September 7, 2008

The following message was presented by Harold, Suzy, and Angie (the St. Andrew’s puppet characters) by Iain Ireland, Melissa Tate, and Allyssa deBruijn. Amanda and Gwen are the ministers of St. Andrew’s, and this was Gwen’s first Sunday in our congregation.

I’m sorry that I can’t put the expression and ad libs of the puppeteers in print for you here. Oh well! Thanks to the puppeteers for bringing this script to life on Sunday, September 7th, 2008.

Harold: Welcome back, Suzy and Angie! I haven’t seen either of you around here much this summer. Where have you been?

Angie: I spent the summer at Camp Christopher, Harold. I had a great time with all the kids and youth each week, worshipping together and enjoying God’s good creation.

Suzy: And I’ve been busy too, Harold… working, travelling… It’s been a busy summer, but I’m sure glad to be back at St. Andrew’s. Choir practice started this week, so I’m getting my singing voice back in shape… La, la, la, la…

Angie: How about you, Harold? How was your summer?

Harold: I’ve had a great summer! I have tons of stories I could tell you, but maybe since we’re right in the middle of worship, I should save them for later.

Angie: I think worship is a great time for telling stories! Last Sunday I was here and Amanda told a really interesting story about this guy called Moses. He saw a burning bush on a mountain, and heard God telling him to get some people out of Egypt.

Harold: What’s wrong with Egypt?

Suzy: Nothing’s wrong with Egypt… It’s a really neat place with pyramids and mummies and all kinds of cool historical stuff!

Angie: Ya, but there was a mean king in Egypt back then, and he was making the Hebrew people work really, really hard to build all that stuff. And when he thought there were too many Hebrews, he ordered that some of them get killed!

Harold: That’s unbelievable!

Angie: But it’s true, and God gave Moses the job of helping those people find a new place to live.

Harold: So… did he do it? Did Moses get the people out?

Angie: I don’t know, Harold. I sure hope he got them out, but we didn’t get to that part of the story last week.

Suzy: Maybe we’ll hear about that today. Amanda, are you going to tell us more about Moses and the Hebrews today?

Harold: Or would you like me to tell everyone stories about my summer adventures?

Suzy: Oh, Harold, we’re in church! Don’t you think we should hear a story from the bible?

Harold: Well, I suppose so… I would like to know what happened next.

Amanda: The problem was that getting the Hebrews out of Egypt was much easier said than done. The king was very powerful, and he didn’t want to lose all his workers.

Moses went to Egypt and spoke to the king. Actually, he brought his brother Aaron along to help because Aaron was good at speaking. Moses told the king that God was ordering him to let the Hebrew people go. But the king refused to listen.

Then Moses and Aaron did some miracles to demonstrate God’s power. They threw a stick on the ground, and God made it turn into a snake.

Suzy: That must have convinced the king that he should do what they asked.

Amanda: Well, no. The king still refused to listen. So God did a whole bunch more stuff to convince the king to change his mind. He sent a bunch of frogs to infest the country. They were everywhere… in the river, in the palace, even in the king’s bed!

Harold: Ewwww! Frogs in the bed!

Suzy: I thought boys liked frogs.

Harold: Ya, but not if you have to sleep with them!

Angie: So did the king change his mind?

Amanda: Nope. God sent bugs and flies and illnesses and hailstones, and all kinds of terrible stuff, but the king was so stubborn that he wouldn’t let the people go.

Harold: So Moses failed in his job. He couldn’t get the people out. God must have been disappointed.

Suzy: That can’t be right! I remember the story where they all run away from the Egyptians and Moses parts the water of the sea so they can get away. I even remember a song about it…“When Israel was in Egypt‘s land. Let my people go.”

Amanda: Perhaps we should all sing it together…

Praise: “When Israel was in Egypt‘s land” #708

Amanda: Suzy was right. Moses did eventually get the Hebrews out of Egypt and away from that mean king. But to do it, God had to really hurt the Egyptians. In the middle of the night, all the first-born sons of the Egyptians died. God told the Hebrew people how to protect their sons, but many Egyptian boys were killed.

Harold: The king must have been angry!

Angie: And he must have been scared!

Amanda: He finally knew how powerful God really was, and he finally knew that Moses would not give up until the king had let the Hebrews go free. And so he did let them go.

Suzy: That is a pretty exciting story from the bible, Amanda. I guess the Hebrew people must really like that story. They probably tell that one a lot.

Amanda: Yes, that’s true, Suzy. The children of those Hebrews were called Israelites because they moved to the land of Israel, and today they often get called the Jewish people. They actually have a festival every year (called Passover) when they tell this story.

