The Phone Call

Man on a phoneI found drama a very effective way to poclaim the modern Christian narrative. I cannot remember the situation when I wrote this the following dialogue sermon for Christmas Eve. I do recall a number of people reported it spoke directly to them. In fact, one said hearing it was a life changing experience.

The Phone Call.

DAD: Hello…Hello… Is someone there?…Look, I’m busy. This is not a night for fooling around.

MIKE: Dad.

DAD: My God! Is it really you, Mike?

MIKE: It’s me, Dad.

DAD: Where are you?

MIKE: It doesn’t matter where I am. I just wanted to wish you and Mom “Merry Christmas”.

DAD: It doesn’t matter? It’s been six years, and you say it doesn’t matter. Where are you, Mike?

MIKE: I’m far away.

DAD: Where’s far away?

MIKE: I’m beyond your reach.

DAD: You tell me what’s going on.

MIKE: Hasn’t anything changed? Are you still so angry?

DAD: I can be angry if I want to be.

MIKE: You had a right to be very angry. I wasted all you gave me: college, marriage, children. I lost them all.

DAD: I was very angry.

MIKE: And I was very drunk… You said you never wanted to see me again.

DAD: I didn’t mean that.

MIKE: You cursed me.

DAD: I was very angry.

MIKE: Maybe I don’t deserve you, Dad.

DAD: Son. ( pause. )

MIKE: I just called to wish you “Merry Christmas ” and to remember a little of what used to be.

DAD: Christmas was always special.

MIKE: I still dream about it: putting up the tree, walking to Church in the cold, singing carols, lighting candles, opening presents before the fire, hugging, kissing, gathering around the table with the whole family.

DAD: And mother always insisting I tell the story you all knew anyway.

MIKE: We never knew it well enough.

DAD: Year after year, the same story.

MIKE: Maybe that’s why I called. Maybe I wanted to hear the story one more time.

DAD: Oh, sure.

MIKE: I’m not kidding. I’d like you to tell me the story one more time.

DAD: I’m not sure I can under these circumstances.

MIKE: I’ve not asked you for anything else for six years. Just pretend we’re all young again. ( pause. )

DAD: On Christmas God came to save his suffering world. At the right time, when all seemed lost, helpless;
when government oppressed,
when rich exploited,
when power abused,
God came, seeking his children.
He came to the weak, Mary and Joseph, people who could not even afford a room.
He came to the lowest of the low, Shepherds, smelly, beer guzzling workers of the third shift.
And he gave them…gave us… a child, new life…
( pause. ) Come home, Son.

MIKE: I can’t.

DAD: Please, come home.

MIKE: I don’t even have a car to come, if I wanted to.

DAD: Ride the bus.

MIKE: I can’t.

DAD: I’ll send money. Tell me where to send it.

MIKE: Dad, it’s soon time to get ready for candlelight. Maybe we should end this.

DAD: I have time, a good half hour.

MIKE: Dad, get ready for candlelight. It’s been good talking to you, more than you know. Go to church and light a candle for me, say a prayer for me.

DAD: Yes, I will. I will. ( pause. ) Thanks for calling, and don’t wait so long next time. ( pause. ) Have a good Christmas, Son. ( pause. ) Tell some one else the story. ( long pause. ) For God’s sake, don’t hang up. It’s Christmas Eve when the Father comes to rescue his helpless children. You must let me come. Where are you?

MIKE: I’m in a different world, a world you don’t know.

DAD: I’ll come there. Tell me where you are.

MIKE: No where. I’m lost.

DAD: I’ll find you. Give me an address. Where are you?

MIKE: ( Pause. ) Manhattan. 216 Fairmount Avenue, Manhattan. Come, get me.

DAD: 216 Fairmount Avenue. It’s burned in my mind.

MIKE: Dad, it’s a shelter.

DAD: It’s all right. I’m coming right now. When I hang up, I’m getting my coat, I’m calling your mother, I’m getting into the car. It’ll take six, at the most seven hours. Don’t move. I’ll find you. Stay right where you are. I’m coming.

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  1. John Myers says:

    I admit, I cried after reading this – getting caught up in the story. I know this is meant as a modern Immanuel (God With Us) parable. There are also clear aspects of the Prodigal Son here. More importantly, the redemptive power of love is on full display.

    I am 59 yrs old. I was raised in a time when the Church message focus was judgement. In my lifetime, while our message in many quarters is still judgement (repent or you will get a one way ticket to a very uncomfortable hot place), the prevailing message has changed to love. Spreading the joy that is God’s love, and respecting one another as equal children of God. We are not to judge the sinful failings of each other – that is for God. We are to take God’s free gift, love one another and spread it everywhere along with the good news. This story also reflects that change as we see Dad change. We also see that change in OT v NT. May all of us change as well.

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