ONCE A CAMEL-SPOTTER …
By Neil Booth
Gabriel — the Angel of the Lord
Have two areas, one marked “Heaven” and the other marked “Earth” (placards on the floor or on the walls, perhaps). Have Gideon standing in the “Earth” area pretending to “thresh wheat” and have God seated on a chair in the “Heaven” area. Have the narrator standing to one side of earth and heaven and have Gabriel ‘off-stage’ somewhere.
Narrator: The people of Israel have been having a bad time. For seven years the Midianites have been making mincemeat of them … killing and burning, and looting and pillaging. So those who are left are having to hide out in caves up in the hills to try and stay alive. And in their fear and distress, many of them are crying out to God to help them …
[Gabriel walks to the “heaven” location and knocks on an imaginary door as someone off-stage knocks on the floor or something.]
God: Come in!
Gabriel: [Entering so as to stand before God, and then bowing to him.] Good morning, God.
God: Morning Gabriel. How’s the Heavenly Host today?
Gabriel: Oh, not bad. Not bad at all. Just had them out on manoeuvres. Scared the living daylights out of some Babylonians that we swooped over in full formation. That’s where we were when I got your message … over near Babylon. [Pauses] What was it you wanted to see me about?
God: Well, it’s my Special People again. Israel. The thing is, they’ve turned back to me in prayer …
Gabriel: [Interrupting] As they do …
God: … as they do, and they’re asking me to deliver them from the hands of the Midianites. And … well, you know how I am when my Special People pray to me! I can’t not answer them. And I thought that this time we might use Gideon to make something good happen for them.
Gabriel: Gideon? You mean that fellow who goes round putting Bibles in hotel bedrooms?
God: Oh, very funny, Gabriel … No, you know as well as I do that hotels haven’t been invented yet. And you know perfectly well which Gideon I mean. The one all the Israelites call “The Wimp”. [God gets up and takes Gabriel over to an imaginary window where they can look at “Earth”]. There he is … see? Threshing wheat.
Gabriel: Trying to thresh wheat would be a better description, don’t you think. He’s not what you’d call “impressive”, is he? Thick as a locust! … So what do you want me to do?
God: I want you to go and say to him, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior”. Then tell him I want him to save all of Israel from its enemies.
Gabriel: Mighty warrior! Him! He spends all his time camel-spotting when he’s not making a mess of the threshing! He won’t even go into a cave until someone’s checked it out for spiders.
God: I know, I know … But he’ll be different when he has the Holy Spirit inside him.
Gabriel: Different! He needs a complete make-over! … Do you want me to go now?
God: Why not? The sooner you visit him, the sooner my People’s prayers will be answered.
[Gabriel leaves “Heaven” and crosses over to “Earth”. He stands behind Gideon and loudly clears his throat. Gideon turns, sees him and takes a few steps backwards, looking scared.]
Gabriel: The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!
Gideon: [Looks behind him to see if Gabriel is talking to someone else.] Er … sorry. What was that?
Gabriel: [Impatiently] The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!
Gideon: Mighty wa …? Ah … no … I see what’s happened. These caves do all look a bit alike. You’ve got the wrong address, I’m afraid. There’s a mighty warrior at number 24 … that’s the third cave down there on the right. Or maybe you want the one at number 43.
Gabriel: [Getting a bit ratty] Look, I haven’t got the wrong address. The message is for you Gideon. You are the mighty warrior … or, according to God, you will be. He says that you are to save Israel from the Midianites.
Gideon: Me! How am I supposed to do that? I’m a thresher not a thrasher. And when I’m not threshing, I’m busy camel-spotting.
Gabriel: Exactly what I said to God. But he says he is going to put his Spirit in you and then you’ll be able to do everything he wants you to do.
Gideon: Ooo…er. I don’t know about that. [Pause] Will I still be able to go camel-spotting? Do you know, I’ve spotted 387 so far … And just yesterday I spotted four I’d never seen before …
Narrator: It took quite a long time, but at last Gabriel, the Angel of the Lord, managed to convince Gideon that the message was for real and that God was indeed going to use him to do something wonderful to rid Israel of its enemies. But for a while nothing much happened. Gideon carried on threshing and camel-spotting, camel-spotting and threshing, until one morning a great army of Midianites came on the attack, looking for some Israelites to kill. And it was then, when the news reached Gideon, that something amazing happened to him. It was then that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, just as God had promised. And what was it like when that happened? It was like nothing on earth. It was like, deep down inside him, there was a Clark Kent spinning round and turning into Superman. It was like he was being flooded with courage and strength. It was like someone had hooked him up to the power of heaven, and turned on the switch. In a moment, the Wimp had become the Man of Steel. And camel-spotting was suddenly no big deal anymore. There were battles to fight … for God and for Israel. And with the Holy Spirit inside him, Gideon was the man to fight them. And he did. And he won.
Once a camel-spotter always a camel-spotter? Nahhhh. Not a bit of it. Not when the Spirit comes!