Christian, Decide (Invitation only Serial Novel)

UPDATE: Jan 19, 2021: The first novel, spec mystery: You Shouldn’t Have Come, is up and running. We still have some spots left, if you’d like to join… After an unexpected second death, we’re moving into some strange twists….

serial novel book club

Write a Mystery/Sci-fi/or Strange serial novel with Us on MeWe.

Christian, Decide is book club, together writing an audience-voted choose your own speculative mystery/fantasy/sci-fi story.

In this time of separateness, it’s fun to pull together to make big things happen. This is a way to band together with other readers to CHOOSE YOUR OWN…ENDING. Gulp.

(If you’re not aware of it, MeWe is a Facebook alternative, and a lot of Christians are migrating there.)

Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 4


by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and 1536

We always hope that the last time we see someone isn’t the last time we see someone…

“Mom! I’m going out with Lacey,” Amber yells up the stairs.

There is a moment of silence and then footsteps on the steps as Mother comes down.

“Where are you going?” Mother asks.

Amber sighs. “To the mall. But her mom is stopping by their church first.”

Mother frowns a bit, “Isn’t her family Mormon?”

Amber nods.

“Are they going to their church for classes or teaching?

“No. I don’t think so.” Amber hopes her mother doesn’t stop the plan.

Mother sighs. “Well, alright. Just be home before lunch.”

Amber nods and tromps outside to meet her friend at the pond. After a few minutes, she arrives and sees Lacey waiting on the bench, tapping away at her phone. Amber stealthily sneaks up to her and grabs Lacey’s shoulders. Lacey yelps, dropping her phone. Laughing, Amber slides into the bench next to her friend.

“Filthy Hobbitses,” Lacey hisses good-naturedly, bending over and grabbing her phone.

“Ah, gets you every time,” Amber grins. “How’s life?”

Lacey smiles. “Great. But I’m just stuffed with cookies. I brought you some.” She hands Amber a sandwich bag with chocolate chip cookies.

“Wow. Thanks!” Amber starts eating one right away.

Lacey looks down at her phone and then out at the pond. “My mom made them for the church bake-sale. Mother’s really a good woman. And such a great person. Dad’s so pleased with her. I hope I’m half the woman she is when I grow up.”

Amber frowns, touching the edge of the bench with her fingertips.

Lacey continues to prattle on about everything her Mother did. Amber becomes uneasier by the second, especially when she hears the words, “I’m sure God is pleased with her as well.”

Luther’s words ring in her mind. “Not by works, but by grace. We are saved by grace alone.” Maybe I should say something.

But she does not know how to open the topic. “Oh,” Amber says instead, interrupting Lacey. “Have you studied for tomorrow’s chemistry test?”

Lacey rolls her eyes. “I tried. All I can remember is Zeff.”


“Ugh, you’re really stuck on that word, aren’t you?” Amber snorts, remembering her science class.


“So what? It’s cool! It sounds sci-fi and futuristic and stuff like that!”

“Yeah, sure.”

Lacey’s mother honks the car horn and the girls climb into the back of their car. The trip to the mall is shadowed by Amber’s fearful silence about God. But gabby Lacey hardly even notices Amber’s silence. She has so much to say about other things. When they arrive home, Amber opens the car door.

“See you later, sneaky booger,” Lacey snickers.

Amber smiles and runs up the front steps.

She’s been waiting for this moment for so long now. At least when she’s time-traveling she doesn’t feel so guilty.

Going into the garage, she checks herself to make sure her clothes are normal, and then she twists the date 1536 onto the watch.

The blue portal surrounds her. This time she feels an electric buzz, and then nothing. Amber opens her eyes in the midst of falling forward. She squeals and catches herself against a door. There’s shuffling inside the room and then the door opens.

The man opening the door has a long beard and is wearing a funny hat and a long, fur-lined cloak. His eyes widen.

“I saw an ethereal glow under my door,” he whispers, “and then you knocked on my door.” His gaze roams around and then settling on Amber’s watch. “Like that blue light! What is that bracelet?”

