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.


Borrower is slave to the lender

Borrower is slave to the lender
Proverbs22:7

Cast:  2 Girls old enough to have smart phones and charge accounts.
Set:  Any.  Action proceeds entirely though conversation and gesturing.


Girl 1:  I just love the freedom that I have in Christ.
Girl 2:  I just don’t get all this freedom stuff you keep talking about.
G1:  It’s just that…
G2:  (INTERRUPTING and showing G1 something on her phone)  I have just got to have that!
G1:  It’s nice but do you really nee…
G2 (INTERRUPTING AGAIN):  Too late!  I just ordered it.
G1:  That was quick.
G2:  One click ordering.  Oh, oh, oh, look at his this.  Never mind.  You can see it when it comes in.  I just ordered it.
G1:  One click again?
G2:  No girlfriend.  I have a charge account with the store.
G1:  I never knew that you were so rich.
G2:  Oh you betcha, wellllll, sort of…
G1:  I’m thinking there is a difference between you betcha and sort of.
G2:  Sort of.
G1:  You mean you are rich until the bills come in and then it’s like everybody wants money from you.
G2:  Like they own you?
G1:  Like a slave!
G2:  Exactly!  Is it like that for you too!
G1:  No.
G2:  No?
G1:  I don’t do debt.  The Bible teaches that the borrower is slave to the lender.  I am not going to be a slave to any person on this planet even if their company sells a whole bunch of really cool stuff.
G2:  But you gotta have the stuff.
G1:  Not really.
G2:  How do you satisfy your cravings for stuff? 
G1:  Freedom.
G2:  What?  Freedom?  From what?
G1:  Freedom from thinking that there is anything in this world that can really meet my needs.
G2:  But you still have needs?  So you just go without?
G1:  No.  Jesus meets all of my needs.
G2:  Maybe I need some of this Jesus.
G1:  There’s no maybe about it girl.
G2:  Does he have one-click?  I’ll buy some of this Jesus right now.
G1:  Better than one-click and better than buying.
G2:  Now I am interested.
G1:  Good.  Let’s take all of the one-click apps off of your phone, close your charge accounts, and then we will talk about true riches and freedom that we have in Christ.
G2:  OK.  But you could have started with that you know?
G1:  I know.

Exit stage


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lex Talionis

Lex Talionis

Note:  This skit is substantially longer than most on this site.  It should take about 15 minutes and could be the entire message for a service.

Cast:  Two friends with some knowledge of the Bible.
Set:  Any set, even two lecterns or pulpits.  This is a fast-paced dialogue but notes will surely be required for most participants.  Notes can be hidden in the set or the set can be set for debate where use of notes is obvious and expected.

