These Lenten dramas are, quite frankly, unique and excellent. All too often, churches present Lent as one long Good Friday. It is not meant to be so. Dramas are often “bathrobe” plays with characters from beneath the cross, or monologues of other witnesses. These are not.
These Lenten dramas deal with how we as Christians live out our baptismal lives. They are 'series dramas' that have everyday people struggling with issues of loss, joy, sin and more. The plays are connected by common themes, people, or places, so they are especially effective when presented in a series. Most of them, however, can be presented alone as well.
These plays are also perfectly suitable to be presented outside of Lent.
WATERS OF BAPTISM
1. JUST A DROP IN THE OCEAN
How can just a few drops of water make a difference in a person’s life, especially someone who has been through a very terrible day? A chance encounter between two friends provides opportunity for a slightly silly witness.
In baptism, parents make certain promises before God regarding all that they must do to raise their children in the faith. What happens if years later a child brings her parents to trial for "failure to provide" for her. The parents are confused because they have given her everything they can imagine. In the end, she points out that they failed to live up to the most important promises of all.
3. WHY VOLUNTEER?
This fun play is performed as a "speech choir" piece, with all participants remaining in a straight line in front of the congregation. Through a variety of scenarios, the play explores many volunteer opportunities and our resistance to "sign up." How does baptism call us to volunteer for service in Christ?
4. THE JUDGING WATERS
Through a very humorous look at Noah, his wife, and their three children, this play looks at the forgiving waters of baptism. In our relationship with God in baptism, we are forgiven, not judged. Noah discovers that he has made a "one cubit" mistake in the ark. He wants to tear it all down and begin over. It is his wife who convinces him that God called him to build this ark not because he was a great carpenter, but rather because he was simply willing to try.
5. BAPTIZED TO CHOOSE
This play takes place in the bombed-out ruins of a church. There are children living there who have survived a great nuclear war. A stranger stumbles upon them. She is an adult, and therefore to blame for the destruction. Can the waters of baptism provide hope even here?
Where the Cross
intersects the path of our lives
1. THE POTHOLES IN THE ROAD
How can the message of the cross be brought to bear for a family that has just lost everything it owns in a fire? The friends who house the family after this tragedy try to help them spiritually as well as physically.
2. DON'T TALK TO ME. I'M FEELING CROSS!
Two women have developed quite a feud in the congregation. It began with something small. Now they need to learn how to forgive one another, as they have been forgiven.
3. THE BIRTHDAY CROSS
Birthdays are happy occasions. Mary has worked hard to give her friend a birthday party and wants everyone to be happy. She becomes upset when someone has the gall to give a crucifix has a present. What's happy about that?
4. THE BURNING CROSS
The cross has been used in many ways, including to support racism. This play explores our racism, using black and white masks that turn back and forth as different lines are said. It blames no one group but points out all of our racism. The cross calls us to address and attempt to change our racist attitudes.
5. A DAY IN THE LIFE
Each and every day we go through our lives dealing with the supposedly trivial and mundane. There are clothes to be washed, meals to be cooked, jobs to be performed, bills to be paid, and relationships to maintain. All of our lives are played out beneath the cross of Jesus. This play is especially powerful following the previous four. The point is obvious, even without mentioning the cross once. Ideally at the conclusion of the play there is a spotlight on the cross alone, and a soloist sings "Beneath the Cross of Jesus."
THE POTTER AND ME
All five plays involve the same piece of pottery. None of the characters repeat from one play to the next.
1. THE BARGAIN
In the first play we meet the potter who creates a bowl/vase and puts on the bottom of it the biblical reference from Jeremiah: You are the potter and I am the clay. The woman who buys it as a gift for her friend is confused and challenged by this. Does she appreciate it? Does she mind being reminded that God is meant to be the potter of her life?
2. NEVER TOO LATE FOR THE POTTER
In the second play we meet the woman to whom the pottery was given, but she and the woman from the first play have lost touch. Can they rebuild the relationship? Is it ever too late for the potter to help us start over?
3. THE TWO THIEVES
In the third play burglars break in to rob the house, but one not-too-bright thief believes that this scripture reference is a message from God. He refuses to rob the house, saying that God is calling them to repent.
4. I WAS HOPING FOR COOKIES
In the fourth play, the pottery, after having been sold at a pawn shop, has now been bought and ends up in a dorm room, a gift from a mother to a daughter. The daughter can’t understand her mother’s message in the gift, and her friends are at first equally confused. The mother is concerned about some of the temptations that confront her daughter as she matures in life and in Christ.
5. BACK TO THE POTTER
In the last play, the husband of that college girl whose mother gave her the pot years later goes back to the pottery shop where it was first made to find out more about it. His wife, who had treasured that pot for many years, has died. Why was it so important to him to learn about the pottery, and can God reshape this husband’s grief to hope?
