Monday, May 16, 2011

Living In Awe, Frist Congregational UCC, Rock Springs, WY 5/15/2011

Living In Awe!
By Rev Steven R Mitchell
First Congregational UCC, Rock Springs, WY 5/15/2011
Based on Acts 2:42-47

Have you ever listened to someone talk about what they have been doing since the last time that you had spoken with them and found yourself thinking, “Gee I wish I had their life?” Not too many years ago you could watch shows like, “The Rich and Famous”, where we were given insight into the world that only those with excess money could live. One of the news items this week was about Prince William and Kate’s Million Dollar Honeymoon. It is easy for us to be in “Awe” of how some people live what a capitalistic society would define as a successful and fulfilling lifestyle. Back in the 1960’s, the term “Jet-setter” was coined, to define people who had large amounts of discretionary funds in which to lavish themselves with the finest material things life has to offer.
One day, a number of years ago while talking to my mother on the phone; I wasn’t hearing much about what was happening in her life. When I asked her why she wasn’t telling me what was going on, she replied with, “Steven, your life sounds so much more exciting, I don’t feel like I’ve been doing anything.” The lesson that I learned that day with my mother’s comment was, even though the activities that I was involved in, which to me were rather ordinary, run of the mill type of things (the things that I did on a regular basis), were to her, “Awe” inspiring. They were things that she saw as living a lifestyle of the “rich and famous”, thus making her life seem less fulfilling than what it was. You see, the things that we do normally, which may seem mundane to us, might very well be seen as exciting, breathtaking expressions of living the “good life” to someone else.
As members of any faith body, we can look at what other churches are doing and start to feel just like my mother was feeling, “Gee, they are doing exciting things in their churches and we are not doing anything out of the ordinary in ours.” Image how the traditional Jewish practitioners must have been thinking, when they were looking at what was going on within this new sect called “The Way.? Verse 43 states, “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.”
I found myself feeling a little envious the other day while chatting with Martha Atchins, pastor of the Mt of Olives church, as we were discussing the growth that I have seen in her congregation. Martha started serving that congregation a little over three years ago. In the past year, she has experienced almost 50% growth. This is great! We too have had a substantial increase in attendance this past year as well. Last year it was an overall increase of 10% (this might not sound like much, but many congregations would kill for that type of growth.) Out of Curiosity, I ran the numbers for the past eighteen weeks and discovered that we are at a 1% increase in attendance over the same period last year. I was deflated a bit to say the very least, because it feels like we have had a stronger increase than what the numbers say.
Now I have to keep things in perspective. Over the last twenty months, we have experienced a huge increase in attendance and more exciting is that there are many new faces prior to my coming to serve you! The attitude within this family of believers is 180* from where you were when I first arrived. We now have this anticipation that there is a future through this ministry. We are doing well, but is there room for “more?” Yes, I think so. This then leads into the question as to how can we continue to move in the direction like the church we read in this morning’s scripture of Acts?
Starting this last Fall, there has been a group studying the lessons learned through the research of Diane Butler Bass, as to what growing main-line denominational churches have in common, as reported in the book, From Nomads to Pilgrims. One of the questions asked of me early on was, “Pastor, what can we do to help our church grow?” I hope that through this study, we have learned that there are no set programs that work in “growing” a church, but rather there are some common characteristics of growing churches.
We find in Acts, chapter 2 some of the very basic characteristics of a growing church. They are as follows: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. How would we restate them in today’s understanding: being intentional about reading and studying scripture and listening to one another’s understanding of what they are studying; of coming together, such as in Worship, to gather with one another outside of the church setting, like in our homes for fellowship. This could be like going camping together, or bowling or playing sports in what we call church leagues, or going out to lunch together or the movies, as examples. Then we break bread together, which is what we call communion or more importantly remembering Christ as we come together in community. The fourth is to devote time to prayer. This is both in private times as well as corporate times. There is such power as we open ourselves up to one another and to God with what is on our hearts as concerns and joys, as well as praying for the welfare of those beyond our immediate concerns.
