Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Faux-Pastor Jon's Sermon Story: "Davey & Goliath Meet Sammy & Delilah in "Reconciliation Celebration!"

I belong to Faith United Church of Christ in Iowa City. We practice something called "shared ministry." Basically, we are expected to actively minister to each other and part of that ministry is taking over for our pastor one weekend every month with the church's worship service. This past weekend -- which happened to be both Gay Pride Sunday and Father's Day -- was my weekend to arrange worship.

The lectionary included the story of David and Goliath, which prompted me to think of the old "Davey and Goliath" program, created by the Lutheran Church. I've long felt that the United Church of Christ and other progressive denominations should come up with our own children's program. I have my own idea: "Sammy and Delilah." It would be a cross between "Davey and Goliath" and "Postcards from Buster." (Hey UCC Leadership! Call me!)

Anyway, I created a storyline featuring Davey, Goliath, Sammy, Delilah, and all sorts of friends. Clearly, the ELCA was not involved with the creation of this sermon story. It's purely fan-fiction. Just in case anyone wants to get froggy with me over this issue.

Anyway, here is my sermon story:

Davey & Goliath and Sammy & Delilah
Reconciliation Celebration!

                It’s a nice summer afternoon in town. Davey Hanson is playing catch in his backyard with his friend, Jonathan. As is usual, Davey is flanked by his faithful canine companion, Goliath.
                “Good catch, Jonathan! You’re getting much better at baseball these days!”
                “I wish I could say the same for you, Davey! You keep dropping the ball!”
                Just then, Davey’s little sister cuts through the yard with a look of determination on her face. Davey barely stops himself from throwing the ball at her.
                “What’s the rush, Sally? You almost got beaned!!”
                “No time to stop, Davey!” Sally says. “I just realized that today is Father’s Day and I totally forgot to get a special present for Daddy!”
                Goliath looks confused. “Father’s Day? What’s Father’s Day, Davey?”
                “Oh Goliath!” Davey laughs with exasperation. Father’s Day is a day when we remember all of the important things that our dads do for us. Except…”
                “Except what, Davey?” Goliath wonders.
                “Except that I forgot all about Father’s Day also! And I don’t have any money for a card or special gift. I’m sunk!”
                Jonathan has a bleak look on his face also. “I forgot about Father’s Day also. How are we going to show our dads that we love them?”
                Goliath tilts his head in thought for a moment and then begins barking excitedly.
                “What’s with that crazy dog of yours, Davey?” Jonathan asks.
                Davey turns his attention to Goliath and then gets all excited himself. “Goliath has the perfect idea! He said that we should march through town and tell everyone how much we love our dads!”
                Jonathan and Sally both jump up and down. “That’s great!” they both exclaim in unison.
                “That settles it,” Davey says decisively. “Gather all of the kids in the neighborhood. We’re going to have a parade!”

                Meanwhile, another group of kids is gathering across town at the community center. There’s a boy named Sammy and his cat Delilah. He is a new kid in town who recently moved here with his two adoptive fathers. He is chatting away with his genderqueer friend, a foster kid named Pat.
                “I hate Father’s Day,” complains Pat. “Everyone spends all of their time talking about how great their father is. Meanwhile, my father kicked me out of the house because of the way that I dress and because I’m not manly enough for him!”
                “I know what you mean, Pat. But at least you have your new foster mom looking after you. Who knew that a church pastor would be so accepting of kids like you! Or even people like me, who have two gay dads!”
                “I can’t believe that the other churches in town have been cutting my foster mom, Pastor Joyce, out of the local ecumenical meetings recently. They can’t handle a UCC church who allows families like your family. And the school still doesn’t know what to do with me!”
                “Meow!” purrs Delilah. “Pat sure likes to complain a lot. Sometimes I wish that she would do something for a change.  Purr….”
                “Delilah’s right, Pat!” Sammy exclaims. “I’m tired of complaining about how we don’t quite fit in around here.”
                Pat looks confused. “Am I the only one weirded out by you carrying on conversations with your cat?”
                Sammy ignores the dig. “I’m serious. It might be Father’s Day Weekend, but it’s also Gay Pride Weekend in several of the nearby cities. Why don’t we organize our own parade here in town? At least the complainers will finally have faces to complain about. It’s a lot harder to be rude about someone when you actually know them. At least that’s what my one dad says.”
                “I don’t know, Sammy…,” Delilah cautions. “This seems like a lot of work. Sometimes I’m just all talk!”
                “Hush, you crazy cat!” Sammy chides. “This is going to be the best Gay Pride March that this town has ever seen! Are you with me, Pat?”
                “Let’s go! I know some other kids who would love to help out!”