All five plays take place in the same bakery. There is a baker’s rack with bread, There is a counter and something to work as a register or cash box.
1. PROMISES PROMISES
During Lent many promises are made. What happens when even religious people are tempted to break their promises before God?
2. THE BIRTHDAY CAKE
Inspired by the story “A Small Good Thing” by Raymond Carver, this play is about a woman who has come to pick up a birthday cake for her son. Lent is a time when we are asked to remember what is truly important in our lives. How can Lent be a call to reconsider the priorities of our lives?
3. THE CASE OF THE MISSING DOUGHNUT
There is an old expression that you cannot go home again. However, the story of the prodigal son teaches us that you can always go home. There are also many reasons that people leave whatever they call home. Lent is a time when we encounter a God who refuses to let go of us, no matter what. Like the faithful father waiting on the steps for his son to return, God is looking and longing. Even when we just want to get away from God, God is there, sometimes in some surprising ways and unusual people.
4. LENTEN LOVE
Inspired by the Zaccheus story, this play asks how Lent can be a time to consider how God always gives us opportunities, always calls us out of our trees to come to him. How does God give us chances for love in our lives? How can the love of God that we proclaim during Lent encourage our love for one another?
5. MOLDY BREAD
Now the roles are reversed. For four weeks the baker has been at work on other people, but in this last play we see how God has been at work on the baker in surprising ways. How is God reaching out and searching for the baker? How is God active in the baker’s life?
CALL ME SOMETIME
This series includes five plays that are all very easy to produce. Most use two characters and all take place on the telephone. Therefore, they can be performed at microphones and actors could use scripts if necessary. The plays revolve around a variety of relationships and our need to talk, as well as our failure to talk. Do we sometimes fail to take time to tell others that we love them? Do we treat strangers in unkind ways? What are the chance encounters that might take place on a phone, through which God might be at work?
1. AVOCADO GO-GO
In the first play a grandfather receives a call from his very modern granddaughter to thank him for a large financial gift. During the call, the conversation is of course interrupted by “call waiting” and other things. In this humorous play, her grandfather pushes her and the audience to consider what it truly means to be thankful for all that God gives us without any strings attached.
2. CAUGHT IN TRAFFIC
Ann is caught in traffic. She receives a call on her cell phone from her husband. On the surface, this call is all about the basic things of life such as paying for insurance, the kids' braces and more. Bills are plentiful and money is tight. What they are really talking about, however, is stewardship and how we handle those things that God has given us. There is a third character at the very end. It is a policeman giving Ann a speeding ticket!
3. HOME BY FIVE
In this third play of the series we see the all-too-common parent who is staying up late worrying about his or her teenage child. The daughter has been out, and mom is concerned. The conversation asks us to consider what it means to have relationships built on trust and on listening, much as God is always available to listen to us.
4. CALLED TO SERVICE
This fourth play is actually three short skits strung together. The same two actors perform the three skits. The theme that runs through the plays is “what does it mean to volunteer?" In the first, Bob is pushed to volunteer to give blood by a rather humorous Red Cross solicitor. In the second, we see a volunteer who is willing to go to the prison to speak with inmates. In the third, we hear the phone conversation from a soldier deployed far away. How are we called to volunteer and what should our attitude be when we do?
5. BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS
The last play in the series is intended to be humorous and heart warming. We too frequently receive bad news. In this play, George receives a great deal of rather strange and funny bad news. His checks have bounced; his son has messed up the pick up truck, and much more. In the end, his wife calls. Instead of bad news, she has called to simply tell him that she loves him. Often, God’s love is like this. While it does not erase all the bad news we may receive it helps us see our way through difficult times.
This series of plays deals with, as the name says, the theme of “loss” in our lives, large and small. All plays take place in the same little café, with the same waitress. This creative and mysterious narrator seems to control the action, as she comments on what is going on. Only as the plays progress do you realize that she is the holy spirit, at work in her customers’ lives.
1. IT'S JUST A PEN
When is a pen not just a pen? When it was a gift at your confirmation years ago, and serves as a reminder of God’s presence with you in the most daily tasks of life.
2. LOST LOVE
Friends gather at the café, one to support the other in what is one of our most difficult types of loss the loss of a relationship.
3. LOST LOSS
Sometimes we need to move on from our loss and find it difficult. For years the same “grief support group” has been meeting at the same time and place. Maybe it is time for them to move on?
4. WHAT WAS IT I LOST?
This play deals with the very difficult issue of Alzheimer’s disease and the loss of one's mind and memory. Two people gather with one afraid that he/she is destined for this disease.
