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Son of God

Son of God was presented as a musical in Bournemouth, UK, in 1986/87.

 

The video recording can be seen here. However, the picture and sound quality is not ideal because of technical problems so long ago. So below the link for the video is the musical written in the form of a novel, with the songs as recorded in a studio appearing at the relevant points. This is actually a better format because the novel is able to use scenes impossible to be shown on stage.

 

For the best experience, as you read the story press the arrow on the audio player when you come to one and follow the words of the song in the text; but start reading the story while the overture is playing!

SON of GOD

Table of Contents

 
 
Morning at Home
Overture

Yawning, Pete tottered into the kitchen, to see Stella, his wife, busily packing his lunch. They’d agreed when they married that she’d finish her employment in a job she didn’t enjoy to concentrate on sorting out the house and getting her arty crafty hobby up and running - possibly into some future kind of business, while he put everything into rising through the ranks at his firm to land a high executive job. She’d just been glaring at the work top, remembering their conversation yesterday about getting a new kitchen installed: after all, it was three years since they’d moved in to their new house in the Broadlands following their flashy wedding and luxury honeymoon, and they’d promised themselves it would be high on the list of priorities for improvements. Now Pete had his new BMW, they could concentrate on spending some money on the house. Somehow though, today it didn’t seem quite as important as it did yesterday. ‘I wonder why?’ she thought to herself.

 

“Morning, bright eyes,” she greeted him sarcastically.

 

“Hello,” he grunted.

 

“I was just going to come and wake you up with a nice cup of Alka Seltza.”

 

“Very funny!”

 

“You won, then?”

 

“Eh?”

 

“The clothes strewn across the floor had a celebratory air of abandon about them, I thought.”

 

“Hope I didn’t disturb you,” he muttered, sitting at the table for breakfast.

 

She put the toast rack on the table, containing the perfectly toasted bread from their expensive new toaster. “Oh no! I’m used to things going bump in the night after darts matches. It’s a pity Barry fell over the dustbin, though!”

 

“Silly idiot! I told him to watch out.”

 

“Might have been better to have told him before he did it!”

 

“Ah well! As long as we didn’t wake you,” Pete replied absentmindedly as he disappeared behind his morning newspaper.

 

Closing Pete’s lunch box after inserting the sandwiches she’d just finished, Stella said, “Look; I’ve done you tuna and mayonnaise today.”

 

Pete, engrossed in his paper, emitted something between a groan and a grunt.

 

“Is that ok? And do you want an apple to take?”

 

“No thanks – too noisy!”

 

“You did have a good time, didn’t you?”

 

“Yeah, it was great! Bit of a shambles at first, though. Their board fell off the wall and we had to wait while they fixed it with string.”

 

“Very professional!”

 

“The best part was when their first man on – you know, Bill - couldn’t hit a barn door if it fell on him – missed the board completely and put his dart right through the piece of string.” He started laughing, but then stopped abruptly, holding his sore head between his hands. “Ouch!”

 

“Did it break?”

 

“Yes, but only as he was pulling the dart out. It snapped clean in two and the board fell right on his foot.”

 

“Star player, was he?”

 

“They had to take him to hospital,” Pete chuckled, “they sent a text later – turned out he’d broken his little toe!”

 

“Oh! Poor bloke! What about the match?”

 

Well, that leg had to be abandoned…”

 

“Which one – his right, or his left?”

 

“No… you are on form this morning, aren’t you? Very perky! I was referring to the match, actually. But it meant there was an even number of games and by the end the scores were equal, so I had to play the decider with their captain.” Pete paused dramatically.

 

“Well, go on. Who won?”

 

It was a close one, but I beat him in the end, of course.”

 

“Oh, of course! Who was their captain?”

 

“Eric Bristow.”

 

Since Bristow had been professional world champion five times, for a moment Stella was thunderstruck. Then disbelief spread over her face.

 

“Well, we can all dream, can’t we?” Pete grinned.

 

“You haven’t eaten anything,” Stella observed, looking at the unused cereal bowl and now cold toast.

 

“I think I’ll wait until my stomach’s finished the assault course. Just coffee’s fine.” He disappeared behind the newspaper again.

 

“I had a good evening too,” Stella said. “I went out.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Actually, I took up Jane’s invitation to go to that thing at Christchurch.”

 

“Really?” Pete became absorbed in the sport’s page, wondering how close his local team, Bournemouth, were getting to promotion – chance would be a fine thing, but you can always hope!

 

“Well, Jane had been on at me for some time to go and see what it was like, so I thought last night was as good a time as any… it wasn’t at all how I expected… not a normal service like you see on telly.”

 

“Hmmm?”

 

“To be honest, I thought I’d be bored; but she’s been a good friend to us so I thought I should go along.” Silence from Pete, so she ploughed on. “Actually, I wasn’t bored at all. Quite the opposite: I really enjoyed it… well more than that… are you listening, Pete?” raising her voice slightly.

 

“What?” coming briefly from behind his paper and then going straight back to it.

 

“I said, would you prefer salt in your coffee this morning?”

 

“Oh, er… two please.”

 

“Pete!” she yelled. “I’m trying to tell you something.”

 

“O.K.,” he said, putting the paper down. “What have I done?”

 

“You’ve not done anything!”

 

“Right; well let me read my paper in peace, then,” starting to pick up the paper again.

 

“It’s what I’ve done… but it’s difficult to put into words… I’ve… become… a Christian.”

 

In the long pause, Pete slowly lowered his paper to the table. “Become a Christian? You always were one weren’t you?”

 

“Well, I thought so too, until last night.”

 

“I mean, aren’t we all? We live in a Christian country, don’t we? I mean, I’m not exactly a heathen, am I?”

 

“For the first time it started to mean something to me. I believed it! The difference is, it’s become personal. I asked God to make Himself real to me, and He has. I’m different, Pete. I want Him to run my life now. He’s changed me!”

 

“Well, you look the same to me; and that’s pretty good from where I’m sitting, so come here and give us a kiss,” he said, starting to become amorous. “You’ll be making me jealous with that kind of talk.”

 

“Don’t change the subject,” giggled Stella, evading his clutches.

 

“Which one?”

 

“You’re avoiding the issue!”

 

“So are you,” complained Pete, his amorosity starting to wane.

 

“Can’t you be serious for one minute?” said Stella, becoming frustrated at her inability to describe something she barely understood herself.

 

“I was being,” said Pete, disgruntled and pouring more coffee into his cup.

 

“This is important to me, Pete. It’s not about religion; it’s something that’s real. Something that really happened in history.”

 

“What are you on about?”

 

“That it’s true. Jesus really did come to this planet so that the likes of us could know God.”

 

“Know God?” asked Pete incredulously.

 

“I only realised last night we owe Him an apology.”

 

“Owe Him an apology?” Pete was beginning to sound like an echo chamber.

 

“I don’t mean just us: I mean all of us… everyone… the whole human race. ‘Jesus died for us’ isn’t just a cliché, it’s true! He did. And it’s the most important thing that’s happened in the whole history of the world.”

 

“Have you been hanging around that Jane Reynolds again?” asked Pete scathingly.

 

“What’s that got to do with it?”

 

“You sound just like her!”

 

“Well, it’s true it was her who got me thinking. Do you remember she tried to tell us ages ago about our not being able to get to God except through Jesus – and we just took the Mickey? Well, it’s suddenly clicked. I know now what she’s been talking about.”

 

“I’m glad somebody does!”

 

“I thought you liked Jane?”

 

“She’s all right; but you said it yourself – she’s over the top when it comes to religion.”

 

“Yes, but now I see that it’s a relationship she’s excited about, not a philosophy.”

 

“How can you have a relationship with God? You can’t even see Him! I’d much rather have the flesh and blood sort any day – given half the chance,” replied Pete pointedly, still feeling frustrated at his advances being repelled.

 

“Look. They’re having a mid-week service on Wednesday. Why don’t you come?”

 

“No way!”

 

“How can you say you are logical and reasonable if you’re not even prepared listen?” Stella’s voice was starting to rise in her frustration. Then realising this wasn’t helping, said with a calmness she didn’t feel, “Surely you’ve got to accept God on His own terms?”

 

“Don’t tell me what I’ve got to do, Stella!” Pete was starting to lose his patience. They been perfectly united in their outlook until now, and this different side to his wife was unsettling him.

 

“The Bible calls it…,” struggling to repeat something she’d heard last night, “being… reconciled to God… through His Son.”

 

“And I call it ‘Cobblers’, so let’s forget it. O.K.?”

 

“What are you scared of?”

 

“Look,” he said, trying to keep his patience. “I’ve heard all about these ‘Billy Graham’ type meetings. It’s dangerous. Perfectly ordinary, reasonable people get carried away in the heat of the moment, and start flocking out, falling on their knees and making a spectacle of themselves.”

 

Stella looked down, guiltily, her face starting to redden.

 

“You didn’t, did you?”

 

She nodded, slowly and shyly.

 

“Oh streuth! How are we going to live that one down?” Pete burst out.

 

“I don’t want to live it down,” Stella protested. “I want everyone to know about it.”

 

“Well, you could at least have had a bit of consideration for me. What would the blokes at work think?”

 

“I don’t think any of them were there.”

 

“Yeah? Well, that’s one good thing about it. Most people have something better to do with their Sundays.”

 

“Actually, the Church was quite full.”

 

“Look. If you want to join a bunch of old fogies and misfits, that’s up to you; but leave me out of it.” Pete got up and went to the door.

 

“Pete, please. It’s not like that.”

 

“For the last time, Stella, religion is for losers!” and he went out to get his coat and briefcase.

 

“Who’ll be the losers when Jesus comes back?” asked Stella, rather more loudly than she intended, since the question was more to herself than to Pete.

 

“What’s that?” asked Pete loudly.

 

“What could be more important than being ready for the next life, Pete?”

 

“Oh! That’s how they do it, is it? Scare you to death with talk of hellfire and brimstone, and ‘Hey Presto’, another convert to help pour money into their coffers.”

 

“Pete! That’s just cynical!”

 

“Yes, well! I’m sorry,” he shouted, “but I’ve had enough and I’ve got work to do.” The last word was lost in the crash as he slammed the door behind him.