Amber’s eyes widen. Say something! Say something! Her gaze roams into the room and she sees a bunch of papers on the desk. “Oh!” she hurries over to the papers. “Are you a writer?”

The man looks surprised for a second and then walks over to her. “Yes, I am.”

Amber looks at the papers, almost choking on her breath when she saw the name on the front page. John Calvin!

“John Calvin? The reformer?”

“Yes, I suppose I am trying to reform things. Though that is a strange word to use.”

Amber’s mind races as she looks down at the papers. Jesus. Augustine. Luther. Now Calvin! “What are you writing?”

“I am writing The Institutes of the Christian Religion,” Calvin replies, brushing his fingertips over the papers. “What’s your name, child?”

Institutes. Calvin’s Institutes…Dad always talked about those.

“Oh. Sorry. I’m Amber.” They shake hands and smile at each other.

Amber’s eyes return to the papers. “May I ask? What are they about?” Amber tilts her head a bit.

“Well…” Calvin looks down at the desk, “It’s everything about being a Christian.”

“You’ve got a lot of papers here. So, can you summarize it? Like Institutes for Dummies or something like that.”

“For dummies? Oh. Are you learning disabled?” He tipped his head and studied her, then with a laugh added. “I see. Simple terms. Okay, then. Let’s put it this way. The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”

Amber nods, her interest piqued. The gospel should possess the whole soul and heart.

“Having then used the Law to tell us of our weakness and impurity, the Lord comforts us through trust in his power and mercy. And,” Calvin lifts his finger, “it is in Christ, his Son, that he reveals himself as being benevolent and favourably disposed to us.”

Amber scratches the back of her neck. “Favor means grace, right?”

“Yes. His grace comes through Christ. Christ alone. In the Law, God only appears as the rewarder of perfect righteousness—of which we are completely bereft—and, on the other hand, as the upright and strict Judge of sins, in Christ, his face is full of grace and gentleness, and shines on miserable, unworthy sinners.”

“That sounds nice. His face full of grace and gentleness. It reminds me of Aaron’s blessing, ‘the Lord make his face to shine upon you…’”

Calvin smiles warmly, “Exactly. For this is the admirable display of his infinite love that he gave to us: he delivered up his own son for us and, in Him, opened to us all the treasures of his mercy and goodness.”

“So, is everyone allowed to go to heaven then?”

Calvin’s slight frown and shake of his head drew her in to his words. “No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own belief.”

“So we must believe and call upon God. And then we can be saved. But what if we’re very good and everything? Doesn’t God expect us to be good?” Amber asks, remembering Lacey’s words about her Mom.

“Deeds do matter. But the more eminently that any one excels in holiness, the farther he feels himself from perfect righteousness, and the more clearly he perceives that he can trust nothing but the mercy of God alone. Are you following me so far?” Calvin looks down at Amber.

Amber nods. “You mean that when we realize we are sinners we lean more on God’s mercy. In a sense our good deeds should show us we are not good enough.”

“Right. As believers are every day involved in many faults, it will profit them nothing that they have once entered the way of righteousness, unless the same grace which brought them into it accompany them to the last step of life.”

“So being good is not good enough. It has to be goodness on the path of Christ.”

“Why do you call yourself a dummy? You know the gospel, my child. This is from Psalms. ‘Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’” Calvin smiles and nods. “Psalms 32 verse 1 to be exact.”

“But how can we have perfect faith? I feel like I can never do the right thing when I should. I should have shared with Lacey about Jesus, but I didn’t… Lacey’s my friend. Her family’s Mormon.”

“Mormon? Is that in India?”

“No. It’s—It’s…”

“Never mind, Amber. You ask about perfect faith. A perfect faith is nowhere to be found, so it follows that all of us are partly unbelievers.”

“We are?”

“Yes. You see, a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it, appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous.”

