Liturgical Drama

When Jesus Wept

When Jesus Wept
A Drama for Lent Five, Year A
Based on John 11:1-45

Mary: He was born long after Martha and I were, the child of our father’s old age.

Martha: His own mother died bringing him into the world, and we became his mothers, feeding him, washing him—

Mary: –singing to him, playing with him.

Martha: You can see how we divided the work.

Mary: He was still a very young man when our father died, but old enough that we could remain under his protection.

Martha: His protection! It sounds so funny, since we still took care of him.

Mary: But what mattered was that we could still be together, that we could still be a family.

Lazarus: All my life I had the two of them. Martha worked so hard and could be a little gruff, but I knew she loved me and that I could rely on her. Mary was softer, quieter, more likely to smile. Still, when Martha laughs, you want to laugh with her.

Martha and Mary: He was the light of our lives.

Lazarus: When I misbehaved, as boys will do, Mary was quicker to forgive, but Martha was quicker to forget.

Martha and Mary: The light of our lives.

Lazarus: I went to hear a teacher, and I invited him home to dinner.  Martha was in charge of the meal, of course. Mary sat with him, listening to his stories, stories that held the truth about our God and how we are to live. We all have our parts to play.

Martha: The teacher brought a big crowd with him. It was hard to sort out who was really with him and send the local folk home again.

Mary: I couldn’t take my eyes off the teacher.

Lazarus: Soon we called him “friend” and “brother.” He became as dear to us—

Martha, Mary, Lazarus: –as we are to each other.

Martha: When Lazarus fell ill, I could see that it was bad. I sent for Jesus.

Mary: We waited and waited, but he did not come.  Where was he?

Martha: Where was he?

Lazarus: I remember lying on the bed, restless and hot. Where was he? Where was my friend?

Mary: His fever was high.

Martha: And so was mine, the fever of frustration that our friend and teacher, who I knew to be a healer, had not come to us, had not come to help Lazarus.

Lazarus: I died.

Mary: Martha took charge.

Martha: Mary cried and cried, but I had too much to do. There was no time for crying.

Lazarus: Somehow I could see them, the neighbors bustling around, Mary weeping quietly in a corner of the room, and Martha, dear Martha, making sure that everything was done in accordance with the law. I was with them, but not with them, could hear them, but couldn’t speak. I felt their sorrow, but not my pain.

Martha: We laid him in the tomb.  Four days went by.

Mary: Four dark days.

Martha: And then someone came to tell us that Jesus was on the way. Now I was angry. I went out to meet him.

Lazarus: I saw them meet, but I felt nothing.

Martha: Jesus, I said, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him. 

Lazarus: He answered her, “Your brother will rise again.” They seemed so far away, yet I was with them.

Martha: I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.

Lazarus: Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha: Of course I believed! Why else would I have been so sure that he could heal my brother? But now Lazarus was dead and beyond all help. I told him what I believed, that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world.

Mary: Then Martha came to me.

Martha: The teacher is here and he is calling for you.

Mary: No one in the house knew where I was going, but they followed me as I went to Jesus. I couldn’t stop crying. I told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I knew that was true.

Lazarus: “Where have you laid him?” I was so close to them, but not.

Martha and Mary: Lord, come and see.

Lazarus: Jesus wept.

Mary: Oh, how he wept. He loved our brother.

Martha: We led him to the tomb. It was a cave, with a stone against the entrance. He said, “Take the stone away.” I told him, Lord, he has been in there four days, surely there will be a stench.

Mary: But he reproached her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Martha: Did he not tell me? I had some neighbors roll the stone away.

Mary: Jesus said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

Martha: Then he cried, “Lazarus, come out!”

Mary: “Lazarus, come out!”

Lazarus: Come out! I heard his voice. This time it was not as in a dream or through a mist, or even clearly as if he stood beside me, but through my own ears, wrapped tight in a cloth. I knew his voice.

Mary: Lazarus!

Martha: Our brother walked out of his tomb.

Lazarus: As they unwrapped the cloths, I could hear the rustle of many people.  When my head was free, I saw only one face, still wet with tears.  I stepped forward, and stumbled. It was Martha who caught my arm and Mary who smiled at me.

Mary: Soon so many more people believed in him—

Martha: Believed what I already knew! And how could they not believe?

Mary: Our little brother was returned to us.

