Thursday, June 25, 2009

Preaching Materials for July 5, 2009

R U M O R S #558
Ralph Milton’s E-zine for people of faith with a sense of humor

June 28, 2009


"A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22 KJV)
It’s great to receive your notes. And I appreciate whatever you send even if it turns out to be something that’s already appeared here.
Please put your name and where you are from in your notes. Even if this is the 537th time you’ve written to me. My old brain just doesn’t retain those kinds of things.
Sorry if that sounds a bit whiney.

The Story – the legend of Abigail
Rumors – we do what we have to do
Soft Edges – building consensus
Bloopers – old, male angels
We Get Letters – a platitude of morticians
Mirabile Dictu! – used once
Bottom of the Barrel – read at your own risk
Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – 1 Samuel 25 selected verses.
Stuff – (read this only if you would like to subscribe, unsubscribe or are wondering about permissions. That sort of boring stuff.)


Rib Tickler – This from Anneliese Martin of Manitou Springs, Colorado.
Three friends from the local congregation were asked, “When you're in your casket, and friends and congregation members are mourning over you, what would you like them to say?”
Artie said: “I would like them to say I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man.” Eugene commented: “I would like them to say I was a wonderful teacher and servant of God who made a huge difference in people’s lives.” Al said: “I'd like them to say, 'Look, he's moving!'”

Next Week’s Readings – These are the readings you may hear in church this coming Sunday, July 5th, which is Proper 9 [14].

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 or Ezekiel 2:1-5
Psalm 48 or Psalm 123
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Mark 6:1-13

The Story – 1 Samuel 25 selected verses. Check out the “Readers’ Theatre” below. The whole story is a bit long, but I’ve condensed it to a more manageable size.

Ralph says:
We didn’t choose the lections selected in the Revised Common Lectionary because they offered a rather thin gruel. And the story of Abigail in Chapter 25 isn’t in the lectionary at all. Which is a shame, because her story connects with so many realities in our own lives.
It’s the “is-ness business.” All of us find ourselves in the lives we are in because of all the big and small decisions during the course of our lives. There’s a whole batch of things in our lives, in our families, in our communities, in our churches, in ourselves that are not likely to change.
Bev and I often try to get each other to stop fussing by saying, “That simply is.” On top of my computer stands a metal caricature of Don Quixote. He continually reminds me that we “dream the impossible dreams” and we “fight the unbeatable foe,” everyday in our struggles for peace and justice and faithfulness.
But it’s important to pick our battles. It’s important to choose a few places where there is at least a possibility of change. Faithfulness isn’t about flailing around over every issue that comes our way. Faithfulness is about focusing our resources and energies where they might do some good.
There’s a whole range of issues about which we must say, “That simply is.” To fuss, fight, struggle, complain, agonize, worry about things that we know we can’t affect is a recipe for burn-out or mental breakdown.
Abigail was such a person. She picked her battles. If it had been around in her day, I think she would have had the famous “Serenity Prayer” taped to her bathroom mirror. If she’d had a bathroom.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Jim says –
Three people’s stories intersect here: Nabal, Abigail, and David.
Nabal reminds me of an asthmatic bulldog, growling at everything.
Abigail was probably given to him as a child bride; it sounds unlikely that she chose such an irascible partner. But she is one gustsy woman, who could be a role model for many women today.
And of course, there’s David. Most governments today would brand David’s band of brigands as a “terrorist organization.” Certainly David lived outside the law. But like Hamas and Hezbollah, he was also the local security force and perhaps the social work agency. Within his sphere of influence, he protected flocks and shepherds; he kept rival gangs away.
In return, he expected local citizens to donate to his cause.
When Nabal baulked at this bargain, David led a squad of enforcers to punish Nabal. But Abigail intervened. Amazingly, Nabal’s employees took orders from a mere woman. She greeted David with a peace offering from Nabal’s inventory.
Nabal got so apoplectic at a wife usurping his authority that he had a heart attack. David was so impressed that he took Abigail as an additional prize.
In time, Abigail became a queen.
Those who insist that the Bible is the basis for “family values” – whatever those are – might consider that David, so often portrayed as a model servant of God, was a polygamist. The Bible records, at a minimum, Abigail, Ahinoam, Michal, Bathsheba, and a Shunnamite woman who is never named.
Polygamy aside, I would explore how some terrorists get raised to role models, and others remain villains. I suspect it has more to do with how they eventually turn out than with what they actually do.

