        (VOLK Falls back in the stuffed chair, heavy breathing, VOLK and TOM                          eye each other.)

LIZ

            (Begins praying in tongues again and lifting her hands).

VOLK

Cut that crap!

                        (Pastor GEORGE returns and peers in the door, but does not come in)

TOM

            (Pointing at VOLK, and speaking forcefully)

What is your name!

VOLK

            (Sarcastically)

Playing priest? Isn’t that nice.

TOM

I asked, WHAT IS YOUR MANE! I command you to tell me in Jesus’ name.

LIZ

The Lord gave me his name. Almardango, or something like that. Voodoo god of some sort.

TOM

Alright, good. In the name of Jesus, Almardango, take a hike! Get out!

VOLK

                        (Jerks)

I’m not leaving. You’re no priest.

TOM

Get out now! Take a hike!

                                                (Noticing GEORGE at the door)

Oh,. You’re here. Take over.

GEORGE

Why? You’re doing it right. He’s handing you a lie. You have all the authority you need to kick this sucker out. I see the Holy Spirit all over you and Liz. Keep it up. I’ll support with prayer. Go on!

                        (GEORGE begins praying in tongues softly and extending his hand in benediction                                    towards VOLK).

TOM

                                    (Astounded)

You’re the…

GEORGE

Orchestra leader. Right now you two are doing a beautiful duet, and have an anointing for this that you are discovering. That has priority. Go on.

TOM

Wow. OK.

                                    (Pointing to VOLK) 

Take a hike now! In Jesus name!

LIZ

                                    (Forcefully)

In Jesus’ name, go to the dry place assigned to you, and do not return!

TOM

Get out now! In Jesus’ name. Now!

VOLK

Nooo…I’ll leave later.

TOM

Hey, this is not plea bargaining. You leave now, in Jesus name!

                        (Foraging through GEORGE’s desk).

LIZ

Out! In Jesus’s name, to a dry place.

TOM

Father George, don’t you have a cross somewhere?

GEORGE

It’s in the communion kit in my car. But you don’t need it. You two are doing fine.

TOM

Shoot!

                                    (Pointing to VOLK)

You go! Take a hike!

LIZ

To a dry place, in Jesus’ name.

VOLK

                        (Weakly)

I’ll leave Tomorrow.

LIZ

Go! To the dry place, in Jesus’ name.

TOM

Leave now! Take a hike in Jesus’ name! Out you go!

VOLK

Nooo…

TOM

                        (TOM pulls the flowers from the vase on Pastor GEORGE’s desk and places                                 them on VOLK’s head, and they cascade down.)

Take a hike!  Out, Out in Jesus’s name!

VOLK

Ahhh…

                                    (Shouting loudly)

Ayh, ayh!

                        (Collapses in his chair, unconscious).

GEORGE

                                    (Stops praying in tongues)

It took a hike. Good job you two.

MAE

                                                (From way back in the inner office)

Is anything wrong?

GEORGE

No, just a demon leaving.

MAE

Oh, OK. From Mr. Volk?

GEORGE

Yep.

MAE

Sorry I missed this one.

GEORGE

                        (Comes fully into the room)

Mr. Volk will come to in a moment. You guys did great. Tom, how did you know about demanding a name?

TOM

Fr. Mark had us read some stuff on exorcism for the lay Eucharistic office - just in case he needed an assistant sometime. But I never did get a shot at this thing before today. You know, as a lay Catholic… I’m not supposed to do the lead.

GEORGE

I won’t snitch on you to Fr. Mark, or your bishop, whoever he is. I promise. So now you know you have an anointing for this too.

LIZ

A very strong anointing.

GEORGE

I saw it. The Holy Spirit was all over you two.

TOM

Wow, what a graduate seminar.

GEORGE

Exactly right. You know in a real graduate seminar the professor usually learns something new from the papers the students do - like I did today.

TOM

Like what?