Martha: Our brother who was dead is living.

Lazarus: I am alive because I heard his voice. He called to me. I rose up and followed.

Mary: He calls to me even now and I feel him in my heart.

Martha: Even now I hear his voice and I know what to do.

Lazarus: Listen. He calls to you.

Liturgical Drama

Left Behind: The Story of a Few Good Sheep

Today was Children’s Sunday at Main Street Church. We used texts and hymns about the Good Shepherd, and the Gospel lesson was Luke 15:1-7 (The Parable of the Lost Sheep). We then presented the following drama, including performances by #1 Son as "Shep," Snowman as the Narrator and Molly as the runaway sheep, Blackbonnet. The other parts were undertaken by children in the church family, as well as the congregation. I would like to offer a tip of the hat to Barbara Kersey, daughter of my childhood pastor, who complained bitterly about this parable when we were in high school and got me thinking along these lines a long time ago.

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
(Luke 15:1-7, NRSV)

Narrator – A long time ago, in a pasture far, far away, three sheep met under a shady tree. There names were Cottonball, Whitey and Baab. They greeted each other and commented on the weather, and then Whitey asked an important question.

Whitey – I was just wondering what happened to Shep? He’s always around, but I don’t see him anywhere! Have you seen him, Baab?

Baab – BAAAAAA!!!!!!

Cottonball – I heard he went out looking for Blackbonnet.

Whitey – That Blackbonnet, always wandering off. She is such a silly little lamb.

Baab – BAAAAAA!!!!

Narrator – They all wondered why her mother didn’t take better care of her and teach her to behave like a decent little lamb.

Whitey – Lambs should be seen and not heard.

Baab – BAAAAAA!!!!

Cottonball – And I hate to mention it, but what if some dangerous animal should come by and try to eat us! It’s Shep’s job to take care of ALL of us!

Whitey – There must be 99 of us, and only one little lamb who wandered off. What does one little lamb matter?

Baab – BAH!

Cottonball – I think we need to call a meeting. SHEEP!!! SHEEP!!!

Narrator – Cottonball gathered all the sheep together near the shady tree.

Cottonball – I’ve called you all here today to discuss the current situation involving Blackbonnet. As you know, that silly little lamb has wandered off. And instead of taking care of us good, obedient sheep, Shep has gone to look for her!! I say this has to stop!! Do you agree?

(Narrator holds us “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAAA!!!!  BAAAAA!!!!

Cottonball – When Shep gets back, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!! Imagine caring more about one little runaway than the rest of us?!???!!! It’s preposterous!!!

(Narrator holds us “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAAA!!!! BAAAAA!!!!

Narrator – Just then, they saw Shep coming.

(Shep enters with Blackbonnet.)

Shep – Hello, my friends!! Look, it’s Blackbonnet!!! She’s safe!!!

Baab – BAAAA!!!!

(Narrator holds us “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!

Cottonball – Shep, I want to have a word with you.

Shep – What is it, Cottonball?

Cottonball – You were gone a long time looking for Blackbonnet.

Whitey – That’s right, he was.

(Narrator holds us “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!

Shep – It took a long time to find her. You see, she saw some pretty flowers and wandered off, and she couldn’t find her way home by herself.

Whitey – I believe that!

Baab – BAH!!!

(Narrator holds up “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!

Cottonball – That’s just the point, Shep. Here we all were, 99 of us sheep and lambs, quietly minding our own business, behaving as nicely as anyone could want. And you went off and left us here!!! You left us all alone!!!

Whitey – Yes, you did!!!

Baab – BAAAA!!!!

(Narrator holds up “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!

Shep – Now, Cottonball, were you really alone?

Cottonball – Yes!

Shep – Cottonball?

Cottonball – Well, no, not really alone exactly. But who was going to keep us safe with you gone, Shep?

Shep – I can’t always be with you, Cottonball. Sometimes you have to take care of each other.

Whitey – But why do you care more about one bad lamb than you care about the rest of us?

Shep – When lambs get lost, that’s when they need me most, Whitey. Don’t you remember the time Baab got separated from the flock?

Baab – BAAAA!!!! I remember!!! You helped me!!!!