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 (or Ezekiel 2:1-5) – For the people who passed along the legend of David, it was very important that their king obeyed God. Israel was a theocracy. The health of the state was directly related to how closely the king adhered to the expectations of God.
There was a time, not long ago, when it was really important that leaders were faithful members of the church – and it had to be the “right church.” That is no longer true. We’re actually more comfortable now if our leaders are not strongly identified with one denomination or another.
We are anything but a theocracy. Is that an improvement?

Psalm 48 (or Psalm 123) – paraphrased by Jim Taylor
1 When good things happen, when things go right,
give God the praise;
give God the glory.
2 Raise your eyes; look upward to the Lord.
The glory of the Lord looms over us, like a mountain,
like a mountain of ice towering above the tundra.
3 In the shadows of God's ramparts, no one would dare defy us.
4 No, not even the kings and rulers of this world.
They gather in force, confident of their powers;
5 They disintegrate in wonder, as they recognize their pathetic powers.
6 They were as helpless as a newborn child.
They cried out, and collapsed,
unable to support their own pride on their feeble limbs.
7 Like leaves before an autumn wind, they scattered.
8 We do not lie;
we witness in truth to what we have seen and what we have heard.
The realm of God is secure;
it is safe from human depredation.
9 It is more than human minds can grasp;
we struggle to understand.
10 The wonders of God always extend beyond us;
they defy our attempts to confine them to our comprehension.
We do not even know the name of God.
11 We only know how to worship the Lord of creation,
the one who created us, and all creatures, and all communities of creatures.
Let them all praise God.
12 So spend your life learning about this Lord;
study the scriptures and the stories of salvation,
13 So that you may pass on to your successors the truth
14 That this is God.
There is but one God, now and forever.
This God will lead us forward into the future.
From: Everyday Psalms
Wood Lake Publications.
For details, go to

2 Corinthians 12:2-10 – One of the games played by biblical scholars is to speculate on the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul experienced. Chronic malaria? Homosexuality? Epilepsy? A cranky wife? Those and more have been suggested by serious scholars.
It’s probably more useful to use Paul’s story to identify our own “thorn in the flesh.” What is it that keeps us from accepting God’s grace and entering in to a more full and complete relationship?
And what does it mean to say that God’s grace is sufficient? Suck it up and get with the program? Or is there a better way that God helps us deal with our own personal weakness?

Mark 6:1-13 – Most ministries begin with a honeymoon period when everybody is flexible and understanding and small irritations are overlooked.
This passage is about the end of Jesus’ honeymoon. Up till this point, as Mark tells the story, things have been going well, but then Jesus goes back to Nazareth. His relatives and neighbors, after being initially impressed, look at him and sniff. “We knew him when. . .”

The lectionary both liberates and limits us. It liberates us from riding our favorite hobby-horses, but it also keeps us from encountering parts of the Bible that are not in it. Such as the story of Abigail. Like some other good stories, it’s not in the lectionary and therefore also not in the Lectionary Story Bible.
There are, of course, stories from the readings prescribed for July 5th. “David Becomes King,” is on page 152 and “Jesus’ Friends Become Apostles,” based on the reading from Mark, is on page 163.
There are children’s stories for every Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary, in “The Lectionary Story Bible,” by yours truly. The marvellous illustrations are by Margaret Kyle. There’s at least one story for each Sunday, usually two, and occasionally three. Click the main Wood Lake Publications website at, or click on the following address which takes you directly to the “Lectionary Story Bible.”


Rumors – The story of Abigail – “We do what we have to do."
(NOTE: Read this story all the way through before you decide to use it for worship or study group. It’s a bit ripe in a few places. You’re welcome to revise it to suit your needs. Or it might simply give you a few ideas on how to describe a feisty female survivor.)

