Jesus and three of his disciples — Peter, Judas and Mary Magdalene — are at Peter’s house. They are having a meeting.
Peter: So, welcome friends to our ’umble abode-by-the-sea for tonight’s meeting of the Parochial Capernaum Council. We seem a bit thin on the ground today. A nasty old night out there, I know.
Jesus: A big thank you to your mother-in-law, Peter, for her kind hospitality.
Peter: She’s been so grateful to you for making her better.
Jesus: I’m grateful she stayed better too. One of my first healings — so a bit of hinge moment.
Judas: Mmmm… excellent biscuits she does, too.
Peter: Always the first with the hand in the tin, eh, Judas? So, Jesus, over to you, you’re in the chair. What’s today’s agenda?
Jesus: No, you lead, Peter.
Judas: Him?! It’s always him — or James and John. ‘The dream team’ indeed.
Peter: Some people’s stocks just can’t help rising, you see Judas. Jesus knows who’ll never let him down.
Mary: You men — why’s everything a competition?
Peter: You’d know a bit about men of course, eh Mary?
Jesus: My dear children… We’re here for some planning: part of our teaching programme.
Judas: Thought the teaching was your job, Jesus.
Peter: I’m up for it. So what do you want us to teach?
Jesus: That’s up to you. What do you think people need?
Judas: Good financial management. That’s the heart of things. Neglect your finances and the whole thing collapses. I could do a course. I’ve picked up good tips off the synagogue guys: how to get people to give, Roman-tax avoidance, that sort of thing.
Jesus: Money skills are certainly important, Judas. And you’re quite right, we should all use the talents we’ve got — we need you in the team. But let’s not start there.
Peter: Guerrilla resistance skills. We’ll need those to secure your kingdom, Master. I can see a great teaching plan: Part 1 — Verbal Subversion, or ‘How to pull the rug out from under your enemies whilst pretending to love them’. You’re a past master at it Jesus. Then Part 2 — Combat Skills. I’ve an old sword stashed away — bit rusty, never used it, but I’m going to need it one day I know. So guys, agreed? Great! Let’s go.
Mary: Oh put the male macho stuff away, Peter. This isn’t the bleeding Apprentice.
Judas: I’m with you, there, luv. Alpha males, eh?
Jesus: Mmm, ‘Alpha’… You could use that, if you wanted. Start people with the basics. Call it ‘the Alpha course’ perhaps. Just seeding a thought…
Peter: ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was Alpha.’ Oh no, I’m starting to sound like John.
Judas: We could keep it going all the way to Omega. Franchise it. What a money-spinner that’d be.
Jesus: The Alpha and the Omega - mmm, powerful… But we shouldn’t encourage people to run before they can walk. Spiritual safeguarding’s central — we need to nurture good practice.
Judas: Mmm, compulsory pastoral modules then — a good income stream…
Jesus: Mary, you’re very quiet. What ideas have you got?
Peter: [uppity] I thought I was chairing this.
Mary: Thank you, Master. You hear what folk are crying out for. ‘Teach us to pray,’ they’re saying.
Judas: Prayer — excellent idea! The Pharisees have got some great materials. ‘Impress through Prayer’, they call it. Tips like standing in as public a place as possible — common sense, really.
Peter: I worry about you, mate… Mary, this was your idea — which means, according to the ancient tradition we would never wish to break: you’ll be doing it. What’s your big idea?
Mary: Sitting together on the beach.
Peter: The beach?! What’s that got to do with prayer? That’s the Lake. That’s work.
Mary: [ignoring him] That’s where I meet God. The calm, the stillness. Or in a storm — doesn’t matter. Gather some pebbles, meditate, listen to God together.
Peter: Wouldn’t float my fishing boat, I’m afraid. Though we could do a beach bar-b-q — that’d make it worthwhile.
Judas: And who’d be paying for that, then?
Peter: [sighs]… Jesus, you’re the one being quiet now. Prayer — surely this is you’re gig.
Jesus: Thanks for asking, Peter. As it happens, yes, I’ve got something brewing. ‘Our Father,’ it starts… Haven’t got further than that yet. I’m sure it’ll come, though.
Mary: You see, Master, you’re the centre of this, not us. All these big ideas, but the only thing that matters is you’re there.
Jesus: Thank you, Mary. Profound, as ever. I will always be with you. Even when I’m gone.
Peter: Gone?? Oh, of course, healing duty calls again. I wondered what all the racket was outside. You’d think your devoted fan club would give you a rest in this weather.
Jesus: Never a dull moment in the PCC, eh, Peter?
Peter: So, meeting closed. And the ball’s in your court with this prayer thing then, Master.
Jesus: The ball’s in all of our courts. Let’s go — and I hope you’ve been praying.
Sketch written for a discussion on church-based discipleship groups for the South West Ministry Training Course, Nov 2017.