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Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? #19

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Whose Birthday? BONUS Items


BONUS ITEMS - Worthy items not included in the print edition

An Advent Haiku

by Leona Wieland

based on Isaiah 2:4

"No more wars," He says,
But we are selfish in deed
With wants gone a wry.

Advent Haiku

by Cathy Brechtelsbauer

based on Hebrews 10:5-10

Christ takes no pleasure
In off'rings and rituals,
‘Til we DO God’s will.

Meet Cathy at post #129.


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Just Daily Do the Work I Give You

By Patricia Edwards-Konic

The stars were shining bright as I stood on the hill where the shepherds saw the angels and heard the message – a savior is born in Bethlehem.

I heard no message nor saw heavenly angels.

To get to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, one now has to go through the new checkpoint between the completed section of a wall twice as high as the Berlin Wall. Rachel’s tomb is barricade and only Jews can go there now.

The crossing from Israel into Palestine went smoothly on our bus and I began to see the work of real-life angels of mercy. We visited a school run by Sister Rose. Her mission is to care for children who have been through trauma and no longer function normally. Some children no longer talk; others have movement or memory problems. They have seen parents and relatives shot and killed before their eyes.

Another work of hope is Wi’am, a place teaching children, youth, women and men conflict resolution skills. The youth coordinator, Usama Ni Cola Al Zoughli, spoke a message of peace and goodwill to all people in the midst of constant struggle.

Manager Square and The Church of the Nativity were almost deserted. Bullet holes in the church walls testified to the siege of the Bethlehem in 2003 by Israeli forces.

Deputy Mayor, George Sa’adah and his wife shared their journey of forgiveness when their daughter was shot and killed during that time.

Conditions in Bethlehem seem worse than when Jesus was born. Yet he came into an occupied land to bring peace.

As I knelt inside the Church of the Nativity after seeing the cave where Jesus was born and the manager in which he lay, I was overwhelmed with joy – joy that Jesus chose to come to earth as a baby in the midst of such a horrific time for the people of the land. Roman occupation – now Israeli occupation. Checkpoints – then of the census and of Herod with the wise men – checkpoints and walls now.

I asked Christ what I, one person in Indiana could do? The answer came in a still small voice, “Just daily do the work I give you.”

BIO - Patricia Edwards-Konic is Editor of Quaker Life magazine and Friends United Press. She is also a recorded Friends Minister and has pastured by over 20 years.


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How It Happened--A vision: “what simple living looks like”

It was on Thanksgiving that I noticed the change that year. The traditional gentle nod and smile about the sin of gluttony was gone. The jokes about too much food and football weren’t so prevalent. I saw organic turkeys in most grocery stores.

From there Christmas seemed low key. The decorations were modest, especially in front of homes, partly because power costs had risen, partly because many folks had becomes content with less show. Some retailers tried to keep the face of extravagance but it didn’t help their sales. It seemed that folks had just become tired of the commercialism of the holiday and were willing to try a simpler Christmas. What a relief.

What had caused the change? Well, we had a series of natural disasters that seemed to hit people with the sense that all that we had could be taken away in an instant. That life was fragile. That life was much more than our stuff. That relationships were much more important. Some folks wanted exactly what they lost but others saw the need to rebuild in a more Earth-friendly way.

The political scene was grim. Protracted war had thrown our national budget into extreme debt and that seemed to give gullible citizens permission to follow with enormous consumer, credit card debt. Now saving’s up a bit as people realize that they probably shouldn’t rely completely on Social Security and company pensions.

The change was caused by crisis but there were other reasons too. Christians were coming to see that living their faith was more important than outward appearances. Citizens were seeing that protecting the Earth as their home was more important than driving really big cars and living in really big houses.

There were holdouts, of course. Some folks still got their identity by collecting but more and more realized that two decorative plates were enough, they didn’t need or want to dust the whole set of 127.

It just wasn’t cool anymore to have the biggest or the most. Small and slow are becoming “normal.”

Most of the commercial media continue to promote a stressful lifestyle of owning but some have come to realize that their continued existence is based on following the trend toward “quality of life” rather than “standard of living.”

