Church introduction and announcements We are a green church yadda yadda… end with “Now turn up your cell phone really loud, because we need lots of random in service today.”
Traditional 4/1 quarter calls
Air: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (sound of heavy breathing) Helloooo air!
Fire: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! [Beavis voice] Fire, fire, fire, hehhehhehhehheh…[/Beavis voice] Helloooo Fire!
Water: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (sound of toilet flushing) Helloooo Water!
Earth: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (sound of dump truck backing up then dumping load) Helloooo Earth!
Center: Here quarter, quarter, quarter! (everybody go “Om”) Helloooo Center!
Presenter: One day God and Satan were in what passes for a bar in that realm having what passes for tasty beverages to relax after a hard eon’s work.
This sounds like another invocation of Hotei, but it is actually the introduction to the Book of Job in a rather funky 1970s translation of the Bible that came and went like many things in the ’70s and left barely a ripple on the consciousness of the world. You see at one point Satan was not God’s enemy but a trusted employee and confidant, number 3 in the chain of command after God himself, then God’s Son, then good old reliable Satan, the adversary of all that was not keeping to the commandments, God’s prosecuting attorney, the one that held open the gate as Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden.
Anyway the rest of that passage went kinda like God saying all these great things about Job, about how good he was in keeping the commandments and teaching his children to keep them, and tending his flocks and vines and olive trees and keeping them in perfect order so that proper sacrifice could be made at the appropriate times of the year, to which Satan replied, “Yes, but you treat him pretty good, almost anyone could be good at keeping the commandments in his situation, and do a great job of praising You. What would happen if things got bad?” and thus began the tribulations of Job.
Play “Duck Amuck” on big screen.
Well after a few years of ever worse conditions, Satan said, “Hey, this Job cat is really down with it for you. He has absolutely nothing, but he still keeps the commandments even at the detriment of his own health, and never questions why this is happening to him, He really loves You.”
And so God restored Job’s lands, healed him of his lesions, gave him a new wife who bore him strong children to replace the wife and children that died during his tribulations, and generally made his aged years as comfortable as they could be. And Satan paid up on the wager they had made about Job.
Play “Rainy day Women #12 and #39” by Bob Dylan (1st verse)
And now we will share our joys and tribulations with stones, After you state what’s bothering you or what is joyful in your life the congregation will join with you and say “May you find your peace”, as Job found his peace.
So what happened to Satan? Even at the beginning of the New Testament he was in charge of determining if Jesus was true to his Father, claiming the ability to give Him control of all the Earth to test his ability to remember who He was and who his Father was/is (which tense should we use? past, or present to acknowledge his followers who think that Jesus is living in Heaven?) Jesus passed that test and others, and was pronounced to be whole by Satan. The after the Resurrection Satan’s story was changed, he was retconned in comic book parlance, his past was changed and he was made into Lucifer the Fallen Angel, God’s sworn enemy and out to destroy Heaven and Earth. The comic book reference was not accidental, Satan became the perfect comic book villain, the benchmark by which all subsequent villains were measured and mostly found wanting. And I suspect that was the reason for the change. In order to have perfect good in an imperfect world, there has to be a reason why imperfections and “bad stuff” exists. Every “Good Guy” needs a “Bad Guy” to fight or else has a meaningless existence, or at best a very boring story.
Early Christians also needed a reason why they were being persecuted to the point of death when they were so good. Retconning Satan into the Evil to end all Evils gave them that reason. Adding the name of one of the most revered Pre-Roman gods to his title made their hatred of the Romans (who were prosecuting them for failure to pay their taxes at the temples) complete. Even during the first century AD Christians thought they were above the laws and taxes…
Extinguish quarters, wave bye-bye as quarter candles are blown out.
As you go out into the world to do what good you can, remember what happened to Satan, God’s drinking buddy to God’s Official Enemy. I think they still meet in that bar once an eon to share a tasty beverage and talk about the silly humans and make a few bets on who does what to whom, which God wins naturally (never bet against an omniscient deity).
Now, go forth and do good.