5. HELP ME IN MY UNBELIEF
What could be worse than the loss of faith itself? Here at this little restaurant a waitress will confront a young man about just this.
LENT IN THE ATTIC
These five plays all take place in the attic of the same home. In the attic is the mounted, stuffed head of a strange animal. In the original production we used “Wally the Warthog.” Other animals will do, however a deer is probably too simple and not humorous enough. It must be a warthog, a moose, a skunk, or something of that nature. This animal will be left behind in the attic by the first couple, and will remain there for all five plays. These plays examine our priorities in life in light of our baptismal vows and our Lenten promises.
1. MOVING ON UP
A couple decides that it is time to move from their old home. However, what do you keep and what do you throw away? How are our lives overladen, and how does this hurt our spiritual journeys?
2. HOUSE HUNTING
A young couple is looking for a new house. How much house is enough? What does it mean to be comfortable? Does our eagerness get in the way?
3. CHILDREN IN THE ATTIC
Children of the couple who bought the house in the previous play now explore the attic, even though they are not supposed to. They stumble on pictures of their parents from their college days. Some of these pictures surprise them. How is Lent a call to “grow up” in the faith and a time to repent and put your past behind you? The children with dad’s help try to learn.
4. CAUGHT IN THE ATTIC
Two burglars break into the house and search the attic. They are confronted by “Wally the Warthog.” One burglar takes this as a sign from God; the other has no such notion. Does God call us to repent in strange ways?
It is now years later. This play requires only one person. It is the woman who bought the house two plays ago, now 30 years ago. Her husband has died. It is time to clean out some things. How is God with us in the pain of such times, dealing with such loss?
THE PRODIGAL FAMILY
One of the best known parables of Jesus is that of the prodigal son. This contemporary version of that story in five parts reveals its meaning for us today.
1. CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES
Penny, the “prodigal daughter” of these plays, has just graduated college. Her generous mother has thrown a party for her and her friends. At this party she reveals to her mother that she wants to “make it on her own” and asks for her “inheritance.” How do we “run away” from God, sometimes even with what we think are good intentions? The older brother, Rocky, is understandably upset. “Mom, you are so foolish!”
2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PENNY
Penny has been gone for a year or so, and her “friends” are throwing her a birthday party, using Penny’s credit card! These so-called friends are really using Penny, but Penny is too eager for community that she fails to put an end to it. She ignores the community, the family she left behind.
3. WORK TODAY PAID TODAY
The third part of the series takes place in an employment office. It introduces two comical characters who are also looking for work and who will eventually tag along with Penny. She has hit rock bottom. Her friends have left her. At this office, as she talks with these two new acquaintances, they point out to her that maybe she should just return home. They get her to “practice” her repentance. Are we sincere when we return to God?
4. WELCOME HOME PENNY
There is a very ragged banner that has been up for years. One can barely read it. Penny arrives. There is a gardener working there who is a recent hire and does not know her. What will her return bring? The gardener offers comic relief as he questions the mother’s parenting ability.
5. WELCOME HOME PENY
The misspelling on this banner is intentional. The two “friends” who came with her are now working for her mother. Of course, they were given the job of putting up a new banner and got it wrong! Maybe mom won’t notice? The leader of the two points out that it won’t matter, because, they say, the daughter will leave again. “I’ve seen this thing a thousand times, “ he says. Into this scene comes the older brother returning from his business trip to see the celebration that welcomes his sister. He is angry. How do we resent God’s grace to us? The brother argues with his mother that “this isn’t some childish Bible story. This is real life.”
Jesus' parables of judgment
What happens when we die? What judgment awaits us? If we stop to consider some of the most difficult parables that Jesus told we could end up very concerned for what God’s final word might be for us.
There are many parables that Jesus told that end in punishment for those who have not been faithful in one way or another. What do we do with this? How do we hear these stories?
The series' five plays examine five different stories told by Jesus. The main character is John, who has gone to bed one night only to die and find himself at the “Pearly Gates.” However, St. Peter is not there to greet him. He is on vacation. Instead, a silly, confused angel is filling in for him. Much to John’s displeasure the angel even enjoys telling knock-knock jokes. This angel is not sure what to do with John. When he examines God’s word he finds many stories of grace and forgiveness, but also other stories that end with punishment. Should John be allowed in or not?
1. RING BELL FOR SERVICE - Matthew 22:1-46
John arrives at the gates and is greeted by the angel. He is confused. Should he let John in? This first play explores the parable of the great wedding banquet, which at first seems promising to John as he hears that the poor and the outcast are invited. However he also learns about the one man not dressed properly for the banquet who is thrown into the "outer darkness." Has John, and have we, given God our best in life?
