thinking theology

Archive for February, 2014

The Last Supper, A Drama

Opening Music: Flutes and drums.

Leader: Why do we gather together in Holy Week?

Narrator: Today we remember Jesus’ last days with his friends. Jesus remembered with them the sacred history of the Jewish people and offered them a living reminder of how God would have people of faith behave. Jesus received a blessing with oil for burial, a gift of love from a nameless woman. Jesus washed his friends’ feet. Jesus shared a symbolic meal with his friends and gave them the mandate for new community, a mandate to love and to serve each other and ourselves. Jesus moved from being afraid to knowing the power of being vulnerable. Jesus prepared for death so that we might live in hope. Let us remember the gift of Jesus.

Music: “Said Judas to Mary” (v.1-3), Voices United #128

Leader: Why do we remember the woman who blessed Jesus?

Drama 1: Mark 14:3 – 9

Narrator: While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an beautiful jar of very perfume, and she broke open the jar and poured the oil on his head. But some were there who were angry and scolded her.

Disciple: “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred dollars, and the money given to the poor.”

Jesus: “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. You always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Music: “Said Judas to Mary” (v.4-6)

Leader: Blessed are those who seek God in simple acts of kindness.

All: Blessed is the beauty of creation, God’s caring community gathered here. Loving God, may we recognize your will in the actions of others and celebrate a holy understanding that leads us to love and peace. Thanks be to God.

Music: “Jesu, Jesu” (refrain, v.1, refrain), Voices United #593

Leader: Why did Jesus wash his friends’ feet?

Drama 2: John 13:1-15

Narrator: Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his time of trial had come. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, had already decided to betray him. During supper Jesus got up from the table, took off his jacket, and tied an apron around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with a towel that was tied at his waist. He came to Peter.

Peter: “Are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus: “You don’t know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

Peter: “You’re never going to wash my feet.”

Jesus: “Unless I wash you, you won’t be a part of me.”

Peter: “Then, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus: “This isn’t about a bath, but about a pure heart. It’s a metaphor, Peter!”

Narrator: After he had washed their feet, and put on his jacket, he returned to the table.

(Members at each table wash the hands of those beside them.)

Leader: Let us pray.

All: Healing God, grant us the grace to serve each other and you, that we may live together with mutual respect, compassion and a sense of holiness for all life that you have made. Amen.

Leader: Why do we break bread together?

Drama 3

Narrator: And when the time had come for Jesus to be handed over, he gathered those he had travelled with around him. He was at supper with them when he took bread, gave thanks to God for this gathering of family and friends, and broke the bread. He gave this bread to his disciples.

Jesus: “Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

Leader: Blessed is the One who feeds not only our bodies but our souls with this bread of community.

All: Blessed are those who hunger for the God of community and family, may your gift of celebration in the life of Christ move us to the work of reconciliation and hope. Amen.

Leader: Why do we share a cup of blessing?

Narrator: And after supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he blessed the cup and gave it to them saying, “ Drink this, all of you: this is the sign of a new and eternal covenant, a gift of myself for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink from the cup of blessing, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Leader: Blessed is the fruit of the vine, uniting and making us one.

All: Blessed is God for adopting us into this family.

(Wine and juice are poured out and all have a sip.)

Leader: Let us pray.

All: Merciful God, forgive us for the times we have betrayed your trust and have not loved the Christ in each other. May this cup of blessing be a celebration of joy and solidarity. As Jesus taught us, let us pray, Our Father in heaven…. Amen.

(People eat the food at their table. The children may use the colouring pages and puzzles or colour on the table cloths. (When you hear the music, the service resumes.)

Music: One Bread, One Body (refrain, v.3, refrain), Voices United #467

Leader: Blessed are our tears and laughter.

All: Blessed is the love shown as we grow together as a community of Christ. 

Leader: Why do we remember Jesus’ tears?

Drama 4: Mark 14:32-42

Narrator: After they had sung a song and said a prayer, they crossed the Kidron ravine to a garden called Gethsemane where they often met.

Jesus: You my friends are all going to abandon me and run away. What will happen to our work! You will not see me again until Galilee after I have been raised.

Peter: Everyone else may fall away, but I will never leave you. You can be sure of that!

Jesus: Before you hear the rooster crow and see the sun rise tomorrow, you will have denied even knowing me, three times.

Peter: Even if I must die, I will never deny that you are my friend.

Narrator: And all the disciples said the same. Then Jesus took Peter and James and John, apart from the others and began to be distressed and agitated.

