Reader’s Theater- 1 Corinthians 13

1-corinthians-13-4-7_desktop_mediumI adapted this scripture to be used as a call to worship this coming Sunday, Valentine’s Day. During the service, we’ll offer persons the chance to renew their wedding vows. Click here for that liturgy.

It would be easy to revoice this script as a congregational call to worship. Here are a couple of options. Feel free to design your own to suit your needs. – Lisa <><
Voice One = Left Side or Women
Voice Two = Right Side or Men
Voice Three = Middle or Children/Youth

Reader’s Theatre- 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
adapted from the New Revised Standard Version
Parts for 3 Voices

VOICE ONE
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

VOICE TWO
If I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

VOICE THREE
If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,

VOICE TWO AND THREE
but do not have love, I am nothing.

VOICE ONE
If I give away all my possessions,

VOICE TWO
If I hand over my body so that I may boast

VOICE ONE, TWO, AND THREE
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

VOICE THREE
Love is patient.

VOICE ONE
Love is kind.

VOICE TWO
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

VOICE THREE
It does not insist on its own way.

VOICE ONE
It is not irritable or resentful.

VOICE TWO
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

VOICE ONE, TWO, AND THREE
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

********
Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: 1 Corinthians 13 © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Script: If Jesus selected disciples the way we select our Presidents (Luke 9:46)

debate argument
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. – Luke 9:46

MODERATOR: Good evening, and welcome to tonight’s debate. I’m coming to you from the Grand Amphitheater in beautiful downtown Capernaum. Tonight’s event is sponsored by the Commission on Messianic Debates, and the rules for the evening have been agreed upon by representatives from each of the candidate’s campaigns. Without further introduction, let’s welcome tonight’s candidates.

[APPLAUSE]

Our first question goes to James, son of Zebedee. James, in a few short days, Jesus of Nazareth will be traveling down to Jerusalem. There is widespread speculation about why he is going there. What makes you qualified to join him?

JAMES: Thank you for that question. First, let me say what an honor it is to be here tonight, and to have this chance to set the record straight with the Israelite people. I think what the Kingdom needs is an outsider, not a career disciple, but someone who has the perspective of outside the beltway. If Jesus selects me to be at his right hand, I will be the greatest disciple ever.

MODERATOR: John, same question.

JOHN: Okay, look. We all know why Jesus is going to Jerusalem. And when he goes in to overthrow the Roman empire and establish a new political regime, ask yourself: “Who do you want to be representing you when the Kingdom comes?” Look, I’ve been there. I’m one of you. I’m just a lowly fisherman who can identify with the real needs of ordinary people like you. And if Jesus picks me to be the greatest, I promise I won’t let you down.

[“THUNDEROUS” APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR: Next, we have Andrew. You’ve been critical of James and John. What makes you think you are the greatest?

ANDREW: What James and John forget to tell you is that they’re not outsiders at all. If anything, they have been part of the inner circle since the beginning. Who got to spend time on the mountain with Jesus during the transfiguration? They did. Who were the first to be called by Jesus? They were. And what happened after Jesus called them? They left their father in the boat. Poor Zebedee, abandoned by his own flesh and blood. If I’m chosen to be the greatest, I can promise you, I won’t leave anybody behind.

[APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR: Our next question goes to Matthew. There’s been a lot said about your former career as a tax collector. Some say that it is a mistake for Jesus to hang out with people like you. So what makes you think you’re the greatest?

MATTHEW: That’s easy. I’ve worked in the tax system, I know how corrupt it is, and what it’s done to people. And I’m the only one on this stage tonight who has the skills and expertise to reform our tax code. I believe our nation’s tax structure is far too complex, with too many loopholes. I believe in a simpler, fairer flat tax. And I’m the only one who can make that happen.

MODERATOR: Next we have Judas Iscariot. Mr. Iscariot, you are the surprise front-runner so far. Polls show that people respect the fact that you speak your mind, and others say that your background in handling the finances of the group make you a formidable candidate. But others say that you aren’t trustworthy, and question your loyalty to the party. What is your response?