2. WHEN THE RENT IS DUE Matthew 21:33-41
Jesus often used vineyards in his parables as metaphors for God’s kingdom. This play looks at the harsh story of the workers who first beat the messengers sent to them by the vineyard owner, and then kill the owner's son in order to claim the vineyard as their own. Do we do the same with the gifts God has given us?
3. NO BUTS - Ephesians 1:3-10; Romans 5:1-11
We rejoice that God has offered us forgiveness. Do we in turn offer the same to our neighbor? This play examines the story of the servant who is shown amazing generosity by the king who forgives his debt, but who cannot bring himself to forgive even the smallest debt owed him. Will God forgive even our lack of forgiveness?
4. SURPRISE! Matthew 25: 31-46
When people consider the final judgment to come, the parable that might most often come to mind is that of the "sheep and the goats” which concludes Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Matthew. With the telling of this parable, finally the angel should be able to straighten out the confusion and either allow or deny John entry through the Pearly Gates. Was John a sheep or was he a goat in his lifetime? It's very clear.... or is it?
5. THE GREAT DIVIDE I Thessalonians 4:13-5:10
In this final play, John is joined at the gates by a questionable character. Vicky is a “bum” who is less than lovable. How will she possibly get “in”? The angel arrives and immediately welcomes Vicky into heaven. John is upset. "Why her?" "Why not me?" The angel asks John, "Don’t you remember the story Jesus told about her? The story of Lazarus and the rich man?" This story is unpacked and John must come to grips with the fact that maybe he is like that rich man. However, what happens when John realizes that even though Jesus told the story, even though Abraham says in the story that he will not send someone from the dead to warn us of sin's consequences, in reality Jesus does do just that? He does rise from the dead to bring us God’s word. In this last play, John realizes that God always gets the final word. The angel’s word does not matter. His word does not matter. Only God’s word matters in the end. John sits back down, tired. He falls asleep in the waiting room just outside the Pearly Gates. The conclusion of this play finds John's wife, Vicky, waking John from his sleep. He had been dreaming, having fallen asleep in his study as he prepared for a class on Jesus' parables. John has been in God’s kingdom all along!
A series of plays based upon Luke’s parable of the sower and the seeds.
The journey of faith can be difficult. As Jesus indicates in this parable, God’s word and grace is sown in many ways but at times it doesn’t even take root, other times it is planted too shallow in the ground, other times it grows but is choked out by concerns and worries of life, and finally there are times when faith grows strong and true and produces good fruit. However, cannot these all take place in one life, over time? Most important to consider is the possibility, or the reality, that evil forces can still be at work to attack the seed of faith and grace in our lives in all these scenarios.
These plays concern John, who at the time of the action is “older” and is recording or remembering his faith journey. There is another character with whom he speaks and about whom we will learn more, or at least realize more, as the plays continue. This character - let’s call her “Lucy” - is dressed quite normally, as is John. They appear in all five plays, as does Mary, John’s wife.
You may make a choice on how to produce these plays. You may have the person playing John step out of his role and play him in all five plays, portraying him as a teenager, a young man, etc. Or you may choose to have another actor portray him. It is written with the first scenario in mind. However, it would be simple to do either.
Also, most of these parts can be played by either males or females, with clear changes to be made (such as John’s wife must be a husband if John is played as a woman!) to accommodate roles.
1. John, Lucy, Mary, Dad, Harry
2. John, Lucy, Tom, Brian, Frank, guard, and Mary’s voice from off stage
3. John, Lucy, Mary, Pastor, and a homeless person
4. John, Lucy, Mary, Tilly
5. John, Lucy, Mary
In this first play we meet John and Mary and learn that he is recalling his faith journey. He begins by remembering, and us seeing, that John was raised in a house where faith was not taught. His friend Harry is over to help with math. We see that John’s father believes that he is raising his child to make his own faith decisions later in life. Harry points out that being stuffed with nothing is stuffed with something. (John, Lucy, Mary, Dad, Harry)
2. PRISONERS OF LOVE
We see what happens when John, through his love Anne, has his faith ignited. It is real, but is it deeply rooted? In this funny encounter in a jail cell, we have two bumbling criminals, plus John and his friend Frank. John and Frank have ended up here for simple reasons, but we learn that Frank feels as if John has gone off the deep end with his new found faith, and worries that without time to grow and develop, it may not last. In his retelling of this story to Lucy, we learn that this is exactly what happened, much to Lucy’s delight. (John, Lucy, Tom, Brian, Frank, guard, the voice of Mary from off stage)
3. AND THAT RHYMES WITH POOL