Lex Talionis
Nice word, but few speak Latin these days.
It means the Law of Retribution or Retaliation.
We need laws for vengeance?  It seems that the desire for revenge is seeded deeply within the human heart.  Who would come up with laws about revenge?
God.
Really?  God had to make laws to teach us revenge?
No.  He gave laws to limit the extent of revenge.  It seems that man’s heart was not yet ready for the perfect love of its Creator.  The law limited the extent of the revenge exacted.
You mean like an eye for an eye?
Exactly.
Tooth for a tooth.
Right on the money again.
What if someone lost a hand?
They may take a hand from the offender.
For a foot?
A  foot.
What about a burn?
A burn returned.
What about if one takes the life of another.
Then the law of retribution affords a life may be taken in return.
Where do you find these laws?
This set comes from the 21st Chapter of Exodus.
I guess that pretty much kept things out of court.
Not really.
What else could there be?
Two men are fighting and they bump into a pregnant woman and the baby comes out but there is no further damage.  They must pay what the husband demands and the court says is fair.
You are making this up as you go along.
Nope.  Same chapter in Exodus.
At least the secular courts have some sanity to them and don’t follow these guidelines.
Actually, they do—especially those in the western world.
You mean I can get sued for an arm and a leg.
Yes.
I have never seen a judgment like that rendered in this country.
You have, but didn’t recognize it.  Up to a point early in the second millennia after Christ’s death and resurrection there were some interesting developments in English law—where we get most of our common law.
OK.
An eye for an eye and a foot for a foot makes for a nation of half blind people with a limp.
That humor is too arid even for my taste.
So the judges of the land started equating a foot with a monetary value.  They assigned a monetary value to a hand, a tooth, and even a life.
So every man does have his price.
Now who’s a little on the dry side?
It just seems sort of odd.
More so that cutting off hands and plucking out eyes?
Point taken.
The early English name for this was Wergild or  Wergeld.
Great, more words nobody uses any more.
It means Blood Gold.  Literally it was the giving of gold or its equivalent for the life or limb taken by an offender.  It was part of both Germanic and English jurisprudence.
I wonder if that’s where we came up with the tooth fairy leaving money under the pillow.
What?
You know, getting a quarter for losing a tooth.
No, no, no…You got a quarter? I only got a dime.
Don’t sweat it.  The rates have gone up a bunch since you lost any teeth.
I don’t think the tooth fairly has anything with assigning monetary value to body parts.
It seems that we have modified this whole compensation thing quite a bit these days in the good ole US of A.
Yes and in several ways.  First we have separated the criminal and civil law.  One for punishment and one for compensation.
And?
We also have expanded the concept of damages beyond reasonable compensation for actual damages and added something we call punitive damages.
You mean like the person gets eight hundred dollars to cover the doctor’s visit for spilling a cup of hot coffee on their own leg and eight million to teach the fast food restaurant that didn’t warn its customers that its coffee was hot as lesson they will remember.
Exactly.  That latter part is known as punitive damages.
Seems like a big step backwards.
How so?
Shouldn’t there be some boundaries on what people can get when something bad happens to them?
Some would say so.  Today the debate is called tort reform.
It’s about time somebody did something!
Actually, God did something very early.  Remember Lex Talionis?
Placing limits on what a damaged party is entitled to as far as retaliation.  Wow, the pendulum surely swings back and forth on this one.
Sure does.
So I guess that God wants us to go back to an eye for an eye?
No.
No?
God wants to bring the pendulum to a complete halt.
You mean like a compromise?  Stop it somewhere in the middle.  God compromising?  Who’d a thunk it?
Not a compromise—a revelation.
What’s being revealed?
God’s heart.
It’s a cardio revelation?
Some might call it a cardio revolution.
I’m guessing that another vocabulary word is heading my way?
Kharisma.
Sounds like charisma.
That’s one of the words we derive from its Greek roots.
And it means?
Divine love, from the Divine Heart, or another word you have heard often—grace.
How did we get from an eye for an eye to grace?
Jesus.
You mean the teachings of Jesus, especially those from the Sermon on the Mount.
Yes, but I also mean Jesus without any qualifying adjectives, adverbs, or otner quantification.
Explain.
The world in all of its sin and rejection of God and his love deserved to be judged.  It—we deserved to be condemned
I guess the law of an eye for an eye would be more than we can imagine on a world wide scale—more than I want to imagine anyway.
We deserved condemnation but received love.  We received love that we did not earn, deserve, or in any way merit.  We just did not deserve either God’s love or his forgiveness.
But He gave them.
Yes.
So what do we do now?
That’s a question that all Christians should ask themselves every day.  How do I respond to God’s grace?
Any suggestions?
Let God finish the good work that he has begun in us.  Let him make us complete.  Let him perfect us.
And how does this tie in with an eye for an eye?
We return hate with love.
What about persecution?
With love.
Apathy?
Love.
Rejection?
Love.
Unfairness?
Love.
Love?
Love.
I was trying to trick you.
It’s a foolproof formula.
Obviously.
So much so that even those without God know to return love for love.
Love for love:  That’s about all I can manage without getting out of my comfort zone.
We should all get out more.
So all we need is love?
That’s a good one.  What verse did that come from?
Actually it’s the chorus.
To what?
All You Need is Love.
Touché.
More vocabulary…

Matthew 5:38-48 (New International Version, ©2010)

Eye for Eye
    38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Christian Tourist

Christian Tourist

Cast:  Two friends who both have read the Bible.  One has some academic knowledge and the other tries to put it into practice.
Set:  Any.  Action proceeds in dialogue and gesturing only.  Both begin center stage pantomiming a conversation until the script begins.