GEORGE

                                                (Chuckle)

Like the use of flowers. Somehow flowers and exorcism don’t naturally go together. But I’m always learning. And the phrase, “Take a hike.” It’s not found in any of the literature of exorcism that I know of. Is that from Fr. Mark?

TOM

No. I…I was caught up in the thing I wasn’t sure exactly what I was saying. Are you sure Mr. Volk is OK?

GEORGE

Oh yes. Just like in the Bible. This is like a diabetic coma. He’ll be up and asking what happened and be fine. Liz, had you done this before?

LIZ

First time, pastor.

GEORGE

An amazing job you two.

VOLK

                        (Stirring awake)

Oh… Have I lost time again?

GEORGE

You sure have.

VOLK

Did I do anything nasty? These flowers, did I do something bad to them?

GEORGE

No, you might say just the opposite. And now you are free of the demon that did the nasty stuff.

VOLK

Oh gosh. You mean like I had a devil in me?

GEORGE

Yes, but it’s gone.

VOLK

But there not supposed to be demons. That was the mythical part of the Bible.

GEORGE

That’s DOG theology.

VOLK

What?

GEORGE

That’s all liberal theology nonsense. The demons would love to have you keep on believing that. Who do you think killed Frisby?

VOLK

Oh my God! Will it come back?

GEORGE

If you are careless.

VOLK

What do I need to do?

GEORGE

Don’t ever so much as look hard at a Ouija board again. Also, go to church every Sunday. Read the Bible every day, and join a good Bible study.

VOLK

Starting this Sunday, you bet.

GEORGE

You need to check in with me sometime next week. Are you hungry?

VOLK

Famished.

GEORGE

I bought in a roast beef subway for lunch that I didn’t eat.  It’s in the fridge.

VOLK

Oh thank you. I really am famished.

GEORGE

I bet. Come on, I’ll show you the way.

                                    (To TOM)

Are you tired?

TOM

Yes, really exhausted, like, all of a sudden. Wow!

GEORGE

Sit down. When I come back Liz and I will lay hands on you to replenish the energies the demon sapped from you.

TOM

Oh wow! That’s what happened?

GEORGE

Yep. No big deal. The Holy Spirit has all the energy in the universe to give us.

                        (Both VOLK and GEORGE leave)

LIZ

Mr. Exorcist, you need your energies recharged. I’m going to lay hands on you starting now.

(Liz goes to the couch, touches TOM and he begins kissing her.)

Lights fade


Act II, scene ii:

Office:

(The flowers are back in the vase. GEORGE is arranging the files on his desk, and closing his laptop. TOM and LIZ seated very close on the love seat)

GEORGE

I didn’t mean to break anything up. Especially, the…ah, laying on of lips.

TOM

Hey, my energies are way up.

GEORGE

Good. Liz, I have one more job for you today.

LIZ

Yes Pastor George.

GEORGE

Carolyn asked me to help her at our daughter’s with Sharon this evening. I had planned to take Tom to the airport for his seven thirty flight.

LIZ

I’ll take him.

GEORGE

Good, thank you. You have more than enough time if you leave now, and even stop for a bite to eat.

TOM

You chose the place Liz.

LIZ

I know a nice place on the way.

            (Both get up to leave)

TOM

Padre GEORGE, this has been wonderful, a real graduate degree. Like I said, I’m going to emphasis to my boss how this Home Depot contract needs to be watched over diligently.

GEORGE

            (Smiling broadly)

Ah, devious, but good. I’ll make sure the guest room is ready. You can tell him you have an old friend here and the only expense when you come here will be airfare.

TOM

That’ll be an easy sell. Hey, I really am thankful.  Hey, I mean, I need to give this church a gift out of the commission I just got. Sort of a tuition.

GEORGE

Call it a love offering, I don’t want a slice out of what you planned to give your church.

TOM

No way. I had already promised Fr. Mark that if I got the Home Depot contract I’d buy the church a new keyboard, with all the bells and whistles. I’ll do that. But for you guys I want to buy Liz’s sand box for her kids. What else?

