The saints were extremely helpful, and they spoke and acted with a power melted by affection that cut through the now receding nonsense of typical slog-stepped rules. Dumb stuff and manipulative procedures just stopped happening. The saints, and then everyone else, consequently eliminated argument and concentrated on getting things done. The saints, by the way, were the most normal people you’d ever want to meet. Except, well, they were immortal, and maybe thousands of years old.
(First in a series on the return of Jesus Christ)
About three weeks after Jesus returned to earth, Noah Ericsen, a reporter for the Gazette Telegraph in Colorado Springs got a call from the author of Mark's Gospel, the infamous John Mark. Noah stared at his cell phone. He waited just a few seconds before responding.
“Hi, Mr. John Mark.” That didn’t come out very comfortably. He attempted to smooth his salutation with, “You’re the gospel author guy, right?”
Only 20 days had passed since the entire world (and the universe, as Noah had recently been informed) was turned on its head. Over that very short time, unbelievable encounters had become commonplace. Folks were getting accustomed to what formerly would be called getting “punked.” Phone calls from famous saints took place all over the globe. But these conversations were the real deal.
Some rumors, though, began to emerge about a strange sense of humor in many of the saints. Folks who had taken such calls laughed about their exchanges. Noah had put that perception into giddy excitement over hearing a voice from history. This call from John Mark was Noah’s first extra terrestrial encounter over the phone. He had met many saints in the past few weeks, but they’d all been face-to-face.
“Just call me Mark, Noah,” the famous man said in a friendly voice. "Great apocalyptic millennial name by the way," he chuckled.
Cell phone coverage was one of the first things to get upgraded when Jesus and a retinue of a billion or more saints arrived. Nothing exactly magical took place, though it was certainly miraculous. Cell and internet providers just started working together. Infrastructure projects everywhere on earth shifted to following the same pattern of cooperation and efficiency. The saints influenced everyone and every thing. They were everywhere, and changing things with a steady hand and an infectious community forming certainty.
Reportedly, as Noah would have journalistically put it, several trillion more saints were watching and waiting from the clouds. They would arrive later in dribbles and dabs over the next thousand years as the planet became more habitable and readjusted to its intended purpose. The saints and the world’s population were going to be very busy to welcome and attend to all the expectant visitors.
Folks in communications all over the globe, like Mark, were some of the first to get their new marching orders. The “intended purpose” of everything was being understood in dribbles and drabs. Religious gatherings, cattle ranching, computers, fruit stands, stop lights, restaurants, and automobiles were still the functioning components of life. Nothing really changed, except for the truth. Reporters and news folks were very important regarding disseminating the truth part.
First there was excitement from believers and quasi-believers, and shock and confusion from everybody else. Jesus showed up on news casts worldwide, walking the streets of Jerusalem, smiling and touching folks as he went. The 24 hour coverage lit up on every network and broadcast. Analysts and pundits sat back in awe as the footage rolled and audio captured Jesus’ voice calmly talking to folks. The most amazing thing was that he called every person he engaged by their names. His hands and fingers reaching out to people filled screens and pages of the internet, magazines and newspapers.
Then there was the regularity of getting back to work and living day to day. The believers seemed to know exactly what to do, but those like Noah, a formed Catholic who hadn’t been to church in over 20 years, spent a lot of time in meetings with co-workers and discussions with family and friends. They talked about Jesus, scripture, and the urgings of the Holy Spirit with a new found focus. Every question had a plausible answer. A veil had been lifted.
The confused, and secretly angry, hid out in their homes, at their desks and behind their steering wheels. Their silence was stunning, and their disdain both unfortunate and increasingly strange.
Very few reporters had ever been fully active believers, but most had come from a religious background of some sort, and instinctively knew the language of holiness and intimacy with the divine which Jesus and the saints spoke about with earnest. Mostly skeptical, journalists remained unashamed in public and fell back on a professional demeanor that allowed them to stand on principle — the truth would come out. They still had jobs to do, just like everyone else. And they plodded on, concentrating on the insistence upon truth, step by step coming to grips with a reality that sunk in with a declarative permanence.
A couple times a day, Noah would talk or sit down with one of the saints. He had many questions, which all of them answered with incredible consistency. These holy, but commonplace unassuming people, had integrated immediately into the population, in their own way. Several were bunking up with newfound friends at homes, and with shocked relatives, but more than a few had put up tents or hunkered down under trees. Every one of them seemed hand-picked somehow.
Noah ate lunch yesterday with a woman who was friends with Joan of Arc, Nancy of Peoria, she jokingly called herself. She wasn’t French. She lived and died in the 20th Century, and got to know Joan in the Kingdom. Nancy was in town to assist the police department. They had to pick a new police chief. The old one had taken over dealing full time with the homeless. He was an expert camper and just fell into showing both the saints and the homeless how to locate and get approval for good spots to camp. He strategically set up trash dumpsters and porta-potties, and made donuts and coffee available where they were needed. The homeless and the migrant-like saints got along well. Drug use dropped everywhere, and mental acuity returned. A longtime believer, the former police chief almost danced through his work.