Jesus: “Sit here while I pray.”

“I am scared to death about what is coming; stay here on guard, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

“Dear God, for you all things are possible; remove this trial from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

Narrator: He came and found them sleeping;

Jesus: (to Peter) “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep awake for even one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not have to answer yourself; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Narrator: And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him.

Jesus: “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The time has come; I am betrayed! Get up. Let’s get going. My betrayal is at hand.”

Narrator: Judas knew where jesus would be and so he brought with him some soldiers equipped with lanterns and weapons and made his way to the garden.

Jesus: “Who is it that you are looking for?”

Soldiers: “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus: “You have found him, then.”

Narrator: Then the soldiers drew back and looked unsure.

Jesus: “Again I ask you: for whom are you searching?”

Soldiers: “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus: “I told you that I am he. If I am the one you want, let the others go.”

Narrator: Then Peter pulled a hidden sword and tried to cut off one of the servant’s ears, but Jesus stopped him.

Jesus: “Sheathe your sword. This is the destiny I have chosen and for which god has prepared me. Shall I run away now?”

Narrator: The soldiers summoned up their courage and roughly arrested Jesus and took him away.

Music: Bitter was the night (sung by choir members, vv1, 2, 6, 7), Voices United #132

Narrator: After Jesus was arrested, Peter and another disciple followed the soldiers until they came to the courtyard of one of the conspirators. Peter stopped outside the door abruptly so the other disciple knocked. A servant came to the door:

Maid: Are you another one of this man’s disciples?

Peter: I am not. The servants and the soldiers had made a for because it was a cold night and Peter stood with them to get warm, but the other disciple stood apart, watching.

A soldier: You have the same accent as this guy. Are you a friend from home?

Peter: I am not!

A soldier: Didn’t I see you in the garden? You are one of his disciples aren’t you?

Peter: I am not. You have mistaken me for someone else.

Narrator: And then Peter heard the rooster crow and saw the sun begin to rise.

Music: one chorus of “Bitter was the night.”

Leader: Let us pray

All: Caring God, may we be gentle and encouraging friends, sharing joy and sadness as your family here on earth. Holy One, forgive us for the many ways we have betrayed your trust and have not loved each other. On this holy night, may we be filled with the power of Christ’s love that is strong enough to banish fear and doubt. Grant us the vision to see beyond death and despair to your promise of resurrection so that we may become the people of your Beloved. Amen.

Music: “An Upper Room Did Our Lord Prepare,” Voices United #130

(We leave in no order. Some can sit in vigil Thursday night as a sign of a willingness to watch and witness for Christ in the world.)

 

Questions for a Holy Time

Maundy Thursday

(This service is a prelude to a shared community meal. The symbols must be prepared ahead of time. The service can be re-orchestrated without using the symbols.)

Leader: Open to us the gates of justice and understanding.

All: May we enter through them, giving thanks because God’s love endures forever.

Leader: Why do we gather together on this day in Holy Week?

Reader (Table 1)

This is the night on which we remember Jesus’ last days with his friends. Jesus remembered with them the sacred history of the Jewish people and offered them a living reminder of how God would have people of faith behave. Jesus received a blessing with oil for burial, a gift of love from a nameless woman. Jesus washed his friends’ feet. Jesus shared a symbolic meal with his friends and gave them the mandate for new community, a mandate to love and serve each other and ourselves. Jesus moved from being afraid to knowing the power of being vulnerable. Jesus prepared for death so that we might live in hope. Let us remember the gift of Jesus.

(Members of Table 1 present a symbol of light.)

Leader: Blessed are those who seek God, following a path of faith.

All: Blessed is the light which shines within this community and brightens our pathway.

(Members of Table 1 light and deliver a candle to each table.)

All: Creating God, help us to recognize your will as we journey together. May the memory of the gift of Jesus become the light of the risen Christ for us in our lives. Amen

Leader: Why did Jesus wash his friends’ feet?

Reader (Table 2)

John 13:1-15 — Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper Jesus, knowing that the Maker had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to bathe again, except for the feet.”

After he had washed their feet, he put on his robe and returned to the table. He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. For I have set an example, that you should do to others as I have done to you.

(Members of  Table 2 present bowl and towel.)

Leader: Blessed are those who seek wholeness, for their health is in God.

All: Blessed is the healing water of this community, refreshing us as we travel together.

(Members of Table 2 wash the hands of those gathered.)

All: Healing God, grant us the grace to serve each other and you, that we may live together with mutual respect, compassion and a sense of holiness for all life that you have made. Amen.