It’s scary sometimes. Wages haven’t risen now that economical growth has slowed. But more and more people are OK with that because they have quickly learned frugal life skills from each other. They realize that living simply is not a life of deprivation. They actually have more freedom because they have less debt and have less stuff to take care of. They’re taking back ownership of their lives from the grip of consumerism.

Sure, there are still movie stars and gossip and lottery winners but they seem to be novelties, less than role models.

I think I’m becoming happier. It hasn’t been easy breaking away from the feeling that stuff would bring me happiness and meaning in my life. But I have developed more friends and we support each other.

Giving to charities and churches has fallen off a bit but as a percentage of our GPA, it’s actually up. Even though some folks are feeling less financially secure, most are more generous. Especially with their time. Volunteering is satisfying.

Life’s changing and it’s good.

Gerald Iversen


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Enough at Christmas?

When it's only the third day of Advent
and the stores are screaming
"Christmas is HERE!!!"

Where is enough?
What is enough?
How much is enough?
Am I enough?
Am I ever enough?
The answer I found is this:
With the gift of Christ,
I become enough.
What an incredible gift!
--Nancy Christenson, Champlin, Minnesota

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Christmas Exterior Decorating Award

In our town the local rag gives an award each year, called the Griswold Award for the “hero” in National Lampoon’s Christmas” – to the most extravagant outdoor decorated home.

I suggest we should stop rewarding extravagance, not guilting it, but at least not rewarding it.

So, if your local media does the same, consider these options for action.

Act as a group, not as individuals, preferably your church, or local chapter of Sierra Club.

Send a letter to the “winners.”

Greetings, fellow citizens,

Since heating homes is becoming more expansive. Since natural gas is getting more expensive and coal-fired electric plants pollute the atmosphere (God’s ration), please consider next year doing something other than decorating your home in a lavish way, even if it means not winning the Griswold Award.

Pledge the amount you spent this year on energy to help the needy heat their homes or have energy audits. Let the media know what you’re doing – now you have clout! Join us as we do the same.

Let the media know that you’ve been converted and will now enter the “most modest and esthetic class of the competition."

Your friends,

[signatures]

Then write to your local paper and ask them to change the competition, so that extravagance is not rewarded, but rather the people who gather the greatest number of pledges for helping others instead of decorating extravagantly.

Offer alternative messages for outdoor decorating. Instead of Santa of Frosty, suggest icons, such as St. Nicholas, and messages:

Also use these messages on church marquees.


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Christmas Resistance

Some very very rich carolers came by and sang this to us:

TOYS FOR THE WORLD

Tune: Joy to the World, with new lyrics by Cliff Tasner

Toys for the world are made by kids
And not by elves at all!
We work them night and day
For very little pay.
And little tiny hands
Make all your fav'rite brands
That fill up the shelves in every shopping mall.
Toys for the world that Santa brings
So your sweet kids can play...
What's underneath your tree
Is our economy.
And all those girls and boys
Who make you're children's toys
Are not getting squat from us on Christmas Day!
They're not getting squat from us on Christmas Day!

Official Blog of the Christmas Resistance Movement
http://xmasresistance.blogspot.com/
Monday, December 20, 2004
posted by Elf Thumper


Dear Folks at Alternative Living:

I'm an ordained UCC pastor serving a small church here in northern California. I'm also a lifelong writer of everything from film reviews to short stories and have been published in a variety of publications. My first book came out last September, a collaboration with two Methodist pastors called "Bit Players in the Big Play," a collection of first person narrative sermons, or what I call "story sermons."

In 1995, I spent some time in Kentucky on a summer-long mission experience. Those six weeks were truly days of grace and changed my life forever. The people there blessed me in more ways than I can count. In the years since, I've written some stories that I call my "Kentucky stories." Here's one called "Looking for Christmas." I also have others if you're interested.

Alternatives has been important to me for more than 20 years. Blessings on you and your work.
peace, Pam

Rev. Pamela J. Tinnin
Guerneville Community Church-UCC
Guerneville, California
<pamelatinnin@earthlink.net>

"If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution." Mother Jones

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Looking for Christmas

Pamela J. Tinnin

Soon as I started school I learned that my brother James Allen wasn’t like other kids. I remember how Mama fussed over me that first mornin’, braided my hair so tight I thought my eyes’d pop right out a my head. I had three new dresses made from flour sacks she saved. She always had a way with a needle and thread—almost looked like they come from the Sears & Roebuck catalog. She’d torn apart an old coat and sewed me a jacket with a little fur collar made from a rabbit skin my daddy give her from his traps.

