Thursday, April 20, 2017

One Bride for Seven Brothers

One Bride for Seven Brothers
Matthew 21:23-33

Cast:  4 men dressed as Sadducees.  They could be in robes or bright clothing, even a little bling to add to their display of wealth.  Most of the speaking parts are between Sadducees #1 and #2.  Sadducees 3 & 4 follow the conversation intently by leaning in and nodding agreement or reacting with shock where appropriate until time to insert their brief comments.

Set:  Any.  Dialogue and gesturing move the action.

All 4 Sadducees come onto the stage singing and dancing to the tune of “We are Family.”  Even though they are singing, their heads are hanging and they look defeated.

We are Sadducees.  We say the resurrection wont’ be.
That’s why we are sad you see.  All seven brothers and me.

#1  I can’t believe that didn’t work.
#2  You’re telling me.  It drives the Pharisees crazy.  Every time it works with them.
#1  It’s never let us down before.  I was just sure after Jesus took that coin and said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s, he would have been on an emotional high and vulnerable to the 7 brothers quandary.
#2  He sure showed the Pharisees.
#1  We should have been able to catch him off guard.
#2  You would think we would have had him hook, line, and sinker, but…
#1  Was it the way I posed the question?
#2  No!  You were on the money.  A man died without children so his next oldest brother took his wife and he died without children, so the next oldest took her as his wife and he died without children.
#1  All the way through 7 brothers.  This is the law of Moses.  It was the perfect trap.
#2  Except that it wasn’t.  Did you hear the guy in the back?
 #1  Oh yeah, the smart Alec who said that those had to be the most ignorant brothers on the planet.  You would think after the third brother the rest would get wise.  Marry this girl and you will die young.  Better to make a sin offering and stay single and alive.  Yeah, I heard him.
#2  I think that everybody heard him, but he kind of had a point. 
#1  Stop it!  We made this story up to frustrate the Pharisees.  These are not real brothers.
#2  OK. But the seven made-up-brothers story didn’t work with Jesus.  Where did we go wrong?
#1  First of all, he said that we were wrong about the resurrection.  Who does he think he is?
#3  Some people say that he is a prophet or even the Messiah.
#4  What if he is the Son of God?
#1  Cool it.  We are right about there being no resurrection. 
#3  But he said we would be like angels.
#4  Not angels but like them.
#3  And marriage just wasn’t a thing.
#1  I said, enough!
#2  There is the whole God of the living not the dead deal.
#1  Don’t remind me.
#2  Too late.
#1  I can’t get those words out of my mind:  But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
#2  What can we say to that?
#1  Exactly.  What can we say to that.
#2  You know how the Pharisees are always using the play on words with us?
#1  You mean where they say the Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection, that’s why they are SAD YOU SEE.
#2.  Yeah, that’s the one.  What if there is a resurrection?  Wouldn’t that be something good?
#1  You mean agreeing with the Pharisees?  I’ll have none of it!
#2  What if we didn’t agree with the Pharisees so much as we did with this fellow called Jesus?  Would that be so bad.
#1  The people were amazed at his teachings.     
#2  And we have read what God said.  I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
#1  I am and not I was.  Wow, that’s some heavy thinking.  It’s like God still has a relationship with Abraham.
#3  And Isaac.
#4  And Jacob.
#2  What if he is I Am or sent from I Am?
#1  God save us if he is!
# 2, 3, & 4 (together):  God save us if he is!

All exit the stage in pantomime of further discussion.


The end.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Paying Taxes

Paying Taxes

Matthew 22:15-22

Cast:  4 men dressed as Pharisees.  They could be in robes or bright clothing but all must have some sort of small box strapped to their forehead.  Most of the speaking parts are between Pharisee #1 and #2.  Pharisees 3 & 4 follow the conversation intently by leaning in and nodding agreement or reacting with shock where appropriate.

Set:  Any.  Dialogue and gesturing move the action.