"And how would you like a swift kick in the family jewels?" That's what I'd tell them when they pounded on the door in the middle of the night looking for cheap wine and cheap sex.
My besotted father ran a wine shop in the slums of Carmel. The stuff we sold was cheap rot gut that kills most people if they drink enough. And our customers all drank enough. They'd buy a skin of wine in the afternoon, spend the evening getting themselves thoroughly bombed, then come staggering back at all hours of the night looking for more.
Papa was in no condition to help them by that point. He'd sampled his own merchandise steadily all day, and by nightfall, he was zonked out, snoring away in the back of the shop. My four older brothers were even less help. They spent most of their time and all of dad's money chasing around town with their buddies, and when they came home they'd devote themselves to making my life miserable. I ran the wine shop most of the time, and learned to think on my feet.
The only thing that made life bearable was Atarah, my younger sister. She was born when I was only ten, and I became her mama, because my mother died a few days after. Papa's been drunk every day since. So by the time I was fifteen, I knew how to handle babies – I knew how to handle drunks – I even knew what to say to the bozos who would pound on our door at midnight looking for more cheap wine to kill themselves with. They'd ask for wine and then they'd proposition me.
Usually I'd just insult their masculinity. "Go to hell, I'd say. You're too drunk to get it up anyway." That would usually send them off muttering. But some would persist, and then I'd threaten to kick them in the knackers and on more than one occasion I did exactly that. So by the time I hit twenty, I was and old maid with a reputation. Every man in town was scared of Abigail the nutcracker.
Hey, was I surprised when dad announced one morning that I was engaged! "Last night," he said. "I got Ichabod the herdsman drunk. He signed the marriage contract."
"You what?" I demanded. "Thanks for nothing. I whacked old Ichabod on the beak with an empty goat skin once. He wouldn't marry me if I was the last woman in Carmel. Besides, he's an ass and he smells of garlic."
"Of course he's an ass. You were expecting maybe Jonathan, the king's son? The rabbi was there to witness the marriage contract. So it's a done deal. He and the rabbi drank your dowry. Two flasks of wine."
I don't cry often, but I bawled that day. Thank God for Atarah, who listened to me rant and yell and cry and threaten. She was just a girl of ten but she know how to be my mother and my friend. She had a sense of faith and a sense of humor. We prayed and laughed together often, and sometimes I couldn't tell which was which. All I know is, it kept me from falling apart.
"Every girl dreams of a man who is strong, witty, good looking, intelligent, sensitive and rich. Ichabod may be a nabal, a fool, but he's rich. One out of six ain't bad for an old maid with two flasks of wine for a dowry."
"A herd of sheep is rich?"
"A nabal with a herd of sheep is better than a genius with a herd of cockroaches."
"Married to a nabal. I go from being the daughter of a drunk to the wife of a nabal. How come such good things keep happening to me? How come I am so doubly blessed?"
"I'm coming with you," said Atarah. "If I stay here with father, I'll be raped and pregnant by one of those drunks before you know it. I don't even mind being a second wife to the nabal if that's how it works out."
"Two brides for two flasks of wine? Such a deal."
Now it was Atarah's turn to cry. "Life is just so hard for women," she moaned. "We don't get to choose anything for ourselves."
"No sis, we don't. We do what we have to do, right? But you and me are going to plow into life snoot first and take our lumps. That's the only choice we have – to laugh at life and to pray to God. Then sometimes – not very often but sometimes – we can get to chose the lumps. Maybe we don't have to take absolutely everything this rotten life throws at us. We can't choose much, but we can choose something. Especially if we can manage a private laugh, you and me, now and then. We'll make it. God will help us, Atarah. We are going to make it.."
"We'll call him Nabal. You and I. When there's just the two of us, that's what we'll call him."
So Nabal he was. The word means fool. At least it does when you're in polite company. I've heard more colorful definitions in the wine shop.
You should have seen Atarah laugh when I told her about our wedding night. Nabal had all the finesse of billy goat in full rut. And then he wanted me to tell him the next morning how wonderful he was. I said, "Well, love. You were enthusiastic!"
As for David, my second husband. Well, he didn't write the Song of Songs either, let me tell you. But at least life with him was never boring. Terrifying often, but never boring.
Funny, you know. It was saving Nabal's backside that got me married to David. At that time, the great King David was nothing but a petty warlord running a protection racket in the hills around Carmel. David was in trouble with King Saul because the old king was nuttier than a fruitcake but not so nutty that he didn't realize David was going to take the throne away from his son Jonathan. So David was on the run and had to make a living somehow. He collected a bunch of ruffians who were also in trouble with the law, and they'd go to the herdsmen around and say, "How about giving me some food and wine and stuff as payment for 'protecting' you." And if they didn't come across, funny things would start to happen to the herd and to the sheepherders.
David had a gang of about 600 guys with him and they decided the folks around Carmel needed a lot of "protecting." People just paid up. What could they do?