We set off down the trail, me, Mama, and James. It took us the longest time. James’d wander off, lookin’ at the sky and rockin’ back and forth like he does. Course, we didn’t know about autism back then—when I asked why James Allen was like he was, my Gramma Mamie, who had taught school, read all kinds of books, and had some strange notions, told me that God had made life to be like a dance. “James Allen just hears different music, Merrilee,” she said. I wasn’t sure what she meant, not for a long time.

I remember that first day of school, walkin’ down the trail hearin’ the songbirds and the low hum of bees in the early mornin’ air. Like always James stopped at the old footbridge that crossed over Blue Crick. Mama had to coax him across. The old log was slick and mossy and he’d slipped off when he was little. Was carried downstream a couple hundred feet before he grabbed a hold of a limb that hung out over the water.

We finally got to the school and there was my very best friend Molly Kennedy jumpin’ up and down in front, her red curls bright in the sun. That girl still has more freckles than you can count, but her hair went plumb white before she was 40. Well, she started squealin’ my name and I broke away from my mama and run to her.

Molly and me were huggin’ and laughin’ and that’s when I heard Corey Hargrove. The Hargroves had lived just up the trail from us since before I was born, seven kids crowded in that little cabin and Corey the oldest. Like his daddy, Corey’s voice could cut like a whip. “Hey, Dummy,” he yelled. “Hey, you—dummy!” There was a crowd of big boys with him—Ralph Teeter, Andy Watson, and my own cousin, Donald Arthur. They were all in fifth grade, same as my brother, if he had ever gone to school, that is.

James Allen had bent down and picked up a maple seed, called ’em airplanes, the kind with two little wings. He held it high, then let it drop and followed it with his eyes, round and round, he watched it flutter to the ground.

“Retard!” Corey Hargrove shouted, then Ralph and Andy joined in. “Retard.” I saw my cousin Donald give a quick look towards my mama, but then he yelled it, too. “Retard, retard.”

It seemed like ever person there stopped and looked at my brother, that name ringin’ out across the playground. Worst of all, James Allen never paid no mind, just kept pickin’ up that maple seed, holdin’ it high and droppin’ it, watchin’ it float to the ground. Before I even knew I was gonna do it, I ran over and started beatin’ on Corey with my fists, hittin’ him over and over, and kickin’ at him.

He just held me off, then I felt somebody grab ahold of me. It was my mama and her face was so red, there was no mistakin’ she was mad as an old settin’ hen. “Merilee Wilcox—do you know Jesus is watchin’ you right now? How can you disappoint our Lord? Don’t you remember his words about turnin’ the other cheek?”

My mama was the most devout Christian you ever met, more faithful even than her own mama who some said had the gift of healin’. Talkin’ to Jesus was as natural as breathin’ to Mama. After all, she told us, Jesus came to earth to show us how to live—why not go to him with our troubles?

Right then I was more worried about my troubles with Daddy when he heard how I had spit on Corey’s boots and kicked him in the shins, and it bein’ the first day of school. I was gonna get a lickin’ for sure.

“But Mama,“ I started, “They called James a retard…”

“Hush, girl,” she said, and I knew she meant business.

I didn’t get a lickin’, though waitin’ for it through supper was almost as bad as gettin’ it. Mama never told Daddy, not then and not later. Ever day after that Mama walked me to school; ever day James Allen went with us. I begged her to let me walk on my own, but she didn’t, not until I was nine years old and in the fourth grade.

Well, I kept turning’ the other cheek. Finally the boys got tired and quit callin’ my brother names, but I saw the way the kids looked at ’im, and year after year I heard the whispers. Truth is, I was ashamed of him—By the time I was in high school, I had lived for a long time knowin’ my only brother was never gonna make the winning basket at state or place first in the science fair, much less remember to tie his shoes. But the year I was 16, I made a big mistake— brought home papers that told about a place where people like James Allen could stay. Mama was as mad as I’d ever seen— threw the papers in the fire and told me not to bring it up again.