In this third play we again begin with John and Lucy, and her continued probing about his faith journey, even as he tries to tell it. Who is this person who seems to delight in any downfall in faith along the way? We hear of and see John later in life, when he has met Mary, and his faith has truly taken root. However, something got in the way. The play takes place in a coffee shop where John sits, a homeless person at a table nearby. John’s pastor shows up we learn not by accident to talk with John. John has allowed the concerns and worries of life to take him away from the church and away from faith. However, how have the demands of the church - the institution - added to these worries? Has the church helped to choke out faith? (John, Lucy, Mary, his pastor, and a homeless person who speaks only at the end)
Now we must hear of how John came back to faith, and it took root and produced fruit. However, this will not be through or in the church. It was a strange occurrence with a difficult old lady neighbor that helped bring him back to faith and good works. John tells Lucy of “Ms. Tilly” who Lucy does not care for one bit. Ms. Tilly needs help and through her persistence gets her neighbor John to help. But is this the end of the story? Now onto Chapter Five. Lucy still has some weapons up her sleeve. (John, Mary, Lucy, Tilly)
5. IF LIFE WAS A SPORT
Lucy asks John. Is time running out on the clock? Is it too late for Lucy to attack John’s faith? Even though it is deeply rooted and producing fruit, is it not vulnerable? We have now realized (indeed some have maybe come to see this earlier) that Lucy is Lucifer. She is “the devil” or evil. She does not want John to have faith, planted by God. But what now? We learn that she is using what we have maybe noticed earlier in the plays: namely, that Mary, John’s wife, has Alzheimer’s disease. She is confused, and has repeated herself. After all John has been through, the love of his life is sick. Is this fair, Lucy asks? Give up on God. John will not. In the end, with language right out of baptismal / affirmation of baptism promises, John “renounces” Lucy, and all her empty promises. (John, Mary, Lucy)
THERE GOES THE BRIDE
1. Jill (bride), Anna, Cathy, Lucy
2. Pastor and janitor
3. Mother and father
4. Frank, Shawn, Lucy (from first play)
5. Janitor, pastor, Shawn, Anna, Mother, Father, Cathy, Lucy, Jill
Our baptismal promises are to shape our entire lives. For some this can be a hard reality to grasp. At critical junctures in our lives this comes to the fore. This is the case for Jill, our bride. She has come to realize that the promises of baptism must shape the promises she is about to make at her wedding. The question hanging over all the plays is: will there be a wedding?
1. THE BACHELORETTE PARTY
At her party, Jill is not behaving as the elated, eager bride that she is expected to be. Her friends are happy that she is marrying Shawn. Is it just cold feet? Jill finally confesses to her friends her deep question: How will Shawn fit in with her baptismal promises? Will they as a couple be better able to fulfill their commitment to God? These are difficult questions, and they lead to a very troublesome development when at the end of the play, Jill disappears.
2. CLEANING UP THE PASTOR'S MESS
Sometimes it takes the simple person to point out what might be the profound truth. In this case it is the church janitor who helps shed light on the situation to the pastor, who is understandably upset that Jill has left with only a note to tell everyone she is okay. The pastor is glad Jill thinks seriously about her faith; however, he asks if she has taken it too far. It takes the janitor to remind the pastor that nothing can be as important as baptismal promises, and that maybe the church sometimes puts them aside for the sake of convenience and keeping some people satisfied.
3. CAN YOU BRING ME A GLASS OF WATER
Now we encounter Jill’s mother and father at home, and their struggle with Jill’s sudden decision. Of course the question hanging over all of this is: Will Jill return? Will she get married? Jill’s decision, of course, causes her mother and father to ask themselves what kind of job they have done raising their daughter, and most important, keeping the promises they made to her in baptism. They brought her to church and worship, but maybe they did not model the best discipleship in their relationship.
4. CLOTHED IN CHRIST
Now we meet the groom as he shows up at the tuxedo rental shop to cancel their whole order. He believes it is all over. There is a comical tuxedo shop owner. As Shawn is about to do this, Lucy, the bridesmaid from the first play, shows up. She works to convince Shawn that everything will be okay, that Lucy will return, and that he has to see the good in all of this. He is encouraged to see how deeply Jill loves him, and God, and that she understands true love for the other, as God intends. This is hard for Shawn, but in the end he lets the order stand. What will happen in a few days?
5. THE REHEARSAL
It is the night of the rehearsal. It’s now or never. Everyone is gathered at the church. Jill has assured her friend Lucy that she will be there. They wait. They are all struggling with this strange disappearance by Jill and her consideration of how her baptismal promises shape her entire life, especially her marriage. Lucy is the only one who seems supportive. In the end, Jill arrives. All are glad to see her. There is a sense that now they can move on, but first she must talk to Shawn, the groom. She does, and with hopefulness and joy tells him that he is the one with whom she can fulfill her baptismal promises and that together they can shape a life around those promises. He listens. However, in a strange turn of events, he tells Jill that he cannot marry her. He is a person who will go to church, who will do what he needs to, but he cannot see his whole life shaped around baptism and faith. She is left, at the altar, with the support of her family, of her friends, and even in a strange way, of Shawn.