These are what I would call, the four basics for any person in their faith development. Depending on how much time and effort you put into all four of these areas will determine not only how much you grow, but how the larger faith family grows. It is so very simple. We read in Acts 2, that as these people invested themselves into these four activities that they grew not only in numbers, but more importantly they were living in awe at what they were seeing happening around them. Are we “living in awe” within this congregation? Or, do we feel that if devoting ourselves to these four basic activities is placing more “burden” upon our lives and creating more stress?
The Jesuit paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin, states: we are primarily spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience. If this is true, then tending to our spiritual health is of primary importance.
Church growth is of primary concern for all churches. Many church profiles, speak to looking for pastors who will “save” them, by growing their churches. They tend to think in terms of numerical growth and not about spiritual growth. I address this situation within my profile with these words: … many churches are looking at their ‘ministries” through the eyes of survivalism. It is my opinion that one should look to church growth not in terms of “How do we grow” but rather looking to answer in earnest “How can I deepen my relationship with God.” In other words, not how can we grow our church but rather, ‘how can I grow myself?’ It is with the personal growth in our spiritual lives that is the basis for any significant growth of a congregation and thus deepening of the congregation’s ministry.
Are you like millions of Americans who sit back and watch in “awe” programs that show others achieving more within their lives than you? Are you like my mother, who feels that she has nothing going on in her life after listening to what other people do in their normal daily activities? Are you living your life in the style of the Christians we read in Acts, chapter 2 or do you view your life as receiving less than they, spiritually?
The secret is to commit yourself to be actively working the basic program that is set before us by the early church. In AA, it is called “walking the talk”. If you really want to be “Living in Awe”, then you have to work at nurturing your spiritual life. If you want to have this church “living in awe” then it is up to you, as an individual to commit yourself to constant study of the scriptures, fellowship frequently, break bread with one another and pray constantly. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to commit to doing all these things for just two months in order to test what I am telling you, I can guarantee you that will be finding “many wonders and signs” in your daily life that you have been previously been missing, and you will be living in awe, daily! I would be so bold to say, if just one third of this congregation did this on an individual basis, in less than a year, we wouldn’t be able to fit into this space for worship at one time. Are you willing to take this challenge of “living in awe”? Amen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just Let Go, Rock Springs, WY May 1,2011

Just Let Go!
By Rev Steven R Mitchell
First Congregational UCC, Rock Springs, WY May 1, 2011
Based on John 20:19-31

One of the members of this congregation shared a little piece of information with me a few weeks concerning the nature of this body of believers. I was informed that the church membership doesn’t deal well with change, for the sake of change, but given solid reasons and enough time to digest, eventually do make changes. First off, this isn’t unique to First Congregational, almost all bodies of faith resist change for the sake of change, and when needing to change, move slowly in doing so. We both ended in laughing about the irony of the only thing that is constant is change itself!
Our last two worship services, which were Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, were conducted very differently than what we do a lot of Sundays. We were worshipping in forms that were not “the way we usually” worship. On Palm Sunday, there were lots of video on the screen, coffee cups were in the chancel area, and the pulpit had been removed. We left in silence two weeks ago, leaving our Palms and on Easter Sunday entered a dark Sanctuary. The lilies were not up front, we were not greeted by bright lights and up-beat music as usual on Easter Sunday. The pastor had really messed with Palm Sunday and Easter this year!
Yet these changes were not for the sake of doing something different, but were made to emphasize the messages of what we were celebrating. Both Sundays were celebration Sundays and less of what I think of as Sundays for Worship. Very much like the Passover Meal is about a celebration, rather than about worship. The first message that I wanted to present for Palm Sunday was that what Jesus was doing, “the triumphal entry” wasn’t just 2,000 year old history that we recite each year. I wanted us to experience it in a twenty-first setting. I also wanted us to be able to understand (at least have a sense) the thrill of Easter morning by going through the death of Christ, and how dark the disciples must have been feeling up to the point of discovering the empty tomb.
