Based on the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, 17-22
[I admit that I have taken some liberties with this story, but I think the conclusion is not far from what Mark intended—and probably easier for children to understand. The actors don’t have to memorise their lines but should be sufficiently familiar with them that they don’t need to be glued to their script. The exact words are not what’s important anyway! And if you want to substitute the actor’s name for “Rich young man,” that’s fine too.]
[Narrator or Rich young man reads the story.] So what does that mean? Here’s one way to think about it. [Enter Jesus.]
Rich young man [comes up to Jesus and kneels]: Jesus, I really want to be on your team. How can I be on your team?
Jesus: What a great question! There are two things you need to learn to be on my team: love God and love people. It’s really very simple. Do you think you can do that?
Rich young man: I’ve been trying to do those things all of my life. Can I have some toys to play with as well?
Jesus: Of course. I’ve got lots and lots of toys, and I’d love for you to borrow them and play with them. Take as many as you need! [Indicates the bag full of toys. No wonder Jesus gets confused with Santa. Anyway.]
Rich young man: Oh, thank you, Jesus. That’s great! [Rich young man fills arms with toys, wanders around happily.]
Person 1 comes up: Young man, can you help me with my shopping? I’m really tired, and it would be such a help.
Rich young man: [takes him a minute to notice] What? Oh yes. Um, I’d love to, but I’m really busy playing with my toys right now. Aren’t they great! Jesus has been so kind to me. Maybe there’s someone else who can help you. [Walks on, the person leaves, looking downcast.]
Person 2 comes up: Young man, do you think you could help me shovel my sidewalk? I’m not strong enough, and I’m afraid someone is going to slip and hurt themselves.
Rich young man: [takes a minute to notice] What? Oh yes. Well, I can see that’s a problem, but I don’t think I’m the right person to help. As you can see, my arms are full of toys, so it’s really not a good time. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after? [Walks on, the person leaves, looking downcast.]
Jesus [comes up behind Rich young man]: Young man, do you remember what I told were the two things that people on my team learn to do?
Rich young man: Oh, hi, Jesus. Of course. That’s easy: love God and love other people. I’m good at remembering.
Jesus: But young man, I sent you two people to help, and you were too busy to take care of them!
Rich young man: Oh yeah. Well, I’m sorry about that, but I was too busy playing with my toys.
Jesus: Your toys? Do you remember who loaned them to you?
Rich young man: Oh, um, yes, it was you, wasn’t it?
Jesus: So they’re not really yours, are they?
Rich young man: I guess you’re right.
Jesus: They’re a lot of fun but they’re not the most important thing in life. Let’s try one more time. [Jesus stands back and watches. Rich young man looks around.]
Person 3 comes up, trips, and falls over: Ow, ow, ow! Can you help me, please? I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up!
Rich young man: Oh, sure, I can help you. [Realises his arms are full of toys, and he has to make a choice.] [To the group.] What do you think I should do? [Hopefully they will say, “Put the toys down!” Then to the group.] But will I get them back again? [Sure!] OK. Now I’m ready. [Helps the person up, dusts them down, etc.] There. Are you sure you’re OK now?
Person 3: That’s so helpful. Thanks a million. I really appreciate that. [Person 3 walks away.]
Jesus: Well done, young man. That’s exactly the sort of thing I want you to do.
Rich young man: OK, but does that mean I can never play with the toys again?
Jesus: No, you can still borrow them. But remember: they’re not what will make you part of my team and they won’t make you happy in this life.
Rich young man: You know, I don’t know if I’m actually going to bother with them right now. Maybe some other children would like to play with them.
Jesus: That’s great! Do you remember what it is that will make you happy?
Rich young man: Yes, I do: love God and love other people.
Jesus: Let’s all say it: what will make you part of my team?
All: Love God and love other people!
Jesus: Right on!
Messy Church, March 2014