Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Seek Ye First

Seek Ye First

Lady sitting in front church pew or choir.  Cell phone rings and she makes a show of being embarrassed and looking for a place to discreetly take the call without leaving.  She moves a few steps away from where she was seated (and eventually works her way to center stage).
Well it’s not exactly a good time, but since everyone is already looking at me, just try to make it short.
I’m in church if you must know.
Pause (Growing oblivious to the fact the service has completely stopped while she takes this call).
Yes, church, that’s right.  It’s not like I actually want to be here but you’ve got to go, you know?
You are what?  Oh I so wish I was there right now.
You got what?  You are so bad.  Just go on and keep making me jealous.  I’ve got to have one of those!
I was too serious!  Stop telling me how much fun you are having.  I’ve got to get out of here. 
What do you mean why am I here in the first place?  It’s church.  You have to try to work a little God in your life every now and then.  Had I known what I was missing, I would have worked God in next Sunday.
Pause (Looks at audience and realizes that everyone is looking at her)
To all gathered:  Sorry, I’ll wrap this up.  Sorry.  But just so you know, as far as me and my household,  God is number 1 (holds up 2 fingers) in my life, and all of this other stuff (points to phone) is number 2 (holds up 1 finger).  Repeat this sequence.
(Resumes talking on phone):  Oh I so wish I was there with you.  It seems like I am missing out on all the good stuff.  Gotta go.
(Returns to seat trying to look like nothing happened).
Liturgist reads scripture about seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first.

Matthew 6:25-34 (or sections hereof) 

The end.

Technical Difficulties

Technical Difficulties

[Reader approaches microphone and in their most official voice announces the following.]

Due to minor technical difficulties, today’s short drama has been cancelled.

[Reader begins to walk back to his/her seat and then abruptly turns around and returns to the microphone.]

Cancelled?  Really?  Due to minor difficulties?  Who’d a thunk it?

Didn’t Jesus say that we would have trouble in the world?  I’m sure he did.  Some of the people here who are really fast with their phones have already come up with John 16:33. Some of you remembered that one from camp a couple years ago.  Some of you have known it for years.

Sometimes, things do not always go according to plan, at least according to our plan.  James reminded us not to get married to our plans.  If God wills it then he WILL bless our plans.  We don’t need to get wrapped up over knowing every detail of every event or circumstance that lies ahead.
Sometimes we just need to go with it, you know, trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding….

I think there is more to that one…

[Pause for the congregation to join you.  You may need to encourage with hand gestures.] 

In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

OK, so we didn’t get to do the short drama that we planned.  We didn’t have a mini-message this time.  OK, life goes on without one.

[Begins to walk away but quickly returns to the microphone this time.]

Or maybe we did have a short message.  [Big smile.]

Jesus said:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33 NIV

I think that I will just accept God’s peace and know that he has overcome the world.  I’m good with that.

The end.

Christmas Mouse

Christmas Mouse

Cast:  1 person—adult or youth—who does not mind scurrying around on the stage.
Equipment:  Wireless microphone.  Costume optional (perhaps padded)

Church Mouse waddles to center stage, obviously stuffed from over eating.  Once on stage, looks carefully left and right before speaking.

Whew!  No cats in sight.  There is no way I could out run even an old decrepit cat in my state.  Do you know how many crumbs fall on the floor between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Oh, Hello, sorry, I thought I was just talking to myself.  Yes, it’s me your favorite church mouse again back just in time for Christmas.

[Holds stuffed mid-section].    Twelve days of Christmas—are you kidding me?  It is a month-long Christmas feast for me. 

[Looks left and right again searching for cats.  Resumes speaking when all appears to be clear].

Here’s the thing.  While I am chowing down like no other time of the year, these people are stressing out like never before.  What should I get this person or that person?  We have sooooo gone over our Christmas budget.

What do we get the kids?  Is it Xbox or Wii or PlayStation 2017?  Really?  These things stress people out?

If you want to know what stresses me out as far as Christmas presents go, well I will tell you:  BB guns!  

It is bad enough that I have to be on the lookout for cats.  The last thing I need is your 9-year old thinking he is on a big game hunt and he has a Mouse Tag in his pocket just waiting to put it on me.

BB guns!  You want real stress then try seeing things from my perspective.

[Reaches into pocket and pulls out a piece of candy cane].

Now here’s a treat.  This time of year everyone I know calls me peppermint breath.  I think that it’s a compliment.  These things always shatter when you break them.  That means more for me on the floor.  I have a three-month supply stored up.  My breath will be pepper-minty fresh well into the new year.

And what is this squabbling over Merry Christmas and Happy Holy Days?  I don’t get it.  People should be full of Joy and they find all sorts of things to argue about.  How can you sing [singing]  Joy to the World and argue at the same time?  Multitasking?  No, I don’t think so.  If you are going to sing let earth receive her King, then you think joy would settle every argument.