You know that the Bible doesn’t say that you have to go to church.
It says, don’t stop.
Well, it’s not a command.
OK.  So you live by the commandments?
Some.
Just some?
Really, who can live by them all?
Nobody that I know.
Me neither.  So I will just pick the ones that seem good to me and call it a day.
I don’t know that is what God intended.
I’m pretty sure it is.  They are just sort of a buffet of good ideas.
Oh.  Willing to bet your life on that?
Don’t go all hard-core Christian on me.
What does that mean?
You guys are always talking about giving up your lives for God, being saved, and living life to the full.
Sounds right.
It is as if everything revolved around Jesus.
It actually does.
That’s what I mean.
What?
Everything you guys do is about serving God or loving each other or that what would Jesus do stuff.
I am a Christian.  I follow Jesus.  That’s what we do.
Hey!  I believe in God and Jesus and stuff.  I just don’t need to make everything about him.
You do know that even Satan and his demons believe in God.  They actually tremble at the fact that God is holy and righteous and holds their fate in his hands.
So are you comparing me to the demons?
You tell me.  Do you just believe there is a God or do you live for him?
I said that I believe in him and try to do some of the stuff that the Bible says to do.  I’ve got a Bible.  That should count for something.
It does.  In fact if you will read it and let God speak to you, you might find some things that count for a whole lot.
Such as?
What good does it do someone if they gain everything in the world that they wanted but lose their own soul?
You know what I think?
What?
I am a Christian tourist.
What?
I like what I see in Christianity but I am not quite ready to be a Christian.
Go on.
I went to Washington D.C. once and saw all of the sights.
There’s a lot to see there.
And then some, but I didn’t want to live there.  I didn’t want to be a citizen.  I wanted to see what they had and then go back to my own comfortable life.
And you think that you like what you see in Christianity but you don’t know if you want to go “all in.”
Exactly.  I am comfortable being a tourist.
Do you think that is wise?
No!  I don’t, but I don’t know what to do. 
Do you believe that God loves you and will make a way for you to live his way?
I want to.
Good.  Because he has given you his own Spirit to walk with you every day and he has given you the body of Christ to encourage you along the way.
I’m not going to get it all right the first time.
That’s for sure.  That’s why it’s called practice.  We put the words of Jesus into practice.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Try, try again.
I am tired of being a tourist.  I want to be a disciple.
Let’s build a house on solid rock.
And not on the sand.  I know those verses.
Now, we are going to live them.
Amen to that!

Exit.


The end.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taxonomy of Transgression

Taxonomy of Transgression

Cast:  Two friends any age.  One friend looks frazzled.
Set:  Any set.  No props.  Action proceeds with fast paced dialogue.

You look like a mess.
Tell me about it.
How about you tell me instead?
OK, yeah, sure…It’s Leviticus.
Really? And?
I just don’t get it.
Get what?
There are all sorts of things that seem crazy but God has to tell his people not to do them anyway.
Such as?
Don’t sleep with your aunt or marry you sister.
Sounds good to me.
Don’t make your daughter a prostitute.  Really, who would do that?
I don’t know anyone who would.
Don’t practice sorcery.  Isn’t God talking to his own people?  Did he really have to say these things?
Actually, if you will keep reading in Leviticus, God explains that the people which he drove out of the land promised to his own people actually did all of these things.
Wow!
Sure enough.
But I am still a little confused about why some things came with a death penalty and others with being separated from the people and yet others were just declared to be a bad thing and no punishment was prescribed.
You are trying to compose a taxonomy of transgression.
What?
You want some rhyme and reason that makes sense to you.
Yes!
Well try this on for size.  Sin or transgression means to miss the mark.
Like in archery.
Yes.
Sometimes we miss by a lot and sometimes by a little.
Yes, but a miss is still a miss.
But targets have 10 points in the middle of the bullseye and 5 points for a little farther out and even just 1 point for barely hitting the target.
And trying to keep score seems natural for us.  It just seems to be in our nature.
I just want to make sense of it all.
Here is what makes sense.  None of us ever hit the bullseye all of the time.  We just can’t do it.
We all miss the mark?
Yes, we all fall short of the glory of God.
Seems hopeless.
It would be except for this wonderful thing that we know as grace.
Forgiveness that we don’t deserve.
Exactly.  We have all missed the mark but God’s love is bigger than anything that we can mess up.
So I don’t really have to keep score?
God calls us to confess our sins to him knowing that he is always faithful to forgive us.  It is a promise that we can count on.  He doesn’t want to keep score.  He wants to forgive.
It beats keeping a scorecard that never seems to add up anyway.
Grace is way better than any scorecard.
Grace hits the bullseye every time.
Now, we are on target.
Thank you God that you chose love over rules, mercy over sacrifice, and that there is nothing that I can mess up that you have not already made right.
Amen to that!


The end.