JUDAS: Well, the first thing I’d say is that I’m rich. Okay? I’ve made lots and lots of shekels. I’m a successful businessman. I don’t apologize for that. I’m rich, okay? And I know how to make deals. The deals that my opponents have made are garbage. I know how to negotiate and make good deals with people. I make deals with the Pharisees all the time. And I know how to solve the problem with the Romans. A wall. A big, beautiful wall. And how will I build that wall? Management.

[“HUGE” APPLAUSE]

MODERATOR: Finally, let’s bring in Simon Peter, our next candidate and current front-runner. Mr. Peter, you are making waves for your zealous, no-nonsense ways. You’ve also been under great scrutiny for some of your impetuous decisions, like walking on water before sinking. If Jesus selects you to be the greatest, what can the Kingdom expect from you?

PETER: Look, I’m a zealot. Alright? I don’t make any apologies for that. That means that I’m not the puppet of any special interests, but I am my own person! I believe that this nation is the greatest nation in the world, and I’m prepared to make it even better. And other countries would be foolish to take us on, because God is clearly on our side.

[LOUD CHEERS, CROWING ROOSTERS]

MODERATOR: Okay, candidates. Our next question comes to us from one of our callers, who wishes to remain anonymous. Go ahead, caller.

CALLER: The one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.

[CRICKETS ….]

MODERATOR: Thank you, caller, but do you have a question?

CALLER: The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

[CANDIDATES SHRUG THEIR SHOULDERS]

CALLER: The first will be last, and the last will be first.

[CANDIDATES LOOK PUZZLED.]

MODERATOR: Well, that was awkward. Candidates, let’s go to our closing statements.

************
A huge thank you to The Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida for permission to share this powerful and timely script. It was originally published 9/17/15 as his midweek message and entitled Debating Who is Greatest.

Consider subscribing to receive Magrey’s midweek messages electronically. You’ll benefit from his faithful, thought provoking and action provoking reflections. If you don’t have a church home in Tampa, consider checking Hyde Park UMC out in person. This is a congregation making God’s love real.

Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21)

Promises of PentecostThis short, simple script begins with the Jesus’ promises concerning the Holy Spirit at the Last Supper, journeys through Jesus’ promise before his ascension, and on to the fulfillment of those promises on the day of Pentecost.

Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost
Scriptures: John 14: 16, 17, 26; 16:13; Acts 1:5-8; Acts 2:1-21
adapted from the New Revised Standard Version
Parts: 2 Readers, Jesus, Peter

READER ONE:
On the night in which he gave himself up for us, Jesus promised,

JESUS: John 14:16, 17, 26; 16:13, NRSV
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth… the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you… When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

READER ONE:
On the day in which he ascended to heaven, Jesus promised,

JESUS: Acts 1:5-8 NRSV, selected verses
John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

READER ONE:
Ten days later, Jesus fulfilled his promises.

READER TWO: Acts 2:1-21, NRSV
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked,

READER ONE:
Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.

READER TWO:
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

READER ONE:
But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

READER TWO:
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them,

PETER:
Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

********
Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: The Promises of Pentecost © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: The Days of Creation (Genesis 1)

The Days of Creation by Edward Burne-Jones

The Days of Creation by Edward Burne-Jones

Reader’s Theater: The Days of Creation
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2:3, adapted from the New Revised Standard Version
Parts: 3 Narrators

NARRATOR 1
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let there be light

NARRATOR 1
and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

NARRATOR 2
And God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.

NARRATOR 2
So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

NARRATOR 3
And God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said,

ALL NARRATORS
Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

NARRATOR 1
And God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.

NARRATOR 1
And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

NARRATOR 2
And God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.

NARRATOR 2
So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying,

ALL NARRATORS
Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.