Shep – That’s right. I went looking for you just the way I went looking for Blackbonnet today. I care about all the sheep, the young ones and the old, the mothers and the fathers, the black sheep and the white sheep. I love all of you, but sometimes one of you needs me more than the others do. And if I can find one lost sheep, isn’t that good news for all of us?

Baab – BAAAA!!!!

(Narrator holds up “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!” sign.)

All – BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!

Narrator – All the sheep began to celebrate little Blackbonnet’s return. Now they understood that the shepherd loves all the sheep, just the way Jesus loves all people. And *that* is the Good News today, for all of us. Amen.

Liturgical Drama

Standing in the Doorway: Martha’s Story

(This is a monologue based on John 12:1-8 as well as earlier portions of John, with a hat-tip to Isaiah 43:16-21. If you’re interested in using it, please e-mail me and I’ll give you my real "credits." The image is in the public domain; I found it at Wikipedia.)

It was warm that night—the last night we saw Jesus.  Our house was full of people.  Jesus came with his friends and his followers, and of course people in our town wanted to see him, too.  I prepared a meal for everyone.  It hadn’t been long since he brought my brother—it’s strange to say it out loud, even though it’s true—it hadn’t been long since he brought my brother back from the dead.  Lazarus had been in the tomb for four long days.  And I was getting angry.  Why hadn’t Jesus come to us?  Didn’t he want to help his friend?  We thought of ourselves as his brother and sisters.  Our home was a safe gathering place for his followers.  We loved him and learned from him and wanted to live his way.

Days went by and still he didn’t come, but then we heard he was on the way.  There were many people grieving at our home.  Mary stayed with them, but I ran out to meet Jesus.  I told him, Lord, I believe my brother would still be alive if you had been here, but even now I believe God will give you whatever you ask for.  I was waiting for him to say he would help my brother, his dear friend.  But he answered me in a different way, with words that stopped my racing mind: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  Believe it?  Of course I believed it.  I answered him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”  It’s funny, I had never said it so plainly to anyone.  And yet there it was.

I hurried to get Mary.  She was sick with weeping.  Some people thought I must not care as much because I didn’t cry in front of them.  My crying had to wait.  It was my role to hold things together for everyone else.  Mary went to him on the road, and the friends who were with us followed her, thinking she was going to Lazarus’ tomb.  She spoke to Jesus as I had, saying she knew if he had been with us Lazarus would not have died, but she said it all in her own way, softly and slowly and with many tears.  And Jesus went with us to the tomb, and he wept, too, and I could hear the whispers, “if he can make the blind to see, why did he not help this man he loved so much?”

That’s when the shock came.  He told us to roll away the stone that closed the tomb.  Four days my brother had been in the tomb.  “Lord,” I said, “the body will stink!”  And there were people who almost laughed, for I was so blunt with him.  And then he looked at me, his eyes not letting go of mine, and he said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" Then he prayed and called my brother’s name, and Lazarus came out of the tomb, his hands and feet still wrapped in the grave cloths.

I don’t know if I would believe it if I hadn’t been there to see it.  I’m a practical person.  It’s not that I don’t believe in things I can’t see, but I would rather see them.  It’s not that I don’t understand things that don’t make common sense.  Why, would it be common sense to think that God had come into the world to eat dinner in my own house?  But I believed, I knew, he was the One.  I knew he had the power to heal the sick, but to overcome death?

Soon we would learn more about his power over death.

When he came back to Bethany in the week before Passover, none of us knew how short the time would be.  Truly, I didn’t understand that he would be gone from us, at least in body.  I thought we had a tough fight ahead!  And I was ready to work for him in any way I could!

I knew my place in the community.  Jesus told us to care for one another, to look after those who were in unfortunate circumstances: to feed and clothe them, to give them shelter, to care for the sick, to visit those in prison.  I knew that was my work.

It troubles me now that I thought I understood what Judas was getting at when he criticized Mary at dinner that last night.  Part of me wanted to say, “You speak well, brother!  She is getting a little too proud of being close to Jesus.  What was she thinking when she spent so much money on that flask of perfumed ointment?! Even for our own brother we didn’t do anything that lavish, because there are always hungry people coming to our door, and we put their hunger first.  Jesus isn’t the sort of person who cares about showing off.”  He won’t like it, I thought, it will be too much fuss.