People seem to miss the value of joy.  They can sing it but find it so hard to live it.
[Picks up a piece of Christmas wrapping paper]

As for me and my house, I love Christmas wrapping paper.  Some of that shiny stuff is just like a space blanket.  The rest makes wonderful batting for my bed.  In any case, I sleep better than your average babe in a manger.  You can [singing again] Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow all you want because I am going to be warm and colorful at the same time.

What’s that you say?

Oh, what happened here earlier?  People gathered and sang and talked about all of the things that they got for Christmas.  And that guy who does most of the talking tried to explain that Jesus is the best gift ever. 

Apparently, Jesus doesn’t come with wrapping paper but is even better than an I-Phone 9 or 10 or….  I didn’t quite get all of that but people were able to let go of their stress for a moment and enjoy a little joy while they sang.    I like being included in the church songs at this time of year.  You know, [singing] Let heaven and nature sing, let heaven and nature sing, [big smile for audience and changes lyrics]  And please no BB guns, and please no BB guns, and please and please no BB guns…

[Walking off stage still singing, then turning back for a moment].       

  Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving Mouse

Thanksgiving Mouse

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

Hello,  It’s me again.  Your friendly neighborhood church mouse.  Looks like most of the crowd has wandered out.  You wouldn’t believe what people say in these pews when they don’t know I’m listening.

I don’t know what health insurance is, but I am glad I don’t have any.  I mean, what are they going to do if my leg get’s caught in a trap?  Send for an ambulance?  I think that costs extra any way.  In any case, people sure do complain a lot about it.  I don’t have it.  I don’t complain.  I am glad just to live indoors.

Wow!   [Scurries to a spot on the stage].  O Boy, O boy, O boy.  One of the kids dropped a piece of candy.  [Puts into mouth].  Mmmmm.  Peanut butter cups, my favorite.

And the election.  Boy that was something.  You would think that the end of the world was coming.  Can you believe it?  People get to vote for who they want to lead and they complain about the choices.  I can’t vote and I don’t complain about it. I’m just glad to get out of the cold.

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!  [Moves to another spot on the stage].  Goldfish.  I love Goldfish, especially the colored ones.  Yum, yum, yum.

And the weather, really, these people complain about the weather.  It’s too hot or too cold.  The wind blows too much or too little or out of the wrong direction or the rain comes at the wrong time or the snow drifted in front of the doorway.  Man, I am just glad to be alive to enjoy whatever the weather is.  This is a pretty good life, hot or cold.

OMG!  Can it be?  [Moves carefully to another spot on the stage].  PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW…   Yes, it’s a piece of a cheese cracker.  It’s a little dry but when you are a mouse, any cheese is good cheese—well except when they put it in the middle of a sticky trap.  At least with the old style lever traps it was over in an instant, but not with these new sticky jobs.  It’s rodent crucifixion, that’s what it is.  But you won’t catch me complaining.  I am too wise for that sort of temptation.  I am thankful for what is provided—crackers, crumbs, or candy—I am thankful to have it.

You should have heard the people complaining about property taxes a few minutes ago.  I can’t imagine owning my own house.  I just find places to hide in them.  It seems like paying taxes because you own a whole big house would be something exciting.

Now what is that over there?  Oh, it’s money.  I don’t think I can use this, except to chew it up and insulate my nest for the winter.  I think I will drop it into the offering plate.  I think these people need it more than I do.  I mean, they are always complaining about not having enough of it.

Complain, complain, complain.  I guess that is what human life is all about.
What’s that you ask?

Oh, today’s message, it was about thanksgiving.  Good stuff, you know.  I think it must rank right up there somewhere behind complaining.

I know that I am thankful.  Thanksgiving means big meals and lots of food dropped on the floor.  I am not just a church mouse.  I am a thankful mouse.

[Exit stage singing]

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the holy one, gives thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ his Son…

--The End.

Living Sacrifice

Living Sacrifice

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.

Thy Word

Thy Word

Cast:  1 exasperated adult with a family and things to deal with in the world.
Drama:  As this is a monologue, much of the “action” will come in the form of intonation of the voice and gesturing.  [Overplay gestures when profitable].
Directing:  Bring out the best drama queen that you can be in the monologue and switch to a very confident voice when reading the scripture.

Election Day has come and gone.  I’m wondering if the outcome is good, bad, or ugly.  Maybe it’s all three.  I just don’t want to be afraid and I don’t want my family to be afraid of what is to come.

On top of everything that I have to contend with, the pastor has us all memorizing scripture.  We have been doing this for more than a year now.  I’m trying to face the challenges of the world and these words I had to memorize keep bouncing around in my mind.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

That’s 2 Timothy 1:7.  I even remember the verse number.  That’s just great, I know the verse and the verse number but I still have things to deal with in the world.
Work, school, sports, fundraisers, doctors’ visits, dentist appointments, vet appointments—I hope I keep the kids and the pets straight this time.  I guess it wouldn’t hurt if they all got vaccinated for rabies. [smile].