 

“Oh! Your sandwiches,” cried Stella, picking them up but getting to the door too late to give them to him as he hurried down the road to catch his bus into town. He preferred the bus to driving, because it meant he could check through his paperwork on the way and didn’t have to worry about parking spaces. In any case, he didn’t want to risk getting his new ‘Beemer’ scratched by the careless oafs in town.

Table of Contents

 
Work

Pete stewed about the argument most of the way to the office. He couldn't believe that someone could change so radically and stupidly overnight. However, as he neared the end of his journey, he forced his mind back to reality. A promotion had been up for grabs for some weeks, and he was expecting that today the final draft of his project he'd handed in would finally swing it for him.

 

He'd heard rumours that, just before the weekend, a rival firm had put in a hostile takeover bid for Simkins, where he had worked hard for the past five years; but he had discounted this as being rather farfetched. Even so, he needed to have all his facts at his fingertips for the interview about his project with Harry Benson, his superior, which he expected later that morning.

 

So after he had seated himself at his desk, consoled himself with the coffee his long-suffering secretary dutifully placed at his side, he was not at all surprised to see the email pop up on the screen in front of him: "Come and see me as soon as you can Pete." Harry was never one to use two words where one would do, and the brusqueness of the message was typical of the man.

 

As Pete knocked on the door, he could hear Harry on the phone.

 

"Yes. Indonesia sounds great, dear… Oh, there's someone to see me now, so I must go darling. We'll sort it out when I come home. Bye."

 

"Come!"

 

Pete nervously opened the door and walked up to the large mahogany desk, which typically was clear of any paperwork with nothing more than the large computer screen slightly to one side and its keyboard in front of Harry. He stood up as Pete approached and offered his hand. His grip was like holding a wet fish, but Pete knew the weakness of Harry's fingers was in sharp contrast to the steely will and ruthless disposition that ensured Harry always got what he wanted.

 

"Ah! Peter! Good of you to come. Have you caught up with the news of what has been happening over the weekend?"

 

"I've not heard anything official, sir."

 

"No! I don't suppose you will have done. Everyone's been told to keep it under wraps until I've been able to speak to various people."

 

‘It must be my promotion,' thought Pete. 'Why else would he bring me up here like this?'

 

"Well, er… Peter. Do sit down, by the way… makes the place look untidy, you know?" Laughs with an uncharacteristic nervousness. Then, with a cough to clear his throat, "It's like this. I know you've been expecting promotion to the new executive position we were going to create, and to be fair the job should be yours. However, I'm sure you're aware that the company has been under some considerable financial pressure recently, and things finally came to a head at the end of last week."

 

"I knew that things were getting a little tight while we were in the development stages of…"

 

"Yes, quite! But we reached the point that, last Saturday, the shareholders were forced by our creditors into accepting the takeover bid that had been made some time ago."

 

"They've not sold out to them?" Pete gasped.

 

"I'm afraid they had no choice."

 

"I see," said Pete weakly.

 

"It's bad news for you, I'm afraid. The deal is expected to be completed by this afternoon, and as the new owners obviously will not want to double up on staff they already have, I have to issue the redundancy notices before five o'clock tonight." Another cough. "I'm sorry to have to tell you that you are one of the men surplus to their requirements."

 

"You're sacking ME?" cried Pete, aghast.

 

"Not my decision, Peter; but they have little choice. They already have sufficient personnel in your department, and one of the conditions of the deal is that their people get preference over ours."

 

"How long have I got?"

 

"They have agreed to very generous redundancy settlements for those affected, so you should have plenty of time to decide what to do for the future."

 

"I see," Pete replied, seeing nothing at all.

 

"Look. I'm sorry we haven't had the chance to talk about this before; but they are giving three month's pay in lieu of notice. Your desk must be cleared before you leave this afternoon, I'm afraid. I really am sorry, Peter. You've done a good job for us, and I know it doesn't seem fair. But you know how these things work."

 

Pete stood up, for once in his life completely speechless. Harry held out his hand to shake once more.

 

"Goodbye, Peter. Hope you don't have to wait too long to find something else."

 

Pete, unable to speak, turned and slowly walked to the door. Harry turned back to his computer and was tapping on the keys as Pete slowly, gently, closed the door behind him and went back to his desk. He'd heard of a friend who had been made redundant by another firm and was immediately escorted out of the building by the security guard without even having the chance to collect his things; so Pete supposed having the rest of the day to sort his things out was comparatively generous. Even so, his fall from the expectation of promotion one minute to redundancy the next was almost more than he could take in.

 

Pete’s final hours in the building seemed to take forever to pass; while at the same time, the moment he picked up the cardboard box containing his personal possessions, his final day seemed to have flashed by in a second. As he walked through the corridors and out of the entrance, he took a last, lingering look at the place that had been his home, but where he would never again be welcome. Pete wasn't one for shedding tears, but holding his emotions as he walked away to his bus stop was one of the most difficult things he had ever done. He stood at the stop, morosely staring at the ground.

 

"Hello, Pete! How are you?" It was Bill, walking past as Pete waited for his bus.

 

"Hello, Bill! Nice to see you. How's the family? I didn't get the chance to ask last night." Pete struggled to conduct a normal conversation without the turmoil showing on his face.

 

"Fine thanks! Good news about the takeover, isn't it?"

 

"Well," said Pete, "I could see it coming a mile off."

 

"Marvellous for me, of course. My department's doubling in size and even though I will be second-in-command to their chap, I'll be getting more money for virtually the same job."

 

"Best thing that's happened for years," bluffed Pete.

 

"Will it affect you much?"

 

"They've offered me a big promotion, but I'm not sure if I'll take it."

 

"You won't take it?"

 

"No. I've been thinking for some time I could do with a change, and this is the perfect time to do it."

 

"Are you sure everything's ok, Pete?" asked Bill, sensing things were not quite as they seemed.

 

"Of course! Why shouldn't they be?"

 

Just thought you looked a bit pale, that's all."

 

"Well, I'm fine," said Pete, more sharply than he intended.

 

"Alright; I'm sorry. Didn't mean to pry."

 

"There's nothing to pry into," Pete was losing it and he knew it.

 

"O.K. Well, I must go or I'll miss my train. Congrats on last night, by the way!"

 

"Last night?"

 

"The darts match!"

 

"Oh! That. Yes, thanks!"

 

"Cheers," said Bill, limping off on the newly acquired crutches, and trying to prevent the foot with the broken toe from touching the ground. He could have stayed off work, having only had his accident yesterday, but with the takeover, he couldn't afford to stay away and risk losing his promotion!

"See you," replied Pete, unable to resist the rapid plunge into despair and too distracted to realise he had forgotten to ask Bill how his foot was.

Table of Contents

We meet

We meet in the street, "How are things," we ask.

"Just fine, how are you?" we reply.

But our smile is as false as a circus clown's

And the words we speak are a lie.

 

Oh! Why can't we share with each other?

Oh! Why can't we say how we feel?

Why, when our heart is falling apart,

Are we so afraid to be real?

 

But each time we meet it is just the same:

"I'm fine. How are you?" we'll say.

And we hand each other another stone

And the wall grows higher each day.

 

Oh! Why can't we share with each other?

Oh! Why can't we say how we feel?

Why, when our heart is falling apart,

Are we so afraid to be real?

 
 
Back Home

Pete's normal procedure was to call in at the local pub for a pint to wind down after work, before going home. This was how he had been drawn into the dart's team. He'd been naturally proficient and was soon leading the small group to modest success in the local league. However, he hadn't the heart to face anyone tonight, so he went straight home.

 

"Hello, love! You're early tonight," said Stella, delighted to see him and quickly walking over to give him a kiss. "Finished your project at last?"

 

"Not exactly!"

 

"I'm sorry about this morning, darling," said Stella, wanting to clear the air and start again. "It was the wrong time. Listen, I've been thinking that what we need is a holiday. We haven't had a break for ages. So I popped into the Travel Agent's today, and I thought we could have a nice cosy evening looking at brochures. What do you say? There's a fantastic bargain on a trip to Tenerife - all included. Wait a minute, I'll see if I can find it." She turned away to go to the chair where she had been sitting.

 

"What's for tea?" asked Pete gloomily, having barely heard what Stella had said.

 

"Macaroni cheese… What's the matter, love? Are you still angry about this morning?"

 

"Not about this morning. I've had a bit of a disappointment today, that's all."

"Is it about that promotion?"

 

"Yeah! They've sacked me instead!"

Table of Contents

Every joy

Every joy soon gives way to a sorrow.

Every smile soon reverts to a frown.

Every hard-won success turns to failure and mess.

Struggle up, and you'll soon be knocked down.

 

Revelations are followed by darkness

Where you wander, confused and in pain,

'Til you sort it all out, bid farewell to your doubt,

Then it happens all over again.

 

Just beware when the future looks rosy,

For it's just when things start going well

That a bolt from the blue will be aimed right at you,

Blasting hopes of your Heaven to Hell.

 

Look at love, joy and hope with suspicion.

Hearts are easy to break, hard to mend.

Know that darkness for sure will go on and endure,

And that only the rainbows will end.

 

 

Stella had been standing back, aghast at what she was hearing; but then quickly went over to put her arms around Pete and hugged him. "Oh Pete! My love! I'm sorry! What can I say?"

 

"There's nothing to say! I'm finished, and everyone else's life goes on just the same!

 

"You're not finished, Pete! You're bound to get another job. Probably better than the last one."

 

"Not a chance! There's only two firms around here in my line of work, and they've just amalgamated."

 

"Amalgamated?"

 

"That's why they gave me the push. Our chaps are expendable, but tomorrow morning some bright twit fresh from University will make himself at home behind my desk, just because he happened to work for the right firm, while after years of good service I get thrown on the scrap heap!"

 

"There must be something we can do."

 

"There is. I sign on and join the unemployed millions."

 

"I didn't mean that," said Stella helplessly.

 

"It's no good raising your hopes, love. Whatever happens we're going to have to pull our belts in from now."

 

Stella hesitated, with a thought that before today would never have occurred to her suddenly pressing to the forefront of her mind. "There is… there is one thing we could do."

 

"What's that?" asked Pete gloomily.

 

"I know you got cross with me about what I said this morning; but the preacher last night said God was able to work everything out for good when we give our lives to Him… We could… we could… pray."