I look back into my memory and I can see her.  There she is, giving him this fantastic gift, loving him and honoring him—and me?  I’m just standing in the doorway, not understanding.  We do need to care for the poor, for the sick, for the old, for the lonely—but we also need to be present in each moment and praise God, to be present in each moment and grieve, to touch each other and be touched in spirit and in heart.  For that we sometimes need to just sit on the floor and really look at each other.

I’ve made a home for so many people; I thought I was making one for him.  I thought I knew what mattered. 

But I couldn’t see what Mary could.

He was right.  The poor are still with us: the poor in body and the poor in spirit.  They are still hungry to be fed.  Some of us know how to feed their stomachs, but when it is the spirit that is discouraged, I always take the time now to just be there with the sad or the frightened person.

I look back into my memory and I see them there together: Jesus, Mary and Lazarus.  I loved them all so much.  All the others gathered around, most of us never imagining how soon our fellowship would be fractured by betrayal and death.   Judas knew, of course, what he was planning to do, but not how it would end.  He ran to his fate as if he had no other choice.  Jesus knew more; he would go to face it bravely, the humiliation, the torture—that’s what people told us later.  But somehow Mary knew what mattered.  She knew just what ministry was required.  She served with humility and compassion, lowering herself to the floor, at his feet like a servant, pouring out herself and her perfume in a display so lavish, so generous, so wrong to my eyes then, so right to my heart now.  I thought I knew everything; now I know so much more.  I see them, all there together, and where am I?  I’m just standing in the doorway.

And so I make a new picture in my mind’s eye, the picture I want to see and would have him see when he remembers that day.  In my mind’s eye, we are all dancing.  The room is filled with the comforting aroma of freshly baked bread and the warm scent of too many bodies in a room too small, and over and through it all wafts the glorious fragrance of the perfume from Mary’s jar, broken and poured out, as Jesus soon would be.

It’s time to stop judging myself for the mistake I made that day and to live out my calling to be his disciple, guided not just by the understanding of my head that he is Christ, or the work of my hands in caring for the poor, but by the leaning of my heart into the great love he was and is and is to be.  God is doing a new thing, in me, and in all of us.

Liturgical Drama

The Prodigal Daughter

(Based on Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 and influenced by Garrison Keillor, too)

Narrator:  Jesus had a lot of attention from everyone as he got closer to the end of his time in human form. A lot of men and women of dubious reputation were hanging around with him, listening to all he had to say. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story, or something very much like it…

Older Sister: "There was a woman who had two daughters.  The younger of them said to her mother,

Younger Sister:  ‘Mom, I’m tired of living her on the farm. I’m ready to see the bright lights and the Big City! I want you to give me right now what’s coming to me when you die.’

Mother: Needless, to say, her mother was a little shocked. (to Younger Sister) Honey, I know it can be a little dull here. But what if we just went shopping more often? Or took off for a long weekend? How about if I added on a private bath for you, with a Jacuzzi?

Younger Sister: No, Mom. I mean it. I’m ready to leave home.

Narrator: So the mother, with a heavy heart, divided her property and gave her daughter what she asked.

(Mother gives Younger Sister a heavy bag full of money.  Younger Sister weighs it appreciatively.)

Older Sister: It wasn’t long before the younger daughter packed her Razr phone and her iPod in her brand new Kate Spade bag, put on her Prada shoes, and left for the big city. She put her money in mutual funds.

Younger Sister (to people in the congregation): You should see my condo! Want to come to my party tonight? We’re making appletinis!

Narrator: After she had gone through all her cash, there was a downturn on the stock market, and she lost everything.

Younger Sister: Wow, I’m in trouble.  My money is all gone, and I can’t pay my rent, and I’m hungry!  I wonder if I could get a job babysitting? I don’t like kids very much, but it can’t be too hard.

Mother: But that didn’t work out very well.

Younger Sister: You want me to change his WHAT?!?!!!

Narrator: She tried to find work as a waitress, but since she had never lifted a finger, and the economy was bad, no one wanted to hire her. So she hitchhiked to the country.

Older Sister: Finally she got a job on a farm, and they sent her out to slop the pigs. Now pigs were about the worst thing in the world to her, because in her religion they were unclean. You weren’t supposed to eat them or go near them.

Younger Sister: Also? They’re disgusting!

Narrator: She was so hungry she would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but even that wasn’t allowed. And finally she came to her senses.

