The Runaway

This week’s sermon was actually a play for Children’s Sunday. It can be heard by accessing our podcast services. I would like to thank Shelley Rose for transcribing the script for the blog.

The Runaway

November 15, 2020 Children’s Sunday, Knox United Church

Cast (in order of appearance):

Narrator – Andrew Jensen

Prodigal Daughter: Claire Healy

Father/Mother: Barb Healy

Older Brother (and the voice of the Daughter’s conscience): William Healy

Narrator: Today we’d like to re-tell the story of the Prodigal Son from the Bible. Let me introduce our cast. In the role of the Prodigal Son, we have Claire Healy.

Claire: Why can’t I be the Prodigal Daughter?

Narrator: Um, sure. Why not? In the role of the Prodigal Daughter, we have Claire Healy.

Claire: Yay!

Narrator: In the role of the father, we have Barb Healy.

Barb: Hello.

Claire: If I can be the daughter, why can’t Mom be the mother?

William: If you were listening to the story earlier, you’d know that there is no mother.

Claire: Why not?

Narrator: Jesus didn’t put a mother in the story. He was talking about a single-parent family.

Barb: That’s hard. Even if you don’t believe in different “dad jobs” and “mom jobs” there’s still twice as much to do.

Narrator: Actually, it looks like Jesus had that in mind. At the end of the story . . .

William: Wait! Spoiler alert!

Narrator: No spoilers. I was just going to say that at the end of the story, the father talks to the prodigal more like a mother than a father from those days. People who heard the story then would have known that. The father was being a mother, too.

Barb: So I can be the mother, then?

Narrator: Sure.

William: What about me?

Narrator: I was just getting there. In the role of the jealous older brother, we have William Healy.

William: Okay.

Narrator: That’s it? You don’t want to change anything?

William: No. I can handle this. I’m a professional.

Narrator: Then on with our story.

Once upon a time, there was a father, um, I mean mother, with two children. Not brothers: one of each. What they used to call a millionaire’s family.

Barb: Am I a millionaire?

Narrator: Well, you’re pretty wealthy. And that’s where the trouble starts.

Sound of footsteps getting closer, then stopping.

Claire: Mom, I’ve decided to run away from home.

Barb: Why? What’s wrong?

Claire: You make me clean my room all the time, and I have to eat yucky things . . .

Barb: That’s healthy food!

Claire: . . . and I always have to do my homework. It’s not fair! So I’m running away.

Barb: What are you going to do for money? How will you eat? Where will you stay?

Claire: I’m going far away, where you’ll never find me. I’ll get takeout to eat. And you’re going to give me the money. I want my inheritance.

Barb: You don’t get that until I die!

Claire: I want it now! Gimme! Gimme!

Barb: Some of it is tied up in real-estate. I’ll have to sell part of the back yard: the bit with the tree-house.

William: Hey! I like that tree-house!

Claire: I don’t care. I want it now!

Sound of door slamming

Narrator: So the Prodigal Daughter got her inheritance, and moved far away to an unnamed city.

Sound of bus driving down the highway

Claire: Aah, Cornwall. No one will look for me here.

Narrator: The Prodigal Daughter was sad about leaving her friends, but since she had a party in her apartment every night, with three kinds of take-out pizza all the time, she soon had a lot of new friends.

Sound of dance music.

Claire: Party! Party!

Narrator: But one day, something terrible happened:

Sound of dance music stopping abruptly

Claire: My Netflix is cancelled! They’ve turning off my internet! What’s happening?

Narrator: Her money had run out.

Claire: That didn’t take long. What a rip-off.

Narrator: Those were all premium pizzas.

Claire: Speaking of pizza, I’m hungry. How am I going to eat?

Narrator: So the Prodigal Daughter had to get a job. Too bad she’d never finished school: she couldn’t get a job that paid well. She entered the short-term job “gig” economy, with no benefits and lousy pay.

Claire: Wait a minute, what about minimum wage?

Narrator: She got paid piecework: so much per pig fed.

Sound of pigs grunting and eating.

Claire: I’m feeding pigs?!

Narrator: It got worse. Soon she was so hungry, even the pig slops looked tasty, but the boss wouldn’t let her snack.

Claire: Eeww!!

Narrator: And as she got hungrier, she couldn’t work as fast, so she got less and less pay. Soon she was living on the street.

Sound of pigs stop, replaced by city traffic noises.

Claire: Wait! Now I’m homeless?

Narrator: Yes, and winter’s coming on.

Sounds of traffic fade, a cold wind whistles in the background.