 

"Pray… Pray," Pete's voice got louder with every word. "What's the good of that?" Then, realising Stella was only trying to help, albeit with no solution at all, he tried to calm himself down. "I know you mean well, love; but religion's no good at a time like this."

 

"But I know He loves us, Pete." Stella felt something rising inside her and she couldn't stop it. "I'm sure He could do something."

 

"A fine way He's got of showing love, I must say!"

 

"Please, Pete. Give it a try. You've got nothing to lose. Come with me to…"

 

Pete finally cracked. His day had gone down a very steep and bad slope and this was the last straw.

 

"So that's what you think of me," he shouted. "I've got nothing to lose! It's alright when I've got a good job and bringing in plenty of money to keep you in luxury; but as soon as I lose my job I'm no good to you! I've got nothing to lose!"

 

"I didn't mean…"

 

"Well, I'll tell you what I've got to lose. I've got my integrity, that's what I've got. And I've still got some pride. If you think because things have gone wrong for me, I'm going to sit with a load of old women pleading to a non-existent God to wave a magic wand and put it all right again, you've got another think coming."

 

"Please, love…"

 

"Don't 'please love' me! Even if everybody is against me - even if my own wife is against me - I'll sort something out, just you see. You have to make your own way in this life. I don't need a religious crutch to help me sort out my life."

 

In total frustration, Stella gave as good as she had received. "I'm not against you," she yelled. "Why don't you listen to me?"

 

"Because you talk rot, that's why. It's bad enough losing my job without you nagging me as well."

 

"It's not rot. You just won't listen to me!"

 

Pete stormed to the door and opened it. "I'm going out." He was at the top of his voice now. "And I'll be back late, so don't wait up for me." The door slammed with a crash that shook the building.

 

"I won't, don't worry," Stella yelled back through the closed door.

 

As she slowly walked back to her chair, the tide of rage and anger slowly receded, and left her in a flood of disappointment, sadness and despair: partly over Pete's misfortune, but mostly because of her own reactions over which it seemed she had no control.

 

"And I'm supposed to be a Christian," she groaned to herself. "And now I've ruined everything."

 

Table of Contents

The Bedroom

The events of the day had left Stella shattered, so by 10 o'clock she was ready for bed. She was about to get in, when she thought to herself: 'I know I should pray before I go to bed. But I don't know how to do it. I've never prayed before. Although, when I was a small girl I used to say my prayers with my mum; but that was just a childish poem. I don't suppose God would mind though. It's better than nothing. I think He'll understand.

She rather self-consciously knelt down by the side of her bed.

Gentle Jesus

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild;

Look upon a little child.

Pity my simplicity,

Suffer me to come to Thee.

 

Then, overcome by all that had happened, she poured out her deepest longing.

 

Father, please meet with my man.

He has done the best he can.

But I know his best won't do.

He is poor compared with You.

 

I love him so very much.

Please let him feel Your kind touch.

Please change him into Your son.

Please unite us both as one.

 

Lord, I know You answer prayer.

I believe You're always there.

I give to You everything.

In our home, Lord, reign as King.

She got into bed, pulled the covers over her and turned out the table light. A minute later a thought occurred to her, and she put the light on, got back out of bed and knelt down once again.

 

"Amen," she said loudly. "Sorry, I forgot to say it!"

 

Getting back into bed she thought, 'I don't know if that's important, but you can't be too careful, can you?' In spite of everything, tiredness and her ability to nod off quickly meant she was soon asleep.

 

 

….........................................

 

 

It was around midnight before Pete arrived home, slightly the worse for wear in every respect! However, with his mind still whirling around, he decided to have a quick shower before turning in. Even after that he wasn't sleepy, so got himself a cup of hot chocolate, hoping the comforting warmth would kick-start his body into snooze mode.

 

Drinking his chocolate in the lounge, he noticed Stella's new Bible sitting on the arm of her chair, and He idly flipped through it as he drank. As he did so, Jesus entered the room and began to sing over him, although Pete was unaware of what was happening.

Table of Contents

 
Arms of Jesus

You have been rejected, oh, so many times before.

Have lost your trust in everyone; your heart is sick and sore.

Lonely, cold, afraid, you feel the sun will never shine,

For too many arms have dropped you. Come to mine.

 

Longing for a love you think can never quite be yours.

All the love you've known 'til now has had so many flaws.

Demands been made upon you, 'til you're weary, and you pine

For arms that will not drop you. Come to mine.

 

But you're so afraid of love you fight it when it's near.

Tender hands held out to you cause you to hide in fear,

For you feel if you accept it you'll pay penalty and fine.

But these arms will not drop you. Come to mine.

 

Longing for my love to fill you. One day, yes, it will.

Though of heartache, suffering, you feel you've had your fill.

I've set for you a banquet and one day at it you'll dine.

You'll feel strong arms around you. They'll be mine.

 

On that day you'll know at last that you're secure with me.

Suffering is in the past, my love has set you free

From all the hurts that you've sustained at each point down the line.

You'll know arms forever round you; and they're mine.

Jesus slowly left the room as, finishing his drink, Pete went up to bed, dropped the Bible on the bedside table with a cynical sneer, and got into bed very carefully, trying not to wake Stella.

 

Arms that will not drop you, will not smother or oppress.

Holding you, enfolding you in deepest tenderness.

Supporting you, transporting you to realms of life and light

The everlasting arms of Jesus hold you tight.

….........................................

 

In the middle of the night, with Pete and Stella sound asleep, a brilliant light momentarily flared in the lounge; and as it died down, a figure slowly began to move. He picked up an ornament off a shelf and examined it curiously. Gently putting it back down he gazed at the wedding photos in their silver frames that stood at either side of the shelf. The darkness of the room did not appear to affect the uninvited visitor's ability to see. Then he turned, and spotting the armchair sat in it, wriggling around to feel how soft and comfortable it was. Seeing himself in the mirror on the wall, he walked over to it and turned around, left and right, checking that all was in order. It was. He then soundlessly went upstairs and into Stella and Pete's bedroom, where they were both sleeping soundly.

 

It may have taken Pete a long time to get to sleep, but now he was there it would take a bomb to wake him. At first the visitor tapped him gently on the shoulder, not wishing to startle him; but to no effect. He blew on his face, with equal lack of success. Finally, he shrugged, took a deep breath, and grabbing Pete by the arm shook him so violently he almost fell out of bed.

 

"What's going on here?" Pete yelled in alarm.

 

"Ah! So you're awake at last!"

 

"Who on earth are you; and what are you doing in my bedroom?"

 

"On earth; in heaven; it makes no difference to me where I am, I'm just the same. And I've come here to talk to you."

 

"What are you on about?" asked Pete bewilderedly. Still half asleep, with a strange man attacking him, his mind was having difficulty in computing the situation. "Who are you?"

 

"If you must know, I'm an angel."

 

"An angel? There's no such thing. I don't believe in fairies. I'm going to call the police." Pete tried to get out of bed, but half in, half out, his body suddenly froze as the angel pointed at him, and he found himself unable either to get out, or get back into bed.

 

"What's happening? Why can't I move? How did you do it?"

 

"I told you. I'm an angel."

 

"Alright, if you say so." The angel dropped his finger and Pete thankfully fell back into bed. "Well. What do you want?"

 

"It's not so much what I want as what you are going to want. But I'm here because your wife asked me to come."

 

"She did?"

 

"Well, not in so many words; but she did ask God to work in your life, and this is the way He has chosen to do it. I must say you are very privileged: it's very rare that I get a job like this."

 

"Stella prayed for me? I'll kill her!" Pete turned around to grab Stella, wake her up and give her a piece of his mind; but the angel pointed at him again and once more he froze, unable to move. Somehow the noisy encounter was not disturbing Stella, and she continued to sleep, occasionally emitting a tiny snore.

 

"Not while I'm around you won't," replied the angel. He waited long enough to satisfy himself that Pete would not continue with his original intention, and then dropped his finger away, leaving Pete to slump back on his own side of the bed once more.

 

"I'll have to wait 'til after you've gone then!"

 

"I don't think God will allow that to happen!"

 

"You speak about God as if He was a person. Well, I have to tell you that I don't believe in a God like that. He is just the good that is in all of us."

 

"Really?"

 

"But of course! All that superstitious nonsense about some old man in the sky has long since been disproved by science. Everything is here because it just evolved that way. We're not ignorant savages living in caves now, you know. We don't need religion anymore."

The Angel stood up, stared pointedly at Pete with his hands on his hips; then he took another deep breath, formed an operatic pose and began.

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Just because

Just because things seem to happen and you can't see why

You assume it's all by chance, and let these things pass by.

Yet you know that all effects must have a cause to be.

Well, the cause is God, but you're so blind you cannot see.

 

Apples always fall to earth; two and two make four.

Frozen water hardens, yet with heat as steam it soars.

You can live because you know that you can trust these laws.

Well, these laws are God, whom you would rather just ignore.

 

Planets orbit round the sun and each maintains its place.

All the universe obeys the laws of time and space.

But you are too 'wise' to look and see what all things show.

Well, they show it's God who holds all things, as all things know.

"I suppose you've not got a bad voice for an angel," Pete grudgingly admitted.

 

"Do you really think so? They wouldn't let me in the choir for a long time, you know."

 

"How long?" asked Pete curiously, in spite of himself.

 

"Well, I put my application in long before the universe was created, you know. In earth time I suppose it must have been about 32 million years."

 

"Oh come on!" Pete groaned in exasperation. "This is ridiculous. I don't believe you're an angel. I don't believe in God; and even if you believe all that rot about all of creation revealing God, I don't. So you might as well push off and practice your singing somewhere else, and let me get some sleep." He lay back down, turned over with his back to the angel and pulled the covers over his head.

 

"Aha!" said the angel after a moment’s reflection. No response. "Aha!" he said again loudly. Still nothing.  So he pulled the covers back and shouted "Aha!" into Pete's ear.

 

Pete sat up. "What do you mean, 'Aha'?"

 

"You said, 'all of creation'. CREATION! You called it ‘creation’; so you do believe it after all!"

 

"No I don't. It's just a manner of speaking. I DO NOT BELIEVE IT!"