I should have asked the deacons to guard the doors this morning and checking everyone’s I.D. before letting you into the sanctuary this morning as a continuation of our Easter story, still having the lights down low, to help create that sense of “fear” that our story is describing. Almost like having bouncers at the doors of a speak-easy, helping protect those of us inside from the cops who were looking for gatherings of folks who enjoyed having a good time outside the boundaries of the law.
The reality of our situation is that as Christians we have only experienced Easter on this side of this marvelous event, not being able to understand all the fear, confusion, and pain of the these followers of Jesus who lived through the experience of the other side. Not only do we have the disadvantage of living 2,000 years after the fact, but we also live in a country where we do not truly understand fear from violent and intolerant governments or religious leaders as did those folks, or do people today in certain countries in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and parts of South America.
So for us to truly understand the impact of the assurance that Jesus was giving these people hiding behind locked doors, living in fear of what might happen next, with a greeting like “Peace be with you”, is near to impossible. I think the closest point in my life that I can relate to being fearful because of national events, was with the bombing of the twin towers in NYC. I recall after realizing that we had been attacked by terrorists, the need to be in contact with my three children, two of them lived 1,400 miles away from me and the third was not too far out of Washington D.C...
None of my children had by my standards any lessons on how to be cautious when in public spaces. Things like, while walking down a street of keeping a conscious view of the way people are acting; when entering into a building, of taking a quick look for where the exits are located; when in large crowds, looking for suspicious behavior. These are all things that a gay person quickly learns when going out in public. I was fearful that the shopping malls in particular were going to be the next target for terrorists and that they might find themselves at a possible location of danger.
As a country, we had the opportunity to do some self-examination as to why these types of actions were being directed at us, time to examine our life styles of excessive desires of self-indulging society that could possibly have triggered this type of hurtful retribution, a time to honestly look at our last 50 yrs of foreign policies and see what harm we might have created in other cultures in order to make our lifestyles more affluent. Instead we were encouraged to go shopping. We had an administration that took full advantage of our fear in order to justify more violence, plunging us into two wars and setting the stage for economic mayhem and anyone who questioned their motives, were verbally assassinated as being “unpatriotic!”
Fear is an ugly thing, and most destructive. Fear paralyzes, cripples, and brings general inability to reason clearly. It was imperative for Jesus to appear to his disciples not only to let them know that he had risen, but to give them assurance that they would be able to move ahead. “Peace I give to you” not just once but a second time, “Peace I give to you”.
Then, Jesus immediately gives them a directive of going out to do the same work that He had been sent to do, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”, and gives them the Holy Spirit in order to help them in their mission. Then a very curious thing is said by Jesus, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Eugene Peterson says it in this way, “If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"
One of the hardest things for us to do is to “forgive”. We so love to hold on to every little and big hurt that has ever been done to us! My grandmother had a memory like a steal trap and she never hesitated to remind you of some wrong doing that you did thirty, forty, even fifty years ago.
Now does “forgiving” mean that we also forget? Usually not, and in some cases, we never want to forget, if only to never repeat the mistake, such as the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi party, or of a whole population turning it’s head the other way, because of “fearing” their own Government.
Why are people or political systems that feed on fear so destructive? It’s because, it stops “goodness”, “kindness”, “civility”, “gentleness”, “sharing” and the ability to “love.” William Sloane Coffin, a great prophet of the United Church of Christ who died several years ago, fittingly, during Holy Week, once said: "As I see it, the primary religious task these days is to try to think straight...You can't think straight with a heart full of fear, for fear seeks safety, not truth. If your heart's a stone, you can't have decent thoughts – either about personal relations or about international ones. A heart full of love, on the other hand, has a limbering effect on the mind."UCC Sermon Seeds
The goal for any church should be to work toward “Truth”, and the only way that can happen is to rid itself of the “fear”, which holds it back. A basic component to “Fear” is the inability to “forgive.” By forgiving, we “let go” of the wrong. Once we let go of the wrong, we no longer have the need to hold onto “fear”. Jesus tells us to, “Fear not, for I am with you.” If we chose to live in fear, then we are disrespecting Jesus and not allowing him to be fully alive within us.