NARRATOR 2
And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

NARRATOR 3
And God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said

ALL NARRATORS
Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

NARRATOR 3
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them

ALL NARRATORS
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.

NARRATOR 3
And it was so. God saw everything that he had made,

ALL NARRATORS
and indeed, it was very good.

NARRATOR 3
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

NARRATOR 1
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

********
Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: The Days of Creation © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11)

Palm Branches by Kate Branch via Wikimedia Commons

Palm Branches by Kate Branch via Wikimedia Commons

Christians celebrate Palm Sunday the Sunday before Easter, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This event is mentioned in all four Gospels. (Mark 11:1–11, Matthew 21:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:12–19). The following Reader’s Theatre script is based on Matthew’s version of the story from the New International Version of the Bible.

Click Here for a Reader’s Theatre script of the same story which does not included singing and extends the story a few verses (Matthew 21:1-17).

Reader’s Theatre: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Based on Matthew 21:1-11 NIV
Parts: Narrator, Jesus, Prophet, All (congregation as the crowd)

NARRATOR
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives,
Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them

JESUS
Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.

NARRATOR
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

PROPHET
Say to the Daughter of Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

NARRATOR
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them.
They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.

Introduction to the song begins
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds went ahead of him and those that followed shouted

ALL SHOUTING:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

ALL SINGING:
Use one of the suggested songs or one of similar theme. A choir anthem, solo, or song led by a praise band could also be used at this point.

Hosanna, Loud Hosanna, United Methodist Hymnal #278
Mantos y Palmas, United Methodist Hymnal #279
All Glory, Laud and Honor, United Methodist Hymnal #280
Hosanna (Praise is Rising), CCLI #4662491
Hosanna, CCLI #21545
Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher), CCLI 5780152

Speak the final lines during an interlude before the final verse or chorus of the song

NARRATOR
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

ALL:
This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.

***************
Adapted from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11) © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. You are welcome to use this work in a worship or other devotional setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)

A Demoniac in the Synagogue by James Tissot

A Demoniac in the Synagogue by James Tissot

Reader’s Theatre: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit
Based on Mark 1:21-28 (NRSV)
Parts: Narrator One, Narrator Two, Man, Jesus
With optional singing

NARRATOR ONE
Jesus and his followers went to Capernaum.
When the sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
They were astounded at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

NARRATOR TWO
Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit,

MAN – Crying out
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are, the Holy One of God.

JESUS- Rebuking him
Be silent, and come out of him!

NARRATOR ONE- MAN cries out as crying is referenced
And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

Pause
Optional- Instrumentation begins and continues through the singing of the song.

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another,

NARRATOR TWO
What is this? A new teaching—with authority!
He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

NARRATOR ONE
At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

ALL SINGING
I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me
The Faith We Sing #2151

********
Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

I’m so Glad Jesus Lifted Me. African American Spiritual, Public Domain
Found in The Faith We Sing #2151

Reader’s Theater: Jesus Drives Out an Unclean Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)
© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus, Bread of Life (John 6:28-40)

christ eucharist bread icon
ALL SINGING:
Eat this Bread
by Robert Batastini and Jacques Berthier
United Methodist Hymnal #628
or
Hungry, verse 1 and chorus
by Kathryn Scott
CCLI Song # 2650364
or
another song of your choosing

The instruments continue during the scripture reading.

VOICE ONE:
The crowd asked Jesus,

CHOIR or CONGREGATION:
What must we do to perform the works of God?

JESUS:
This is the work of God- that you believe in him whom he has sent.

VOICE ONE:
What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

JESUS:
Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven,
but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

CHOIR or CONGREGATION:
Sir, give us this bread always.

JESUS:
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

ALL SINGING:
Eat this Bread or Hungry vs 1, chorus
Or another song of your choosing

JESUS:
You have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.

ALL SINGING:
Eat this Bread or Hungry vs 1, chorus
Or another song of your choosing

********
Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: Jesus, Bread of Life (John 6:28-40)
© 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.