 

"Well, I'm here to tell you that whether you believe it or not, it makes no difference to the truth. I know it's true because I live in the spiritual realm and I've seen it for myself. You can only speak from your own experience, and that is far too limited to be accurate. But while your beliefs don't have any effect on the truth, they certainly have an effect on you, and it makes the difference between heaven and hell."

 

"Heaven and hell?" Pete growled. "Now I do know you're a fake. Everyone knows that was just a story made up by the religious bigots of the day to scare the masses into doing what they were told."

 

"Sure of that, are you?"

 

"Of course. In any case, if God was a God of love He would never send anyone to hell for eternity."

 

The angel gasped in shock. "God sends no human to hell. Hell is for the devil and all his demonic hordes. It's not God who sends people to hell: they send themselves!"

 

"What do you mean by that?"

 

"God has given you the freedom to choose whether you want to live with Him or not; and plenty of opportunity while living on earth to do it. But if you choose not, well there is only one place where God is not present in all His glory, and that is hell. If you choose to go your own way in life instead of His, that is what you are choosing. Hell! It's your choice, not His. If you pick up that book by your bed, you'll see it says that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should have eternal life."

 

"That's hardly a choice, is it? Saying you can freely choose, but if your choice doesn't suit God He blasts you into Hell!"

 

The angel shrugged. "Even heaven would be like hell for anyone who chooses to live apart from God, because His presence fills it. Hell is the only place where they could exist if they want to follow their own desires, because for the whole of eternity future it is only there where His presence will not be able to be felt. What makes it such a terrible place is that it will be populated only by those who want their own way and who are prepared to do anything to others to get it." He shuddered at the thought.

 

"Yes, but why does it have to be that way? God is the one making the rules, so why doesn't He change them and allow folk to live the kind of lives they choose - in peace?"

 

"You humans are so illogical it's not true! You invent your own ideas about what God is like, then use your illusions to criticise Him with! God makes no rules. He simply acts according to His own nature, which never changes. And His nature is love, and justice. He made you in His image, and even though you've marred your nature with your sin, it can still respond to its maker. Your own instincts tell you that wrong-doing demands punishment. You accept this as a basis on which to build your civilisations; yet you say God is wrong to do the same."

 

"If God was a God of love He would find some way to keep people out of hell."

 

The angel finally lost patience with Pete. "If God was a God of love? IF GOD WAS A GOD OF LOVE?" he shouted. "I'll show you if God is a God of love or not. You come with me."

 

The angel grabbed Pete by the lapels of his pyjamas, dragged him out of bed, and then took hold of both his hands. The room seemed to shimmer for a moment, and Pete suddenly felt dizzy. Without the angel's strong grip he would have fallen over.

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Back in Time

When the dizziness had gone, Pete opened his eyes, having closed them to try to stop everything spinning round. He gasped, when he saw that not only was he no longer in his bedroom, he was no longer even in Britain. The air was hot, and from the style of the buildings, he could see that no modern architect had played any part in their formation. They walked on the rough street, into the little town. There was no lighting of any kind, but thankfully it was a clear night and the moon was shining brightly.

 

Just ahead of them was a small group of men, excitedly talking to each other, but in a language Pete could not understand. However, something strange then happened, and while Pete could still hear them talking, in his mind appeared the thoughts they were thinking.

 

‘What an amazing experience’, thought one of the men.

 

“Such a bright light and the most beautiful beings I have ever seen’, thought another.

 

‘I wonder what he’ll look like?’, thought the third.

 

‘I’m still surprised it didn’t scare the sheep into running away’, thought the fourth.

 

Pete turned to the angel. “What’s going on? Can I really hear their thoughts?”

 

“You’re in the spirit realm now,” he replied. “Thoughts are heard as easily as speech here, and you can understand it because there’s no such thing as different languages in thought. Your mind translates your thoughts into English so quickly you might think you are thinking in English, but you aren’t.”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” retorted Pete, feeling over his body with his hands. “I feel just the same as I always do.“

 

“Of course, you do,” he replied, “the spirit realm is just as real as your physical one. But I can assure you your body is a long way away from here. Humans call it ‘an out of the body experience’, although most of their ideas about that are wrong, of course. Astral projection and all that sort of thing is usually illusion and lies of the enemy. The only time it is acceptable to God is when I or my colleagues are given an assignment like this; and as I said earlier, it is fairly rare for that to happen.”

 

“So they can’t see or hear us, then,” asked Pete, pointing at the men in front of them.

 

“Physical humans have all their senses in the physical realm, so they can usually only see, feel and hear physical things.”

 

The men had been moving quite quickly, and the angel made Pete keep pace just behind behind them while they were talking, until they turned off the street. They entered a rough looking building, and from inside Pete could hear the sounds of animals moving around. They slipped in, behind the men. When they moved to one side, he saw a young man and woman, tenderly looking into a feeding trough.

The unmistakable sounds of a tiny baby, wrapped lovingly in clean clothes, came through the wisps of straw protruding from the sides of the trough.

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You're the Son of God. You're the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

You're the Son of God. You're the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

 

By You were all things made

In heaven and on earth

Things seen and unseen

Thrones, dominions and all powers.

 

You're the Son of God. You're the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

 

You're before all things.

By You all things consist.

You're first in everything.

All fullness dwells in You.

 

You're the Son of God. You're the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

 

Though in God's own form

You did not cling there to stay

But You emptied what You were

To be a man - a slave.

 

You're the Son of God. You're the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

You're the Son of God. You're the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

Son of God
 

"You dare to suggest that there is something God could do for humans that He has not done yet?" demanded the angel, resuming the argument as though nothing had intervened since his last comment in the bedroom. "When He gave up everything to become like you? Well, you've seen nothing yet. Now look. This was for you."

 

Still with his hands firmly in the angel’s grip, again Pete felt the dizziness. When he opened his eyes this time, it was a very different scene before him. There were crowds of people everywhere, with dozens of Roman soldiers in line keeping the people where they wanted them. Pete was standing near the top of a hill, and the horror before him was something totally outside of his experience. Two men, screaming in agony, were tied to crosses, with nails driven through their hands and feet. Splashes of blood fell like rain around the crosses, and Pete felt revulsion pour through his body.

 

As he watched, a third man, who could barely walk, was half-dragged up the hill and roughly pushed down to a third cross, ropes lashing his arms securely to the cross piece, without which the nails that were about to be pounded into his hands would pull through and he would fall off. This man was in much worse condition than the other two, because, when his clothes were roughly torn off him before fastening him, naked,  to the cross, Pete could see the flesh hanging off his back and front. His whole body was one bloodied mass. He had obviously suffered the most severe flogging: it would have killed a lesser man. As if this weren't enough, twigs with inch-long thorns had been twisted into a crude circle and pushed down on his head, causing blood to mingle with the sweat running down his hair and into his eyes.

 

Nails were brutally driven through his hands and feet, but unlike the other two men he made no sound at all. Once he was secured, the cross was raised to an upright position, and dropped into the hole prepared for it in the ground. It was obvious that the sheer physical torment was such that it was all the man could do to take gasps of breath, pulling himself up against the agonising nails in his hands and pushing down on the one driven through both feet, in order to be able to force oxygen into his lungs.

 

Pete heard him speak, but while he still did not understand the language, the thoughts came very clearly to him: ‘Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing.’ For a long time he hung there, with flies buzzing around his wounds and many men in the crowd tormenting him with their jeers. A small group of men and women were as close to the cross as the soldiers would allow, clearly distraught at what was happening, but unable to do anything to relieve his torment.

 

When Pete thought things could not be any worse, the light suddenly faded and disappeared, almost as though the sun had gone out. It was pitch black, and Pete could barely see the hands in front of his face. Then, with more anguish than Pete had ever heard in a man's voice, came an anguished cry, accompanied by the thoughts: "God! …I’ve never been apart from You before… I know I came here to take all Your wrath against the sin of all mankind… but… My God! Why have you left me alone?" The burden of the world's sin, now incorporated into that tormented being, was so awful, even God could not bear to look at it and for the first time in his existence, Jesus was totally alone.

 

After three hours of darkness the light started to return, and, transfixed, Pete wanted to look away but was mesmerised by the sight of such cruelty imposed on a person.

For hours Pete stood and watched. Then new thoughts from the victim formed in his mind.

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This cross I wear upon my back,

A cloak of wood with clasps of iron,

This crown I bear upon my head

Producing ruby jewels there,

I gladly choose this garb of love

Which though so painful now to me

Is battle dress in which I fight

To gain my bride and set her free.

 

I take God's curse upon my soul.

I take all Satan's hate and scorn.

I take the worst that man can do

This is the reason I was born.

That in this fire of agony

These gifts in me may be transformed

To blessing, love and praise -

The best as dowry for the bride I'll win.

 

This thirty-three year human shell

Which took me through the world so well

Now carries all earth's hurt and pain.

Every sickness, all its sin.

This load's so great for me to bear,

But there's one thing that's left to do.

My life must end, that as I die

My evil burden will die too.

IT IS FINISHED.

 

It is finished. It is finished.

This was the Son of God.

You are the Son of God.

This cross
 

As Pete reeled in shock at what he was seeing, the angel stood in front of him, and looked into his eyes intently, forcing Pete's sight away from the cross momentarily.

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That's how much He cares. That's how much He cares.

He knew that when He came to earth

His end would be upon that tree.

And in those hours racked with pain

All mankind's sin in Him would be.

Each demon's foulest deed condensed

Inside this man's humanity.

That's how much He cares. That's how much He cares.

 

That's how much He loves. That's how much He loves.

There's not a child that cries in pain,

In anguish or despairingly

That He doesn't see and feel the same

And groans to see that one set free.

He couldn't stand by but had to come

To take Himself that agony.

That's how much He loves. That's how much He loves.

 

That's how hard He fights. That's how hard He fights.

He sees mankind - His pride and joy -

Despoiled and tortured by His foe;

His rage against the devil's hordes

Sends Him to earth to crush them low.

Absorbing in Himself their powers,

Destroying each last one - alone!

That's how hard He fights. That's how hard He fights.

 

Look hard at that cross! Look hard at that cross!

See, there hangs one who loves you more

Than anyone in time and space.

See there is love revealed

Which you can never find in any place.

Can you reject the one whose death

For you means you can know God's grace?