Everyone except our brilliant Nabal. Nabal decides to be courageous. Nabal, with fifteen sheepshearers working for him and one rusty sword in the tent decides to stand up to David – the same David who killed Goliath; who used to be Saul's chief commander. When David sends his flunkies with a very "polite" request for some food and wine, Nabal tells them to stuff it in a place where the sun don't shine. And surprise! David and his boys strap on their swords and head to out to teach Nabal some manners.
David would have wiped us out. All of us. Except I heard what Nabal had said from one of my servants, so I grabbed all the food and wine I could get my hands on and headed out to intercept David. There he was – coming down the road – blood in his eye.
I did my "sweet young thing" act. I opened my cloak to show a nice bit of ripe young bosom. I minced up to him wiggling my backside and flattered him and fawned over him.
Hey, you think that's easy? For some women, maybe. I went to finishing school in dad's wine shop, remember? Learning how to whack a knee into a guys groin when he's all over you is not the best training to be a sex kitten. But you do what you have to do. The game is survival.
I told David what an ass Nabal was. And that's the name I used. Nabal. "He can't help being stupid. Nabal's mamma dropped him on his head when he was tadpole."
I knew the flattery and the food wouldn't be enough. David was no dummy – they said he was sharp as a whip. But listening to those guys in the wine shop, I had learned about men and the macho games they play in their heads. Even the sharp guys, the bright ones, play those games. It's amazing. For some reason, when Jewish guys have their pride punctured, they want revenge, but they want one of their buddies to get revenge for them. Makes them feel right good inside to have loyal comrades who go and do their dirty work for them. So I worked David over on that one.
And I called him "King of Israel." You always call a guy something he would like to be. Never what he really is, which in this case was a bush-fighter smelling of smoke and urine.
"I know how badly you would feel, O king-in-waiting, if you had to take revenge on Nabal for yourself. You'd feel guilty about that, wouldn't you. Why not consider my gift a payment for his insult? I know I'm just a woman and you are so strong and handsome and people say you are kind and gentle with poor women and young children."
He bought it. I felt liked a bit of a floozy manipulating the man like that, but you do what you have to do. And hey, did Atarah and I ever have a good laugh over it. It felt good to know I could outwit a guy like the famous David.
Nabal didn't laugh. Not at that. He was giggling in a corner, absolutely stone bottle-eyed drunk when I got home. So I waited till the next morning when he got out of bed with his head feeling tighter than a donkey's ass in fly season.
"Nabal, baby," I said to him. Then I realized I had called him that to his face. But I went right on. "Your sweet little wifey saved your backside yesterday. You spit in David's eye. I went and bought him off with good food, a lot of wine and a large dose of old-fashioned femininity. Because, duckey, David was on his way here with 600 guys, ready to string you up by your toes and slice you into very thin strips."
His face went the color of a baboon's backside. He sputtered a few times, then he went pure white. He just sat there. For ten days Nabal sat there, not saying or doing anything. Then he fell over dead.
The local gossip had it that David claimed this was God taking revenge on Nabal. God did it for David. Folks said David really believed it. He really believed it!
Well, I did a pretty fair job of mourning my late, great husband. Sack cloth. Ashes. Kyying. The works. You do what you have to do. What I hadn't counted on was being a widow. Nabal and I had no kids so I had a reasonable chance of hanging on to Nabal's estate. And I knew I could run the place a whole lot more efficiently and profitably than Nabal, which isn't saying a whole lot. But no sooner was the official mourning period over, then David sent one of his flunkies to tell me how highly David thought of me and what a beautiful and clever woman I was.
I said to Atarah. "Isn't this wonderful. I am being wooed." She giggled. Then I thought, do I want to be married to a petty warlord who runs a protection rack and lives in caves and smells of smoke and urine?
Then Atarah asked, "Do you have a choice?"
She was right of course. If David's pride was hurt because Nabal told him to shove it, the guy would have had a cat fit if a woman told him "no." He'd slice me into little pieces the way he planned to slice up Nabal!
The next day, another messenger from David came along and got right to the point. "David wants you for his wife." I shrugged and thought, "What you gotta do you gotta do." But I said to the messenger, "Look, I'm not used to living in caves with 600 men. I want to bring along my sister for company." I had a sneaking hunch that David might not be a great conversationalist.
David was only slightly better as a conversationalist than he was as a lover. My wedding night with David was a slow-motion replay of my wedding night with Nabal. Except that David's idea of romantic conversation was to talk about how many sheep and goats and other stuff we had there on the homestead. "It kind of puts romance in context," I said to Atarah, and we had a good laugh over that.
Look, I'm not complaining. Lots of women got things a whole lot worse than I did. I was never hungry. I was mad and frustrated lots of times. And scared. But never bored.
They said David was a man of God. It's hard to see a man of God when he's standing beside your bed, pot-bellied and stark naked. He might have been. Sometimes I thought so.
I know that Atarah was a woman of God. She helped me laugh. She helped me pray. She helped me survive.
"We women don't get much to work with in this world," I said to Atarah. "The breaks don't just naturally go our way. We use every bit of wit and savvy and faith we've got."
"Well sis," she said. "We've learned to laugh and pray. That doesn't make life easier, but it sure has helped us survive."