“So if Lacey’s family believes they have to be perfect to go to heaven, they’re wrong. She has to have faith in the deeds of Jesus Christ. She has to be an actual believer in his deeds for us in order to go to heaven. But being a real believer is more about grace than deeds. Our failing good deeds prove we need Jesus. I really should tell my friend Lacey.”

“Right. You’ve got it! It’s by Christ’s deeds alone.” The reformer smiled.

“By Christ alone. By faith alone. By grace alone.”

“That’s sounds catchy!” Calvin laughs. Suddenly his attention is drawn to the doorway. “Oh! And there’s my good friend!”

Amber turns and locks gazes with the Pea-Green Coat Guy at the door, who has a giant smile on his face.

Calvin looks back at Amber. “This is my good friend Seth.”


“Uh…I’ll catch you later,” Seth says, taking a step back and darting off down the hallway.

I can’t let him get away!

“I have to go, too,” Amber tells Calvin, pushing past the reformer and swinging around the doorway down the hall.

The patter of fast footsteps ensues until they reach downstairs. Seth darts away full speed down the waterfront.

Amber follows him, panting already. This is not going well.

Seth ducks under a cart. The donkey brays. Amber slips back and runs around the animal. Come on. Come on. You ran a marathon last year; you can do this.

Seth’s green coat is nearing. Amber pants. Hurry. Hurry.

He throws down a barrel of apples in front of her. She stumbles to avoid stepping on them.

“Hey! Who’s going to pay for those! Don’t step on my apples!”

Amber looks with apology at the angry greengrocer, but picks up speed again and with a burst of energy catches up to the green-coated young man.

“Wait!” She pants. “I just want to ask you something!”

She reaches out, almost able to touch the coat, to grab him. She has too many questions. “Why can’t you just stop?”

Just a bit more. Amber strains herself. At the last second, she slips on a rock and she’s propelled forward. Grabbing the green coat, she holds on. The coat slips off of Seth.

He makes a grab for his coat, but the world is spinning. Both of them are pulled into a glowing blue portal.

Amber feels like a ton of bricks is being pushed against her mind. Everything turned blue now goes black.

She has no idea where she has ended up this time.

She is lost in time….

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Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 3

by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and 1522

Sometimes who you are in the inside matters more than what they think you are on the outside….


Amber walks down the sidewalk, hands in her pockets. She strolls over to the school park where her best friend, Lacey, is sitting on the monkey bars and checking her cellphone.

“Hey,” Amber smiles.

Lacey waves. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Nothing much.” If she only knew. Amber’s mind is swirling with Jesus, Augustine, and that strange pea-green coat guy.

“Hmm, nice watch! Where’d you get it?”

If she but got started, the story would never end. Amber decides against even starting. So she shrugs and sits down on the swing next to her best friend.

Lacey jumps down from the monkey bars.

“Speaking of watches! School’s going to start.” She wipes her sweaty hands on her pants.

“Let’s go then.” Amber jumps off the swing and follows her friend.

The two girls hurry to their chemistry class. The teacher, Mr. Jones, is already inside and so are the other students.

“You’re late,” the teacher says.

Amber flushes red and glances at Lacey.

“Sorry,” Lacey apologizes.

“You have missed the beginning of the lecture. Get out your notebooks. We’re talking about Zeff and its role in chemistry.”

Amber and Lacey sit down. After a few moments of listening, Lacey leans toward Amber, grinning. “Zeff is a super cool word. If I ever have a son, I’m going to name him Zeff,” she whispers.

Amber rolls her eyes. “Yeah right,” she whispers.

“I’m serious!” Lacey murmurs, incredulous.

She grabs her pen and writes in the corner of the notebook, Zeff. She surrounds the name with a heart. Laughing inwardly, Amber concentrates on listening to Mr. Jones.

The watch hums, drawing her attention. She pushes a button to try to get it to stop making noise.

“Amber?” Mr. Jones says. “If you can’t keep your watch quiet, do not wear it to school.”

“Yes, sir,” she answers. Somehow it stopped its noise.