GEORGE

How big?

TOM

Try me.

GEORGE

Well, really big. We had a conversation the other night at the vestry meeting about eventually buying the property next door. A guess was about a hundred thousand dollars.

TOM

Too big. Try again.

GEORGE

Well, I have a wish list of books from “abebooks” for our library that would be maybe two hundred, or two hundred and fifty dollars.

TOM

Too small, but you got it. Try something more.

GEORGE

Hum…You know, my lead musician was saying that he wanted one of those electronic pianos.

TOM

Like Goldilocks said, “Humm, this is just right!” Hey, I saw a really good electronic grand piano the other day at a church I was visiting.

GEORGE

That’s too big, way too big. We looked at upright Yamaha on the web that fits our needs.

TOM

Hey it’s my money. Are you being “Padre Thrifty” again?

GEORGE

No, honestly. Look, a grand piano would crowd out the drums, which we would have to put to the side, which would make our drummer pout and feel slighted, and maybe leave. He’s a great drummer, but a primidone too. I need him. A Yamaha upright will fit nicely and keep everybody happy. And it come in at about a thousand dollars and change.

TOM

You got it. Send me the receipt and I’ll send you a check. Hey, this has been amazing. I am so thankful I thought of dropping by.

GEORGE

It was Providential, all Providential.

LIZ

Amen to that.

GEORGE

Just look at how the Holy Spirit set you guys up.

                                                (Pointing)

Flowers, candy, and an opportunity to do…

                                                (In an exaggerated wistful voice.)

 a romantic exorcism together.

                        (Everyone laughs. TOM and LIZ leave hand in hand, GEORGE follows                             them to the door and looks at them as they walk off. Pause.)  

GEORGE

Liz, remember, he has to get the seven-thirty flight, the seven-thirty flight. He needs to be fed on the way.

TOM

                        (From a distance)

Hey, I’ll take the red eye! Thank Mr. Devious for me.

GEORGE

I will.

                        (Chuckling and closing the door, and speaking to himself.)

Providential, all Providential.

                        (Goes to his desk to pack up his laptop. Knock at door.)

FEDEX

                        (From the inner office)

FedEx. I need a signature for this.

GEORGE

Yes, come in.

                        (FEDEX person comes in and hands GEORGE a FedEx box)

Oh good, we need this for Sunday.

FEDEX

                        (Passing the Fed Ex tablet to him, and takes it back after GEORGE signs)

Thanks. Did you have a good day?

GEORGE

It was a splendid day! Absolutely splendid! Had a visit from an old college buddy who had just made a bundle on a contract from Home Depot. He wound up buying us with a new piano and stuff for the kids. We have a budding romance on staff, Also, we did a healing, an exorcism and we all had a splendid free lunch at Mama Maria’s.

FEDEX

Wow, for real? That’s rare isn’t it?

GEORGE

Yes, free lunches are very hard to come by.

FEDEX

I mean the other things.

GEORGE

Actually, more common than free lunches around here.

FEDEX

Man! Do you guys also do the normal things that other churches do?

GEORGE

Oh yes indeed. Sometimes I do give a dull sermon, and occasionally the musicians are too loud or off tune. Today, we also did a funeral and a baptism – the normal stuff.

FedEx

I’ll have to come to visit - when you give a good sermon.

GEORGE

Oh please do. This Sunday should be very good.

                        (The Fed EX person leaves. GEORGE looks up to heaven.)

Lord, pass on a message to the Rev Wimber in his mansion up there that we are doing the stuff.

                        (As he leaves he flicks off the light switch and closes the door)

END


Announcement:


The noted Pentecostal scholar, Dr. Jon Ruthven, dis a very positive review on my recent book on Agnes Sanford, which can be accessed HERE


 This work can be bought on Amazon in the paper edition or in an inexpensive Kindle edition. Or you can get the paper copy direct form the publisher at a discount, HERE


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