EXEGETICALS 5: THE LAST NOEL

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EXEGETICALS HEADQUARTERS, UNDISCLOSED LOCATION

A dimly lit conference room.  Leftover Christmas cookies on a plate on the table.  Stacks of biblical commentaries piled high in the corners of the room.  The Exegeticals have gathered for a briefing: John Piper is quietly lecturing new recruit Tim Tebow about the nuances of Amillennialism versus Premillenialism while Tebow furiously fills his Trapper Keeper notebook with studious notes.  On the other side of the table, Mark Driscoll is talking excitedly to a grinning Joel Osteen.

MARK DRISCOLL: (to Osteen) …so that’s my whole thing, brah—like, all this persecution I’m going through right now…it’s just like the Bible says—people hate me because they hated Christ first, right?

JOEL OSTEEN: (teeth spontaneously grow)

(door opens)

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FRANKLIN GRAHAM: GALLDANG CHECK OUT ALL THESE GRINGOS—LOOKS LIKE A GOLDWATER RALLY IN HERE

(Tebow rises from his chair to introduce himself and extends his hand politely)

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: PARK IT, OLD SPICE

(Tebow promptly sits back down)

MARK DRISCOLL: (to Piper) Are you gonna do something about this guy?

Driscoll turns to Graham, who is now seated in a chair, legs splayed wide, leaning forward and resting his hands on his knees.

MARK DRISCOLL: (to Graham) You don’t scare me, man.  You’ve never even pastored your own church!

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: WOO BOY—who here has never resigned from their own church in disgrace?

piper hands

JOHN PIPER: (triumphantly raises both hands)

TIM TEBOW: (slowly raises hand)

JOEL OSTEEN: (sheepishly raises hand)

MARK DRISCOLL: (looks at Osteen, clearly betrayed) Brah.  Brah.

JOEL OSTEEN: (shrugs)

JOHN PIPER: Gentlemen, let’s get down to business.  There’s a reason I was asked to call you together during this holiday season.  Our dear brother Dr. Dobson has asked me to lead this adventure.  And truly it will be an adventure.  We are about to undertake a journey of the utmost importance to the Kingdom.

TIM TEBOW: (squirming in his seat, clearly excited) What is it?  Are we building a hospital?  Bringing the gospel to a prison?

JOHN PIPER: Brothers, Dr. Dobson has been made aware of an insidious plot.  It appears that there is a cabal of atheists in Hollywood who are planning to assassinate Christian celebrities.  We have but a few hours to get to Hollywood and protect our assets in the entertainment industry.

TIM TEBOW: (sad face, tucks passport back into Trapper Keeper)

JOHN PIPER: (has secretary mail Greg Boyd a children’s picture Bible, again) I’ll take Joel and young Timothy and we’ll start with the prime target on this list.  Mark, since you enjoy Franklin’s company so much, you two check out the other names on the list.

*****

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA

Night.  An abandoned side street off the boulevard.  Clouds of fog move across the empty sidewalk.  Neon signs flash in the distance.  Piper, Tebow, and Osteen hide in the shadows, waiting to meet their Hollywood contact, who is the first target that the atheists will attempt to kill.

JOEL OSTEEN: (whispering) So…you just take the football and you run real fast, don’t you?

TIM TEBOW: Yes sir.

JOEL OSTEEN: Glory! And what if some big ol’ defender appears and tries to steal your joy—I’ll bet you just meditate on the glory that our Savior has placed inside you and you just REFLECT that light and put your best self forward and drown that tackler’s negativity in joy, right?

TIM TEBOW: I don’t understand what’s happening right now.

JOHN PIPER: (secretly checks Rob Bell’s twitter feed) Quiet, brothers! We’re about to meet our contact!

(figure appears)

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KIRK CAMERON: Hi, I’m actor Kirk Cameron.

JOEL OSTEEN: Blessings! Victoria and I love you on Person of Interest!

KIRK CAMERON: Guys, thank you for coming.  I think I know who is behind this.

TIM TEBOW: Rex Ryan?