Younger Sister:  All those farmhands working for my mother, taking care of our cattle, sit down to three good meals a day. I’ve got to go back to my mother. I’ll say to her, “Mom, I’ve really learned a lot working in agriculture, and I’m ready to come back and help you manage the family business!”

Narrator: (to Younger Sister) You sure you want to say it that way?

Younger Sister: Okay, maybe not so much. "Mother, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your daughter. Take me on as a hired hand."

Narrator:  That sounded more like it. She left her high heels behind and started the long walk home. When she was still a long way off, her mother saw her. Heart pounding, her mother ran out, embraced her, and kissed her. The daughter started her speech

Younger Sister: ‘Mother–

Older Sister: But her mother wasn’t listening. She was calling to the servants:

Mother: ‘Quick. Bring out a clean dress!! Put the family ring on her finger and sandals on her feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and barbecue it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My daughter is here—we gave her up for dead and now she is alive! We gave her up for lost and now she’s found!

Narrator: And they began to celebrate and have a wonderful time!

Older Sister: Now the older daughter was still working in the field. When the day’s work was done, she came up to the house and heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, she asked, “What in the world is going on?”

Narrator: ‘Your sister came home. Your mother has ordered a feast — barbecued beef! — because she has her home safe and sound.

Older Sister: Get out!

Narrator: Get in!

Mother: (to Older Sister) Daughter, you’re back!  Come on in and greet your sister!

Older Sister: No way!

Mother: Daughter…

Older Sister: ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Did I even ask you for so much as a cell phone? Then this daughter of yours who has thrown away your money on bad friends and wild parties shows up and you go all out with a feast!

Mother: Daughter, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours–but this is a wonderful time, and we have to celebrate. This sister of yours was dead, and she’s alive! She was lost, and now she’s found!

Liturgical Drama, Reflectionary

Broken and Healing

A dramatic reading for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Mark 5:21-43 and
“Sleeping in the Forest” by Mary Oliver

The first step in healing…

I was broken by the battlefield, but my body seemed whole.

For years I had been losing pieces of myself.

I was determined to hold myself together.

The first step in healing is to admit you’re broken.


I found myself in a strange place. People saw me as a hero, and the prophet Samuel anointed me king. But Saul was the only king the people knew. When I met Jonathan, I should have known better than to love him. He was Saul’s son! But some people are just meant to be friends. And Jonathan became mine.

I have a lot of brothers, all older than I am. They always told me what to do, or laughed when I had an idea. After I met Jonathan, I knew what it meant to have a real brother. We loved each other more than I thought you could love another person. He knew what I was thinking before I said the words out loud.

When I heard about him on the field of battle, dying, I felt like I was dying, too.


I have been ill for so many years, it’s hard to remember when it started. It’s hard to remember what I felt like before, what it felt like to be whole and happy and normal. It’s hard to remember what it felt like to be part of a family and a community. Ever since my trouble started, no one could be around me. I’m unclean, as bad as a leper, a person you wouldn’t want to know or talk to or touch. I have been so alone.

When it first started, I still had some friends. They suggested cures and recommended physicians. They asked the priests to pray for me. They told me about healers out on the edge of town or just passing through. The healers were happy to talk to me, as soon as they saw my money.

But after a while, I didn’t have any more money to give them.

The loneliness came closer to killing me than the bleeding.

I have taken many things for granted. I have a nice home, a loving wife, handsome children, servants to help keep things the way we like them and meaningful work to do as a leader in the synagogue. I have every comfort a man could really wish. Each day I greeted the rising sun with joy, sang my prayers of thanksgiving and praise and blessed my children. I felt the good air fill my chest and the beauty of creation please my eye.

Nothing that happened would shake my faith in a just and loving God. Or so I thought.

Then my daughter became ill. Just on the brink of womanhood, 12 years old, such a beautiful girl, she began to fade away. Prayers and remedies seemed to make no difference. Her mother would not leave her bedside. It began to seem certain she would die.

Where was my God?

All my life I have cared for others. I am a mother, caring for small things when I was young myself, then expanding my work and my care as the needs around me grew greater and more complicated. I ran like the streams and grew like the trees and danced with the sun and cycled with the moon.


Someone was always hungry. Somewhere someone was crying. Around the corner, someone needed to be nursed. There was no rest, no chance to be refreshed. They asked too much of me. They asked too much.