Plays concerning parables & stories of mercy
John on trial
Sarah his lawyer
Bailiff (#2, #5)
Vicky the head of an acting company
Two actors, interchangeable
Brian John’s pastor
All five plays take place in a waiting room off from the court room where John awaits the verdict of his trial. We learn that Vicky and her band of actors are on trial for something, but it seems confusing as to what. The pastor/worship leader/host will interact with the characters in the plays as they begin and end, much like the Stage Manager in OUR TOWN. Each play also includes, yes, a lawyer joke.
1. We learn in this play that John is on trial for stealing money from his company’s pension fund. He is clearly presented as innocent, and his lawyer believes him fully. The strange company of actors enters. They are silly and confusing and a bit mysterious. The issue of innocence and mercy is brought up and just to “pass the time” the actors explore and present their own consideration of Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard who each receive the same pay.
2. In the second play the issue of mercy is again explored with comical insight by the acting troupe. This time, they present a strange arrangement of the prodigal son. However, while they would like to tell John that mercy always wins the day, they always allow room for a harsher sentence. While Jesus taught all about mercy, Vicky points out that this doesn’t mean anyone learned it!
3. The pastor comes to visit his parishioner, John, as he waits. Vicky and the actors offer their services for liturgical dramas. They even do funeral sermons they say. Again we hear a different story of why these actors are on trial. This time they offer an interpretation of the story of Jonah and the fact that God tries to teach God’s own prophet how to show mercy. John doesn’t like the open ending of the story, but as Vicky tells him: The issue isn’t whether Jonah learned mercy. The issue is whether WE have. Or, in John’s case, whether the jury has.
4. Now John and his lawyer Sarah are getting concerned with how long the jury is taking to make up its mind. John seems to have given up on figuring out the truth about these actors and their crime. In this episode the acting troupe will consider the parable of the “dishonest steward.” This is a most strange parable of mercy indeed. At the end of the play we hear that a verdict has come in and the play ends.
5. The final play. All reenter the waiting room. The verdict is in, and John has been pronounced innocent. However, as they discuss what has happened and what comes next, there are clear indications that John was in fact, guilty. He does not tell Sarah this, but it is clear. The actors also pick up on it, and they offer brief considerations of “two men went to a temple to pray” and the “persistent widow” with the point being that in the end, all we can truly do is be honest and beg for mercy from God. Will John do this? At the very end, the actors have left. John and Sarah are left and the bailiff enters. They ask the bailiff about the actors, and in what court room they can see how their trial will turn out. The bailiff tells them that no actors are on trial here. He was under the assumption that they were friends of some sort. John asks Sarah if she has any ideas as to their identity and what they were doing there. She tells him: Nothing you want to hear.
A drama series sbout what disciples do
Please note that the characters could be played by males or females. You simply have to change the names, pronouns, etc. It is best that Brian and Kevin, the “old friend,” remain male.
Vicky the oldest daughter. (ALL FIVE PLAYS)
Jenny she is the more traditional and religious of the siblings. (ALL FIVE PLAYS)
Frank the only brother, a little harsher than the others. (#2 - #5)
Lucy the rebel in the family (#4 and #5)
Ellen their niece (#4 and #5)
A delivery man/boy (#1)
Kevin - an old friend of their father (#3)
The play takes place in the living room or den of the home of Pastor Adam Duncan, whose funeral was that day. The family is gathering in his home as requested. The furniture is simple.
The characters at times interact with the worship leader. It is important that even though they do so, these characters should not interact with others before or after worship. They can slip in when the service has begun and slip out before it end, thus avoiding interaction with congregants. This is quite important.
1. DISCIPLES GATHER
In this first play we consider the most basic thing disciples of “the Father” and of Christ do, they gather together. In this case the family gathers because of the death of their father. The play begins with a delivery of a tacky funeral floral spray that says “CALLED HOME” with a design of a cell phone. We learn that there is a letter from their father that they are to read when they are together after his death. Brian has it. In this play Jenny and Vicky argue or at least discuss the value and importance of worship in discipleship.
2. CASH OR CHARGE?
Disciples must deal with issues of stewardship, and that includes money. Jenny, Vicky, and Frank consider what this letter might be about. Could it be about money? Their father raised them with the idea of a common pot - that everything was owned together. Isn’t this also how God wants us to consider all that we have? Do we not share everything ultimately with everyone?