Group of Pharisees (#2, #3, & #4) already on stage begin singing and dancing to the tune of “We are Family.”
We are Pharisees.  We wear our phylacteries.
We are Pharisees.  We’re just men, no sisters, you see.
We are Pharisees…
Enter Pharisee 1 (Looking disheveled with phylactery hanging to the side, hair messed up, and head hanging).
#2:  Dude!  What’s up.
#1:  You wouldn’t believe it.
#2:  Try us.
#1:  OK.  You know how much time we spent on the tax question.
#2:  Yeah.  That’s a no-win scenario.
#1:  You would think.
#2:  But?
#1:  I so saw this playing out in my mind.  I would ask Jesus if it is legal to pay taxes to Caesar or not.  If he said no—and you know all the people wanted him to say no—then all we would have to do is inform the Romans and our problem would be gone.
#2 Right.  I hope that he says no.
#1:  He didn’t.
#2:  What do you mean that he didn’t?  We were not going to spring this on him until tomorrow.
#1:  Sorry, but he was a target of opportunity.  There were a bunch of Herodians hanging out along with a fair number of our fellow phylactery fellows, so I went for it.  If he said that you didn’t need to pay taxes to Caesar, then the Herodians would turn him in.  You know how they are in tight with the Romans.  We could just step back and let politics take its course.
#2:  So he said to pay taxes to Caesar?  Remember that works for us too.  He would be discredited among the people because Caesar declared himself to be a god.  If Jesus said to pay taxes to Caesar it the same as endorsing a false god.  We could nail him on first and second commandment violations.
#1:  No.  He didn’t say pay taxes to Caesar.
#2:  What then?  It was an either-or question, a simple dichotomy.  We framed it as a yes or no question.  You didn’t make it multiple choice, did you?
#1: No, but Jesus doesn’t always color within the lines.  In fact, every time we try to trick him or trap him he is always ten steps ahead of us.  It’s like he knows what we are thinking.
#2:  Only God knows what we are thinking.
#1:  Let’s not go there. 
#2:  Right.  Well, what did he say?
#1:  He said, and I quote: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.”
#2:  And you let him off the hook with that answer?
#1:  The people loved it.  What could I do?
#2:  So why do you look like a mess?
#1:  It was how he did it,
#2:  How?  What do you mean?
#1:  First of all, he looked at all of us, including the Herodians, and said, again I quote: “You hypocrites, why do you keep trying to trick me?”
#2:  What did you say?
#1:  I didn’t get a chance to say anything.  The next thing you know, he is asking the crowd for a coin.  Someone coughs one up in an instant.
#2:  Why does Jesus need a coin?
#1:  Stay with me here.  He looks all around the crowd.  They are glued to his every word.  Then he says, “Whose image is on this coin?”
#2:  Well, that’s a no brainer.
#1:  Right.  Everyone cries out Caesar’s.
#2:  What else would they say, Susan B. Anthony?
#1:  Then Jesus tells everyone—but he is looking mostly at me.
#2:  And?
#1:  Give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and give to God the things that belong to God.
#2:  What did you do?
#1:  I high tailed it out of there.  I felt that I had been put through the wringer and everybody was doing all they could not to laugh in my face.  It was the worst moment of my life.
#2:  Cheer up.  We’ll get this guy.
#3:  Hey I know a guy who knows a guy…
#4:  Who is an expert in the law.  We will trap this Jesus yet.
#2:  OK, straighten up your phylactery and let’s go.
All depart the stage singing
We are Pharisees.  We wear our phylacteries.
We are Pharisees.  We got whupped by Jesus, you see.
We are Pharisees…


The end.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Independence Day Mouse

Independence Day Mouse

Cast:  1 person—adult or youth—who does not mind scurrying around on the stage.
Equipment:  Wireless microphone.  Costume optional.  A chair or stool is also optional.

Church mouse comes dragging onto stage, rubbing eyes, having been awakened too early.