Amber does the finishing touch of make-up on her face. She stands up and studies herself over the mirror. Practicing for Halloween, she had made fake scars and stitches on her face with make-up. Just like a zombie. She had even dyed the tips of her black hair red. Sitting on the bed, Amber grabs the watch and puts it on.

What was that next date? She thinks for a couple seconds and enters in, 1522. Someone knocks on the door. Amber lifts her hand off the watch and looks up. “Come in!”

Mother enters the room and upon seeing Amber, her happy expression falls.

“What?” Amber tilts her head.

“I thought you were going to the Reformation party,” Mother says quietly.

Amber groans and rolls her eyes. “Really mom? No way! I don’t want to be the only one in my class not going trick-or-treating.”

Mother frowns. “Honey, if you’re going to dress up, at least don’t look like death itself.”

Amber laughs. “This is the most popular fashion for Halloween. Get with the times.”

“Anyway,” Mother sighs. “Go do your chores, dear. You still have several days to decide. And don’t come to dinner with that on your face.”

Amber nods and strolls out of her room. She goes to the garage, yanking the handle of the dumpster to pull it out to the street. Noticing her brother Andrew playing with his skateboard, she chuckles to herself, chin elevated and eyes narrowed.

“He never does chores. That kid’s on his way to hell,” she murmurs, strutting down the sidewalk.

She leaves the dumpster for the trash truck and goes back into the house. Next thing she knows, she is tumbling head-over-heels. She has stepped on her loose shoelace. As she lands on the ground she falls on her wrist.

“Owww…” Amber groans.

But it’s too late. The blue light is all around her. Wha…what’s going on? The lights go out. After a couple minutes, blinding light causes Amber to close her eyes. Voices surround her and then there’s some silence.

“It’s a witch!” someone screams.

What? Who’s a witch? Amber opens her eyes and blinks, realizing the people around her are staring at her. The woman who screamed is pointing to her. Me? A witch? I’m not a witch.

“I…I’m not a—” Amber tries to protest but she perceives some men running for her.

Jerking herself to full consciousness, she shoves past some people. Women scream. Men shout. Amber’s heart rate rises.

Where am I going? What am I doing? Where am I? She trips over a stool but quickly scrambles back to her feet. The cobblestone pathway is making it hard for her to run, as well as the carts. Christmas Day, 1522. That was the last date.

A horse rears up in front of her, neighing loudly. Amber squeals and jerks herself backward to avoid the flailing hooves and falls to the ground. Two men grab hold of Amber, hauling her to her feet.

“I’m not a witch,” Amber gasps, trying to catch her breath.

“Burn her!” a woman shouts. “Look at her hideous face! Look at her clothes!”

Others agree with her. Amber looks down at her black hoodie and sweatpants.

“I’m not a…I’m not a witch! It’s my Halloween costume!” Amber says but everyone else’s voices are drowning hers out.

The two men are dragging her away. Amber feels a rush of adrenaline. She stomps hard on the left man’s foot and bites the right man’s wrist. They let go of her and she darts away again, heading for a church.

She stealthily slips inside without anyone noticing her. She hurries up some stairs to the very top of the church, to the rafters. Amber sits on the rafters, catching her breath. A voice drifts into her ear. It’s a man preaching.

Christmas morning! How could they treat me like this on Christmas! What kind of Scrooge-people are these?

“So he discards all boasted free will, all human virtue, righteousness, and good works.”

Good works. The words bring Augustine’s words to mind about the babies. Is this the reason these dates are connected? Is this why I was given the watch?

The priest continues, and Amber settles in to listen. Somehow the people she is meeting and the big words she is hearing has to do with the watch and saving that guy’s life. She concentrates.

“Paul concludes that these good works are all nothing and are wholly perverted, however brilliant and worthy they may appear, and teaches that we must be saved solely by the grace of God, which is effective for all believes who desire it from a correct conception of their own ruin and nothingness.”

What was it Jesus had said, about this same topic? She struggles to remember. How were Jesus’ words related? She can not figure it out.