By the time I started senior year, I had the prettiest little promise ring from Hubert Mason and we was plannin’ to get married come summer. That year started out slow, what with me thinkin’ it was a waste of time, me feelin’ all grown up, bein’ engaged and all. Halloween come and went, then it was Thanksgiving. We piled in the truck and drove over to Gramma Mamie’s. Daddy had shot a turkey and nobody could make sweet taters like my gramma. Mama had baked two dried-apple pies and a mincemeat.

After that, Christmas seem to come on us all at once. Maybe it was cause of the bad news—Daddy come home the first week of December and said the bosses back East had closed down the mine. Put near every man in the holler out a work.

We all knew there wasn’t gonna be much Christmas, but even at 17, I still had hopes. On Friday I had seen the Christmas things Mr. Clayburg had put in the store window. Molly had her eye on a plaid pleated skirt, but I wanted this blue angora sweater set with tiny pearl buttons.

The night before Christmas Eve, word went around that there was a giveaway down at the First Methodist. Church folks up to Cincinatti had sent boxes of toys and clothes. I heard my mama and daddy arguin’ in whispers—Mama said, “These kids is gonna have a Christmas whatever it takes.” They went down there, though I could tell Daddy’s pride was hurt somethin’ fierce. I knew how he felt—back then I’d do without before I’d wear folks’ charity and hand-me-downs.

About 8 o’clock there came a poundin’ on the door. Like always James Allen paid no mind. When I opened it, there stood Corey Hargrove.

“It’s my mama,” he said, his voice shakin'. “Daddy went to the giveaway, but she wasn’t feelin’ good. Now the baby’s comin’ and somethin’s wrong.”

“My folks is gone,” I told him.

“Somebody’s gotta do somethin’,” he said. “She’s gonna die.”

We bundled up and followed Corey up the trail. Inside their cabin, the kids huddled near the fire. There was with a little bedroom off to the back with a big high bed and Corey’s mama in it. I could see the sheets dark with blood.

I went to her and took her hand. Her eyes was wild with the pain of it and she was talkin’ crazy. I hadn’t never been to a birth except for the calves and the kittens that come every spring, so at first I just kept strokin’ her hand.

That’s when James Allen stepped forward, his eyes as wild as Mrs. Hargrove’s, his hands shakin’ like he had palsy. He reached out and put a hand on the mound of her belly and closed his eyes. I could probably count  on my fingers the number of times James speaks in a week, but he surely did that night. “Jesus,” he said, his voice as gentle as a breeze. “Save them…save them.“ I just closed my eyes tight and prayed and prayed, sendin’ the words silently up to where I hoped He was listenin’—“My mama says you’re always with us, Jesus—be with us tonight.”

That was it, that is until the baby slid right out on the bed, silent and still. I bent over and wiped its little face, then put my lips on the baby’s mouth and breathed as soft as could be; then again, just like I knew what to do. The baby let out a cry, at first as weak as a new lamb, then gettin’ louder and stronger. I put the baby girl in her mama’s arms. I was cryin’ and so was Mrs. Hargrove. Corey turned away from me, but I could see him wipin’ the tears.

I got things cleaned up, put the little kids to sleep on the pallet  up in the loft, and then told James Allen it was time to go. He was settin’ at the kitchen table, twirlin’ a bowl round and round, watchin’ it spin. I called him again and he pulled himself up from the table. Corey come up—he put out his hand to me and shook mine, sayin’ “Thank you, Merrilee…thank you.” Then he put out a hand to my brother, but James Allen was looking at the fireplace, watchin’ the flames.

Corey put his hand down, but he didn’t turn away. “Thank you, James Allen,” he said, though James never looked up. “Thank you.”

Walking down the path toward home, I saw the first flakes of snow. James Allen kept stoppin’ to look at the sky. Down by the big elm tree, he stopped and pointed up through the branches. Sure as I’m standin’ here, there was one star brighter than all the rest, way up in the sky right over the Hargroves’ place.

“The Jesus star,” James whispered. “The Jesus star.“ Then he began to rock back and forth like he does. I put my arm around his shoulder real careful, knowin’ how he hates bein’ touched. I just held it there, lookin’ up at that star and then back at my big brother standin’ there in the snow, his tongue stuck out  to catch the icy flakes.