[Walking and yawning and singing as the mouse enters].
My country ‘tis of thee.  Sweet land of liberty.  Of thee I sing.
[Big yawn, then continues singing].
Land of the big French Fry.  I got ketchup in my eye.  Oh boy does it sting?
[Stretching and more yawning, then resume singing].
Land where scraps from your hand.  Land here in church mouse land.  Let every… [Steps back in shock].  WHOA!  WHERE DID YOU PEOPLE COME FROM?
I thought I had the place to myself.  What time is it anyway?  How late did those fireworks go?
[Looks back].  Oh man, am I ever having a bad tail day.
[Looking directly at audience].  Don’t give me that look.  It’s your holiday.  Fireworks all night and kids launching missile attacks on me and my friends with bottle rockets.  You try to sleep through that.
Don’t get me wrong.  I love the picnics.  Bread and cheese are falling everywhere.  Got me a piece of that Chipolate-Habernero and I was more explosive that those Black Cats—the firecrackers, not the menacing felines that are always just around the corner.
[Sits and stares intently at audience].
CAN WE TALK?  REALLY, CAN WE TALK?
I don’t get it.  You throw these huge outdoor parties with food galore.  You light up the sky for hours.  Some of you venture out onto the lakes or just want to get a good dose of sunburn, but it seems that you all have this in common.
[Looks to see who is listening].
You all have something to complain about.  Really!  Land of the free, home of the brave, burgers and hotdogs galore, and you still find things to complain about?  Really?
I am absolutely thrilled that you invited ole fumble fingers to this year’s picnic again.  Hey, scraps are my life; but you get a whole burger, heap the fries on high, kick back in the shade, pop a top on whatever that stuff is in the can, and still find stuff to complain about.
Since when has complaining become a career choice?
Really, I have been here on enough Sunday mornings to hear what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi.  Try to do everything without complaining or arguing.
You guys can’t seem to do anything without complaining.
[Holds up both hands to make this point].
Will you listen to a mouse?  Will you?
You guys have it good.  You are what we call in the church mouse world, blessed.  That’s right, blessed.
You guys have way more than most people.  Heck!  I have more scraps that some people have food in parts of the world.  Nobody needs to be singing the blues around here.
Plus!  Now here this!  Please understand!!!
[Waiting for everyone to pay attention].
You have liberty in this nation AND you have liberty in Jesus Christ.  That’s beyond abundant.
[Huge yawn].
Man, I need to go get some sleep, but you need to think about the blessings of liberty that you have been given in this nation and through God’s Son.  Really, think about it!
[Starts to walk off, but turns back towards the audience for one last comment].
Hey!  Don’t be too hard on your kids when they drop something from the dinner table.  It’s for a good cause.
[Resumes exit singing].  O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of…

Exit.


The End.

Sausage and Sermons

Sausage and Sermons

Title dedicated to Dr. Thomas D. Campbell of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Jeremiah 29:11

Cast:  Two people, one playing the pastor.  Any gender or age.  Both in jogging suits.
Set:  Any.  Action is brought about completely in dialogue though the two will simulate running or walking as part of a morning exercise routine.  Action could also begin at the end of a run with both picking up towels.  The end of run set provides opportunities to hide notes with the set.

So you had two flats and then your battery went dead?  On the same trip?
Yep.
That’s gotta stink.
Grist for the mill.
OK.  Whatever.  And they doubled your insurance rate last month.
Sure enough.
I’ll bet that sent you through the roof.
Just more to consider.
And you really waited 4 hours at the dentist to get in.  I thought it was emergency surgery.
I did.  It was.
That’s really some…  I mean you ought to protest or something.
It’s okay.  I read their Bible for most of the time and actually got to catch up on my Facebook for a little bit.
Yesterday when you gave me a ride and that guy cut you off.
Yes.
I soooo wanted you to pass him, get out, and kick his rude self to kingdom come.
Me too.
Really?
Sure.  For a moment.  But I figured the thought would be better filed for future use.
You know that I like you, right?
Yes.
But, pastor—dude—your answers are just weird.
I see.  Let me ask you something.
Go for it.
Do you like sausage?
Yes.
Sausage biscuits?
Yes.
With gravy?
Even better.
Sausage and eggs?
Yes.  Throw in some Texas Toast and I’ll call it a party.
Have you ever watched someone make sausage?
I did for a little while, then sort of lost my appetite for sausage for a while.
I see.  So one more question.
OK.
Would you rather watch someone make sausage or eat sausage?
I would much rather eat it.  I don’t even want to remember how it is made.
There you go.
What?
Do you get something out of my sermons?
Every time.
Then maybe you don’t need to worry how they come about.
What?
There are two things that most people never need to see made…
One of them is sausage.
And the other?
Sermons?
Exactly.  Now you’ve got it.
I’m not sure that I do.
You remember Jeremiah 29:11?