Time went by and I felt myself breaking down, not able to perform my tasks as well as I once could. My breathing slowed. My veins clogged. I felt I had nothing left to give.


The first step in healing is to admit you’re broken.

I felt my heart breaking.

I felt my heart breaking.

I felt my heart breaking.

I felt my heart breaking.

I cried out and wept: “Jonathan lies slain upon your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen!”

Whatever you do, I remember you. I take you back tenderly, pull you into my lap, surround you with all that I am and all that I have.


When he came to our town, I begged him, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”


Somehow I knew that he could help me. “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” I knew I would be breaking all the rules, but I did it.

The first step in healing is to admit you’re broken.

Stripped of everything that matters, we cannot hide our brokenness.

Jesus stopped. He stopped, and I thought, No! Don’t pay attention to that woman!! No one has been able to help her.

No one had. But he said, Daughter, your faith has made you well.

And then I saw them coming, friends who had been at my house, saying, Jairus, leave the the teacher alone. Your little daughter is dead. My daughter!

My brother, my friend!

Oh, my children.

He called me daughter.

My little girl.


I cried for my brother in arms, the friend of my heart. I cried for his broken body, not dying quietly in bed, but ripped from life on the field of battle. His father kept us apart, and I was not there to save him. He was my brother, not my enemy. Why do we send the young into battle, to break each other with weapons, to break themselves with the killing?

The first step in healing…

I knew that I was well again as soon as I touched his cloak.

Outside my house, the mourning had begun. They cried with abandon, and with just as much emotion they laughed when the the teacher said, “She is not dead; she is only sleeping.” He went into the house and sent everyone away. He took her hand and said, “Little Girl, get up!” My daughter, who had been dead, stood up and walked! I caught my wife as she wavered for a moment, and then our daughter walked into our arms.

I would give you my arms, but you take arms against me. You invade me with your tools and instruments, and you take too much! And when I overheat or overflow, you do not see your part in it.

I am your mother.

I am the Earth.

In the first part of my life, I knew only my family and my sheep. Then I was sent into battle, and the rest of my life has been one battle after another. It hurts the spirit.

It breaks the heart.

The first step in healing is to admit you’re broken.

Liturgical Drama

Between the Rock and the Hard Places

Some of you expressed an interest in the piece I wrote for this Sunday’s worship service. It’s on Small Church’s blog, which is linked in the sidebar.

On a lighter note, it was well worth driving to New York, because the sun was shining there!
(Never mind about the thunderstorm, I say, because before the storm, and again this morning, the weather was beautiful!)

Liturgical Drama

Who is My Neighbor?

A Drama based on Luke 10:25-37,
using “The Message”,
and the hymn, They Asked, ‘Who’s My Neighbor?’

Scene One

Balladeer: They asked, “Who’s my neighbor and whom should I love; for whom should I do a good deed?” Then Jesus related a story and said, “It’s anyone who has a need, yes, it’s anyone who has a need.”

(Jesus sits on a stool, surrounded by his followers, standing or sitting. They converse happily!)

Storyteller: It was a beautiful summer morning. Jesus was sitting in the park with his friends. They had just returned, seventy of them, from traveling around to the nearby towns and settlements to share the good news. Now they were back at their rendezvous point, and all of them were celebrating the work they had done, the number of people who were open to Jesus’ message and the healings they had been able to do in Jesus’ name. The atmosphere was lively, and the teacher was exuberant, and people who were just walking by, doing their daily errands, stopped to see why all the excitement! One of those was a scholar, a person who knew the religious laws very well. And she stood up with a question to test Jesus.

Questioner: I had a question, all right. This Jesus talked a good game, but there are some things I knew the answers to, and I wanted to hear what he would say. I wondered if he would get the words right. Because there are certain right ways to profess your faith, just as there are certain right ways to act it out in life. So I asked him this question: Teacher? What do I need to do to get eternal life?

Storyteller: Jesus turned to his questioner with an open look of love on his face, smiled gently and asked a question in return.

Teacher: What’s written in God’s law? How do you interpret it?

Questioner: Now the pressure was on me. How did he manage that? I know the sh’ma like I know my own name: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Teacher: Yes, that’s right. But how do you interpret it?

Questioner: What was he looking for? And why was I the one answering again? I thought about it and said: “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence–and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

Teacher: Good answer!