Every congregation could do with a dose of “forgiving”. When you hear comments like, “I don’t like this pastor or I didn’t like that pastor, or Pastor so and so made me mad, so I don’t come to church”, or “So and so did this to me, I will never forgive them for that”, these are obvious signs of an unforgiving heart. Jesus asked, “If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” This is a good question, “Why do we want to hold on to things that immobilize us, keep us from clear thinking, things that prevent us from moving ahead?” We don’t do “alter calls” in the UCC, but I wonder if we might not become healthier people if we were to do “alter calls” or even confessional booths, once in awhile.
A part of the resurrection Sunday is receiving the “Peace of Christ” and out of this “peace” comes the ability to “forgive”. It’s up to us, we can either hold on to fear and an unforgiving heart and whither on the vine, or we can prune ourselves by letting go of fear and the hurts that stunt us and become a bush that will abundantly produce. The chose is ours. Jesus tells us to, “Just let go!” Amen

For Whom Are You Looking?, Rock Springs, WY Easter Sunday, April 24,2011

“For whom are you looking?”
By Rev Steven R Mitchell
First Congregational UCC, Rock Springs, WY 4/24/2011
Based on John 20:1-18 and Acts 10:34-43

In the movie “Torch Song Trilogy”, Arnold the son of a grieving mother who had just lost her husband, was asking his mother what she thought she would do now that “dad” was dead? Her response was, “I guess I’ll move to Florida.” “Florida? What for ma, you don’t have anyone down there, Phil (the other son) and I live here in New York. Why would you want to move down there?” “When your great-grandfather died, your great-grandmother mother moved to Florida, when my father died, my mother moved down to Florida, now that your father is dead, I’ll move to Florida. That’s what we do, we move to Florida!” Arnold responded with, “But mom, what do you want to do?” She quickly responded by saying, “I want to die, but until then, I’ll move to Florida.”
That scene was dealing with rituals. And rituals are great things, they help us get through periods of our lives, that otherwise would be so difficult that we would not be able to navigate through. The most dramatic being, when we suffer a sever loss in our life. When we lose someone very dear to us to death, we go into a period of shock, as a defense so as to not load our feelings with more grief than we can bare. It’s as if we have an internal breaker box, that when too much pain comes, the breaker trips, shutting down our emotions. But it isn’t only our emotions that shut down. Our ability to reason, to make decisions, even to recall simple events that are only an hour old, we can also become paralyzed; our whole system seems to shut down, to where only the bare minimal in activity seems to be allowed to function.
I am sure as we think about this morning’s reading, many of us here can put ourselves in-part, into the shoes of Mary and the disciples. For they were having to cope with this terrible lose, with the execution of the man they had looked to as their “rabbouni”, their “teacher”, the one that Peter had declared as “Messiah”! They surely were operating under a great deal of shock, as they start to deal with the death of their beloved, Jesus. They not only were dealing with his death, but also must have been concerned about their own safety, wondering if they too would be picked up by the authorities.
We have this amazingly beautiful story of Mary going to the place where they had laid Jesus, temporarily during the Sabbath, and finding that the tomb had been opened and Jesus’ body wasn’t where they had left him. But amid all of the fear, doubt, and confusion, we see where Jesus appears to her and speaks with her. The story doesn’t go into the technical details of “how” Jesus” was raised, but rather the story focuses on how Mary experienced “Jesus’ resurrection!”
The resurrection story is an amazing story on many different levels. First off and most importantly, the story talks about an event that goes beyond all logical and physical reasoning. When a person dies, the body doesn’t come back to life, at least not normally. This event, is telling us that something supernatural has occurred, and that this event has ongoing implications for the world.
Another very important part of this story, deals with who Jesus is appearing to, who He is having conversation with, and who has been entrusted in sharing with the world, this most important news! In a world where men where the shakers and movers, here we see God once more picking the lowly, in this case a woman named Mary, to become the new bearer of the “Good News” that God has not died but yet still lives!