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Very good!
Thanks.               
Once, I was called to be a pastor, I knew that everything that came my way would refine me somehow.  Somehow, God would use it for good.  Somehow, I would grow from it.
Yeah, okay, sure?
Or at least give me some good grist for the mill in my next sermon.
That’s good for you, you are a pastor.
It’s good for you too.  You are his disciple.
Sounds like that whole pick up your cross daily bit.
Sounds like.
That’s a load to think on.
It is.  Want to go get some breakfast?  We could discuss it more there. 
Sure.  What’s your favorite?
Biscuits and sermon gravy.
Don’t give up your day job.
Let’s get something to eat.
                             
Both exit.

The end.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weeds

Weeds

Monologue

Cast:  One very animated speaker.  Gestures and facial expressions must be exaggerated.
Set:    Can be from pulpit or lectern so notes can be used. 

I started my day right, said my prayers, read my devotion, and set out to bring glory to God.  Then the next thing that you know there is this gal making a left-hand turn from the right hand lane.  Right in front of me!
I kept my cool, as much as I could.  That is to say that I didn’t curse or use any hand signals, but really God—really?
There are people out just doing their best to spit in the grits.  What’s up with that?
And then there I was in Walmart—yes, I know I was there yesterday and the day before but you’ve gotta do what ya gotta do—and this old man, he had to be at least 30, kicked the shopping cart across the parking lot.  He might have been aiming for the place where you put the carts but he missed and hit the side of my car.  Then he laughs out loud where I can hear him and drives off.
What gives God?  Can’t you get rid of these yahoos for those of us who are trying to follow you?
And then there was the guy at the basketball game.  I have said a few bad words in my day, but this guy ran out of cusswords and starting making up his own.  He was cussing the refs, our coach, their coach, and when he went to get a popcorn, I could even hear him cussing out the concession stand folks.
C’mon God.  Can’t you just pluck these guys out of the world right now?  They don’t seem to love you or us.  They seem to be playing for the other team.
[Sighs and looks up.]
What was my devotion about this morning?  Oh, it was the parable of the weeds.
[Looks up again.]
What did the workers want to do?  They wanted to pull up the weeds.  The landowner planted good seed but somebody—agents of the enemy for sure—had scattered weed seed in the field.  They wanted to pull up the weeds right away.
[Looks up again.]
What were they told?  To let them grow together.  The wheat might get uprooted with the weeds.  The time for separation will be at the harvest.
[Exhales and big sigh.]
In your time, not mine Lord.  I get it.  Sort of.  I know that you said we would have trouble in the world and that we should take heart for you have overcome the world.  Sometimes, it seems that we are ready for the harvest now…
[Pause to think.]
But we forget our commission when we ask for you to come back and judge the world now.  We have work to do—work that you trusted us with.
I know that I still have many people to share the good news with.  I will do my best to be patient until you say it is time for the harvest.
Maybe by then, there won’t be as many weeds because we did what you commissioned us to do.
[Looks up again, briefly, and shakes head up and down in agreement with what has transpired.]
Well, thanks for listening.  You always do and before I call you have already answered.  I will do my best Lord, but if you could see fit to somehow let the loudmouth at the ball game catch laryngitis for a couple of weeks during the playoffs, it would make it a little easier to be patient until the harvest.
[Shrugs shoulders and smiles.]
Just saying…


The end.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Work Out Your Salvation

Work Out Your Salvation
Philippians 2

Cast:  Two people.  One is in workout gear with some small weights and a boom box, but not working out.  The other is dressed in business attire (not workout gear).