You might wonder how the “picking” of judicial and political positions changed. Well, elections still took place, but folks who did the electing were entirely different. They came come the work force of each division in the government. The reports on industry and retail environments hadn’t yet revealed any clear development of their potentially changed pecking orders.
The saints were extremely helpful, and they spoke and acted with a power melted by affection that cut through the now receding nonsense of typical slog-stepped rules. Dumb stuff and manipulative procedures just stopped happening. The saints, and then everyone else, consequently eliminated argument and concentrated on getting things done. The saints, by the way, were the most normal people you’d ever want to meet. Except, well, they were immortal, and sometimes thousands of years old.
“What can I do for you, Mark?” Noah asked politely. Noah had become deferential over the past few weeks, and found it a learned character trait that at first was quite phony, and now was simply a practical way to get things done.
“I heard from your mother,” Mark said.
“Yes, Louise Marie,” the gospel writer said with evidentiary affirmation.
“Oh.” Noah wasn’t sure if he should be afraid or embarrassed. He hadn’t talked to his mother in quite some time. She had died several years ago.
“She didn’t contact me,” he finally said. “She came with you?”
“No, no, Noah. She’s still in the Kingdom. She just sent me a note.”
“You got a note from heaven?” Noah asked. “How does that even work? Why didn’t she send me a note?”
“Well, it doesn’t happen that way. You have to die first, and then, well, you know.”
Noah didn’t know about any of that part. He’d heard rumors, because people were still dying. Funerals were weird now. He’d put aside the whole death thing for when it was more appropriate to figure out. He didn’t really want to talk about that just yet.
“Wait. You’re telling me that my mom is in heaven and she wrote you a note and you’re calling me to tell me what my mom wrote to you? For real?”
“For real.” The saints spoke all languages, by the way. Even slang.
Noah’s mom had encouraged him to be a writer, right before she died. Up until then, she wanted him to be a lawyer, or an auto mechanic. Both jobs “made good money,” as she put it. “You’ve got the gift of gab, and you like to tinker with cars,” she told him. “Maybe you should be a prosecutor, or fix BMWs.”
Noah wanted all his life to be a writer, but news reporting was the only thing that paid. “I don’t have a face for television,” he’d told the editor of the Gazette when he applied for a job two decades earlier.
“You OK?” Mark asked.
“Yeah, yeah,” Noah answered, coming out of his memory trip.
“Well, she wants me to put you in charge of newspapers,” Mark said.
“What? That’s ridiculous. Me? Wait a minute. She can’t do that, can she?”
“That’s true, Noah. She can’t do that. I am the one who does that.”
Noah stopped for a second and the shock on his face turned to concern. “What are you saying, Mark?”
“I’m saying that your mom wants you to be in charge of newspapers, and I want to know if you think that’s a good idea.”
Noah’s eyebrows were lifting and rolling around as his face twisted in all sorts of positions.
“No, I don’t want to be in charge of newspapers!” he blurted out. “I’m a writer. Is there even a position for somebody to be in charge of newspapers?”
“No, Noah,” Mark answered. “There’s no such position.”
“Then what in the dickens? Why are you asking me this?”
“It was your mother’s idea.” Noah heard a sniff from Mark, and a muffling noise on the phone.
“And you listen to moms and dads who come up with stuff like this? What is my mom thinking? Dead parents can barge into your life and tell you what you should be doing? You allow this to happen? I thought that stuff would be different in heaven. Really, you’re falling for this? You want to know if I want to do this?”
“No, we don’t really,” Mark said, with a forced choke in his voice.
Noah stiffened, and frowned into the phone. “What is this?” Noah asked.
“It’s a joke, Noah. Your mother’s idea.” Noah heard laughter in the background.
“It’s her way of saying hi, we’ve figured,” Mark said. “Very funny stuff. We’re all in stitches. She said you’d get all ruffled up. It’s her weird way of telling you she loves you, I guess. She knows you always wanted to be a writer. Pretty darn hilarious.”
Noah sat in his office chair, his head cocked to the left, and he rocked a bit wondering what he could say. “You have other people there with you who knew about this?”
“Yeah, some people you probably don’t know,” Mark said. Noah imagined John Mark looking around at the folks he was with. “My good friends. Mostly reporters, like me. And you,” A trailing giggle wafted over the phone from wherever Mark was located.
“Holy cow,” Noah said. "In charge of newspapers. Silly."
“You want me to tell your mom hi for you?”
“Sheesh,” Noah said. “I guess so. Man. Yes. Yes, of course.” His shoulders relaxed. He finally smiled, shaking his head at his mother’s still dry humor. “I’ve got to get her back for that one.”
“Hmmm,” Mark murmured. “She’s a painter, right?”
“Yes, a darn good one, too,” Noah said.
“Heh, heh. We might have an idea. Why don’t you draw a picture of your mom, the most ridiculous thing you can come up with, and we’ll take it from there.”