Soft Edges – by Jim Taylor
Building Concensus
Our organizations might be better off without Robert’s Rules of Order.
Robert’s is, of course, the American text on Parliamentary Procedure. It is not the Canadian authority – although many Canadian organizations wrongly cite it. The Canadian authority is Bourinot, the standard used by the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Nevertheless, both Bourinot and Roberts agree on some basic principles.
One is that there can be no discussion until a formal motion defines the issue.
Another is that each person may speak only once (except the mover, who may also close the debate).
At a gathering recently, a woman described the effect of these principles. “If you’ve only got one chance to speak,” she said, “you tend to come out with all guns blazing to support your position. You have no idea yet how others will react, so you shoot down any opposition before it can come up.”
The tactic reminds me of old Wild West movies where the good guys drag in a Gatling gun to mow down the bad guys before they can return fire.
It’s hardly a process for building consensus.
I can say this, having had – for one period of my life – a reputation for writing absolutely scathing memos to colleagues in another office. I’ve seen some of them since then; I’m appalled at the tone of my words.
But I know why I did it. Because I had only one chance to convince them. My colleagues would then make their decision without further input from me. Their decision would affect my reputation.
So it was all or nothing.
I’ve often seen meetings where every speaker argued against an imagined opposition. When the actual vote came, everyone was in favour. The opposition was never there.
In a group of friends, ideas are traded, pros and cons weighed, implications considered… A consensus emerges.
The aboriginal practice of a circle works well, too, if the group is not too large. Everyone gets a chance to speak; everyone listens. No one interrupts; no one dominates. If there’s no consensus, you go around again.
But it can take a long time. So larger bodies tend to fall back on the rules of parliamentary procedure to expedite debate and discussion.
But there are other ways.
One church organization allows a speaker two minutes to present an idea. Any idea. It doesn’t have to be a formal motion – the official decision could get shaped later.
After two minutes, the other delegates indicate shades of support:
1. I love it, and I’ll work for it.
2. I agree.
3. I can accept it.
4. I disagree, but I won’t block it.
5. I disagree strongly, and I’ll block it if I can.
If the mood seems generally favorable, further discussion takes place.
But if enough people oppose the proposal strongly enough to resist it with any tactics short of terrorism, the proponents may withdraw their proposal, or take time to make it more acceptable.
It’s a much more practical process.