                Davey and Goliath are now gathering in his yard with his sister and his friends. They have just finished making up a bunch of signs covered with slogans such as “Father’s Day, A-O-K!” and “2-4-6-8! My Daddy Is Really Great!” They are suddenly approached by Davey’s minister, Pastor Jorgensen.
                “Hello Davey! Hello Kids! Now what’s this all about?”
                “Hi, Pastor Jorgensen! We’re organizing a Father’s Day Parade! We’re going to march downtown past all of our dads’ businesses so that they know that we appreciate them,” Davey explains. “We’re all carrying signs. Even Goliath has one!”
                Everyone glances at Goliath, who’s drawing a giant bone on his placard.
                “That sounds wonderful, children,” gushes Pastor Jorgensen. “Your fathers will all be so proud of you. Do you mind if I walk with you? This is the sort of initiative that I can’t help but support!”
                “Sure thing,” Davey agrees. “Let’s go, guys!”
                And off they march, westward down Main Street.

                Meanwhile, Sammy, Pat, and Delilah have gathered together a bunch of other kids from the local Gay Straight Alliance, as well as a bunch of children from the local Foster Care League. They have created their own signs, boasting messages like “Jesus Had Two Daddies. Why Can’t I?” and “I’m Not Gay, But My Girlfriend Is!”
                Pastor Joyce approaches the group. “I hate to ask, but what are you up to?”
                “We’re tired of being invisible in this town, Pastor Joyce!” explains Sammy. “It’s unfair how people treat people like Pat and my dads. And they’re not alone. We want to remind people that we belong to this town too!”
                “Are you sure about this? I’m having a hard enough time making inroads as it is these days,” cautions Pastor Joyce.
                “I warned you, Sammy!” complains Delilah, as she makes a Rorschach design on her own sign.
                “Mama Joyce,” Pat implores. “We need to stick up for ourselves. We’re not out to cause trouble. We just want to speak out.”
                Pastor Joyce takes a deep breath. “Okay. I support your decision. But I’m coming with you all -- just to make sure that you actually do keep out of trouble!”
                The kids rejoice. “Yay!!!”
                And off they march, eastward on Main Street.