JOHN PIPER: THE QUAKERS! AT LONG LAST, MY OLD RIVALS HAVE FINALLY TIPPED THEIR HAND!

JOEL OSTEEN: I like thinking happy thoughts!

KIRK CAMERON: There’s only one person with a motive to want Christian celebrities dead, and at the end of this sentence I will name that perso—

ZZZZT

Suddenly Cameron stumbles to the ground grasping his neck.  A blow gun dart is sunk deep into his skin.  Tebow catches Cameron as he falls and carefully removes the dart.  He sniffs the tip of the dart and looks up at Piper and Osteen.

TIM TEBOW: Poison. Made from a black-legged frog.  Haven’t seen this since my last mission trip to South America.  Highly lethal.

KIRK CAMERON: (gasping for breath) Promise me one thing…

JOEL OSTEEN: (inspires 10,000 Facebook rants from Christians) Glory, Kirk! What is it?

KIRK CAMERON: (struggling to stay conscious) Save…Christmas…

With that, Cameron’s eyes shut and his neck goes limp.  Tebow quietly lays his body on the ground.

JOHN PIPER: (suddenly weeping) Rest easy, dear brother, thy Growing Pains are done.

*****

Meanwhile, the other members of the Exegeticals are having little success.  Driscoll and Graham are working separately, searching out each of the born-again celebrities on their list, only to find that the assassins are one step ahead.

MALIBU, CALIFORNIA

Dusk.  A public park.  Holiday-neutral decorations adorn the lamp posts.  This is the prearranged meeting place.  Graham is standing on the sidewalk, sipping a Crystal Pepsi and waiting for Driscoll to arrive.  A hobo is sleeping on a nearby park bench.  Undeterred, Graham is telling his life story to the sleeping man.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: ….It was ’74, and I was in a Jerusalem hotel room.  I had been runnin’ wild for quite some time, knowin’ I needed to change, but dadgum there I am in the sandbox, and there ain’t exactly a Baptist church on every corner.  So I go on a two day peyote bender and I pass through the essence of time itself and find an older version of me, one that’s got some Scripture know-how.  I spend 12 hours in a spiritual wormhole reading myself Scripture as the ghosts of the tribe of Zebulon kept watch around us and fought off the demonic hosts looking to steal my soul.  Long story short, I was able to lead myself to the Lord, and here I am today.

(figure appears)

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MARK DRISCOLL: Did you find Mel Gibson before…wait, where did you get that Crystal Pepsi…did you save Mel Gibson?

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: (shakes head) Naw.  You get to Patricia Heaton?

MARK DRISCOLL: (downloads every P.O.D. song ever) No.  Someone shot her with a poisoned dart.  Did you find Kevin Sorbo?

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: God’s not dead, but that dude is.

MARK DRISCOLL: Is there anyone left on the list?

There is one last celebrity, hastily scribbled by hand at the bottom of the list.  A late addition.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: “Shia Labeouf.”  Drank one of those in ’72, I believe.

MARK DRISCOLL: Shia is a Christian now? When did this happen?

The man sleeping on the nearby bench rolls over, dusts himself off, and steps forward.

shia

SHIA LABEOUF: Shalom.

MARK DRISCOLL: BRAH.  Someone is going around killing Christian celebrities.  Do you know who would do this?

SHIA LABEOUF: I am a shaman.  I am a sinner.  I am Pontius Pilate.  I am Grace.

MARK DRISCOLL: (grows protest beard)

There is a rustling in the distant bushes: the assassins are here!

ZZZZZZT

A dart flies through the night air and comes within inches of LaBeouf’s chest.  At the last moment, Graham puts out his hand and the dart embeds deep into his skin.

MARK DRISCOLL: DUDE.  Are you okay?

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: (pulls out dart, tosses it aside) Ain’t nothin’.  (points to LaBeouf) We’d better get Joan of Arc here to safety, though.

MARK DRISCOLL: Let’s move it, Shia! We’ll cover you!

SHIA LABEOUF: IT’S OKAY I HAVE A DISGUISE

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TO BE CONTINUED…