Bloopers, Boggles, Typos and Stuff – Arn Main of Barrie, Ontario enjoyed the hymn “All Hail The power Of Jesus Name” that was on the LED screen in church. Arn says “The first line began okay – ‘Let angel’s prostrate fall’ and then followed with ‘Let angel’s prostate fall.’ Painful thought!”
Not painful at all, Arn. It proves my theory that angels are not cute, fat babies but gentle old men.

Horace King of Binghamton, New York, writes: “When I was engaged in a counseling ministry, my name appeared on the letter-board, and underneath it said, ‘therapist’. I was proud!
A week or so later, some wag had split the letters so that underneath my name appeared, ‘the rapist’!"

Denise Patterson of Simcoe (The one in Ontario, I think) writes: “My daughter was in her Sunday school class, and her teacher was going over the verses about ‘having the faith of a mustard seed.’
“My daughter leaned over to a friend and asked, ‘How much faith does a mustard seed have?’"

If you’ve spotted any good bloopers (or such like that-there stuff) in your church bulletin or newsletter (or anywhere else for that matter) please send them to me.


We Get Letters – A delightful batch of responses to my challenge around collective nouns.
David Evans of Moncton, New Brunswick, who has “four young ladies (all under twelve and all sisters or cousins) in a small rural church,” proposes “a giggle of girls.”
Ann Pollock of Castlegar, BC, also suggested a “giggle of girls” and just to be inclusive added, "tribe of little boys."

Albert Durksen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was “surprised I did not see ‘a mound of grave diggers’ in your” list of collective nouns.
“Phil from ‘Down Under’” (Phil – you thought I’d remember your last name when the reality is, I can’t remember my grand-kids first names half the time) suggested “a solicitude of morticians” but then decided that “a platitude of morticians” would be even better.

Virginia Rickeman of Bethel, Maine, says she should have been “writing the minister's message for our church newsletter. Instead, my mind is occupied with:
a coil of snakes
a stack of beauty contestants
a rack of inquisitors
a forest of greens
a mountain of molehills
and other such mindless trivia....

Phil Gilman of Dunnellon, Florida says “you'll be sorry you asked” and contributes a whole list. So I’ll give him the last word.
a scratch of fleas
a pint of beer-guzzlersa tun of winos
a glutton of epicures
a wastebasket of editors
a crow of braggarts
a deletion of writers
a lot of realtors [true corn, that]
a skein of knitters
a basket of cagers
a classroom of pedants
a Basin of blues singers [from the right Street, of course]
a pitcher of ballplayers
a swat of flies
a Kipling of trees
a bane of telemarketers
a vacuum of carpet sweepers
an odium of name-coiners
and last, but not least,
a passing of Ralph's:


Wish I’d Said That! – A sign on a local church reads: 'For a real treat try our Sundays.'
source unknown via Marilyn MacDonald

I would rather spend time wondering why I was never Prime Minister than spend time wondering why I was Prime Minister
Dennis Healey via George Brigham

Give others freedom. When you hold them captive to your own wishes, you destroy them.
Lisa Engelhardt via Mary in Oman


Mirabile Dictu! – (Latin for “used once!”)
* Free. Yorkshire Terrier. Eight years old. Hateful little dog.
* Free puppies. Half Cocker Spaniel. Half sneaky neighbor’s dog.
* Free puppies. Part German Shepherd. Part stupid dog.
* Snow blower for sale. Only used on snowy days.
* Nordic Track. Hardly used. Call Chubby.
* Hummers. Largest selection ever. “If it’s in stock, we have it!”
* Georgia peaches. California Grown, 89 cents a pound.
* Nice parachute. Never opened. Used once.
* Tired of working for only $9.75 an hour? We offer profit sharing and flexible hours. Starting pay: $7 - $9 per hour.
* Joining nudist colony. Must sell washer and dryer.
* Open House Body Shapers Toning Salon. Free coffee and donuts.


Bottom of the Barrel – This one is so “bottom” that it’s more of a hole underneath it. In fact, unless you are feeling quite perky, I’d suggest you not read it at all. And please don’t blame it on me. Blame it on Vern Ratzlaff. He thinks maybe he got it from me in the first place, but that couldn’t possibly be the case.
Whatever. Read at your own risk!

Once upon a time, in the tropical waters of the Coral Sea, two prawns were swimming around. One was called Justin and the other Christian. The prawns were constantly being harassed and threatened by sharks. One Day Justin said to Christian, 'I'm fed up with being a prawn; I wish I were a shark and then I wouldn't have any worries about being eaten.'
A large mysterious cod appeared and said, 'Your wish is granted', and behold – Justin turned into a shark. Horrified, Christian immediately swam away, afraid of being eaten by his old mate.
Justin found life as a shark boring and lonely. All his old mates simply swam away whenever he came close to them, and he especially missed Christian.
One day he saw the mysterious cod again and he thought, 'Perhaps he can change me back into a prawn.' He approached the cod and begged to be changed back, and lo and behold, he found himself a prawn again.
The first thing he did was to swim over to Christian's home, and banging on the gate, he yelled, 'It's me, Justin; your old friend – come out and play with me again.'
But Christian said, 'No way; you're a shark and I'm afraid of you.'
Justin cried out, 'No, I'm not; that was the old me; I've changed; I found Cod; I'm a prawn again, Christian.'


