“Ladies and gentlemen, circumcised and uncircumcised…”
Peter warmed up the crowd with tongues of flame, told jokes,
performed a few small miracles—though the hecklers in the crowd
kept demanding resurrections. Backstage, Paul was getting loose,
juggling his rubber balls—first three, then four, then five at once
(one ball was Faith and another, Love): and if he dropped a ball,
it bounced, and he knew how to make it seem intentional.
Harder still were the knives: he had to make it appear graceful,
the steel blades flashing, the fine-honed edge of redemption.
But nothing in his act was harder than juggling the spirit and the law—
he couldn’t do it like Jesus did, making everything seem
equally light. A scattering of applause, and Peter stepped off stage
wiping the sweat from his brow. “It’s a tough crowd,” he said,
as Stephen stepped out to deliver his dramatic monologue.
It wasn’t long before the boos and the beer bottles thrown on stage.
Paul was trying to remember the one about the two Corinthians
who walk into a bar—and what was the one Jesus always told
about love? It was so simple, but he was famous for that.
And he had that knack for holding an audience in the palm of his hand.
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