SETTING: The Church of Our Lady of the Perpetually Over Spontaneous.
CAST: The Reverend.
(Lights up on a simple podium. There is a dry erase board to the right. Organ music plays softly. The REVEREND approaches the podium, surveys his flock He is a combination of Barack Obama and Groucho Marx. He begins slowly, growing progressively more excited throughout the piece)
Please be seated… Thank you. I’d like to begin by thanking our own Miss Petulia Jenkins for the lovely floral display. Yes, thank you Petulia. If you didn’t see them on the way in, make sure you notice the callalillies in the vestibule on your way out. Also the white roses on the piano in the rectory. Very lovely. St. Clive be praised. Thank you, Petulia. Of course my grandfather used to say the only thing better than roses on the piano was tulips on your organ- but that’s for another day, another sermon.
No, brothers and sisters, what I want to talk to you about today is Redemption.
I see some new faces here. Welcome to the Church of Our Lady of the Perpetually Over Spontaneous. You are among friends. Yea, though He may be a stickler for the prompt RSVP, we know that God accepts procrastinators. Even as He accepts the very bottom of a muddied cup. For though ye be Dr. Philistines, telemarketers or rapists, the armpits of St. Clive are ready to honk for you too. And what is rape really? Could it not as easily be called “surprise sex? “
As you know, tomorrow is St. Clive’s Day. And I suppose it is “traditional” to surrender to the hustle and the bustle of the various St. Clive’s Day festivities. Our children are giddy with visions of the heaping bowls of warm potato salad that come morning will be theirs to nostril-stuff. The eye gunk fairy will be leaving her little droppings in every good little boy and girls’ septum. And of course I remember how my own family celebrated St. Clive’s day. I can still remember our house redolent with the smell of Grandpa’s Orthotics Soup in the crock pot as we kids placed the dried holiday centipedes ever so carefully on the traditional holiday compost heap.
Ah yes. These are, indeed, cherished memories.
But brothers and sisters… Many of us get wrapped up in the so called commercialism that surrounds the St. Clive’s Day season. Oh yes we do. We forget the true meaning of our most holy of holidays. As we doggedly go through all the holiday rituals, like writing the traditional list of friends and acquaintances in order of preference and hurriedly notifying them of any changes in status over the past year. As we do the last minute testing of our saliva viscosity for tomorrow’s loogie hanging competitions- let us not forget what St. Clive was really all about. Let us not forget about Redemption.
I know. I know there are distractions. Designer salt. A distraction. Crème de Menthe. A distraction. The exquisite clavicle of that blonde in the fourth row. Definite distraction.
But St. Clive tells us that though we may be distracted by the ingredients, we must keep our mind on the menu. Indeed, we must put the “men” in menu. And the whoa in woman for that manner.
(THE REVEREND sits on the edge of the pulpit, “bringing it down” a little.)
Let me tell you a little story. I was five years old. I had just received my first body building scholarship from the University of Southern California. My girlfriend at the time, a primal scream therapist from Ibiza, had just informed me she’d broken my Easy Bake oven while trying to rewire it to electrocute our family’s pet hamster. Needless to say my disappointment was somewhat leavened by my own childish narcissism. In those days there was nothing like the smell of melted plastic cookie trays to light a lurid light in my little loins. I wanted to take her back, back to my tree fort with its wall to wall carpet and it’s slip and slide and its two- count ‘em two– conversation pits and make rabid love to her until our moms called us in for dinner. I was… distracted.
That’s when I thought of St. Clive.
(He rises to the podium, begins to pace back and forth, warming to his subject:)
Did he not make a television entirely out of bees wax? Did he not hold the sulking title for the tri state area four years running? Did he not have his palate etched with Angelina Jolie’s profile? These are all reasons we revere- and fear- the Clivester, but what is the deeper meaning? What was he trying to offer us? One word, brothers and sisters: Redemption.
For St. Clive tells us we are ALL eligible for redemption. There is no expiration date on the coupon that is you. God’s check out girl will scan your items without the muttered dietary critique nor the rolling of the eye. You may go paper or plastic but you will be redeemed. But in order to be redeemed we’ve all- each and every one of us- we’ve all got a job to do.
Your job is to ride that conveyor belt, people. Ride that conveyor belt to glory. Can I get a witness? Or at least some help out?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Do I have enough Nembutol and Curare bean extract to create the kind of psychotropic cocktail that will prove untraceable in my beloved wife’s vodka Collins to enable me to retain the remote control long enough to Tivo a complete season of Dexter?” I’ve caught myself thinking the same thing a thousand times. You are not alone, brothers and sisters. There are no easy answers. But there are some questions that have been known to be quite salacious. Let us pray.
Please open your hymnals. The Book of Clive. Limericks four. Verse one. It begins- read along with me if you would. “There was a young man from Pinole-“ Better yet: put your hymnals down. Put them down! Throw them down! Stomp on them! Stomp! STOMP! Good. Okay. Stop stomping. Stop! Are you nuts? You’d stomp a hymnal?