“He who does not receive salvation purely through grace, independently of all good works, certainly will never secure it. Truly, then, we are saved by grace alone, without works or other merit.”

Amber’s heart finally calms down and she sits on the rafters with a pinched face, thinking about the man’s words. Not by works but by grace…?

“A witch!” A scream shakes Amber out of her thoughts. “Brother Martin, it’s a witch!”

Someone is coming up the stairs. Amber balances herself on the rafters and moves toward a window. She opens it, almost losing her balance, but she manages to right herself. Taking hold of the rooftop, Amber slowly inches herself up, closing the window behind her. Her hands are shaking.

Come on, go away. Go away. Just leave me alone. People are staring at her from below. Why is it so complicated this time?

Amber inches upward again. The wind whistles in her ear. Her hands are sweating. “Leave me alone. I’m not a witch,” she whispers. Amber rests her forehead on the roof.

Suddenly, her foot slips and she tumbles backward. It all happens so fast she has no time to scream. Feeling herself fall, she closes her eyes. Amber’s back hits the pavement and she blacks out.

Silence. Amber groans and opens her eyes. She’s lying on the pavement back at home where she had tripped. Gosh, why does my back hurt so bad? Oh…right. She stumbles to her feet, trying to gain hold of her balance.

Once Amber can stand, she slowly limps back home and up to her room. Mmphf, hurts so bad, she thinks, rubbing her leg. The man, the priest’s words come to her mind again.

They had called him Martin. Brother Martin. Grace alone. I’ve heard those words before. Dad read it to me. I think it was…I bet it was Luther preaching. Amber smiles, almost forgetting about the pain in her back. So it’s not by works that we get into heaven?

Her words from this morning come to mind. “Road to hell.” She blushes with shame, even though no one can see her. Luther had said, “These good works are all nothing and are wholly perverted, however brilliant and worthy they may appear.” 

I guess I was wrong. Andrew and I are really equal before God. It’s not by works God accepts us and saves us. It’s by grace.  Amber stands up and goes downstairs to her Mom.

“Mother?” she says, approaching her.

Mother looks down at her, frowning. “You look like a mess. What did you do?”

“Never mind that,” Amber smiles. “Mom, I think I’ve decided to go to the Reformation party next week. I’ve had enough of witches and zombies.”

Mother’s eyes widen and she stares at her daughter for a couple seconds before slowly nodding. “Oh…yes! Of course!”

Amber hugs her mom. “Thanks, Mom. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” Mother says, though still perplexed.

Behind Mother’s back, Amber unravels the yellow note. The next date is 1536.

Note to self: Amber, wear normal clothes next time.

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Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 2

by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and AD 354

Having a journey in the middle of the night sounds exhausting, but sometimes, it’s just the way to help someone fall asleep…


Amber sits on the edge of her bed, fingering the watch. It is a restless night for her. All she can think about is the journey she had a couple days ago.

The surface of the watch shimmers blue, casting a light on the ceiling. Amber enters in the number AD 33, thinking, Maybe, this time…. But the blue light flashes red.

Sighing, she hunches her shoulders. She opens her laptop and skims through her online dashboard on the question and answer site Quora for her Bible homework. A question title catches her eye. Someone asks, Why do Christians say babies are evil? Amber snorts and clicks on the button to answer it.

“Babies are not evil,” she says to herself. “Everyone knows that. This is plain nonsense. What kind of Christian would say that?”

She plans out a long answer and begins writing it when something knocks on her window. Clicking the save draft option, she shuts her computer lid and looks out the window.

Nope. Nothing there. Amber returns her interest back to the watch. Should I go to the next date? She sighs. The man in the pea green coat did say his life depended on it. I wonder if he dies, will it be my fault? She didn’t want to risk that. I’d better go.

Amber looks out the window once more, and enters the date September 10, AD 354 into the watch. The blue dome comes around her, ensuing the room in darkness. Bright light flashes like an electric rainbow, and she finds herself in a stone-made room.