Music: “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love” (© 1969 Hope Publishing Co. Text by Tom Colvin, 1925- .)

Leader: Why do we remember the woman who blessed Jesus?

Reader (Table 3)

Mark 14:3 – 9 — While he was at Bethany, at table with friends, a woman came with an jar of very costly ointment, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some there were angry and said, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor!” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. Wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

(Members of Table 3 present flowers.)

Leader: Blessed are those who seek God in simple acts of kindness.

All: Blessed is the beauty of creation, God’s caring community gathered here.

(Members of Table 3 deliver flowers of blessing to each table.)

All: Blessing God, may we recognize your will in the actions of others and celebrate a holy understanding that leads us to love and peace. Thanks be to God.

Music: “Said Judas to Mary” (Hymn 129, Voices United, the United Church Publishing House, 1996; © 1964 Stainer & Bell, Ltd. (Admin. Hope Publishing Company. Sydney Carter, 1964)

Leader: Why do we break bread together?

Reader (Table 4)

And when the time had come for Jesus to be handed over, he gathered those he had journeyed with around him. He was at supper with them when he took bread, gave thanks to God for this gathering of family and friends, and broke the bread. He gave this bread to his disciples and said, “Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

(Members of Table 4 present bread.)

Leader: Blessed is the One who feeds not only our bodies but our souls with this bread of community.

All: Blessed are those who hunger for God.

(Members of Table 4 deliver bread to each table.)

All: Uniting God of community and family, may your gift of celebration in the life of Christ move us to the work of reconciliation and hope. Amen.

Leader: Why do we share a cup of blessing?

Reader (Table 5)

And when their meal together had finished, after supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he blessed the cup and gave it to them saying, ” Drink this, all of you: this is the sign of a new and eternal covenant, a gift of myself for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink from the cup of blessing, do this for the remembrance of me.”

(Members of Table 5 present wine.)

Leader: Blessed is the fruit of the vine, uniting and making us one.

All: Blessed is God for adopting us into this family.

(Members of Table 5 deliver the cups to each table.)

All: Merciful God, forgive us for the times we have betrayed your trust and have not loved the Christ in each other. May this cup of blessing be a celebration of joy and solidarity. Amen.

Music: “An Upper Room Did Our Lord Prepare” (vv. 1, 2) (Hymn 130, Voices United, the United Church Publishing House, 1996; Words © 1974 Hope Publishing Company. Fred Pratt Green, 1973)

Leader: Why do we remember Jesus’ tears?

Reader (Table 6)

Mark 14:32-42 — They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He went apart from them and began to feel distressed and agitated. He said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; stay here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, this hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. My betrayer is at hand.”

(Members of Table 6 present symbols of sadness and joy.)

Leader: Blessed are our tears and laughter.

All: Blessed is the love shown as we grow together as a community of Christ.

(Members of Table 6 deliver these symbols to each table.)

All: Caring God, may we be gentle and encouraging friends, sharing joy and sadness as your family here on earth.

Holy One, forgive us for the many ways we have betrayed your trust and have not loved each other. On this holy night, may we be filled with the power of Christ’s love that is strong enough to banish fear and doubt. Grant us the vision to see beyond death and despair to your promise of resurrection so that we may become the people of your Beloved. Amen.

Music: “An Upper Room Did Our Lord Prepare” (vv. 3, 4)

Leader: The banquet is ready and the feast is prepared.

All: May the dance begin here and wind throughout all the world.

(The meal is shared by the community.)

Agape

Maundy Thursday

(This liturgy for Maundy Thursday holds a community supper at its centre.)

Leader: This is the night on which we remember Jesus’ last days with his friends. In that time, Jesus recollected the sacred history of the Jewish people and offered a living reminder of how God would have people of faith behave. In that time, Jesus received anointing for burial, a gift of love and acceptance, by a nameless woman. In that time, Jesus washed his friends’ feet. In that time, Jesus shared a symbolic meal with his friends and gave the mandate for the new community, a mandate of love and all that that requires. In that time, Jesus moved from fear to the power of vulnerability. In that time, Jesus prepared for death so that we might live in hope. Let us remember the gift of Jesus.

All: Merciful God, help us to recognize your will as we journey. May the memory of the gift of Jesus become the power of the risen Christ for us in our lives and in the life of this community. So be it. Amen.

First Reading: John 13:1-15

Leader: Loving God, grant us the grace of servanthood that we may live together with mutual respect, compassion, and a sense of holiness for all life that you have created.

