Author’s note: THIS paper is the worst paper EVER. It’s so bad that it loops all the way around from awful to awesome. That’s what I think.
The Voicemail of Paul the Apostle to Philemon
Starring John Wayne
Author’s second note: Yes, I know that there weren’t any voicemail recorders back in the first century, or phones either, for that matter. But if there were, and if the apostle Paul had gotten a cell phone in his jail cell and talked a little like a cowboy in a western, a conversation something like this may have gone down sometime around A.D. 60.
The phone kept ringing. “I think it’s gonna go to voicemail,” Paul said. “I really wanted to talk to him.”
A familiar voice, half-drowned-out by static, answered. “Hey, Philemon here. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave me a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
“Hey, it’s me, Paul.” He held it up to the mouth of his much younger friend.
“And me, Timothy!” Then Paul took the phone back.
“Yeah. Hey, this message is for Philemon, our good buddy and coworker – and that great cowgirl Apphia, and our buckaroo Archippus, and the rest of the folks in your ranch church. First off, we wanted to send God’s richest blessings your way. You know, when I remember to pray for you, I always say thanks to God ‘cause of how much you love all His people and how much faith you have, and I pray that your ‘faith gang’ will keep on working better as you really keep getting what Christ put in you. You always make me feel better, bro, ‘cause you’ve just been a breath of fresh air to God’s people.” Paul drew a breath and continued.
“So here’s why I’m calling. I… Because of Christ, I’ve got enough guts to just tell you straight up to do what has to be done, but, because I love you, I’d rather just ask. Philemon, you know me. I’m an old man, and, now I’m in jail for Jesus. I need to talk to you about Onesimus. He’s become like a son to me here in this prison. I know, he wasn’t much good to you before, but hear me out… he’s useful to us both now. And… I’m sending him back to you. I’m sending my heart with him. I wanted to keep him here, so he could help me out ‘cause you can’t be here, but I figured I aughta check with you first so your good-deed-doing would be your choice, not me forcin’ your hand, ya know? On the other hand, maybe that’s why you two had to part paths for a while, so you’d get him back for good, but better than just a slave. Now he’s our brother. To you, sure, but even more to me.” Timothy smiled. The older man was doing a good job, but he knew this case was only half made. Paul had been a lawyer in a different life, and now he had his lawyer face on.
“Anyway… if you see me as a friend, a pal, could you make sure when Onesimus gets there to treat him like you would me? If he busted anything or you decide he owes you anything, put it on my tab. I’ll cover it. …Though, I could bring up that, well, you owe everything you are to me. But I’m not gonna do that. Bro, I’d love it if through our master you could just bless me some. Make my day, huh? I know you’ll take care of everything, and better. And… while you’re at it, could you get one of those great guest rooms of yours ready for me? I’m hoping that God will answer your prayers, and the authorities will let me get out of this dungeon and stay with you.”
Timothy was circling his finger in a “wrap it up” motion. Paul nodded. “Hey, I’ve gotta get going,” Paul said. “Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke all say hi. May God’s grace be with ya. See you soon. Bye.”