Unfortunately, disciples also go through periods of doubt. It is inevitable. In this play we will hear about some of this family’s doubts in the face of their father’s death. Kevin, an older man and a relatively recent friend of their father’s, has arrived unexpectedly at the house. He is “caught” entering with his key. He has come to destroy all of their father’s sermons and computer files, as their father requested. It is because, he says, at the end, their father had doubts. He wasn’t so sure he believed everything he had preached.
4. TRUE THAT
Disciples forgive one another. That is the message of this play. This family must also do that. We see, and hear, some of the ongoing conflicts in this family, that must be forgiving and reconciled if they are to go on in truth and goodness. They still wonder, at the end of this play, what the letter will reveal.
5. THE LETTER
We find out that the most critical thing disciples must do is love one another as God has loved them. This is what the letter reveals: a father’s love for His children.
PUSHING DOWN DAISIES
A series of plays considering the affect that the “shadow of death” can have over us as we journey through life. No, these are not sad and depressing. They are actually funny and touching. They all take place in a graveyard. There are tombstones and one tall statue of an angel. John is an older man who is the caretaker of the cemetery. He lives there in his retirement after working as a school teacher and before that for a short while as a pastor. He tells stories of things he has witnessed here in the graveyard over the years to a engaging warm character. Through the course of the plays we come to realize that this character is an angel, the angel of death if you will. In each episode John enters the story that he tells.
Each play has in it a moment from Shakespeare which is performed by John and the angel. In the end, the plays lift up what is ultimately the mystery of death, and life.
John and the Angel all five plays
1. A married couple, middle age.
2. A young teen age couple.
3. A pair of would be grave robbers, flexible ages, probably male, and not too smart. Two children.
4. A woman and a minister (Written as a male. These genders could be played with if you so desire.)
5. Three former students
1. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
In this first play we learn from John about a strange couple who has come to the graveyard on repeated occasions and stands before different graves each time. What are they doing? John confronts them, and under the threat of reporting them as trespassers they admit that although their life together is quite blessed, they come to “prepare” for the tragedies that are bound to occur in life. John allows them to stay, but convinces them that life is to be lived in hope, not fear.
2. DEADLY PASSION (IS THAT REDUNDANT?)
John witnesses two would-be “lovers” as they come to the cemetery to find privacy. There are other witnesses the young lady discovers. She sees a tombstone with her mother’s maiden name on it. Could this be a long lost relative? How are we surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses to whom we are beholden?
3. ROBBING DEATH
John recalls two would-be grave robbers he interrupted one dark evening. They have been told that someone was buried with his money. They have come to steal it. John surprises these floundering fools who then turn the tables and “capture” him. However, he convinces them to at least consider if this is worth it. How can the realization that life is short, that death is real, and that we must meet our maker, move us to repentance?
4. PRIVATE CONFESSIONS
In this more serious play, a woman is at a tomb. Her minister arrives unexpectedly. She is there because there are things that she wishes she had told the deceased. There is baggage and guilt. The pastor speaks with her about how confession, even if it is too late to speak to the person we have harmed, is ultimately good for the soul and the conscience.
5. PERCHANCE TO DREAM
Death has cast a shadow over all the plays. Now, in this last play, we realize with certainty who this angel is. She is the angel who has come to lead John beyond this life. This whole time we realize that he has been dead. They watch as three of his former students come to a grave with ashes. They have come to bury their teacher, a good man they say. What will happen to him? What lies beyond death? We don’t know. It is a mystery, Paul says. And so it shall stay.
AMEN: PRAY LIKE JESUS
Prayer is critical in the ministry of Jesus. He prays every chance he gets, alone or with others. What might it mean to pray like Jesus? The five plays will explore several ideas based in scripture, with some humor as well as serious moments.
1. THAT ALL MAY BE ONE
In this first drama a mother intentionally challenges her children to consider what it means for them to be “one”.
2. FATHER FORGIVE THEM
This drama takes a serious turn, as we listen in on a priest and a death row prisoner, who might have something to teach others about forgiveness.
3. PRAY FOR OUR ENEMIES
In this play we get to listen in on a psychiatrist and a patient as they explore what it might mean when our “enemies” are our loved ones!
4. PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN
This play takes a comical look at what some people might do to pray “for” the children. What happens in the TV Show “Shark Tank” when someone suggests an “app” that will do just that?
5. SWEAT BLLOD LIKE JESUS
Sometimes do we think we simply have to pray “harder”, even to the point of sweating blood as Jesus did as he prayed in Gethsemane? Do we sometimes forget that Jesus prayed “Your will be done”?
THE DEADLY SINS
In this challenging series we consider the “Seven Deadly Sins.” However due to the length of Lent only six are presented. Your church may decide to do less than six. The series is flexible.
Father, a Roman Catholic Priest in a small town, appears in all of these dramas.