Karl is going to read the part in the bible where we learn about this festival.

Exodus 12:1-14

Harold: Those are the weirdest party instructions I’ve ever heard!

Angie: You mean you don’t normally put animal blood on the door frame when you throw a shin-dig, Harold?

Suzy: They call it a festival, but it seems more like they’re acting out the story of how God saved them from the Egyptians.

Amanda: Yes, the animal blood on the door was how the Hebrews were told to identify themselves to protect their sons from being killed.

Angie: So they do it every year to remember how God protected them.

Amanda: And when they eat the meal, they’re dressed and ready to travel. They have their sandals on, walking stick in hand, and they eat quickly.

Harold: I suppose they do that to remember how they rushed quickly out of Egypt when the king finally let them go.

Amanda: That’s exactly right, Harold. And they tell the story and celebrate every year because the story reminds them where they come from and who they are.

Harold: They’re people that once were slaves in Egypt.

Suzy: And they’re people that God loves and protects.

Amanda: And they’re people who love God too, and they worship and praise God for all the good things that God has done. The stories we tell about ourselves can really tell us about who we are.

Angie: Do we have stories like that about our church here at St. Andrew’s?

Gwen: That’s a good question, Angie. I’d like to hear some of those stories about St. Andrew’s. Since I’m the new one here, I’d really like to know more about the people of St. Andrew’s.

Suzy: I know one that my grandma told me! She was in this church right at the beginning, before this building even existed. It was back in 1925 when some churches got together to make the United Church. But some of the Presbyterians thought that they should stay as Presbyterians. They didn’t want to lose some of the special things about our church. They didn’t have a church building or a minister at first, but they got together and made plans and worked hard to make St. Andrew’s into a new Presbyterian Church.

Angie: I don’t know about way back at the beginning, but my dad came to this church when he was a kid with his family. His family was probably one of the first Dutch families in a mostly Scottish church. And now there are lots of Dutch people here, and African people, and Chinese, and Korean, and people from lots of other places and backgrounds too. Everyone is welcome!

Harold: I don’t know any really historical stories, Gwen, but my favourite memory about this church is just before Christmas every year. The outreach committee puts out trays of Christmas tree ornaments downstairs, and each one has a tag on it with a gift to buy. All the gifts are practical things for our innercity missions, and people choose a tag, buy a gift, put it under the tree, and hang the ornament on the tree. It seemed like a little thing when I first saw it, but it was amazing to watch! Last year the tree started off bare, and the floor under it was empty. But as the weeks went by, the tree got SO beautiful — full of sparkling ornaments — and the space under the tree had to be cleared out to make room for more and more gifts!

Gwen: Just those three little stories tell me a lot about this church — that you strive to be committed, welcoming, and generous.

Suzy: Stories about St. Andrew’s are fine, but what about some stories about you, Gwen?

Angie: Ya! We want to get to know you too!

Harold: Tell us a story about you, Gwen, a story that helps us to understand who YOU are.

Gwen tells a story about herself.

Amanda: Thanks for that story, Gwen. I think we’re all starting to get to know each other already, even though there are lots more stories to tell.

Gwen: Do we have time for one more?

Amanda: Yes, I think we do. And even if the service is running long, we’ll have to make some time for the most important story of all.

Gwen: You mean the story that we all share?

Amanda: Yes, the story that we tell over and over in this place… the story that tells us who we are and who we are becoming.

Harold: The story of God!

Suzy: And the story of Jesus!

Angie: And the story of how God loves us so much that God sent Jesus to make sure that we all know it.

Amanda: As followers of Jesus, this is our story. It is the good news of God in Jesus Christ — that God loves us, and forgives us, and calls us to follow Jesus. Let’s listen as Emily reads for us from the book of Acts.

Acts 10:34-43

Harold: Boy, we had lots of good stories today…

Suzy: …stories that help us to understand who we are — that we belong to God who loves us and wants us to live like Jesus.

Angie: Is that it, then? No more stories for today?

Amanda: Yes, that’s it for today. But don’t worry, we’ll have lots more stories to share together this year.

Gwen: I’ll tell you a few more about me!

Harold: And we’ll tell you a few more about St. Andrew’s.

Suzy: And we’ll all tell lots more about God and Jesus, won’t we?

Amanda: Yes, we will. We’ll keep on telling these stories that help us to know who we are as children of God, and who we are called to become as followers of Jesus.

Praise: “Tell me the stories of Jesus” #348