Look hard at that cross. Look hard at that cross.

Thats how much He cares
 

Trembling, Pete looked back at the shattered, dead body, now hanging limply on the cross. He heard screams of agony from one of the other victims, as a Roman soldier took a club and smashed the bones in both of his legs. Now unable to support himself, he couldn’t ease himself up in order to breathe, and the screams quickly faded away as he sank into unconsciousness and death.  It was contrary to the Jewish faith that people should hang on a tree going into the Sabbath, and this was the Roman’s brutal means of appeasing them to make them easier to keep in line, and at the same time ensure the death penalty was completed.

 

He then moved on to Jesus and lifted the club to repeat the process. However, he saw that Jesus was already dead and called to his colleague to tell him. While he went on to break the third victims legs, his colleague came over and thrust his spear into the side of Jesus and right into his heart - just to make sure!

 

As he moved away, a woman bravely pushed past the soldiers and went right up to the cross where Jesus hung, lifeless. Ignoring the dried blood and gore covering him, she gently caressed his lower legs and kissed his feet.

Then she turned, and even though he knew she couldn't see him, it seemed to Pete she was looking straight at him.

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Have you seen

Have you seen His hands?

The walk that Jesus took?

Have you seen how He's bleeding?

The King, the people all mock.

Have you seen His brow?

His body so beaten and frail?

Have you seen His crown of thorns?

His face, so grey and so pale?

 

Can you see the love

Pouring out from Him?

He's taking all our blame;

He's taking all our sin.

Oh Lamb of God

My Prince of Peace,

Forgive me. I never knew

Until I came to Calvary

And fixed my eyes on You.

 

Oh my Saviour's cross!

My Lord, what You went through!

You suffered there for us.

Christ died there just for you.

 

As she finished, her finger was pointing straight at Pete, and he shook so much he could only stand with the angel's support. Nothing in his life, no experience he had ever had, came near to what confronted him now, and he could barely speak. Faced with such raw passion, his senses reeled.

 

"Is this real?" he finally burst out to the angel. "Tell me it's not real. Tell me I'm dreaming."

 

"You're not dreaming," the angel replied, seeing the change starting to come over Pete. "This is real. That's a real cross. Real nails. This is a real event in history, and God has allowed me to bring you here to witness it."

 

"We are really here? 2,000 years in the past?"

 

"That's right. It's not difficult for the Creator of the universe."

 

Suddenly Pete knew, difficult as it was, what he had to do. Barely able to speak he whispered, "Then could you take me back a little further into the past?"

 

The angel hesitated for a moment. "It's possible."

 

"Then could you take me back to see Jesus in heaven; but before He came down from there to become a baby on earth?"

 

The angel thought for a moment. "I'm not sure about that."

 

Pete grabbed the angel by his arms and almost screamed, "Please angel. Please do it. It's most important. There's something I must say to Him."

 

The angel put his head on one side as though he was listening. Then he replied, "I can't take you right into heaven, but I can take you to a point where you can see inside at the time when Jesus was just about to leave. Hold my hand."

 

After the now familiar dizziness stopped, Pete found himself standing in a grassy meadow, surrounded by flowers of such glorious shape and colour he had never before seen. The fragrance in the air was like nothing he had smelled before and the contrast between the beauty of this place and where he had just left couldn't have been greater.

 

In front of him was a walled city, with high gates wide open. He could see clearly inside, and throngs of beings, some like the angel and some the like of which he had never seen before, stood either side of the main road leading right from the centre of the city to the gate. He could see Jesus, mounted on an enormous white horse, riding between the throngs and toward the gate. As He reached the gate, He dismounted and the horse gently nuzzled His arm.

 

"Patience, my friend," He said. "We have to wait some time longer, and then you'll take me all the way on your back."

 

The horse nodded his head up and down as if he understood, turned, and walked back into the city.

 

"Wait! Please wait a minute!" Pete couldn't hold back with the urgency of what he needed to do and ran forward, suddenly coming to a halt a little way before he reached Jesus. "I'm really sorry, but I must speak to you…" he tailed off.

Jesus, standing still, looked at Pete. It was as much as he could do to look at Jesus, but somehow Pete forced himself to make eye contact.

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Jesus please

Jesus, please don't come down here,

We'll cause You too much pain down here,

We'll smear Your lovely Name down here,

We'll crush you.

 

Child, I have to come down there,

I see you have such pain down there,

I want to change your name down there,

I love you.

 

Christ, though in the form of God, left His home and became a man;

Even more, He embraced pain and death just for you and me.

 

Jesus, please don't come down here,

We simply are not worth the price

It's we who ought to die, not You,

We'll murder You.

 

Child, I have to come down there,

You're worth so much to me, I'll gladly

Pay sin's awful price to set you

Fully free.

 

He who knew no sin became sin - yes, became vile sin,

And His life we tore away and He died for you and me.

 

Lord, I'm glad You came down here,

I praise Your lovely Name down here,

I bow before Your throne down here,

I love You.

 

Child My plans for you are great,

I'm going to take you home to stay,

I'm going to be forever with you

Loving you.

 

Christ will come again for us so that we might be with Him,

And forever be with Him as He is in love.

Christ, though in the form of God, left His home and became a man;

Even more, He CONQUERED pain and death just for you and me.

Pete, swamped by emotions he had never felt before, was sobbing now and could no longer look Jesus in the eye. The angel turned to him. "Look here! Let me tell you the rest of the story."

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Alleluia to our King

See the world's Creator rising from His great majestic throne.

See the angels line His pathway as He leaves His glorious home.

Hear the roar of acclamation as He rides to meet His foes.

Hear the angels proudly praise Him as to earth in power He goes.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

 

Sudden silence! In amazement angels see their God reach earth.

Not the mighty fighting warrior, but a helpless human birth.

Then as realisation dawns they follow Him to hills nearby,

Praising God to startled shepherds: "Glory to the God on high!"

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

 

God in weakness as an earthling, Satan musters all his power.

"I'll destroy this God incarnate, then all things to me must bow."

But the weapons Jesus uses are not those that Satan knows:

Love's His sword and for His clothing, pain and death and all our sin.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

 

In His death as God hung helpless, Satan thought he'd won at last.

Then Christ rose from death in triumph, trampling evil in the dust.

Now He lives and reigns forever, seated on His mighty throne.

Angels praise the Great Jehovah, as we join them in their song.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia to our King.

As the song progressed, Pete could hardly keep pace with the dizzy flights as the angel sped him through time and distance. He saw Jesus leave him where he was standing to go to earth. Then down to the stable to see His birth. On to Calvary to see His awful death. Then to the tomb to see the Roman soldiers, on guard to prevent Jesus's followers from stealing His body, suddenly slump to the ground in an unnatural sleep as, with a loud rumble, the stone sealing the entrance rolled to one side. He watched Jesus walk out, with the holes from where the nails had torn into Him still evident in His hands and feet. Then he was with Jesus's followers, cowering in a small room, when Jesus appeared amongst them without using the door. On to a hill in Galilee, standing with the disciples as suddenly Jesus rose from amongst them, into the air and out of sight through the clouds above. Then finally back to Calvary.

 

The place was now deserted. Not a soul around and all that was left from the scene he had witnessed earlier were the three crosses, carelessly left on the ground where the soldiers had dropped them to remove the dead bodies before handing the corpses over for the grieving friends and relatives to take away for burial.

 

He walked over to the cross lying on the ground by the place where Jesus had been tortured to death, and slowly knelt beside it. He put out his hand and touched one of the nails, still in the cross - the soldiers hadn't bothered to remove them, but simply pulled the hands and feet of the victims away from them. The wounds had become so enlarged from hours of hanging on the crosses and the victims trying to pull themselves up every time they needed to breathe that the limbs pulled away from them very easily.

 

For a moment Pete was speechless. He didn't know what to say. No words he could think of could express his emotions. But he realised everything he had witnessed demanded a response from him and he could no longer contain himself. Suddenly, from his old school days, came the words of the hymn he'd been forced to learn for an end of term service.

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When I survey
 

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died

My richest gain I count but loss

And pour contempt on all my pride.

 

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast

Save in the cross of Christ, my God.

All the vain things that charm me most

I sacrifice them to His blood.

 

See from His head, His hands, His feet

Sorrow and love flow mingling down.

Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

 

Were the whole realm of nature mine

That were an offering far too small.

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

Jesus, my Saviour, Lord, I give

To You my soul, my life, my all.

As Pete sang the final sentence, he sank from the kneeling position he had been in to lay prostrate on the ground, eyes closed, in total surrender to the one he had just witnessed giving everything He had for him. He didn't hear Jesus come up behind Him, but felt one hand on His head, another on his back, and something like warm oil seemed to flow slowly from those places and right through his body.

 

After a few seconds luxuriating in the sensation, Pete opened his eyes and discovered he was no longer on the hill of Calvary, but back in the beautiful meadow in front of the still open city gates. Jesus was sitting beside him, and, unable to get up, Pete managed to roll over onto his side. At once, Jesus lay alongside him, pulling Pete's head onto His chest, and Pete felt His strong arms wrap around him.

 

The day before, as a red-blooded, heterosexual Englishman, Pete would have considered lying next to another man in this way unthinkable. But there was nothing sexual in the embrace. To Pete it felt like a cross between the times when as a small child he’d fallen over, hurting his knee and his mother kissed it better, put him on her knee and cuddled him until the pain went away; and the time he was nine when next door's dog got out and went for him. He ran away and just made it to his father's side before the dog reached him. His dad picked him up in his arms, stamped his foot at the dog shouting at it to go away, which it did instantly, whimpering as it ran back. Then, in the security of his dad's arms around him he put his head on his shoulder and felt nothing in the world could ever hurt him while he was there.

 

Pete had no idea how long he lay in Jesus's arms with his eyes closed; but as he did he knew that this was the reason he had been born. This was the One who would kiss everything better in his life. This was the One whose protection was invincible.

 

Then he heard singing very close and opened his eyes. To his amazement, many of the angels he had previously seen lining the pathway of Jesus as He left heaven, were now in a circle around him. Right in his eye-line was the angel who had first brought him here, but now he, along with the other angels, had an expression on his face that Pete had not seen before. It was a mixture of joy, satisfaction, delight, ecstasy. The angels began slowly to circle around him, changing into an intricate dance as, ever faster, they whirled around and around. Singing!

