At the Tongan National Conference 2014, two of the groups presenting skits did the “Race to Heaven”. There were a few differences in the two interpretations of the same concept. The fact that one of them was performed by children and the second by the youth had some impact on which I liked better.
The race to heaven is a spiritual concept. The skit performed by the youth involved spiritual aspects of the race. Obstacles on the way were introduced by the devil, who was able to stop all the contestants, but then Jesus appeared coming fro the back and taking with him all who have stumbled on the way. Some deep theological meanings can be drawn from this. One is that Jesus comes from the same starting place as we do. He comes from humanity and walks with us along the way to heaven.
The skit performed by the children did not include the devil. Obstacles on the way were the desires of the people. One person was preoccupied with food and eating. She stopped at every point where there was food. She felt comfortable with food. Even towards the end, when Jesus came to take her to heaven, she made her last attempt to attain food. Other obstacles included education, sports and fashion. These are real life experiences that we have. The skit may have exaggerated the way people involve themselves in those activities, but the reality is that they do stop us from continuing the race. In this skit, Jesus same from heaven to get all the contestants to finish the race.
It was interesting to see that there were no losers in this race. Both interpretations concentrated on finishing the race not on who finished first. In both interpretations all contestants finished the race. This leaves room for interpretation by the viewer. Knowing the people involved and understanding their theological perspective, I think their point was that Jesus will assist you to finish the race. That of course means you need to be in the race to start with. In both skits, Jesus did not come to those who were not in the race.
After watching both skits, I started to think how I would have interpreted this concept. So, I tried to put together a skit entitled the race to heaven.
The Race to Heaven
by Levon Kardashian
This is a first draft, and I will probably change a few things over time. If you have any comments, add them at the end.
People line up for the race. The athlete stretching arms and legs, the academic reading a book, the religious person carrying a bible a cross and a prayerbook, etc. Each one concentrates on his or her own discipline. One person stands there looking around.
The race starts.
The contestants start the race each at a different pace. After some time, at different points in the race, each of the contestants faces challenges based on their discipline. The athlete has to climb steep hills and winding roads, and gets tired with sore muscles. No longer able to continue, the athlete stops frozen on the way.
The academic, faced with issues that need attention and resolutions, tries to bring together solutions to the problems using the resources available. As the academic moves on, resources are lost and solutions seem less and less possible, and consequently the train of thought is lost, and can no longer continue the race.
The religious person perseveres by reading the bible, praying sharing the faith with others on the way and inviting them on the journey ahead to reach heaven. Faced by fierce opposition from the people on the way, the religious person is pushed back many times, but never gives up and continues on the journey getting closer and closer to the finish line. Finally, the religious person is the first to reach the finish line, Heaven. Surprisingly, heaven is not what was expected. There is no feast or joy, no castles or buildings. Heaven is an empty space with a handful of people, just like the religious person, who are looking around trying to understand what is happening, trying to figure out if they have reached the right place.
In the meantime, there is one more contestant who is still at the start line. The person who was looking around, realises there is a wounded man lying in the gutter, and goes to help him and bandage his wounds. Then sees a fifteen year old homeless girl and goes over to her and brings her some food and helps her find shelter. Before this person can ever start the race, the overwhelming problems of the people around overtake the urge to participate in the race. She stops, looks ahead to the path ahead towards heaven, looks back to the people who are in need and without any second thoughts abandons the race and goes back to help the people.
From the midst of the people in need a man in white clothes comes forward with arms stretched on either side and says: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
The rest of the contestants then join them and help in taking care of the people.