But I am a puppeteer. I love putting a puppet on one hand and then begin to have a conversation between the puppet and me. It’s a lot of fun to have the conversation as part of a children’s sermon at church or another kind of gathering of younger folks. I love it that the younger ones pay such close attention to the conversation – hopefully learning something in the process. I also have observed on almost every occasion when I’ve presented the puppet/person conversation that adults pay as close or closer attention to what the conversation is about.
I've recently begun a new pastoral call at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Downers Grove, Illinois. In the 3 months I've been around, I think I've had conversations with 7 different puppets. Overall I think I've operated close to 20 puppets over the years. Sometimes it's difficult to remember which puppet is talking – and when I should talk in my voice and when I should use the puppet voice. I make plenty of mistakes, and my lips move all the time – yet all of it usually adds to the fun.
A favorite conversation is one where one of the puppets shows how adept they are at impersonations. I am sure to act as if I am in complete amazement as this one puppet impersonates all of the other puppets. As a matter of fact, I’m planning to have such an impersonation event with one (and all) of the puppets this Sunday as I introduce the Bible reading from Ephesians 4:25-5:2.
I’ll have to talk about the differences between impersonating someone and imitating them, and as I do that I can start to introduce the concept of imitating God – and living God’s love.
Which puppet is the best impersonator? You'll have to be there this week to find out.