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Son of God reprise

You're a son of God. You're a son of God.

You’re now a son of God.

You're a son of God. You're a son of God.

You’re now a son of God.

 

God's adopted you

Into His family.

You've been born anew

To be who you have longed to be.

 

You're a son of God. You're a son of God.

You’re now a son of God.

You're a son of God. You're a son of God.

You’re now a son of God.

As the chorus was repeated, Pete couldn't remain silent any longer. He jumped to his feet, threw his arms in the air and in glorious abandon joined the angels in their song. As he did so, he felt Jesus place His hand once more on his back.

 

I'm a son of God. I'm a son of God.

I am a son of God.

I'm a son of God. I'm a son of God.

I'm now a son of the living God.

As he sang, Pete felt as though liquid peace, love and joy was flowing into the top of his head and down through his body, while the hurts, grievances, disappointments and all the bad things that had happened to him seemed to melt away before the stream now flowing through him.

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The Bedroom

 

With the final notes still ringing in his ears, Pete remained standing, arms raised, eyes closed, revelling in the new-found sensation of being cleansed from everything that had hindered his enjoyment of life. He heard the bell ringing, and thought for a moment the angels were about to start another song.

 

"Pete! What is it?" Stella asked sleepily from the bed, switching off the alarm clock. "Couldn't you sleep?"

 

Pete opened his eyes and realised he was standing in his bedroom. Stella was looking at him worriedly. For a moment he couldn't speak, his mind trying to catch up with where he now was. Embarrassed, he lowered his arms and sat on the bed beside her.

"Stella…" he began, and almost choked with emotion. "I… I've… seen Him. Jesus, I mean. I've seen what He did. What it cost Him. I… I…"

 
I Dreamed

I dreamed that I slept in His arms last night

And He pillowed my head on His breast.

Protected and shielded, loved, secure;

I relaxed, content, at rest.

 

I lay in His arms and I shut my eyes

In deepest, sweetest prayer,

And He rocked me gently and held me close,

'Til I knew not a single care.

 

I cuddled up close to Him like a child

And He sheltered me from all harm,

And I found a resting place, warm, safe,

Encircled in loving arms.

 

And each beat of His heart told me I was His,

That His arms would be always there

To love me, to hold me, to pick me up,

My burdens and worries share.

 

My anger ceased and my pain was soothed,

And I passed from the storms to calm.

My hurt was healed and my longings met

As I fell asleep in His arms.

 

And there I rested secure all night

Knowing comfort and peace and care.

And at dawn I awoke, and it wasn't a dream

For His presence lingered there.

Blinking back the tears and crawling over the bed to put her arms around him, Stella said, "Pete! That's beautiful. I can hardly believe it!"

 

"I can hardly believe it myself," said Pete. "Was it real? Did it really happen? Maybe it was just a dream after all… But I don't think that matters, really. I've seen now what Jesus did for me, and I can never be the same again after that. Stella… I'm sorry about those things that I said. You were right, all along. And - thank you for praying for me."

 

"How did you know I'd prayed for you?"

 

"There was a lot I learned last night; and I'm sure there's still a whole lot more to learn before we're through."

 

"Like what we are going to do now you don't have a job?"

Pete pulled her closer to him and kissed her long and hard. "I think we both know what we're going to do about that!"

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Alleluia Praise

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia praise!

God has told us He is with us

Now and all our days.

Alleluia! Alleluia! We can be quite sure

That His promise stands forever.

We can rest secure.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Though

Darkness comes and hides Him from us

Down and down we go.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Cold and grey it seems.

Isolated, lost, despairing,

Still, our God redeems.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Yet

Those we love, believed and trusted

Suddenly reject.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Friendless and alone.

God is there and though we're broken

He'll stand by His own.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Stay

Hold on through the clouds and darkness

Sunshine's on its way.

Alleluia! Alleluia! We can't understand.

Then one day we realise

God had it all in hand.

 

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Sing.

God has told us He is with us

Right through everything.

Once confounded, now surrounded

With His love, we raise

Hearts and hands and voices to Him.

Alleluia! Praise.

This final song is my prayer for you.

God bless you!

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Go with our love

Go with our love in your heart.

Go with God's blessing on you.

Encouraged and comforted, strengthened, empowered,

Refreshed and anointed anew.

 

Go with His peace in your mind.

Resting in Him as you go.

Knowing you're led by the God of all Truth,

That others His teaching might know.

 

Go with our songs on your lips

To cheer you each moment, each day.

Enfolded, upheld by His loving arms,

Kept safe in His love while away.

 

Go in the knowledge you're loved;

That those of us here really care.

Go in security, knowing that we're

Remembering you, remembering you,

Remembering you always in prayer.

 

Epilogue

 

While the story of Pete and Stella is entirely fictional, the experience of God entering their lives and transforming them into what they always wanted to be, but didn't realise it before, has been shared by millions of people, all over the world, for nearly 2,000 years. You too can experience this: all it takes is to ask God's forgiveness for ignoring Him and living in a way displeasing to him; believe that, just as the Bible declares so clearly, Jesus died for you so that you might receive forgiveness; and thank Him for bringing you into His family. After the credits there is a little about the background to the musical (or here), a piece about how to become a Christian (or here) a scene by scene description of the thinking behind the story is below, (or here).

 

The entire contents of this musical book version of Son of God is ©2016 Les Sherlock, except for the words of songs written by others, with copyright details shown below. No copying of any part may be done for commercial gain. However, permission is given for the free use of any or all of it for the use in promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Christians, provided no financial profit is made by doing so. Freely you have received; freely give! The musical score and script may be downloaded as a PDF here.

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Credits

 

All words and music by Les Sherlock except where otherwise stated

1. Overture

2. We Meet on the Street                                   Words ©1986 Pam Moore

3. Every Joy                                                              Words ©1986 Pam Moore

4. Gentle Jesus                                                       Words Charles Wesley (v1); Les Sherlock (vs2-4)

5. The Arms of Jesus                                           Words ©1986 Pam Moore

6. Just Because

7. You’re the Son of God

8. This Cross I Wear

9. That’s How Much He Cares

10. Have You Seen His Hands                           Words & Music ©1986 Sheila Blude

11. Jesus, Please don’t Come Down Here 

12. See the World’s Creator 

13. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross       Words Isaac Watts

14. Son of God reprise

15. I Dreamed                                                            Words ©1986 Pam Moore

16. Alleluia Praise                                                    Words ©1986 Pam Moore

17. Go With Our Love                                              Words ©1986 Pam Moore

Performed by:

 

Pete: Clive Newlyn

Stella: Jane Davies

Angel: Rob Clarke

Jesus: Paul Blude

Woman at the cross: Sheila Blude

BAND

Conductor: Gill Searle

Piano: Les Sherlock

Drums: Graham Curtis

Guitar: Alan Murray

Bass: Pete Stoodley

Saxophone: Rebecca Okotel

Flute: Sally Staples

CHOIR

 

BASS
Alan Booth
Michael Mellor
Andy Robinson
Trevor Selway
Ron Warren

TENOR
John Bennett
Derek Biswell
John Cribb
Robert Clark
John Fuller
Richard Murray
Derek Needham
Clive Newlyn
Graham Pipet

ALTO
Clare Biswell
Rachel Biswell
Sheila Biswell
Sybil Davies
Valeria Flanagan
Jane Hillsdon
Elizabeth joy
Ruth Mellor
Christina Newlyn
Pauline Pipet
Kath Shrimpton
Henrietta Staniland
Monica Yarrow

SOPRANO
Beryl Appleby
Jody Appleby
Viv Bailey
Nina Ball
Jane Davies
Diana Douglas
Julie Groefsema
Norma Haines
Lisa Hanson
Pauline Jenkins
Nicola Maidment
Becque Newlyn
Sheila Newlyn
Pamela Nippard
Heather Peddar
Jenny Scott
Gill Sherlock
Rachel Sherlock
Mandy Slade
Suzanne Slade
Sarah Tinsley
Eve Warren

Recording produced in 1986 by Mary Mason and Peter Male
Engineer Gary Jones, assisted by Simon Dodridge

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The Background

 

I finished writing Son of God toward the end of 1985, and it was first performed in the Bournemouth area in the Spring of 1986. The response could perhaps be best summed up by the following, spoken by a man who attended at that time:

 

“I wanted to tell you, Les, that Son of God has so affected me, I am sure in the future, when I look back, it will have proved to have been one of the major turning points in my life.”

 

Because so many people echoed this kind of sentiment, we decided to make a second series of presentations the following year. Keen to have a video recording that might enable others to see it when our presentations were over, we spent quite some time trying to organise cameras and audio recording equipment. Unfortunately, owing to problems of which I was unaware until it was too late, the resulting recording was far below the standard required. In particular the audio recording was made from the wrong microphones, resulting in a very poor balance between instruments and singers, and background noise.

 

So it has remained unseen ever since. However, after starting my own website I thought it worth a try to edit it as best I could. Sadly the sound is still very poor, although I have been able to reduce some of the background noise; but I hope that with subtitles, it might just about be watchable. Hence its appearance on YouTube at Easter, 2013. The musical book version was completed in May 2016, which provides a better quality sound because it is taken from the studio recording we made. One other advantage of putting it into 'book' form is that I was able to develop scenes that would have been impossible to portray on stage..

 

For anyone wishing to contact me regarding Son of God, if you go to the contact page on this web site, you can send a message to me.

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Pete’s Experience

 

Of course, the entire storyline is fiction, which was largely steered around six poems given to me by a friend, Pam Moore. However, the experience portrayed by both Pete and Stella is one that has been shared literally by millions of people over the past 2000 years. If you have been moved to seek a similar experience, then the following is a brief guide.

 
How do we meet God?

 

The New Testament is very clear on this.

 

Our failure to keep God’s standards is called ‘sin’

 

Matthew 22:37–39 Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

Romans 3:1023  As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one ... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

God made the way for us to escape the consequences

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

God became man

 

John 1:114 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

If we ignore God’s way, we have to take the consequences

 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:18–19 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

Jesus enables us to leave the darkness

 

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus...