Right then I thought about Pastor Hodgkins always preachin’ how Jesus was comin’ again. He’d pound the pulpit and shout, “You better be ready…you better be ready.” You know, ever since the night Merilee James Hargrove was born, I know as well as I know anything that Jesus is here with us, as real as you and me, and like my Gramma Mamie told me, he never gives up on us—not a one of us—just keeps invitin’ us to listen to the music and join in the dance.

Now you be careful goin’ home—and don’t forget—Jesus loves you and so do I.

This story is also comes on Worship Alternatives CD-ROM, v.2.1.


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Animal Barn

by Linnea Good

for Summerland United Church’s Children’s Programme Advent 2005

White Gift Sunday

This play is designed to be flexible according to the acting needs or wants of your performers. Actors may be age 5 and up (or younger, with direct help)

Speaking

Option 1: Only 3 people ever speak - the 3 Narrators.

Option 2: If they wish to, some children could repeat the line that is attributed to them, after the Narrator speaks it.

Option 3: Some older actors might learn and deliver their lines. Narrators merely say the lead-in (ie. "Murph said...") as necessary. I have such scripted lines written like this – Narr1/Dog.

Suggestion: Do not encourage actors to speak in very high, low or weird voices in character. Rather, ask them to think of themself as the animal’s character (ie. NORM the sheep). Often, weird voices are hard to decipher from the audience, and they are hard to maintain.

Acting

The action is basically in a big circle on the stage. For the most part, actors stand up when they hear themselves mentioned - and do the action or simply flap, wag or whatever when they hear their own words spoken by the Narrator, then sit back down. As the conflict of the story progresses, each animal group leaves the circle for a pre-designated spot on the stage a little farther from one another. Toward the end, they return to centre stage and are re-united. Simple!

Suggestion: Spend time making sure the children are always turned toward the audience, not the action. It’s weird but it’s necessary and it works.

Characters

Animal Barn Script

by Linnea Good

Narr1: Once upon a time there was a barnyard. (Animals enter and all take up a big circle on the stage, facing the audience. Mouse sits a bit away from them, on a chancel stair, maybe at the opposite side of the readers) It had many animals: Horses, Cows, Sheep and Lambs, Ducks and Ducklings, (anything else you wish) a Cat, a Dog and a Mouse.

Narr2: The animals were all happy to live in the barnyard close to town.

Narr3: They had everything they needed.

Narr1: They got along well.

Narr2: Everything was perfect.

Narr3: Until one day.

Narr1: One day, the humans of the farm came into the barnyard in a gruff way. (Humans enter with pails and pitchfork and begin to do the following)

Narr2: They threw the food into the stalls, they muttered under their breath,

Narr3: they didn't remember to ask Betsy the Cow how her Calf was today

Narr1: they failed to check the sore hoof of Chilcotin the Horse. And most shocking of all,

Narr2: they didn't even think to pat Murph the Dog on the head.

Narr3: When Agnes the cat tried to ask them what was the matter, with her best winding around the legs, they brushed her off, all the while saying things like:

Narr1/Mr Real: "Just what I need! A million people in my own home."

Narr2: Hairpin the Mouse sat in the corner and watched. (Mr and Mrs Real leave)

Narr3: The animals were confused. (Animals scratch their heads)

Narr1: Why would there be a million people in the owners’ own home and why would that be a problem? They all lived and slept very close to one another and there were probably a million of them -

Narr2: - or at least 35, anyway.

Narr3: So, they called for a short meeting and it was decided that Murph would be the one to venture out, discover what was going on outside the barnyard and report back.

Narr1: Which he did. (Murph runs out, runs back in and stands to explain)

Narr2: And this is what he found:

Narr3: Many, many human-people were going to come to the town and everybody knew what that would mean. (Animals shake their heads)

Narr1: It was going to mean they would need to sleep somewhere. (Animals nod in understanding)

Narr3: And everybody knows what that means. (Animals shake their heads)

Narr1: It means that everything in the house is going to get ruined, wrecked or stolen. (Animals nod in understanding)

Narr2: Norm the Sheep stopped nodding and asked:

Narr3/Sheep: "Is that really what it's like outside the barnyard, Murph?"

Narr2: The dog nodded and said:

Narr1/Dog: "I guess so. The world must be a dangerous place. I heard Mrs Real say that we have to protect what is ours."

Narr2: The animals thought hard about this (Scratch their heads). Each wondered what they should protect.