Claire: This is awful! I’m starving, and I’m cold! I’m going to die! Maybe I should go home.

William: You can’t go home. You were mean to Mom and me.

Claire: Who are you? You sound like my brother, but he’s not here.

William: I’m your conscience. Feeling bad yet?

Claire: I’m feeling awful. But Mom would take me back, right?

William: You treated her like she was dead! You were selfish and mean. You took your inheritance and ran away, and never even texted. She’s worried sick!

Claire: I never thought of that. I feel awful.

William: You already said that.

Claire: This is different. I really was mean. How can I go back? But I have to, or I’ll die.

William: You’re not part of the family anymore. You’re like a stranger.

Claire: You’re right! But Mom hires strangers to take care of the garden, and clean and cook, and work on the farm.

William: You’re a terrible cook. And you hate cleaning.

Claire: It doesn’t matter. I’ll tell Mom that I’ll do any job she has. I really will! It’s got to be better than feeding pigs. I know it’s better than starving to death.

Sound of the wind stops.

Narrator: So the prodigal daughter went home. It was a long walk, and she had time to practice what she would say.

Sound of slow steps in snow in the background

Claire: Mom, I treated you badly, and I’m not worthy to be your daughter anymore. No, wait, I should start by saying “I’m sorry.” . . .

Sound of steps fade out

Narrator: But as she got to the edge of the property, her mother, who had never stopped watching, spotted her.

Barb: I see her! I can’t believe it! She’s back!

Sound of a door slamming and running feet moving away

Narrator: And abandoning all dignity, the mother threw aside the jacket of her power suit, and ran as fast as she could to meet her daughter.

Sound of running feet get closer, and skid to a stop

Claire: Mom, I’m sorry, I . . .

Mother: Baby! You’re back! I missed you so much! Mmwah! (sound of a big kiss)

Narrator: The mother hugged and kissed the Prodigal Daughter so hard she couldn’t get out another word of apology. And as they walked back to the house together, the mother insisted on planning a welcome back party.

Mother: I’ll put you in my best clothes: yours are all rags. And jewellery, of course. We’ll invite all your friends. And we’ll have your favourite food. We’ll kill the fatted pizza!

Claire: What does that even mean?

Mother: I kept your favourite pizza in the freezer. I’ll pop it in the oven.

Claire: Mom . . .

Mother: No, you’re right. It has to be take-out. Nothing but the best for my daughter.

Claire: Actually, Mom, I’m tired of pizza. But I’d love some of your macaroni and cheese. And maybe some asparagus?

Narrator: So they got dressed up, and the friends came over, and the party started.

Sound of dance music returns

Narrator: Then the older brother came home. He’d been working hard outside, and he was really angry when he found out about the party. He even refused to come into the house.

Sound of door closing, dance music becomes muffled

Barb: Why don’t you come inside, son? Join the party.

William: Are you kidding? After what she did? She treated you like you were dead! She wasted all that money! She behaved really badly, and now you’re treating her like a princess!

Barb: But son . . .

William: You’ve never once thrown a party for me and my friends. I don’t get it. I work hard for you, and I get nothing. She behaves badly, and you reward her!

Barb: Son, why are you so jealous? Everything I have is yours. But I have to celebrate. Your sister was dead, and now she’s alive again. She was lost, and now she’s found.

Narrator: And that’s the end of the story.

All music stops.

William: Wait a minute! What kind of ending is that? What happens next?

Narrator: Jesus didn’t say.

William: But the Prodigal Daughter was a total brat! She was selfish and mean. She doesn’t deserve a happy ending.

Claire: The brother was a selfish jerk, too. He couldn’t even be happy for his mother, when she was celebrating. Who does that?

Barb: Neither one of the children behaved very well, did they?

William and Claire (together, reluctantly): Not really.

Barb: So maybe the story isn’t about them.

William: Who’s left?

Claire: The mother?

Narrator: Yes. Remember, this is a parable, and the people in it represent others. The mother stands for God, and the children stand for all the people who fight each other, and are selfish, and mean, and jealous, and don’t behave very well. What do you think the message might be?

Barb: With all the bad behaviour in the world, we are all still brothers and sisters, even when we don’t want to be.

Claire: And God loves us, even when we do dumb things. Even when we don’t feel like we deserve it.

William: God wants us to love each other, and be happy for each other. God doesn’t want us to be jealous or mean.

Barb: You know the part I liked best? The mother never gave up looking out for her daughter, and hoping she’d come home. God never gives up on us.

Narrator: Now that sounds like a good place to stop.

All: The End

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