1 Peter 2:2124 ...Christ also suffered for us... who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

 

To experience this, we must own up to our shortcomings...

 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

...and believe in Jesus

 

1 John 5:11–14 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

 

The result is that we become His sons...

 

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

...led by His Holy Spirit

 

Romans 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.*

 

* It may sound odd for a lady to be called a son of God, but as the Church is the bride of Christ, then men are included in this, so it works both ways! Paul tells us:

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

So in the Kingdom of God, our sex is irrelevant: we are all God’s sons and all a part of His bride.

So how does it happen?

The way to a new life with God is so simple, many people miss it! On the basis of the above scriptures (and many more) we simply need to realise that we have failed to reach the standard God expects of us. We tell Him that we now know this is the case, and that we are sorry. We ask His forgiveness on the basis that Jesus Christ paid the penalty we should have had. We commit ourselves to do things His way rather then ours in future. We ask for Him to make us one of His sons and fill us with the presence of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power to live the way God expects.

How do we do this? You simply talk to Him. The easiest way is to get on your own, and then, remembering that He is present everywhere and knows every word that you speak, simply talk to Him. Use your own words, but include something like the following:

 

  • Lord God, I know You can hear what I’m saying.

  • I’m sorry for ignoring you and doing things that are not what You would want.

  • Thank you Jesus, for dying for me and taking the penalty I deserve.

  • Please forgive me Lord God, cleanse me by the blood Jesus shed at the cross, and change me into one of Your children.

  • As You give me the power, I choose to go Your way in future. So please fill me with your Holy Spirit to enable me to do this.

  • Thank you, Father, for bringing me into Your family.

 

If you do this, then find a Church near you and tell them what you have done. They will give you support and guidance regarding what to do next. Reading the Bible is very important, and this is a key way the God speaks to us. Start in the New Testament, using a modern translation, and try to read one chapter every day. Talk to God every day too - tell Him how you feel, your problems, your happinesses, indeed, everything that is on your mind. He is your best friend and loves you more than anyone in the world.

 

The thing to remember is that doing things God’s way is not difficult - it is impossible! However, the really good news Christianity brings is that God does not expect us to do anything in our own strength or ability. This is the reason His Holy Spirit comes to us; and as we put our trust in Him, His strength fills us and makes the impossible easy! You don’t have to worry about giving things up, or having to change into a religious fanatic! You simply live your life, and you will find His peace and love filling you, changing your desires into doing things differently.

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How Son of God Came About

 

I had spent the best part of 14 years writing and producing my first musical, Hind’s Feet. This was based on Hannah Hurnard’s book, ‘Hind’s Feet on High Places’, and is a kind of ‘pilgrim’s progress’ type of story. The main character is a disabled young girl, living in the valley of fear, who wants to escape to the high places. While I do have a video recording of the presentations, it is unlikely that I will ever be able to make it available, as I do not own the copyright to the book on which the musical was based. The permission we were given was simply to make the presentations we did in 1983-4. The songs from it can be heard at the link above.

 

Having finished this, I felt strongly that I wanted to write a second musical primarily portraying the message that God loves us and explaining the way He has made for us to be restored to a relationship with Him. A few years earlier Pam Moore, a friend, had given me a poem she had written to see if I could put music to it. This became one of the key songs in Hind’s Feet - indeed, it was writing this song that was the trigger to go back to completing the musical I had been tinkering with for over ten years. So she then gave me another six poems, and I realised that I could use them as the basis for this second musical, and I wrote the story line using them as the foundation.

 

In order to present the basic message of salvation, I needed a character who was not a Christian interacting with one who was. So a married couple, one of whom had just entered the Christian life, and one who was an agnostic seemed the ideal scenario. However, I also wanted the agnostic, as far as possible, to present some of the most common objections to Christianity and have them countered by ‘one-liners’. This would be impossible for a new Christian, so the idea of an angel coming to talk to him in response to his wife’s prayer seemed the ideal solution: if anyone would be capable of doing this it would be a supernatural being!

 

There are two sides to Christianity: logic and experience. A person never becomes a Christian because of intellectual argument: this only takes place by a supernatural encounter with God, usually as a result of a person laying aside his mind and asking God to enter his life. Once this has happened, then the mind is opened to see the truth and one is able to see the intellectual logic to the entire experience. However, intellectual arguments can be a barrier to a person turning to God in this way, and so they must be shown to be false.*

Therefore my two aims in the musical was:

  1. To present answers to some of the arguments, by Pete’s encounters with his wife and the angel; and then…

  2. Let him see first hand what God actually did in order to win his salvation.

 

As a person who has enjoyed science fiction for most of my life, the idea of travelling back in time in order to do this was an obvious means of achieving it.

I struggled some time with the question, should Pete become a Christian by the end? On the one hand it seemed rather ‘corny’ and predictable for him to do so; but on the other, I felt that the only response anyone could make on actually seeing the sacrifice Jesus made, no matter how hardened to the good news of salvation they had been previously, would be to turn to Him. So the decision made itself.

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* Of course, this is the reason for this web site. It is not to try to turn people into Christians, but to demonstrate that the objections against Christianity and the teaching of the Bible are not valid, which is a slightly different thing. Once these barriers are brought down, then the way is open for people to turn to Jesus Christ and experience for themselves the reality of the relationship with God that He has won for us. Peter told us:

1 Peter 3:15  ...always be ready to give
a defence to everyone who asks you a
reason for the hope that is in you...

This is what this web site and the musical is intended to do.

 
The Scenes

 

Scene One: Pete & Stella’s Home

I struggled initially with this opening scene, as it needed to enable the audience to become familiar with the characters. Thankfully another friend came to my rescue: Diana Panes, an accomplished actress, one of a small group of professional actors and actresses who worked with David Watson in many of his missions across the UK. She had moved to the area where I live and attended the same church. At my request she took my script and rewrote this first scene, extending it enough for it to achieve its purpose. She also directed the first series of presentations in 1986 - the year before the YouTube version was recorded.

 

Scene Two: Pete’s Boss’s Office

 

Two of the poems Pam had given to me were concentrated on the way life sometimes kicks us in the teeth. So I needed to give Pete a difficult situation. The loss of his job at a time of publicity about unemployment in the UK seemed the ideal situation.

 

Scene Three: The Bus Stop

 

This was the chance to present the first of these songs - ‘We Meet in the Street’. How often do we keep a ‘stiff upper lip’ and pretend everything is fine while our heart is breaking?

 

Scene Four: Pete & Stella’s Home

 

This was the chance for the second of these songs. The scene was intended to be a ‘mini’ version of the kind of tensions that can happen over a much longer period where one member of a couple is a Christian and the other is not. For Stella, as a new Christian, she was struggling to maintain her newly-found faith and at the same time trying to support her husband, but only succeeding in increasing his frustration. For Pete, the double whammy of the loss of his job and a wife with a very different outlook on life from the one he had known up until a day ago, was more than he could take.

 

Scene Five: The Bedroom

 

The song Stella sings here is very simple, but when I first wrote it I found it very moving. Obviously, as a new Christian Stella was very unsure how to go about praying, hence the use of John Wesley’s children’s prayer; but once launched, the pressure of her concern for Pete leads her to go on to pray for him.

 

Scene Six: Pete’s Return Home

 

God does answer prayer. It is often the case that one has to wait for the answer, so perhaps the rapid events in response to Stella’s earlier prayer is a little far-fetched. But this is a stage play, after all, and we don’t have time to wait for that! When Pete spots Stella’s Bible, he carelessly picks it up to glance at it while he finishes his drink. As soon as he starts reading, Jesus enters the room. This is to symbolise the way God does speak to us through His word, even though, like Pete, we may be unaware of it.

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Scene Seven: The Angel

 

Everything thus far has been to set the scene for all that follows from this point. Of course, I’m not sure if an angel has ever been given ‘a job like this’, but I needed him to be able to get Pete into the past to see what happened there for himself. Once Pete discovers he has no choice but to listen to what the angel has to say, he immediately challenges him with a series of arguments regularly used against Christianity.

 

“Everything is here because it evolved that way.”

 

Arguably, the theory of evolution has done more damage to the Christian Church than any other single thing. Much of this web site is taken up by the issue, so there is little point in adding more here. But the angel’s song in this scene was written in order briefly to address it, and it is intended to echo the scripture that tells us the fact of God’s existence can be clearly seen from the creation all around us.* The angel’s admission of being kept out of the choir for 32 million years is not intended to imply a universe that is millions, or billions, of years old, but refers more to the unknown ages past before the universe appeared. No one knows how long it was after angels had been created before God brought the universe into being, and of course, since He created time along with the physical realm, it is probably not accurate to talk in terms of years at all - but the angel does say, “in Earth time,” which is intended to indicate he was translating the past ages into the time frame of which we are aware.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse...

“You talk as if God were a real person... He is the good that is in all of us”

Because the Bible is largely ignored in today’s society, most people have little or no idea what it says about the nature of God. Two extremes are to think of God either as some kind of superman character, which is to diminish His power, influence, intellect, etc; some kind of power or influence pervading the universe, rather like the force in Star Wars* or Hoyle’s ‘Intelligent Universe’; or the supernatural force behind New Age thinking. The reality taught in the Bible is a personal God, passionately in love with His creation (humanity) but whose presence fills the universe, knowing everything there is to know about everything, past, present and future.

* Elsewhere on this web site I do describe God as being like ‘The Force’. However, this is merely to try to break away from ‘small’ ideas about God and show how He fills the universe with His presence. This is only a tiny part of what He is like, though, and as an illustration is almost certainly totally inadequate!

“What you believe certainly has an effect on you.”

There are all sorts of views and opinions on the Internet, with some people getting very angry when they come across something contrary to their own ideas. Whatever we think is true has absolutely no effect on reality - truth is truth and lies are lies, and my ideas about which is which will not change them one iota. On the other hand, our beliefs have a massive effect on us, since we live according to what we think is right.* An extreme Islamic suicide bomber will kill himself and many other people as well, believing his action is correct. This has a massive effect on him and those around him; but if the message of Christianity is right, then he has a huge shock when he stands before the God who says that no murderer will enter Heaven! **

“Why doesn’t God change the rules?”

* Even people acting contrary to their conscience are still doing what to them at the time seems the best thing to do.