Narr3: They imagined how they could make their barnyard world a little safer.

Narr1: They tried to imagine the dangers all around them.

Narr1,2,3: IT MADE THEM NERVOUS.

Narr3: Chilcotin was the first to take action. He said,

Narr2/Horse: "I shall stand here by the barn door and if anyone tries to come in and ruin, wreck or steal, I will kick them with my powerful back leg." (Turns around and stands awkwardly with one leg up and poised. Starts to fall asleep)

Narr3: And he stood waiting until his ready leg got charley-horse.

Narr1: However, it wasn't long before an intruder did come.

Narr2: The door began to slide open with a low squeaking sound (Actors make squeaking sound) and when the horse finally awoke from a bit of a doze, he kicked it so quickly that it made the intruder fly through the air with a wild quacking sound. (Crank jumps up and flaps and squawks. Sits back down)

Narr3: Actually it was one of Elaine Duckmother's ducklings who had been coming for a visit.

Narr2: When Elaine Duckmother heard that baby Crank had been almost got winged because of a flying barn door, she was really mad. She said:

Narr1/Duck: "I'm keeping my babies out of this barn. This world is a dangerous place." And she marched all her babies out the door. (Ducklings go sit together in one corner away from the circle)

Narr2: That changed things in the barn. The ducklings always spent the afternoon playing duck-duck-goose with Betsy's calf "Half-Pint".

Narr1: Now Half-Pint was mad. (Half-Pint stands up and puts hands on hips. Lambs stand up and look at her) When the lambs came over to ask:

Narr2,3/Lambs: "CAN WE BORROW YOUR SKIPPING ROPE?"

Narr1: the calf replied:

Narr2/Calf: "I'm not allowed to lend my stuff because it might get ruined, wrecked or stolen!"

Narr3: Then the sheep parents herded their babies away, telling them they were not allowed to play with cows. (Sheep all go sit together in another designated area)

Narr1: And they added 'wasn't Half-Pint the one who had critically wounded a duckling?'

Narr2: They got it all mixed up, but they protected their babies and made the barnyard a safer place, so they went away feeling satisfied.

Narr3: Sort of.

Narr2: So, the cows went away, too. (Cows go to a designated area)

Narr1: All day long, the barnyard had a grumpy feeling. Everybody looked at each other funny.

Narr2: Agnes thought Murph was going to chase her up a tree so she ran away before he could do it. (Cat looks nervously at dog and runs away. Dog looks at audience and shrugs in confusion)

Narr3: Betsy told Chilcotin to stop stealing her hay and blamed him for the manure smell in the stable. (Cow shakes a finger at Horse)

Narr1: The sheep stayed in their own corner.

Narr2: The ducks stayed in their own corner.

Narr3: The dog stayed in his corner. (Dog goes to his place)

Narr1: The cheese stood alone. (ok, if you don’t get this joke, take it out..!)

Narr2: To say the least, the stable was unstable.

Narr1,2,3: IT STAYED LIKE THIS FOR AWHILE.

Narr3: Then Agnes came back. (Cat smugly sidles into the middle of stage) She sang:

Narr2/Cat: "I know something you don't know...! Supper's coming!"

Narr3: The animals stared at each other for a moment. Each was thinking the same thing:

Narr1,2,3: The world was a dangerous place and the others might steal all their supper.

Narr2: In their minds they began a count-down to run and get their supper first

Narr1,2,3/ALL: "Ready...".... "Set..."

Narr1/Mouse: "Squeak!"

Narr2: It could have been a terrible scene.

Narr3: It might have been a frightful mess.

Narr1: But at that very moment, a wee voice was heard. It sounded like the squeak of a mouse.

Narr2: It was the squeak of a mouse. (Mouse runs to the middle of the stage)

Narr3: Hairpin Mouse walked into their midst and said to them:

Narr1/Mouse: "Wait! Wait! You're making a big mistake!"

Narr2: All the animals froze in their tracks.

(As the other animals hear their lines spoken, they take a step back into the circle)

Narr2/Horse: "Move out, mouse-meat,"

Narr3: ...said the horse, who was worried the dog might steal his hay.

Narr2: The mouse spoke again:

Narr1/Mouse: "You're protecting the wrong things and it's ruining everything!"