Storyteller: The scholar looked pleased with himself, and the people around Jesus cheered and clapped. But as the sound died away, Jesus said,

Teacher: Do it and you’ll live.

Storyteller: That silenced everyone.

Questioner: My mind was racing. I needed a loophole; I could tell I needed a loophole.

Storyteller: Don’t we all, sister!

Questioner: It was all sounding too easy and yet too hard. And so I asked him, And just how would you define “neighbor?”

Scene Two

Balladeer: There once was a traveler set on by thieves who beat him and left him to die; a priest and a Levite each saw him in pain, but they turned away and walked by, yes, they turned away and walked by.

Storyteller: Jesus answered by telling a story. And as he began to tell it, his followers hopped up to act it out. It made me think this story had been told before, that it had been told many, many times.

Teacher: There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho.

(The Traveler starts up the center aisle.)

Storyteller: The Jericho Road was notorious. It stretched for twelve miles, and you never knew who you might meet there. You wanted to watch your back there. It was sort of like going to a tough part of town, and not having a cell phone to call the police if you got into trouble!

Teacher: On the way he was attacked by robbers.

(Robbers “beat” Traveler and leave him on the steps to the Chancel.)

Teacher: They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead.

(Traveler groans, robbers all disappear down the side aisles.)

Teacher: Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side.

(Priest comes down center aisle, sees Traveler and avoids him.)

Storyteller: Now, that’s a person you would have expected to give the poor guy some help! Suppose your minister or one of your deacons just walked right past someone lying in the gutter—

Questioner: (interrupts) But you wouldn’t know why that person was there, not necessarily. That person might just be drunk, or maybe trying to fool you! You might end up being robbed yourself.

Teacher: Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

(Levite comes down the center aisle and also avoids Traveler.)

Storyteller: And the Levite—he was supposed to uphold the law. What if a State Trooper just drove off instead of helping a person who was stranded and injured?

Questioner: But a Levite—now really, even you should know this—a Levite wouldn’t want to touch a person who was ritually unclean. Suppose the person was dead? Touching a corpse would have been a big problem. The Levite knew how he was supposed to serve God.

Storyteller: Did he?

Scene Three

Balladeer: A certain Samaritan then came along to bind up his wounds and give aid; he took him to stay at an inn until well, and for all the service he paid, yes, for all the service he paid.

Teacher: A Samaritan traveling the road came upon him.

Questioner: Oh, boy. I could see where this was going.

Storyteller: Samaritans were the sort of regional “neighbors” you just didn’t want to have anything to do with. Sort of like those far-distant relatives you don’t approve of anymore, because they don’t do things the way you do, or the people in the next county over who farm their land differently, or don’t cut their grass as often as the rest of the families in the neighborhood, or those people who move here from another country and speak a different language and dress in funny clothes and make you feel uncomfortable just by being there. They eat different food and use odd spices and don’t smell right and don’t understand the traffic laws…you get the picture.

(Samaritan comes down the center aisle. She goes straight to the Traveler and helps him. He sits up groggily.)

Teacher: When she saw the man’s condition, her heart went out to him. She gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then she helped him up, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable.

(Innkeeper greets them.)

Teacher: In the morning she took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill–I’ll pay you on my way back.”

Storyteller: Two silver coins was a lot of money. It was two days wages for most laborers. And she was ready to pay more if needed!

Questioner: To pay more if needed.

(The Teacher looks straight at the Questioner.)

Teacher: What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?

Questioner: Now he had me.

Storyteller: Now he has all of us. It was the very person we would have least expected. It was the person who had to cross all the social boundaries to give help. It was the person we might not have stopped to help ourselves. It was–

Questioner: It was the one who treated him kindly.

Storyteller: It was the one who treated him kindly. The scholar looked pained. Jesus was giving him a new rule to live by, breaking open his understanding of neighbor. We aren’t just meant to love those who live like us and speak like us and dress like us and worship like us.

Teacher: Which of these three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?

Questioner: It was the one who treated him kindly.

Storyteller: It was the one who treated him kindly.

Teacher: Go and do the same.

Balladeer: I know who’s my neighbor and whom I should love, for whom I should do a good deed; for Jesus made clear in the story he told, it’s anyone who has a need, yes, anyone who has a need.