In our first play we meet the central character, the priest of this small town. He is simply known as “Father” to everyone. He has been with them for a long time and is caring and compassionate to all. We also meet Molly, the housekeeper at the church. She will reappear in the final drama. She and Father have developed a lively and good friendship over the years while she still respects him as her priest. Soon Joe arrives for confession. He has come with nothing particular on his mind or heart. However, Father has something on his mind. Father has been studying the “seven deadly sins” and wants to bring up the sin of gluttony with Joe. Joe is rather startled, since he is a physically fit young man. How could this apply to him? Indeed, how does this sin apply to all of us?
Janet arrives to the parish hall for confession. Other than missing mass lately there is nothing particular on her mind or heart either. However, Janet works as an advertising executive and is the creative mind behind a series of ads that Father has seen on television for Harry’s Hot Bagels. How can these ads that Janet has created shed light on the sin of “lust” in our whole society? How does lust often shape us and direct us?
Of all the deadly sins, maybe this is the one with which most people could relate. Everyone after all has gotten mad from time to time. However, the sin of wrath is much more than simply “getting mad.” Wrath affects our relationships with others in many ways. How can wrath make for deep divisions that can last for years? In this play we meet “Joe” who runs into “Father” at the mall. They are old friends. Father is still studying “the seven deadly sins.” Joe is presently running for town council and has recently debated his opponent. Was the sin of “wrath” evident there? How does “wrath” affect our daily lives and relationships?
A young lady, Julie, comes to Father for her confession. There is nothing big or juicy for her to lay out before her priest. However, during the confession something interesting happens that leads Father into a consideration of the sin of envy. In many ways, he feels sympathetic to Julie and others like her as there are so many things in our society, including social media, that play off of the sin of envy.
Two old friends from Lenten dramas past reoccur in this humorous but sincere and meaningful drama. What happens when two “greedy” thieves encounter a determined and convincing priest? Need we say more? How can we learn from these two bumbling burglars about how the sin of greed directs our actions? And don’t think that we don’t all get caught in the end!
It has been said that the route of all sin is pride. Lucifer fell from heaven due to pride. The tower of Babylon was built due to pride. Pride goeth before the fall. In this final drama Molly returns. She is expecting the arrival, any moment, of her son who has been off at a very good college. She is very proud of him and for good reason. However, what other pride might be going on in their relationship that unlike her pride might have a detrimental effect?
THE DOORS OF LENT
This series uses 5 “door” passages as the basis for the plays. In our church, we incorporated Sunday school classes each decorating and painting a door based on the scripture lesson assigned to them. It really got people to buy in. Each set has a door, front and center. It must function.
1. BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Three characters: Mom, dad and daughter.
Matthew 25.5-15 The 10 bridesmaids
What happens when dad and mom think their teenage daughter is very late getting home? Dad wants to get tough, while mom asks if maybe they should be more forgiving. How does God treat us when we are not ready and at the door when we should be?
2. LOOK WHO'S COMING TO DINNER
Three characters: John, Larry and the neighbor.
Luke 16:1931 - The rich man and Lazarus
In this serious drama John decides to do his part and invite the homeless man he has seen frequently on his way home to come into his home for a night. However, everything does not go as he planned. How can opening your door be risky?
3. WHEN GOD CLOSES A DOOR ... OPEN THE ROOF
Seven characters: Larry and Calvin, plus five characters who will “act out” the man being brought in.
Luke 5:17 24 - The crippled man lowered through the roof
Calvin is rather down on life. He has basically locked himself in his apartment and refuses to interact with people. Many things have gone wrong but most importantly is the fact that Calvin believes he has done so many hurtful or harmful things that no one would want him around. Larry, his friend, decides to confront him, and force his way into Calvin, just as the men forced the crippled man onto Jesus. The story itself is told by Larry in a rather humorous way.
4. BLOODY KNUCKLES
Three characters: Janitor, Joe, and the hospital chaplain
Luke 11:5-13 - Knock and it shall be open to you
In this touching drama Joe sits in a small room in a hospital, clearly upset. His daughter has been very ill. The janitor interrupts him, but lets him rest in quiet. Soon the new hospital chaplain shows up, young and eager to help. He has heard that Joe’s daughter was ill and jumps right in encouraging prayer. However, he fails to ask Joe about his daughter. Later the janitor will return, and it is he who listens. How is prayer both talking and listening?
5. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Matthew 6:1-8, Luke 18:9-14 Pray in secret
The two characters are a state representative and his/her political advisor. In this easy to do play, the advisor is pushing the Representative to lead prayer at the big football game. He argues that it will be great exposure. The Representative has his doubts. Are we supposed to lift our prayers so that others can hear them, or just God?