Narr2: Betsy spoke up:

Narr3/Cow: "I'm protecting supper! I've got 4 stomachs to feed and then there's the baby."

Narr2: Elaine Duckmother added:

Narr1/Duck: "The world is a dangerous place, you know."

Narr2: The Sheep said:

Narr3/SHEEP: "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO GET RUINED, WRECKED OR STOLEN."

Narr2: The mouse looked around at them all. She said:

Narr1/Mouse: "The world IS a dangerous place when you don't trust each other. You're trying to protect things from being ruined, wrecked or stolen. But in the meantime, you forgot about 3 more important things."

Narr2: The animals looked at the mouse and scratched their heads. (Animals scratch heads)

Narr3: Murph spoke for everybody:

Narr1/Dog: "What 3 things?"

Narr2: The mouse said back to them:

Narr1/Mouse: "No no! Friendship, Trust and Caring."

Narr3: The animals turned this over in their minds. They all said:

Narr1,2,3/ALL: “FRIENDSHIP, TRUST AND CARING?"

Narr3: Elaine Duckmother said,

Narr1/Duck: "But what if someone ruins something?"

Narr3: And Agnes said:

Narr2/Cat: "What if someone wrecks something?"

Narr3: And the lambs said:

Narr1,3/Lambs: "WHAT IF SOMEONE STEALS SOMETHING?"

Narr3: The mouse replied,

Narr1/Mouse: "It's true; it might happen. And that would be sad. But, when you treat everybody like an enemy already, something in your life has already been ruined AND wrecked AND stolen."

Narr3: The animals were slow on this point. They asked:

Narr1,2,3/ALL: "WHAT?"

Narr2: The mouse replied:

Narr1/Mouse: "Friendship, Trust and Caring! That's what makes life in the barnyard so good. Don't you get it?"

Narr2: The barnyard was silent while everybody thought for a moment. (Agnes looks off in the direction of the Reals, who are walking in with pail and pitchfork)

Narr3: Suddenly Agnes shouted:

Narr2/Cat: "They're coming!"

Narr3: Mrs and Mr Real arrived to feed the animals before anybody could answer.

Narr1: They were talking.

Narr2: Mrs Real sounded annoyed. She said:

Narr3/Mrs Real: "Listen - I don't care if we are the only house in Bethlehem that doesn't take any visitors! When all the people start coming into town and they knock on our door, I want you to tell them there's no room! This isn't a hotel; it's our HOME."

Narr2: Mr Real was worried. He said:

Narr1/Mr Real: "You want me to tell them to go away?"

Narr2: Mrs Real replied:

Narr3/Mrs Real: "Yes! Because if we start letting all those people in our house, everything is going to get-

Narr1,2,3/ALL: RUINED, WRECKED OR STOLEN."

Narr2: The animals looked at each other.

Narr3: They smiled.

Narr1: Then Murph walked up to the Reals and wagged his tail.(Murph does so. Mr Real pats his head)

Narr2: Mr Real felt good when Murph came over. He asked Mrs Real:

Narr1/Mr Real: "What if the people have no place to stay?"

Narr3: Murph sat up, shook a paw, rolled over and played dead. (Murph does so)

Narr1: Mrs Real looked at him and she didn't feel so sure any more. She said:

Narr3/Mrs Real: "I don't know."

Narr2: Then Murph got serious. He said:

Narr1/Dog: "Humans, it's OK to trust others. It's taking a chance – that’s true. But when you do, you get to keep something else way more important than your things. Know what that is?”

Narr1,2,3/ALL: “FRIENDSHIP, TRUST AND CARING!"

Narr2: Mrs Real smiled. She looked around at all her animal friends. And she said:

Narr3/Mrs Real: "Mr Real, do you sometimes feel like the animals are trying to talk to us?"

Narr2: Mr Real nodded. And Mrs Real said:

Narr3/Mrs Real: "I wonder what they're trying to say..."

Narr1: All the animals crowded in together and put their arms around one another. (Stll looking at the Reals)

Narr2: They were friends again.

Narr3: Mr Real asked them:

Narr1/Mr Real: "Animals, if someone needed a place to sleep, would you give them a place in your stable?"

Narr3: The animals answered him.

ALL: (Animals make each their own sound and nod their heads enthusiastically)

Narr2: Mrs Real was convinced.