Now I want you to bring your hands up through your chakras. The first chakra. The looks-within place. Now the second chakra, known as the vestigial limb chakra. Now bring your hands up through the third chakra, the anabolic steroid chakra. Good, Now bring your hands up through the fourth chakra, known as… the fourth chakra and on up through the fifth chakra, the sixth chakra, the shakra Khan, the shaka zulu. The Shaquille O’neill. Up. Up. Higher. Higher! Now face your palms towards me. Keep those arms high! Palms towards me. Now bend your backs and lower your palms in my direction. And bow. Bow to the revealed word of St. Clive through me. Me, your humble servant. Nice. I don’t know about you but that felt great! Redemption!
(He does a little dance.)
I wasn’t always saved. I suppose my background is pretty normal. I was raised on the Australian outback. Hyenas licked my afterbirth. We lived off table scraps. We eventually had to move from the Outback to Chilis. Growing up, my family raised me as a militant agnostic. It wasn’t easy. Angry villagers burned question marks on our lawn. I lived each day like it was my last: a lot of crying and screaming. AHHHH!!
God asks us a question every St. Clive’s Day. God says: “Are you gonna eat the rest of that English muffin?”
Well, brothers and sisters, are you?
(He lets the question hang in the air.)
First, let’s look at the word; redemption.
(He goes to dry erase board, writes: RE/DEMPT/ION with a grease pen.)
Redemption is an ancient word. The prefix is from the latin root “red” or “the color of your Uncle Doug’s nose after a few highballs at the St. Clive’s Day tailgate party.” The
Tertiary syllable, “dempt” was first encountered in the Horticulturalists’ Almanac of 1856 and was used in the sentence; “Leave those clamatos in the basket, they’s all been dempt.” And of course the suffix “ion” comes from Star Trek.
(He bounds over to the podium, enthused:)
So how do we go about getting our rightful share of it? Redemption? Is there a recipe?
A recipe for redemption? And is there a… secret ingredient. Brothers and sisters, I’m here to testify: there is.
I learned about it while doing hard time at the Pelican Cove Correctional Facility where I was serving a six year stint for cranio-sacral technique piracy. I had crossed the highly trained Reiki Commandos at the Northern California Holistic Institute one too many times. My cell mate was a serial nose picker known only as “Barry.” We were arguing one day about our treatment. Our window treatment. It was deplorable. He was being quite adamant about going with a plaid- Please. While I was calmly suggesting something a little more au courant, perhaps a charcoal hounds-tooth to set off our stained and discolored mattresses just right and Presto! It came to me. Redemption is not just the title of a two part episode of Star Gate SG-1. Nor is it just the title of the theme song from Rocky II.
Friends; Redemption is too big to be contained in definitions.
It’s too wide, you can’t get around it.
It’s too high, you can’t get over it.
It’s too low, you can’t go under it.
It’ll wait for you when you’re running late. It’s there!
It’ll be ready for you if you’re early. It’s there.
Help me somebody!
I needed Redemption.
So at that moment I began a strenuous regimen of leg squats, hindu push ups and autofellation. My workouts were so strenuous I had to supplement my diet with heaping bowls of a testi shaped pasta called testicullini made from vitamin enriched steer gluten.
If I was going to be redeemed, I wanted do it with the rock hard abs you see before you now.
Now let’s look at you.
Have you got what it takes to be redeemed?
And what is the secret ingredient?
Well friends, consider the lowly biscuit.
What is it? Some eggs, some flour, a bit of corn starch, a pinch of salt. Mix it all together and put it in the oven. And you add that secret ingredient. A chemical reaction takes place.
It rises! Just when you yeast expect it! It rises!
It was there all the time. The secret ingredient, my friends, is LOVE.
Brothers and sisters the time has come to find your inner biscuit! Think of our church here as a giant convection oven. Only it’s not a convection oven. It’s a conviction oven! And it’s set to 360 degrees of Love!
And now I want you to rise.
(Indicating the audience. Music: Thus Spake Zarathustra from 2001)
All my little biscuits,
I want you to rise up. Up! Out of your chairs.
(To someone not standing up:)
Sir, I can see you’re rising up and you’re not even standing up! That’s okay.
Let it wash over you like a Niagra of Viagra. Feel that secret ingredient, brothers and sisters! Feel it! (You kids remember: always use a condiment.) Rise up my biscuits!
(He is ecstatic.)
St. Clive be praised! I have seen the recipe and the secret ingredient is love!
Petulia! Put me in the cuspidor, I’m ready to be saved! We shall all be redeemed! We shall! We shall! We shall!
Great St. Clive almighty!
I have found the recipe!
Can I get an Amen!
(A sudden and complete BLACKOUT.)
END OF PLAY