Scripture Story as Reader’s Theatre – 1 Samuel 25 selected verses.
Note: If you want the shorter form of this chapter but don’t want to use the Readers’ Theatre version, just skip down to the actual scripture (after “Slight Pause”) and have just one person read the whole thing.

Reader I: She was a feisty woman!
Reader II: Who?
I: Abigail.
II: Abigail who?
I: This is starting to sound like a “knock-knock” joke.
I: I’m serious. I’ve never heard of any Abigail in the Bible.
II: I know. And that’s too bad, because Abigail was a feisty woman. Life had not dealt her a good hand. She was married to Nabal, a guy who was a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.
I: Yeah, but where does she fit into the whole story? She didn’t just pop up, out of thin air.
II: Sorry. You’re right. Abigail is part of the legend of King David. So let me recap that story. David was a shepherd boy who managed to kill the giant Goliath, and then was taken into the household of King Saul.
David was really popular and that bugged King Saul to the point where he tried to kill David. So David high-tailed it out into the bush, where he gathered a bunch of other fugitives around him. He ran what amounted to a protection racket – telling the farmers and ranchers in the area that in exchange for money or food, he would protect their sheep and their crops. If they didn’t come across, then strange and terrible things would happen. So the smart farmers and ranchers came across.
So David and his gang made a nice living wandering around and demanding money or food from the various ranchers. And that’s where Abigail comes in.
I: OK. So let’s read the story. It’s from First Samuel, chapter 25. We’ve condensed the story a bit.
II: David left Saul’s house and went down to the wilderness of Paran. There was a rancher named Nabal who was very rich. He had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. His wife’s name was Abigail and she was clever and beautiful. David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men to go visit Nabal.
I: Go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. Say to him: 'Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. Your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing. Ask them and they will tell you. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.'"
II: When David's young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David; and then they waited. But Nabal answered David's servants.
I: "Who is David? Who is this son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread and my water and the meat that I’ve butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?"
II: So David's young men turned away, and came back and told him all this. David was furious!
I: "Every man strap on his sword!"
II: David also strapped on his sword; and about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
I: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, one of their servants spoke to Abigail, Nabal's wife.
II: "David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master Nabal who then shouted insults at them. Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we never missed anything when we were in the fields, as long as we were with them; they were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.”
I: Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys and told her servants to go ahead of her. But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
II: Meanwhile, David had been planning what he was going to do to Nabal.
I: "Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good. God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one of his servants alive."
II: When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from her donkey.
I: She fell before David on her face, bowing to the ground.
II: "Upon me alone, my lord, be the guilt. My lord, do not take seriously this ill-natured fellow, Nabal. His name means, fool and that’s what he is. I didn’t see the men you sent, so I didn’t know that he had done such a foolish thing. But I have brought you gifts that I hope you will accept from me. And I am sure that God will bless you if you accept these gifts and you don’t shed any innocent blood because of the foolishness of my husband.
I: "Blessed be the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! Blessed be your good sense, and blessed be you, who have kept me today from bloodguilt and from avenging myself by my own hand!
II: Then David received Abigail and accepted her gifts.
I: "Go up to your house in peace. I have heeded your voice, and I have granted your petition."
II: So Abigail went back to her house. Her husband Nabal was holding a feast in his house. His heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So Abigail told him nothing at all until the morning light when he was sober. When Abigail told him what she had done, his heart died within him. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he laughed out loud.
I: "Blessed be God who has judged the case of Nabal's insult to me, and has kept me from evil. God has returned the evildoing of Nabal upon his own head."
II: Then David sent his servants with a message to Abigail.
I: "David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife."
II: I am your servant. I will be like a slave to wash your feet because you are the servants of David, my lord."
I: Abigail got up hurriedly and rode away on a donkey. She went after the messengers of David and became his wife.
II: David also married Jezreel; so she and Abigail both became his wives. And David was already married to Michal, who was King Saul’s daughter.

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