I have been sharing reader’s theatre productions that I have written with very particular people in mind. A couple weeks ago was a simple, lightly humorous re-telling of the Good Samaritan focused for summer churches with intergenerational congregations. Here’s a cast of one church that shared the Good Samaritan story — Bethany UCC in Louisville, Kentucky — “From the left, the Levite (aka my son, Matt!); Sam; Hannah; the priest; and me (narrator). We had a great time and folks loved it! Ann Houlette”
The following week I shared: “In the Garden — Martha and Mary, 15 years later” which is a serious piece for congregation of Bible study and shown here is the cast from a church in Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand. Elaine Bolitho writes…” Here is a picture of our minister (left) and another member of the congregation performing it this morning. Mary brought a shopping bag of groceries, Martha brought a trug of herbs and flowers.” (No, I don’t know what a ‘trug’ is but I can guess) Pam Spain from Kensington, New Hampshire, writes, One of my members and I shared your skit today and it was a hit! We even had wine glasses to clink and drink from!” And also Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church in Florida where Pam Williams and Marci Moore shared it.
For next week’s lectionary reading Luke 11:1-13 I wrote (a while back) a skit for worship in a County Rest Home, a nursing home where many of the residents live with the losses and simplicities of dementia. I chose “The Lord’s Prayer” because it is for many one of the most deeply residing passages, words they still hold tight. The discussion and explanation of this passage, this lifeline, is perhaps the most important of all.
There is no subtle humor here — the laugh-that-opens-the-heart comes from the inventiveness in costuming of the two people who play angels. What we share is straight-forward and useful even in a situation more limited than many others in life.
I do not know whether you will have an opportunity to use this skit, but blessings on any place you bring it! This is the last of this three-part sharing of pieces of mine but also my encouragement that you write such simple tellings — always keeping in mind the people who will hear it — in the week’s to come (and, if I am lucky, you will share them with me at email@example.com!
Characters: Pray-er:, Angel 1 and Angel 2
P: Our Father who art in heaven …
A1: Wait a minute – doesn’t that ‘pray-er’ down there know that God is everywhere? If those humans think that God is only in heaven – they will be much surprised when God pops up in their rooms or in the dining area.
A2: Shush s/he’s saying the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. It’s the most perfect prayer ever said.
A1: Yeah, but s/he’s saying it like a robot … Our father mumble, mumble. Doesn’t s/he know that it is a huge deal for human beings to call God something as wonderful as ‘Father’ … ? it’s really ‘Daddy.’ That is the most amazing tenderness!
A2: I think you answered your own question – saying ‘our Father’ means that God is so close and loving that God will give that pray-er a great big hug when s/he is sad or frightened. But mentioning that God is the Awesome One of Heaven reminds them that their gentle God is also the God of all creation – of the highest clouds, the deepest oceans, the farthest planets – God is God of everything.
P: Hallowed be Thy Name …
A1: Do you think s/he means it? Hallowed – holy, wonderful amazing?
A2: Well, sometimes human beings have to be reminded.
A1: What do you mean … reminded?
A2: By us, of course. But sometimes angels have to be reminded, too, about praising God. You know a certain holiday is past, but not forgotten. Don’t you remember our reminding song?
A1 and A2: Glo—oooo glo –oooo, glo—ooooo-ria! In Excelsis Deo (repeat with music to Angels we have heard on high)
P: Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven …
A1: Do you think that s/he gets it, really gets what kind of a promise that is?
A2: A promise?
A1: Sure it’s a promise – the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t mean that ‘Ali kazam Abracadabra’ God makes the world follow God’s will and all people live as God’s people. Making that happen is the humans’ job … and a pretty big one it is. If s/he really knew how hard that is, h/she wouldn’t pray it so fast!
A2: Well, of course, you know how each human can understand it.
A2: Each human has to start with him or herself doing God’s will and living like a kingdom person. One person at a time is the only way that can happen.
P: Give us this day our daily bread …
A1: You would think those humans would get tired of bread and ask for pizza … or ice cream or fried chicken or skip that daily business and ask for a whole week’s worth of groceries.
A2: Bread is … well, bread is a metaphor. It really means – give us what we need to get by … of course that’s bread but it’s also a lot more. In order to keep on living human beings need many more things.
A1: Like what?
A2: Well, sleep … exercise, health, friendship, kindness, a roof over their heads in this and maybe a bit of air conditioning in this heat. ‘Give us our bread’ stands for the human asking help to get what s/he needs – and some people may need patience or courage or the ability to get through a hard time.
A1: Well, I understand that God can help a person get some of those things – but why pray to God for a roof or a meal if a person is down on their luck. God doesn’t do that kind of miracle any more.
A2: God does a bigger miracle – reminding other people to take care of those who have needs. And that’s why it’s daily – because people need to ask every day to receive what they need and to be aware of how they can help others find what their daily needs.
P: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors …
A1: That’s the one where they get confused – one person says ‘debts’ and another ‘sins’ and another ‘trespasses’ … and while they are trying to decide what language to use …
A2: … they forget that it’s all the same and what it means is that God forgives people everything always, but only if each one turns around and forgives all the other people – friends, relatives, even strangers who do mean or hurtful things to them.
A1: That’s a pretty tough condition on forgiveness.
A2: True – but much as people hate it – God knows best. When they’ve done that forgiving work themselves, their hearts are wide open for their own forgiveness and Wow! they feel much better.
A1: (flapping wings a little) Yep they feel so light they could fly!
P: And lead us not into temptation …
A1: They get there anyway, don’t they?
A2: Yep, but if they keep praying, God will make sure that the temptations they have to face are the right size for them to handle.
P: But deliver us from evil …
A1: You know, that doesn’t happen – people have a lot of tough things to go through in life.
A2: But God is right there beside them loving them and hurting with them and hugging them and helping them to survive the worst things the world can bring.
A1: God doesn’t make that evil happen. It makes me crazy when people say that.
A2: No, God doesn’t make evil happen, but God also understands that people have kind of a learning curve on that issue. And God is very patient.
P: For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever …
A1: Or as we would put it .. (repeat Gloria)
A2: For us angels and for those humans – ‘amen’ thank you God and we are going to live that prayer all the day that we pray it.
A1: Good thing to pray in the morning?
A2: Good thing to pray at any time.