Amber tip-toes toward the wooden door. It is a good thing the door is already open, or Amber would have created a heck of a noise breaking the medieval-looking lock. She sneaks through the hallways, catching a glimpse of scrolls in one room. Scrolls? It’s a library! In 354? She darts in. So who am I supposed to meet here?

Amber runs her fingers along the shelf, trying to keep herself from touching the scrolls. But she can’t help herself. She opens one. Latin. Bummer. She puts it back down then hears voices coming her way. She ducks behind a shelf of the scrolls, holding her breath.

“I cannot accept this,” says a man’s voice.

“It is only truth,” says the other voice, also a man.

“Men become sinners. They are not born sinners. Consider my sweet daughter Maria. She is a mere infant. She has done nothing wrong.”

This is the topic of that Quora question!

“How can you call her a sinner, Bishop Augustine?”

Amber’s breath catches. She almost coughs but manages to hold it in. Augustine! It must be Saint Augustine! Jaynee did a presentation on him in class last month. I wonder why the Pea-green Coat Guy wants me to meet him.

Peering over the shelf, Amber sees Augustine take a deep breath and stop, facing the other man. “You speak of your infant daughter. What then was my own sin at that age? Was it perhaps that I cried so greedily for my mother’s breasts? Certainly if I behaved like that now, greedy not for breasts, of course, but for food suitable to my age, I should provoke derision and be very properly rebuked.”

Amber blushes, sinking further behind the shelf. The other man laughs and agrees with Augustine. “No sane man would consider you with respect were you to scream like that for food. Good point well made.”

A flash of green draws Amber’s attention. She looks toward the corner of the hallway; she catches a glimpse of something pea green. What? Her mind piques with interest. She cannot go over toward that corner because Augustine has stopped in the middle of the hall. Is it that guy?

“And of course the tantrums,” Augustine continues, “the actions of a child who begs tearfully for objects that would harm him if given, gets into a tantrum when free persons, older persons and his parents, will not comply with his whims, and tries to hurt many people who know better by hitting out at them as hard as his strength allows, simply because they will not immediately fall in with his wishes or obey his commands, which would damage him if carried out?”

Augustine takes a deep breath here, his chin elevated a bit, “The only innocent feature in babies is the weakness of their frames; the minds of infants are far from innocent.”

The other man lowers his head, nodding.

“And Paul said, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.’ The law of Moses proved this to us, Ciro. The law was like a teacher to prove we are not ever able to meet God’s righteous requirements.”

“But Bishop, what of our desire to do the right thing? What of our works?”

“It is not our works. Consider that Joshua told the people in the Promised Land that they would not be able to keep the law. No. Not law. Not works. Christ brought for us this righteousness. We are justified by him alone, not by being good and avoiding sin.”

“Yes, I see your point. Even my darling Maria cannot be righteous on her own. Sin is inherent within her, just immature.”

Augustine puts his arm over his friend’s back. “Yet because of Christ, God sees us as innocent as doves. This is the gospel.”

They continue their walk down the stone hallway. Amber rises to her feet, her mind whirling. Innocent as doves? Jesus had said something about that. On Emmaus Road.

She hurries toward Augustine to ask him how, when she is surrounded in light and dark. No, no, don’t take me away from here! I want to learn more! She covers her face…

…and when the blue fades away finds herself standing in her bedroom in 2017 again. “Take me back!” she whispers.

Amber groans at the failure, wiping her face of sweat.

Why do I always get taken away at the most important moment?! She sits on her bed to consider what she saw. I guess Augustine was making sense.

Remembering the numerous times she got in trouble as a toddler, Amber blushes and looks down at the ground. I was a little rotter; and I did sin. Mom said as a baby I was a nightmare to put to bed. And I was greedy, I stole candy from her whenever she wasn’t looking.

She nods to herself. I guess I was wrong about babies sinning.