This particular account of the resurrection story has an intriguing question being posed to Mary, thus being posed to us by Jesus when he asked Mary, “For whom are you looking?” Or it could be said in another way, “What are you looking for, Mary?” “What are you doing here? What do you expect to find?”
When we come to church; when we come to worship, be it on Easter Sunday morning, or Christmas Eve, or any Sunday of the month for that matter, what is it that we are looking for? Whom do we seek? What are we hoping to find? Do we come to worship out of tradition? Do we move to Florida, because that’s what others before us have done? Or, this is what we do on Easter Sunday, we come to church. Or our families have always come to church on Sunday and that’s what we do, because, it is programmed into our DNA, to come to church on Sunday? But when you get here, what do you expect to happen? Do you expect to find God here? Are you suppose to feel better for coming to church? Are you shocked when you come and do not find Jesus here? Or do you see only an empty tomb?
Do you ask yourself, “Am I the empty tomb?” Do I ever think that God has died within my own life, and I’m hoping beyond all hope that God is truly alive, living in a church, and that possibly by coming before The Cross, I will find God? Will I experience a “resurrection” within this empty tomb? You see, it isn’t a matter of whether Jesus raised from the grave as the scriptures describe, but rather, how we personally encounter Jesus.
Is Jesus alive within us, this morning? Have we this personal encounter with Jesus, as Mary had a personal encounter with Jesus there at the tomb? Jesus didn’t appear to Peter or John when they came running and found that the body of Jesus wasn’t where they had left him. Jesus didn’t speak to them at the empty tomb; they left, not having this experience that Mary ended up having, at least not at that point, for as we continue to read on, we know that Jesus did come to the other disciples later on.
Why did Jesus appear to Mary and not to the two disciples who had come to investigate the report from Mary about the empty tomb? Possibly it was because when John saw the wrappings of the burial cloths neatly placed in the tomb; he remembered what Jesus had been telling them about his death and would arise from death into eternal life. Maybe it was because Mary was needing personal comforting to ease her anxieties and soften her grief that Jesus appeared to her. For when Jesus first appeared to her, she didn’t recognize that it was He. For me, the lesson that I see in this part of the narrative, is that we encounter Jesus in many different ways, and often, we do not immediately recognize Jesus being with us, but that it can come over time.
This morning as we come to Christ’s table, we celebrate the “empty tomb”! We celebrate the story of “resurrection”. We do experience resurrection daily in our lives, but like Mary, we might not recognize it immediately, but in time, as we are able to comprehend the story, begin to understand it. God’s love for us is so great, that life renews itself, even during times when we cannot see it! I ask the question that Jesus asked, “For whom are you looking?” I think we are here today, looking to understand that death has no victory over us, but rather, life is eternal. This is the message of the “empty tomb”, God loves his creation so much that death has no lasting sting, but through “resurrection”, life has victory! Amen

Palm Sunday Worship "Jerusalem Today, 'Religious Rebellion'"

This particular Palm Sunday was conducted as if you were sitting at home watching a morning news broadcast, much like Reggis and Kathy type program. Where I and Sharon Pribyl (member of church) co-hosted a morning religious program that dealt with current news and intermingaled with scriptures and singing. I am only presenting the actual "news cast" portion of this service where Sharon and I were suppose to be reporting on the current challenges to Jewish religous practises and teachings by the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth, but have interruptions with events on the street, such as Jesus' triumphal entry and a report between Jesus and Herod. The service was concluded with recognizing that Jesus had been tried and killed, with the veiling of the cross and the congregation laying their palms at the foot of the cross and exiting quietly to the song, "Where You There."
Palm Sunday Celebration Worship, "Jerusalem Today, 'Religious Rebellion'"
First Congregational UCC, Rock Springs, WY April 17, 2011

Dramatic Reading: Jerusalem Today!
With Anchors: Sharon Isaac and Steven Jacobs
Giving you the straight talk about, “what is going on in Jerusalem today!”
