Thursday, January 26, 2017
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.
Borrower is slave to the lender
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: 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?
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.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
So I guess that God wants us to go back to an eye for an eye?
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?
It’s a cardio revelation?
Some might call it a cardio revolution.
I’m guessing that another vocabulary word is heading my way?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
I was trying to trick you.
It’s a foolproof formula.
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.
All You Need is Love.
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.
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?
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.
It is as if everything revolved around Jesus.
It actually does.
That’s what I mean.
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.
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?
I am a Christian tourist.
I like what I see in Christianity but I am not quite ready to be a Christian.
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!
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
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.
I just don’t get it.
There are all sorts of things that seem crazy but God has to tell his people not to do them anyway.
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.
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.
You want some rhyme and reason that makes sense to you.
Well try this on for size. Sin or transgression means to miss the mark.
Like in archery.
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.
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!