Scene 1. A busy market place.
The old man lifted his head and tried to listen through the noise of traders shouting their wares and the hum of the crowd. He looked towards the middle of the market at Speakers’ Corner, where the usual arguments continued, day after day, year after year.
The only thing everyone seemed to agree on was that no respectable philosopher could believe in the gods of the populace, and if a God existed at all, he was distant and didn’t care about humans.
But here was another voice, and another viewpoint – one which the old man had never heard before – talking about the gods as if they mattered.
The crowd was listening too, but not for long. Soon some of the younger men recommenced their vehement arguments, drowning out the stranger.
Slowly he stood up and walked slowly into the centre of the group. The crowd hushed, for he was an elder and respected. He eyed the stranger, then said:
“Let’s hear more of what you have to say tomorrow; when we have listened we will consider.”
The next afternoon the elders assembled and invited the stranger to speak. He spoke about his God, not just one of a pantheon, but the Lord of the universe. the Almighty who cared for mere mortals:
“God wants men to seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he isn’t far from any of us.”
His mind was racing and he heard no more. Could it be that God was a being who could be sought and known, rather than just a concept to argue about? But how could one seek such a God? If he called on him, what answer would he receive?
Scene 2. Night time in an inner city cafe.
The band was setting up on the small stage. Sam sat in the corner at the back, facing her third cup of coffee, hoping no-one would sit at her table and try to make conversation.
The band began with a couple of up-tempo songs. A businessman sacrifices everything to get to number 1, only to find he has become a number too. A callous “ladies man” leaves a trail of broken dreams in his wake but ends up lonely.
Sam’s mind wandered, then she re-focused. “I told myself I wasn’t going to think about Liam tonight” she reminded herself, and turned her attention back to the stage, where the mood had changed.
Over a soft background of slow chords, the pianist sang gently of dreams that had failed, hopes that had been dashed by life. But, in the end, reassurance: “There is love, and it can be found”.
Then another song about love – the strong love that hangs on when the going gets tough. “Love is hard” the chorus went.
“You’re not wrong there” Sam thought to herself, but somehow, she felt hope for the first time in weeks.
She could move on. Perhaps there truly was love in the world. Perhaps there was more to life than she had worked out so far? Perhaps she had been looking in the wrong places?
Scene 3. A dusty country road.
Matthias was more excited than he had been for a long time. Walking with the other young men, his mind went back to the funeral where they had laid his father to rest .A hard working man he had been as tough as the nails he used in his work, but always struggling to make ends meet in these oppressive times. And in the end, totally disillusioned.
Every week he had met with the other elders and prayed for release from the oppression, prayed that God would hear their pleas and rescue their nation from virtual slavery. But it never happened, and so he lived his last days in despair.
Matthias had few expectations of life and few hopes. Certainly not hope in God. But this group somehow felt differently. Their natural leader was still young himself, but he seemed to have the wisdom of an older man – if you could ever get a straight answer from him.
They questioned him as they strode along. “Where is God in these dark days? Is there any hope?”
“God sees everything that happens.” the leader responded.
“That’s not really an answer to the question,”a young man retorted and the leader flashed him a smile: “Did I promise an answer to the question?”
Matthias thought for a moment, then asked his own question: “So how can we ever know the truth about God?”
He half expected another cryptic reply, but instead the leader said quite seriously: “If you keep on looking, I promise, you will find what you need to know.”
This reply left Matthias with more questions. What did he need to know? Would he give God another chance?
These stories are fictional but based on real events. Story 1 happened in a marketplace in Athens, recorded in Acts 17:16-28 in the Bible. Story 2 is based on the song Dream On from the album Surviving (about 1980) by Sydney singer/songwriter Ross Nobel. Story 3 reflects the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:8.