                The Father’s Day Parade is in full-steam! Davey, Goliath, Pastor Jorgensen, and friends are marching down the street to the cheers of their community.
                “This is fun!” exclaims Sally.
                “You bet,” agrees Davey. “Two more blocks and we’ll be marching past Dad’s pharmacy. He’ll be so happy to see us!”
                “He sure will, Davey,” agrees Rev. Jorgensen. “This was such a good idea!”
                Goliath’s sensitive ears perk up. “Uh, Davey… I’m hearing a commotion up ahead! I’m not sure that we’re going to have a receptive audience!”
                Davey takes a strong look forward and notices a competing parade… marching straight at his Father’s Day Parade!
                “That’s not fair! Who planned a parade to compete with my Father’s Day Parade??”
                Just at that moment, Sammy and Delilah rush ahead of their March to confront Davey and his Parade. “Who planned a march to compete with my Gay Pride March??”
                Davey is confused. “Gay Pride? In our town?”
                Sammy is angry. “Yes! In our town? Do you have a problem with that?”
                Goliath begins barking at Sammy, which prompt Delilah to go into full hiss-mode. “Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark!”  “HSSS….”
                “Well, I have a problem with Gay Pride in our town, young man!” Pastor Jorgensen steps in between Davey and Sammy. “This is a decent community with a strong moral base. Your kind is out to disrupt our character!”
                “What kind is that, Pastor?” Pastor Joyce, her cheeks getting a bit rosy, gets a little bit in Pastor Jorgensen’s face. “Children? Picking a cause and marching for it? It seems that Sammy here isn’t the only one who came up with such an idea.”
                “Don’t give me that, Pastor. These children here are marching for their families. Your children are marching for perversion. It’s no wonder that the ecumenical pastor’s board doesn’t want you attending our monthly meetings if you support this type of activity!”
                Davey turns his anger back to Sammy. “I can’t believe that my Father’s Day Parade is being ruined like this. It’s all your fault. You have no respect for fathers!”
                Sammy begins yelling back. “No respect? My Gay Pride March is all about sticking up for both of my dads! This town has been nothing but rude to them since we moved into town!”
                Soon, all of the kids are standing face to face, shaking their signs and yelling at each other. Goliath and Delilah slip over to the sidewalk and watch with bemused interest.
                Goliath shakes his head. “And they call us animals.”
                “Tell me about it,” Delilah observes, as she licked some paint from her tail. “You would think that a town this size could accommodate two parades on one day.”
                “But what if this town is too small for two parades. Maybe that’s why they’re all arguing.” Goliath stands up and barks at his boy. “Davey! Why can’t you all walk together?”
                Davey stops arguing with Sammy for a second to ponder Goliath’s question. “Walk together? But we can’t have a joint Father’s Day Parade and Gay Pride March at the same time. Can we??”
                Sammy is confused. “Your dog talks to you?” He turns to Delilah. “Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous, Delilah?”
                “It’s pretty farfetched,” she agrees. “But maybe the mutt has a point. They are celebrating Father’s Day. You have two fathers whose rights you’re championing. Why can’t those issues intersect?”
                “But what about Pat? Her father kicked her out of their home, so now she doesn’t really have a dad!”
                Overhearing, Davey asks, “Doesn’t have a dad? So who’s raising her?”
                “Pastor Joyce is her foster mom. She’s doing it all for Pat.”
                Davey thinks that over. “You know. My friend Jose lost both of his parents to an accident and is now being raised by his grandmother. But he’s here for the Father’s Day Parade -- partly in memory of his dad. But mostly because he’s our friend and he wanted to be there for the rest of us. Maybe your friend Pat could be there for you and your dads?”
                “But what about my Gay Pride March?...” Sammy is beginning to lose his resolve.
                “Sammy, you started  this march partly to react to how others were treating you and your friends. But you also wanted people to get to know you as a person. How will they get to know you if all you do is fight with each other?”
                “I hadn’t thought of it quite that way…”
                Meanwhile, Pastors Joyce and Jorgensen are experiencing an odd sensation. Both of them had always tolerated Sammy and Davey when they said that they spoke to their pets. Frankly, both ministers believed that each boy would be taking medications in the near future! But, for the first time, God opens their ears and they are hearing words of reconciliation coming from their mouths.
                Pastor Joyce is awestruck. “Oh my goodness….”
                Pastor Jorgensen is shocked as well. “This is like Balaam and his donkey. We were heading down the wrong path and it took a simple beast drawing upon God’s wisdom to show us the error of our ways!”
                “Simple beast??” Goliath is not amused!
                “I’m sure Pastor Jorgensen meant no offense, Goliath,” Pastor Joyce assures. “He’s just surprised. As am I!” She turns to the children and to her pastoral rival. “What do you say? What’s to stop us from creating the first ever Joint-Father’s Day Parade/Gay Pride March?”
                Pat chimes in, “Why not a Gay Pride March/Father’s Day Parade??”
                “I’m sure we can come to an agreement,” sooths Pastor Jorgensen. “And can I just add an apology for protesting your use of the school restrooms at the last School Board Meeting?”
                “One step at a time, Reverend!” Pat isn’t completely mollified.
                Responding to the reconciliation that’s being role modeled by the two pastors, soon all of the children are apologizing, shaking hands, and pairing up for the newly organized joint Father’s Day Parade/Gay Pride March… er, Gay Pride March/Father’s Day Parade, er… pairing up for the newly organized Reconciliation Celebration!
                Pastors Jorgensen and Joyce lead the way, shoulder-to-shoulder. “I can’t believe that we haven’t encouraged your participation in the ecumenical pastor’s board before. We definitely will correct that oversight before the week is finished. By the way, we have a community beef dinner that needs a volunteer coordinator. That job has your name written all over it! Oh, and the community stewardship drive…”
                Pastor Joyce looks over her shoulder and mouths a simple “Help me…”
                Davey and Sammy now appear to be the best of friends. “I can’t believe that we almost got into a fistfight over a dopey parade,” Davey laughs.
                “I know what you mean!”
                “You know, maybe you can stop by my place to play baseball with me and the other boys sometime. We’re always looking for a new player.”
                Sammy is appalled. “Baseball? Baseball sucks. Everyone knows that soccer is the best sport in the world.”
                Davey is starting to steam. “Soccer?? Like I want to watch a bunch of players not kick the ball into the net for an hour! Baseball!”
                “No! Soccer!”
                “No! Baseball”
                *Said at the same time* Goliath: “Oh Davey!” Delilah: “Oh Sammy!”


James said...

This was a good story, but you the Lutheran Church that owns Davey and Goliath marries Gays, right? And Lutherans call their ministers Pastore, not Reverends.

Jon said...

My understanding is that the ELCA is a bit mixed when it comes to gay families. But I would gladly be wrong. Same with the pastor vs. reverend title.

Mainly, I came up with a short story here where there was tension between the two groups and where the two groups managed to come to some sort of reconciliation. Locally, Pride weekend always falls on Fathers Day weekend, and I always feels like Fathers Day gets ignored in favor of Pride. Which inspired the direction for this tale.

But also, I've experienced enough communities where UCC pastors and churches have been pushed out of local ecumenical groups because we're too liberal and/or because of the whole gay thing. Even ELCA churches. Hopefully it's getting better in real life, but it's still happening.

Hopefully someday we'll see more of Sammy and Delilah though. Thanks James!

James Austin said...

So I volunteer at a sixth grade Catholic youth group, and I write and draw comic books entitled "Captain Catholic", where a Catholic superhero solves moral issues. I got my inspiration from "Davey and Goliath". For my Father's Day issue, I was going to borrow your Davey and Goliath story, but use my Captain Catholic characters instead of the Davey and Goliath ones. I began to tell the youth ministers about it, but as soon as I said "genderqueer kid", they shut me down. I told them it wasn't even going to be pro-gay marriage, just not to judge gay people, but they still won't let me do it. *sigh*

Jon said...

Thanks for sharing that, James! Sorry that your church isn't ready for a story starring a kid with two gay dads and his genderqueer friend. At least you tried. Take care. -Jon