There is just so much to keep up with and every time I try to get stuff sorted out, those memory verses just keep interrupting my thoughts.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

That’s Philippians 4:13 in the New King James Version.  This stuff just keeps getting me off track of figuring out how to handle everything.

Sometimes it seems like I am ready to just give up, throw in the towel, and just sit on the sidelines of life.  Does God really love me?  I mean, where is he when I am going through all of this stuff?

Not again!  These verses just keep popping into my mind.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Come on God.  I’m trying to sort out things down here.  I am trying to figure out how to do everything right in an overly complicated world, and it is full of people and policies and practices that I can’t count on.  What am I supposed to do?

Really?  Again.  C’mon God I am trying to get my thoughts straight but these scriptures keep getting in the way.  Oh by the way, that last one was Joshua 1:9.  I can’t believe that I know that but I don’t know what to do in this upside down world.  What in the world do you want me to do?

No, no, no…it’s happening again!  I am searching for answers here in this world and these verses keep getting in the way.  Here it comes…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

C’mon God.  I am trying to find my way here and these verses keep jumping right into the middle of my train of thought.  I just need to find my way.

Great, now the verses are coming in song.

 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

That’s from Psalm 119:105.  That’s not even one of our memory verses.

[Looking to heaven].  What?  Oh.  It is not one of our memory verses yet.  Got it.
[Rolling eyes].   Great more memory verses.  [Shaking head left to right].  I need to know where to get help now…  Where do I look for direction?

There’s that song again.
[Walking off stage singing]

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

--The end.

Iron Sharpens Iron

Iron Sharpens Iron

Cast:  1 Adult & 3 Boys prone to physical activity
Set:  Stage center of a church sanctuary.
Setting:  During a church service without introduction.    

On cue, two boys sitting in a front pew start arguing and then stand and pushing each other until they are center stage.  A wrestling match begins.
A third larger boy breaks towards them and pushes them apart.
The first two look at each other and say, “Let’s get him.”
A three-way wrestling match ensues.
An adult rushes to the scene and stands before them.
The boys stop wrestling and stand, put their hands in their pockets and start looking around like nothing happened.

Adult:  What’s going on here?
Boy 1:  Nothin’
Boy 2:  Nothing at all sir.
Boy 3:  Nothing, really.
Adult:  Do you think that I am blind?
All three boys:  We were hoping…
Adult:  Let’s try this again.  What’s going on here.
Boy 1:  We’re just kids.
Boy 2:  And this makes us stronger.
Boy 3:  Yeah, you can’t get stronger without competition.
Adult:  So you like football and wrestling and that sort of stuff?
All three boys:  Yeah.  We love it.
Adult [Jumping towards the kids]:   OK, Let’s go!
All three boys jump back:  What!
Adult:  Let’s go, but not wrestling.  Did you know that the Bible says that as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another?
Boy 1:  Like wrestling.
Adult:  Yes.
Boy 2:  Like lifting weights.
Adult:  Yes.
Boy 3:  I don’t see any weights here and you won’t let us wrestle.
Adult:  I am talking about your spiritual muscle.
All three boys:  What?
Adult:  Just like when you wrestle each other, when you discuss God’s word with each other and try to make it part of your life, your spiritual muscle gets stronger.
All three boys:  That’s cool.
Adult:  And if you don’t have each other, you can always read the Bible and be ready for the next time you are with each other.
All three boys:  Like individual workouts.
Adult:  Right, but you develop your best fitness when you workout with each other.
Boy 1:  That’s hard to do when you have to sit in a pew and be quiet.
Adult:  You can still work out.  Let’s see what happens.  If I were to say—God Loves You…
All three boys:  Love one another.
Adult:  How about, Trust in the Lord with all you heart…
Boys:  And lean not on your own understanding.
Adult:  In all your ways acknowledge him…
All three boys:  And he will keep your paths straight.
Adult:  You’ve already got the hang of this.  My dear brothers and sisters, be…
Boy 1:  Quick to listen,
Boy 2:  Slow to speak,
Boy 3:  And slow to become angry,
All three boys:  For man’s anger cannot produce the righteous life that God desires.
Adult:  So if the preacher were to say that somebody was afraid, you might think…
All three boys:  God did not give us a spirit of fear.
Adult:  Wow.
All three boys:  Or we might think—be strong and courageous.
Adult:  I think you have the hang of this spiritual workout. 
Boy 1:  So just tune in with the message and see if it challenges our spiritual muscle.
Adult:  Exactly.
Boy 2:  Or even the songs are like doing reps with the weights.
Adult:  That’s good.
Boy 3:  And even when we pray, it’s like a time for the coach to talk to us.
Adult:  Wow.  I think you have got it.  Now off to your seats.
As the boys walk away they are talking.
Boy 1:  I think we could have taken him.
Boy 2:  I don’t know?  He’s pretty big.
Boy 3:  Yeah but he’s old.
All three boys:  Yeah he is pretty old.  Wait ‘til next year!  Yeah, next year!

The end.