Sharon: Hello, I’m Sharon Isaac
Steven: And I’m Steven Jacobs
Unison: Reporting to you today from our downtown studio Mount of Olives Towers, located in the heart of Jerusalem.
Sharon: Today we continue our topic on Religious Rebellion! Steven, you are well aware of so much unrest among the citizens in Jerusalem and outlying areas with so many reported “self proclaimed prophets”, of late. Some are even being referred to as “Messiah’s”.
Steven: That is so right, Sharon and one of these “Isaiah come lately” is a man from up North in the province of Nazareth!
Sharon: Truly a Nazarene? Honestly, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Steven: That is a good question Sharon. Only time will be able to answer that one! This brings us to this morning’s focus on Religious Rebellion. Today’s discussion will be about the latest self-proclaimed Messiah, the man called Jesus of Nazareth! As I understand from one of our underground sources, this self-proclaimed prophet, will be making an appearance at the City Center Temple later today.
Sharon: That should create some excitement, for sure, Steven. Do we know yet how he plans to get into Jerusalem? I understand that all of the gates are under heavy guard, checking papers of everyone who is coming and going from the city. At last report, there is an “immediate” arrest warrant, issued by the High Priest, Caiaphas himself, stating that Jesus of Nazareth is to be picked up on site.
Steven: Speculations on how Jesus plans to get into the city range anywhere from having Jesus parachute in from a plane to being dressed as a peasant riding on the back of a donkey. However I have never heard of a “King” making his entrance in such a non-descript fashion.
You remember when Roman sent our latest Governor, Pontius Pilot. He road into town on a beautiful white horse that stood about 20 hands high with a procession of guards, that was 5 abreast and a mile long. Now that is how a “king” generally makes his entrance into his city!
Sharon: Well Steven, it’s been over a year or so, since Jesus was last in town, and I understand that he was holding open meetings in the Temple in that visit, teaching things that seemed to anger the majority of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Steven: Sharon, hold that thought! We need to break away to our man on the street Joseph Aria cloth, with breaking news about Jesus coming into the city. (Report of the Triumphal Entry – A Dramatization,youtube)[time 4.31]
Steven: Well Sharon, if anyone has ever had any doubts up to now about how Jesus of Nazareth, or his followers for that matter, see himself, it is now clear that Jesus is claiming to be the awaited Messiah, as based on the vision of the late Prophet Zechariah, found in his writings chapter 9:9. Yes, here it is, I now have the reference in front of me and it says: Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
So, here you have it, Jesus has come into Jerusalem, riding a donkey!
Sharon: What a difference between how the Governor came into Jerusalem and this Jesus! Did you hear the sounds of the crowd, Steven? It sounds like they are having a regular parade. I don’t recall people yelling for joy like that when Pilot came riding into town! I wonder how that is going to affect Jesus’ standing with the authorities in the Temple. Do you suspect that this will mean that Caiaphas will be forced to drop the arrest warrant on Jesus?
Steven: That is truly a good question Sharon. If you remember a year or so ago, Herod had a very famous Prophet beheaded, even though this man had thousands of fans.
Sharon: You are referring to the prophet who lived out by the river Jordan, and wore camel clothing and lived off of locus and honey, John the baptizer. He was the man who was instituting the new practice of salvation by pushing people under those dirty waters of the Jordan. (Yuk) He was saying something about repenting of your sins so that you might enter into the kingdom of God. Now tell me Steven, how do you get your soul cleaned when you’re using such filthy water? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Steven: John the Baptizer wasn’t arrested and killed because of his instituting some new religious action, Sharon, but rather for his public accusations of the illicit marriage of Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias; who actually had been the wife of Antipas’ brother Herod Philip! Antipas was fearful of the truth turning the population against him.
Sharon: Well Steven, we don’t want to go there. You know how touchy the Herod’s can be. Isn’t it true that Jesus was baptized by John?
Steven: Yes he was Sharon. Did you know that they were cousins!
Sharon: Well, looks to me like religion must be a family business and maybe less of being a “Messiah”.