All: Thanks be to God.

Music

Second Reading: Mark 14:3-9

Leader: God of grace and inspiration, may we recognize your holy will in the actions of others and celebrate prophetic insight that leads us to love and peace.

All: Thanks be to God.

Music

Third Reading: Mark 14:12-20

The Meal

Fourth Reading: Mark 14:22-25

Leader: God of community and family, may your gift of celebration in the life of Christ move us tot he work of reconciliation and hope.

All: Thanks be to God.

Music

Fifth Reading: Mark 14:26-50

Leader: God of Mercy, forgive us for the many ways we have betrayed your trust and have not loved the Christ in each other. On this holy night, may we be filled with the power of Christ’s love that is strong enough to banish fear and doubt. Grant us the vision to see beyond death and despair to your promise of resurrection so that we may become the people of your Beloved.

All: Thanks be to God. Amen.

Music

Dismissal (after the meal, before the dishes!)

Leader: Go in hope, bearing the message of love, of service, of community, into the world that God loves.

All: Blessed be God.

“…that we should love one another”

Time to Reflect:
A Contemplative
Maundy Thursday Liturgy

(The focus of this liturgy is the commandment of Jesus that we love one another in community. In this lifestyle, we discover ourselves as friends and co-workers in the Divine purpose (John 15:15). This liturgy is designed to be a reflective preparation for Good Friday and Easter.)

(The service begins in darkness. Candles are lit as readings are finished.)

Leader: Loving God, who surrounded Jesus with friends and co-workers, bless us with the Spirit of Community. May we remember your presence in history and experience your presence with us in our gathering. Unite us in your vision of abundance, that these candles may be a sign of welcome and safety in this community.

Music: Instrumental or vocal music for meditation.

Selected Readings:

Exodus 15:22-27
Job 38:1-19

Light 1st candle.

Isaiah 49:14-16
Malachi 3:1-3a
Romans 8:18-25

Light 2nd candle.

Music for reflection.

Mark 14:3-9
John 13:2-9

Light 3rd candle.

Mark 14:22-25

Music for reflection.

Light 4th candle.

John 14:27-29

Music: Hymn or song sung as the lights go on.

Closing Prayer:

God of transformation and change, You bring us to face what we fear, but You never abandon us in the wilderness. Help us to begin our resurrection here in this community. May we be people of vision and a community of hope may Your love shape us into an Easter people this night and always.

Hope for the Broken Heart

Good Friday Liturgy

(The music suggestions are examples of those used in a worshipping community.)

The Gathering of the Community

     “Wayfaring Stranger” by Waad

Presider: For the Mystery and the Presence my soul in silence waits.

All: From the Holy One comes hope and vision. 

Presider: Like the mountains, your promise is endurance

All: We shall not be moved but by love.

Presider: In the ocean of your Presence, life is nurtured,

All: Change and renewal within the womb of creation.

Presider: For the Mystery and the Presence my soul in silence waits.

All: Truly, my hope rests on the Holy One.

The Collect

All: Holy and merciful God, we gather in the name of Jesus, to remember his sacrifice and the model of his courage and compassion. Once more, we step onto the path that is the Way of Jesus. May we commit ourselves to your mission of peace, justice, and healing through Jesus our crucified and beloved Saviour. Amen.

Hymn: “When We Are Tested”
(Words: Ruth C. Duck © 1996 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved.)

Penitential Prayer

Presider: Let us offer to God our intention to follow the Way of Jesus with increased dedication and to love our neighbours with action as well as words.

All: Holy and loving God, we confess to you and to each other that we have failed in the commission that Jesus left us. We have not always loved our neighbours. We have been distracted by our own concerns. We have been slow to make peace, to bring justice or to see the Christ in others. We have forgotten that no one is an enemy and all are one family. We have forgotten that the earth is your garden, not our place to desecrate.  We have forgotten that you love all that lives on this planet and that all is yours.

Presider: By the cross and passion of Jesus your Beloved, may we find new determination, courage and compassion. May our will be one with yours. Amen.

First Reading: “Dialogue of the Saviour”

Matthew said, “Lord, I wish to see that place of life, that place in which there is no evil, but rather pure light. The Lord said, “Brother Matthew, you cannot see it as long as you wear the flesh.” Matthew said, “O Lord, even if I cannot see it, let me know it.” Jesus said, “Every one of you who has known yourself has seen it; everything that is fitting for you to do, you do it. And you have been doing it in your goodness.”