Narr3/Mrs Real: "Alright. If the animals are willing to trust strangers, then we can, too."

Narr2: The animals cheered. (The Reals proceed around with pail and pitchfork, pretending to feed animals)

Narr1: And so it was that everybody got what they needed.

Narr2: The humans remembered to ask Betsy the Cow how her Calf was,

Narr3: they checked the sore hoof of Chilcotin the Horse,

Narr1: they stroked Agnes the Cat,

Narr2: they gave food to the Duck family and the Sheep family, and of course...

Narr3: they patted Murph the Dog on the head.

Narr1: And, as usual, Hairpin the Mouse sat smiling in the corner. Eventually, she said:

Narr1/Mouse: (to the audience): " There's enough room for everyone when we share. There's enough friendship and there's enough caring, too. I don't expect that anyone will need to sleep in our stable when the human-people come to Bethlehem, do you? But, if anyone does need a place to stay, we're ready to share. Who knows? Maybe it could go down in history as the night the animals showed humans how to show friendship, trust and caring."

(Animals stand up and bow)

Music immediately begins.... (something celebratory and Advent-ish)

©2005 Borealis Music

Linnea Good is a singer-songwriter and leader in the fields of music in worship, and adults and children worshipping together. Based in Summerland BC, Canada, she travels in her trio giving concerts, offering workshops and worship leadership all over North America. Her Psalm-body’s Prayin’ Subscription List offers congregational, choral, group and liturgical music on a weekly basis throughout the year. Visit www.LinneaGood.com for information about this, for free sheet music and MP3 downloads, to learn her story, discover how to host her or to order one of her many and gorgeous CDs and books

This play also comes "Worship Alternatives" CD-ROM, v.2.1.


The following accompanies the article - Christmas Cow - by Dr. Wink in the print edition.

WINK BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Dr. Walter Wink is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. Previously, he was a parish minister and taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. In 1989-1990 he was a Peace Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC.

His most recent books are The Human Being: The Enigma of the Son of the Man (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, October 2002), and Jesus and Nonviolence (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, April 2003). The Human Being received the Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award for Best Book Relating to the New Testament for 2003.

He is author of a trilogy, The Powers:

Engaging the Powers has received three "Religious Book of the Year" awards for 1993: from Pax Christi, the Academy of Parish Clergy, and the Midwestern Independent Publishers Association.

His other works include:

June Keener Wink and Walter Wink do workshops aimed at an encounter with the biblical text that will be transformative for the participants. She does body movement, drawing on a variety of approaches. She also leads the group in meditation, work with art, and other integrative events. Walter facilitates Socratic dialogue about biblical texts. By thus drawing on the right and left sides of the brain, participants are enabled to experience the texts! meaning at a deeper level than just academic discourse.

June and Walter have led workshops all over the United States and Canada, as well as in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, South Korea, East and West Germany, England, Scotland and Inland. They spent four months in South and Central America in 1982, studying military dictatorships and the struggle for justice and democracy. As a result of that trip, Walter's projected study on the principalities and powers grew from a one volume to a three volume work.

They traveled to South Africa in 1986. Out of that trip a book emerged, Violence and Nonviolence in South Africa 3200 copies were sent into South Africa, one by one, to black and white English-speaking clergy. It seems to have had a significant impact in discussions there. In 1988, Walter entered South Africa illegally, having been refused a visa, and after leading workshops in nonviolence in Johannesburg and Pretoria, turned himself in to the authorities and was expelled.

In 1989, Walter was honored by selection as a Peace Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. Part of that year's fellowship involved a five month stay at Oxford University, completing the third volume of the Powers trilogy (Engaging the Powers .

They live in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts, where they attempt to live the complicated and time-consuming "simple" life, raising their own vegetables, fruits and berries and freezing them for the winter months. Their home is the location also of June's pottery studio Wild Thyme Pottery. She specializes in oil lamps, chalices and patens, and majolica (which involves painting on pottery).

In March, 1994, they served as official poll watchers in the Elections in El Salvador. In December 1994 they did nonviolence training in Mexico around issues raised by the Zapatista, insurgency. In 1998 they returned to South Africa to lead workshops on the use of nonviolence in dealing with the high levels of violence in South African society.


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