Steven: You might be correct there Sharon. Our sources have reported a number of interesting activities that this man Jesus has been involved in. There was this business of turning water into wine, at a wedding he and his mother and some of his disciples attended in Canaan. There have been multiple reports about him healing people who have been blind their entire life? As well as feeding huge crowds who went out into the wilderness to hear him speak, with only a couple of fish and some bread.
Sharon: Our sources have also reported some very unusual activities, such as Jesus is supposedly able to walk on water, even calming wild seas. But, the most amazing is a report that we received just this past week. While he was in Bethany, a sleepy little town just a couple of miles outside of Jerusalem, he is reported to have brought back to life a man known as Lazarus! Can you believe that! The reports just seem to get wilder by the day. I heard while I was getting my hair done, the beauticians talking, and saying that this Jesus guy says he is able to rebuild the temple in only three days!
Steven: I wonder how he thinks he will be able to do that, Sharon. Oh, Oh, hold on, we are just receiving a report that Jesus has been arrested by the Pharisees and is now having a hearing as we speak. In fact, we have just received some film footage of a portion of the trial with Herod. (play film clip of Herod and Jesus from 2000 Jesus Christ Superstar, youtube)
Steven: Sharon, we will come back to our program after this brief break for our Sponsors.
[Coming back to program]
Steven: This has to be one of the most amazing events that I have ever witnessed, Sharon. To have a trial directly after being captured is almost unheard of, especially with the backlog in the court system. Jesus of Nazareth is most certainly being treated as a serious threat to our National security!
Sharon: I just received a report during our break saying, that a well known Zealot, Barabbas, has been released by Governor Pilot, at the request of a crowd that has been standing outside the palace steps. Evidently there has been a large negative reaction to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and a number of citizens are demanding that Jesus be executed for not only his religious teachings, but for his consistently breaking the Sabbath law.
Steven: Yes Sharon, it is a well known fact that many of Jesus’ miracles seemed to happen on Sabbath. The last straw seemed to come when Jesus raised that Lazarus guy from the dead. Apparently the Pharisees had had enough with Jesus breaking the Sabbath Law and at that point put out a reward for his capture. Do we have any idea how Jesus was found?
Sharon: Again Steven, reports are sketchy and according to one of my sources in the Council of Pharisees, it was one of Jesus’ own disciples who turned him in. A man by the name of Judas Iscariot seems to have signed a claim voucher for 30 pieces of silver and lead authorities to a small garden just outside of Jerusalem. Seems he identified Jesus by giving him a kiss on the cheek.
Steven: Some friend he turned out to be. It would appear to me that Jesus isn’t a very good judge of character, when it comes to picking out friends and supporters.
This is unbelievable!
Sharon: I know what you mean Steven. I was just telling one of my friends during the commercial break....
Steven: No Sharon. I mean, I have just received another report indicating that Jesus has been sentenced to be executed at the hill outside of the city, known as Golgotha! I just can’t believe that a man who has been preaching about love and forgiveness is being murdered at the request of our Religious leaders. There has to be more to this man than what meets the eye.
Our camera crew is on their way out to Golgotha right now, but in the mean time, we have a written transcript from a man named Matthew with what is transpiring. Let me share it with you: (Matt 27: 45-54)  45-46From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"
 47-49Some bystanders who heard him said, "He's calling for Elijah." One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. The others joked, "Don't be in such a hurry. Let's see if Elijah comes and saves him."
 50But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.
 51-53At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What's more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus' resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)
 54The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, "This has to be the Son of God!"

Even though time has run out for today, please stay tuned to this station for continuing reports of today’s most miraculous event! The capture and crucifixion of what will surely turn out to be one of Judah’s greatest Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth.
Sharon: Even the Romans are calling this man the “Son of God!” Steven what have we done in killing this man if he truly is the “Son of God?”
Steven: I don’t know Sharon. We will just have to keep watch as this story continues to unfold.
Thank you folks for watching us today, this is Steven Jacobs
Sharon: And this is Sharon Isaac, saying “Shalom for now”. Please join us next week on [both] JERUSALEM TODAY!