Mrs. Snapper may be all about the on/off stage drama of singing and dancing competitions like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, but I prefer a more practical approach to reality TV. In the event that civilization grinds to a halt, but Jesus still hasn’t arrived (I worry about this sometimes) singing, dancing, and scheming are not going to do us any good. This is why my favorite reality competition is the Great British Baking Show. What better way to wait out the end of days than with a stockpile of perfectly baked tarts featuring a variety of flavors?
Unfortunately, when I showed up to the pre-performance dress rehearsal with a large plate of warm brownies fit to impress Mary Berry, no one even noticed. The entire production seemed to be collapsing, just like a souffle put in an oven that's just slightly too hot.
The geckos, in a fit of nerves, had soiled their snowflake/sheep costumes. Instead of resembling the first December dusting, they looked like March slush. Sybil the python kept trying to strangle the Kirkland brothers and they had to wrestle her all the way to Bethlehem. The chameleons were still unable to say their lines or even whistle out an angelic chorus. To make matters worse, Mrs. Snapper’s endless scolding had caused them to vanish into the background in terror. Our angelic host was both silent and invisible.
I still could not figure out how to adequately swaddle Helen the tarantula. After a final try which ended with Helen hiding under the manger, me with a diaper stuck in my hair, and Mr. Skink laughing at both of us, I wished I could vanish into the background too.
Jealous Plant was missing, of course, probably hiding my Mary smock under one of the pews again. I was just looking around to see if I could see him anywhere when Harold the snapping turtle launched himself out of the font and made a beeline for my toes.
“HELP!” I shrieked, clambering onto the altar and knocking one of the candlesticks to the floor with a crash. Even from my rather high vantage point I could see the candlestick had been badly dented by the fall.
This was too much for Mrs. Snapper. She finally...snapped. “Get that thing out of my church!” she cried, grabbing the damaged candlestick and brandishing it at Harold.
“But your sign says-” Mr. Skink began, but Mrs. Snapper had had enough.
“I don’t care what the sign says!” she snarled “I have had it with you and your slimy, scaly, hairy heathens! They insult God with their crawling and splashing and do not have a drop of theatrical blood in their vile little bodies!”
Mr. Skink pushed his eye patch to the side, giving Mrs. Snapper the full force of his glare “Well I’d rather hug it out with Sybil than spend another minute with an unimaginative, bigoted old stick like you!”
“That is enough!” The usually cheerful Pastor Basil pushed herself between Mr. Skink and Mrs. Snapper. “The both of you need to take those awful words and stick them...in your ear!”
Mrs. Snapper and Mr. Skink stared at her with open mouths. Pastor Basil continued, her voice getting louder and faster as she spoke “How dare you let your own petty little arguments distract from telling the story of Jesus! How dare you take this most Holy Story and use it to insult each other and tear apart God’s church!”
“No, Mrs. Snapper, you should be ashamed of yourself. Mr. Skink is right, all are welcome here, but instead of welcoming these guests you have shamed them, stressed them, and treated them like outsiders. No one is an outsider in the Body of Christ!”
“You tell her” snickered Mr. Skink.
“No, I’m going to tell you!’ Pastor Basil rounded on him. “We welcomed you and your family as guests, we have done our best to include and love them and you. But all you have done is take advantage of our kindness. You have not lifted a finger to help or encourage. You have thrown our hospitality back in our faces and you have let your family down!”
The entire sanctuary went dead quiet except for the sound of Pastor Basil’s ragged breathing and a nervous whistle or two from the chameleons.
“I think I’m done here.” Mrs. Snapper turned on her heel and walked quickly out of the sanctuary.
“Yeah, me too” Mr. Skink straightened his eye patch and shuffled out behind her, all of his various reptiles and spiders trailing after him.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Why is it so hard for the members of St. Mark’s and Mr. Skink and his family to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving to one another? What are the things that set the different characters off? What makes you angry and what makes it hard for you to practice forgiveness. What happens when we don’t work to forgive each other?
A reading of Chapter 20 by Amelia Corbett
About the Blog
Journey through the season of Advent with daily updates on the adventures of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Belliacre, MI as they attempt to cobble together a Christmas Pageant with an unlikely cast of characters.
Stephanie is an art educator and a landscape/portrait artist. Her inspirations come from the amazing people she meets and the gorgeous state of Michigan as well as her home state of Florida. She and he husband love nature. They are out in the water during the summer months and on the snow in the winter enjoying the simple pleasures of life.