Set:  Any stage.  Props added to make it look like a workout area or fitness center.  A single weight set could suffice.

Workout clothes again?
Yep.
Working out?
Nope!
Why not?
I am afraid to.
Really?
It’s in the Bible.
Really?
In his letter to the people living in the Philippines, Paul told them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.  So, I am afraid to work out.
Okaaaay.  I think Paul wrote to the Philippians and he didn’t say to be afraid to work out.  He said work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
I don’t get that part.  Why should I have to be afraid to work out?
Paul said to work out your salvation.  What if you understood that to mean live out your salvation?
That’s better, but the whole fear and trembling stuff has me bummed out.
What if you understood that to mean as the most important thing you did every day.
That adds some gravity to it and maybe takes away the part where I’m afraid to do anything.
Indeed it does. We are not afraid to live but we acknowledge that our every decision is important—the most important one that we will make at that moment.
That is sort of scary. 
It is important.  That’s for sure.
But what if I mess up?  What if I blow it?  What if….
Hold them holy horse.  We don’t live in a what if world.  We live out our salvation.  Jesus not only stepped out of heaven to live and die as a man and be a sacrifice for our sin.
Go on.
He did not orphan us when he went back to heaven.  He gave us the Holy Spirit.
How does that help?
God lives in us.  He is leading us to do the things that he wants us to do.
But sometimes it’s just too hard to listen.
No.  It really isn’t.  If you are having problems listening to God’s own Spirit who lives within you, consider all that Jesus gave up for us.
He set aside living equal to his Father to come live and die as a human.  I know.  It’s almost unbelievable. 
You need to believe it because that’s how much God loves us.
And I want to love him back.
Then quit listening to the world and listen to God’s Spirit that is alive inside of you.  That Spirit will lead you step-by-step in working out your salvation.
That’s a much better workout than I have been trying.
It might give you a better selection of wardrobe choices too.
What?

Both exit.


The end.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Living Sacrifice

Living Sacrifice


Cast:  This is a monologue.  One person who can carry on a conversation with himself/herself using pauses and thousand mile states for effect is desired.

Set:  Any.  A lectern or pulpit may be used.  A Bible is needed.  A personalized one is best.


Where was I in that scripture?  (scratches head as he looks.)
Ok, got it.  Offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.  (Nods head up and down showing agreement at first.  Then looks at audience with thousand-mile stare totally confused).
I am no biblical scholar but living and sacrifice don’t seem to go together.  It’s one of those cart before the ox things or oxes and Mormons, or oxiclean detergent or… (Hand to chin thinking very hard).
Oxymoron, that’s it.  Two words that just don’t go together, like short sermon (look over your shoulder at the pastor and play it for all it’s worth). 
(Picks up Bible and looks at the outside cover).
Yep, that’s my Bible.  I guess it’s really in there.  This is the one that the church gave me.
Living Sacrifice.  That’s some serious stuff!  I know that the sacrifices in the Old Testament didn’t get to go home on sacrifice day.  It was like game over for them.  It was good for the guy making the sacrifice but not so much for the animal headed to the altar.
Living Sacrifice? (Shaking head left to right struggling to understand).   That’s one to think on.  (Palms up and shrugging shoulders).  I thought giving 10% off the top was pretty steep.  I know that God returns that to me many times over, but giving my whole life as a sacrifice... That’s for real following Jesus).
Wow.  That’s for real.
(Grabs forehead showing that he just remembered something important).
I’ve got choir practice!  This following Jesus stuff is full time.  Somebody needs to get scripture and music coordinated.  I’m going to give my whole life to Jesus and then have to learn some songs on top of that.
(Looking at the sky trying to remember something).  What was that song we were learning?
That’s it (Starts walking off stage).
Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe.
Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe.                     

Exit.   

The end.