Her eyes catch the window frame and she walks over, her mind drawn back to the pea green cloth she saw in the library corridor. Was it him? Is he stalking me? How did he get there in the first place? Who is he? Amber leans out the window, wondering if he will climb through it again.

She sees no one but she can’t help feel a bit spooked out. He had given her the dates. Somehow they would save his life. But how? Jesus, Augustine. Hmm. Latching her window, she goes back to her bed and picks up the yellow paper.

The next date is December 25, 1522. Jesus’s birthday! I should try AD 33 again.

Amber flops on the bed and puts her head on her pillow. I saw Jesus! She stuffs the note under her pillow, closes her eyes remembering Jesus and Augustine. Before she knows what is happening, she falls into a peaceful slumber.

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What do you think? Who is the Pea-green Coat Guy? What are these dates? Write your predictions below…

Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 1

by s. nicole böcek
2017 and AD 33

Sometimes life takes you where you don’t expect to go. When Amber woke up, she had no idea that a man in a pea-green coat would soon be crawling through her window.

But it happened….like this:

The strange man shoves a bundle into her hands. Amber’s eyes widen.

He grasps her by her shoulders. Her mouth opens to scream but no sound comes out.

“Listen,” he whispers, eyes wide. He looks down at his watch and starts trembling, “You must visit those dates. My life depends on it; do you understand?”

He looks out the window for a minute and then back at Amber.

“I need your answer.”

Just as Amber reluctantly nods, he looks at his watch again and disappears like dust flying away.

No way!

Tearing the bundle open she sees it is a piece of paper with a watch inside. On the paper is a list of dates. AD 33. AD 354. 1521.

A flashing blue light in the middle of the watch draws her attention.

I guess I’m supposed to press the activate button. His life depends on it.

A blue light surrounds her like a dome, smooth as glass. Amber types April 23, AD 33. The lights go out and she is consumed in darkness. Suddenly, a bright light startles her. When her eyes adjust, she sees three men on a road; the man in the middle is speaking.

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” he was saying, “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into glory?”

The words sound familiar.

“Do you not remember what Isaiah wrote about the Messiah? Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”

The tunics and cloaks they wear look like the kind in those old Bible-times movies like Ben Hur.

Ben Hur? Wait! AD 33! That’s when Jesus died.

Amber looks again at the scenario before her, her heartrate rising. She covers her mouth in shock. The man in the middle is Jesus!

That’s Jesus! I know him!

Amber rushes forward and grabs his arm.


He turns and winks at her but the other men don’t seem to notice her there. What should I say? Her heart burns inside her. It’s Jesus!

Suddenly, the world of light and dark spins around her with a glowing blue light and she finds herself in her bedroom.

Covering her face, she moans, “Oh no. I wanted to talk to Jesus.”

Fumbling with the watch, she tries to return but it is flashing red.

Please, please, let me back in. She wants to cry. I saw Jesus! Take me back!

I should tell my parents. Will they even believe me? What is this watch?

She heads downstairs to the kitchen.

“This year is the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation,” Amber’s father announces.

Amber scratches the back of her neck. Why did that guy want me to see that conversation? Why Jesus? Maybe Dad can help.

“Dad?” It must have something to do with what Jesus was saying.

Her father looks at her as her mom put plates on the table in front of them.

“You know that verse that goes he was wounded for our transgressions and by his stripes we are healed?”

He nods. “Right, that’s Isaiah 53. It’s exactly what I’m talking about. This is the gospel. By his stripes we are healed. The Reformation that we are celebrating is getting back to this gospel. Jesus reformed everything. He taught us about grace. The Reformers took the works-based errors of the Church and brought them back to the pure gospel.”

Mom adds, “It’s the new covenant. We are saved not by our works but by Christ’s work.” She sets the pancake platter down. “Are you two ready to eat?”

As they eat, Amber’s mind wanders back to Jesus winking at her. I wish I could see him again. What does this all mean? Who was that strange man? He said his life is depending on me. I must figure this out.

She takes out the slip of yellow paper and looks at the next date. AD 354.

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