** 1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

A common criticism of ‘Christianity’s God’ is regarding why He allows this, or doesn’t do that, or fails to step in to prevent evil in the world. The angel’s answer is the key:

“God’s makes no rules, He simply acts according to His nature, which is love and justice.”

There is much we will never understand; but the Apostle Paul tells us that one day we will know as we are known,* and there is no doubt in my mind that on that day, when we look back, we will agree the way God did it was the best, indeed the only, way to do it.

* 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

“God wouldn’t send anyone to hell for eternity.”

Today the idea of Hell is laughed at and not a consideration for most people. However, no-one talked more about the place in the Bible than Jesus Himself, and the extreme lengths He went to in order to enable us to escape a fate there is surely evidence of its reality and its horror. Is it a place of real fire? The Bible certainly talks in those terms, and it is dangerous to go beyond that. However, regardless of what the environment will be like, the point made by the angel is key: any place inhabited by those only concerned about serving themselves is bound to be horrific. One only has to look at countries where a despot is given absolute power to see the misery inflicted on the unfortunate inhabitants. The angel also makes the point that even Heaven would be hell for those who wish to live in opposition to God’s will. It would be like being emerged in the most foul-smelling, noxious substance for someone hating God’s presence to be within in it. Of course, God is neither foul-smelling nor noxious: quite the reverse, He is the most beautiful, fragrant being in existence; but to someone opposed to him, it would be a clash of opposites and since God is Almighty, guess who would come off the worst!

 

I don’t know if angels lose their tempers or not - I suspect not. However, I thought it would be rather amusing to have this angel become fed up with Pete’s stubborn resistance to his reasoning, and impatiently decide the only way to sort him out would be to show him what happened.

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Scene Eight: Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago

 

In the stage play, if we had been making a film with an unlimited budget we could have made scenes eight and nine more realistic. As it was, we made very little attempt at reality, relying instead on the audience’s imagination. So I felt the simple nativity tableau was enough to make the point here. This introduces the main theme song for the musical, ‘Son of God’, although it only appears twice.

Scene Nine: Jerusalem 33 years later

 

Of course, showing the crucifixion in all its gory detail was impossible and unnecessary. For one thing Jesus was required to appear on the cross in agony and in heaven in all His glory in very quick succession. Live, on stage, there was no time to attempt anything, other than a quick costume change. The idea that Jesus would sing while on the cross is ludicrous, of course: this is just one more thing that left reality far behind; although in the book version I was able to change it slightly to be Jesus’s thoughts. But when this song came to me, it hit me as powerfully as anything I wrote for the musical. 

We needed to express the point that the tools men were using to torture Him to death were, to Jesus, simply the means of Him providing the sacrifice * God needed to give forgiveness to mankind: hence calling the cross, nails and crown of thorns ‘His battledress’.

While Pete is still reeling from the horror of what he has just seen, the angel presses the point home:

“That’s how much He cares!”

* At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist prophetically called Him ‘the Lamb of God’, (John 1:29) showing the main purpose for His life was to become the fulfilment of the Jewish animal sacrifice system. Those sacrifices needed to be made often. Jesus died once for all (Hebrews 10:10).

To anyone thinking God is a casual observer to the pain and suffering endured by humans, this proves the contrary. The doctrine of the trinity is too complicated to go into here: I have covered it elsewhere on this web site, so the reader must take it as read. This is God Himself, going to the most extreme lengths in order to restore His original intention for us. The verse that says, “There’s not a child that cries in pain” came to me as a result of seeing a TV News item, in which a young girl had been trapped up to her neck in flood water for a very long time - many hours. She was finally rescued, but died when she reached hospital. Her desperate plight brought me to tears, and then fury at the work of our enemy who has wrecked this planet and brought so much suffering to so many.

There are very few songs, if any, that I have seen bring people literally to tears when they heard them being sung. ‘Have you seen his hands?’ is such a song. The first time Sheila Blude sang it in church, a significant number of the congregation, myself included, were in tears by the end. She wrote it after a personal experience with God, and it was my privilege to be the accompanist when she sang it. So my top priority when writing the musical was to ask if she would let me include it, and indeed, if she would sing it in the presentations. An even bigger thrill was that her husband, Paul, at the time a very new Christian, agreed to play the part of Jesus. So when Sheila sang it, she was actually singing to her husband! It was very moving indeed, and it is they singing in the book version of Son of God. Sadly, they were unable to take part the following year when the YouTube version was recorded, although Aisha did a magnificent job with the song.*

* Actually it was a real problem finding someone with the voice range to cope with the song. Eventually Aisha was suggested to me, and I went to her house to hear her sing it. After I played the introduction, she had only sung the very first note, when I knew she was the one. The emotion that hit me on that opening word was so great, I could barely hold myself together to keep playing so she could sing the whole song! I don’t think she ever knew this, but if it ever happened that the right person came along at the right time, in answer to prayer, this was such an occasion!

‘Jesus, please don’t come down here’

This was a song born from my own experience. It was at a low point in my life when I was feeling totally defeated, incapable of living the way I knew I should. I had been working in a school, tuning their pianos all day, feeling very miserable; and in between each tuning I let my hands drift over the keys saying to myself that I was useless and if I’d been able to see Jesus before He left heaven to come to Earth I would have to tell Him not to come because I was not worth it. The tune started to emerge and by the end of the day it was mostly in my head. As I was driving home - a 30-mile journey that took around 45 minutes - words started to form in my head. In the end I had to pull over into a lay-by to write them down, because I knew I would forget them if I didn’t. As I wrote, the pattern began to emerge: half a verse with me saying how I felt to Jesus; the second half what I thought He would probably reply to me; and then the chorus saying what actually happened.

‘See the world’s Creator rising from His great eternal throne’

The aim was to include the earthly life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus in a single song. In some ways it is a duplication of what has already gone before; but I wanted to show that from start to finish, everything was a part of God’s plan to unravel the mess we had made by our rebellion against Him, and that the journey of Jesus concludes in complete victory on Heaven’s throne. The portrayal of Satan was also symbolic, of course: we have no idea what his true appearance is like. The fact that in the video the pointing finger of Jesus in Heaven is enough to have Satan making a rapid exit was intended to demonstrate the power and authority the Son of God now has. There is no description of Satan’s work in the book version, because Pete was viewing either the physical world or the gates of Heaven, so I didn’t think it necessary.

 

As previously mentioned, I felt the only possible result of Pete witnessing this scene could be him surrendering to Jesus. For a while I struggled to write the words for the song to express this, until I realised that the words of Isaac Watts in his classic hymn, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’, could not be bettered. Although the language may be a little dated now, there was nothing I could produce that could come anywhere close to what he has written. After making this decision, the music almost wrote itself!

 

Pam Moore’s words for the song Pete sings a little later to Stella, “I dreamed that I lay in His arms last night” speak for themselves. In order for the song to work, I had to have Pete wrapped in the arms of Jesus. Although we had to make sure it was portrayed in such a way as to avoid any hint of the ‘gay agenda’, we also had to portray the reality that when a person takes this step of faith, Jesus does indeed come to him or her in an intimate union. So the most natural thing in the world was for Jesus to come over to Pete at the end of his song of commitment in ‘When I Survey’, and then during the next song, ‘You’re a son of God’ kneel down behind him and hold him close. Once again, the book version enable me to portray this slightly differently.

 

The reason the musical was called ‘Son of God’ and not ‘The Son of God’ was in order to be able to apply the phrase, not only to Jesus, but to the new convert, Pete. During the song, the two different aspects of our sonship are briefly mentioned. We become God’s children through adoption...

 

Galatians 4:5 ...to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Ephesians 1:5 ...having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will...

 

...and by birth - new birth:

 

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

1 Peter 1:23 ...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever...

 

I said earlier that becoming a Christian is not an intellectual exercise, but an experience. At the end of this song, having experienced the presence of Jesus as a result of his commitment, Pete, realising the change that has taken place within him, joins with the choir, singing, “I’m a son of God.” This is a very common experience. It may not always come as quickly as it did for Pete, although it is not unusual for it do to so; but most Christians will remark on the difference it made to them: a sense of peace, lightness, joy, etc. It is hardly surprising, bearing in mind the Bible describes it as moving from darkness to light:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

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Scene Ten: The Bedroom

As Pete and the choir finish the song, the alarm clock starts ringing and Stella wakes up. The explanation Pete gives for being out of bed is in the song previously mentioned, “I dreamed.” However, the song ends, “and it wasn’t a dream, for His presence lingered there.” So was Pete’s experience a dream, or did it really happen? Well, this is fiction, of course; but I do not know! It could have been either. However, I am reminded of the real experience of a friend, who, as an atheist at university, from a family that took great pleasure in destroying the faith of Christians (his own words), had a visitation by Jesus in the middle of the night. The result of this was that he got out of bed and knelt at Jesus’ feet in surrender to Him. He went on to become a public school headmaster and an ordained minister in the Church of England. Had this been a dream? The thing that convinced him it had been real was the splinters he found in his pyjamas when he woke up the next morning, from the rough wooden floor on which he had been kneeling. It had to be something dramatic to change such a committed atheist to Christianity overnight.

It may have been a little odd for Stella and the choir to join Pete in such a personal song, but it was quite long and needed the variety they brought to it; and after all, most of them had had an experience of the presence of Jesus in their own lives, one way or another.

 

Of course, the very real problem for Pete and Stella was his unemployment, and this is not resolved at the end. Life always has its challenges, and the final song is the way to meet them. ‘Alleluia! Praise!’ The Bible says that God works everything out for good for those who love Him.

 

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We may not understand why some things happen the way they do, but we can demonstrate our trust in God’s love by praising Him, come what may. Indeed, the experience of many has been that praising God in difficult times not only changes their own state of mind, but the circumstances themselves change. However, even if they do not, the joy that Jesus brings to a life means that, with Job, the Christian can say, “Though He slay me, still will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15)

There was one more song coming from Pam’s six poems, which did not fit into the story line. Instead, we used this as a kind of epilogue - our prayer for those who had come along to see the presentation. “Go with our love in your hearts.” My prayer is that all who take the trouble to view this You Tube presentation, or read the book, will experience the life-transforming love of God in a life shared with the Son of God

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.