Second Reading: “Odes of Solomon” (27-28)

Christ speaks: “I extend my hands and bless you, O Holy One! I expand my hands in your sign; my outstretched arms are your holy cross…. They scorned me because in me there was no anger. Because I did good things, I was hated…. I carried water in my right hand. With sweetness I endured the bitter.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

(The congregation may remain seated for this reading, but is invited to stand for one minute of silence as we remember the death of Jesus.)

The Arrest and Betrayal: Luke 22:47-62

          “I Shall be Released” by Bob Dylan

The Trials and Sentencing: Luke 22:66-71, 23:1-25

         “There is a Quiet Place” by Norman C. Brown

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus: Luke 23:26-49

The Burial of Jesus: Luke 23:49-54

         “Be Still and Know” by Isaac Slade

Reflection

Music “God Weeps”
(Words: Shirley Erena Murray. Music: Jim Strathdee; Words © 1996 Hope Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Music © 1998 Jim and Jean Strathdee, Desert flower Music. All rights reserved.)

Meditation on the Cross 

Presider: This is the wood of the cross on which hung the Saviour of the world.

All: Come let us worship and renew our commitment to offer our lives as gifts to the Holy One, in thanksgiving for the life of Jesus. 

Presider: In the pain, misfortune, oppression, and death of the people, God is silent. God is silent on the cross, in the crucified. And this silence is God’s word, God’s cry. In solidarity, God speaks the language of love. Amen. (Jon Sobrino, El Salvador)

Silence

Presider: Holy God, bless us as we let die all that is not love. May we trust in the resurrection that is your gift of Life. Grant us pardon; bring us comfort. May our faith grow stronger and our eternal salvation be assured. We ask this through Christ our Beloved. Amen.

Postlude “This Bitter Earth” by Clyde Otis

Those who wish may take a few moments before the cross as they leave in silence. People are welcome to spend some time in contemplation. The service continues with the Great Vigil of Easter.

“Who is the King?”

Good Friday Liturgy

Prelude

(Liturgical leaders enter in silence.)

Presider: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for their loss. Her children’s faces cannot be seen nor their voices heard throughout the land. (Jeremiah 31)

Leader: He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not speak out. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. (Isaiah 53)

Presider: Merciful God, who weeps with those unjustly accused, who stands with the disadvantaged and the forsaken, forgive us our ease in ignoring the condition of our society.

All: Forgive us for harming your creation, for hurting each other through our blindness, our greed and our stubbornness. May our time in the wilderness bring us new understanding, longer vision, and more generous spirits. Amen.

Presider: Loving God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus who has empowered others to be courageous even to the point of death, who calls to us throughout the ages to liberate our selves from the wrong gods, the deathly treasures. Bless us all as we remember that we are the people of the cross, the people won by sacrificial love so that we might become a witness to the power of love. May all people feel your healing touch, the compassion of the Anointed One. Amen.

Reflection

Music: suggestion “Go to Dark Gethsemane,” Common Praise #190

Four drama leaders move to their places. The Jesus figure, dressed all in black, carries cross and places it in front of altar and goes to lectern. Readers 1 to 3 are dressed in red and black and sit together off to the side. Jesus speaks to himself while the role of the others is to function like a Greek chorus, speaking amongst themselves.

Jesus: The strangeness of it all, this fog beyond the pain, beyond the grief. I have spent myself without holding anything back, and yet now I wonder if I imagined it all –the call, the journey, my companions, our dreams. The story seems distant and surreal –even to me- yet here I am caught between life and death, hanging in nothingness. And the Voice that called, that too, is silent, withdrawn as if it had never been, everything blown away like dust, like tears, a question never answered.

Reader 1: In the wilderness, they said he raved and raged and carried on like a maniac because he had seen God -or Satan- or his destiny.

Reader 2: No, I heard he became silent. They said he was praying but who really knows?

Reader 3: I know. He heard nothing except his own inner voice, the beating of his own heart, so big that he carried all of us in it.

Reader 1: But that was after his baptism, when we all heard a voice from heaven.

Reader 2: And what did it say?

Reader 3: Some say the voice said, “You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Others say that there was no voice at all.

Music

Reader 1: So then, when he came back from the wilderness, he was a man on fire, full of the Spirit, teaching and preaching a new way of looking at things.

Reader 2: It’s really no wonder they didn’t try to have him killed before. Heads of state don’t like people to speak out, especially when anyone could see the truth if they would only look.

Reader 1: But I think it was more than that. It was a revolution of the heart. Nobody could ever get him on one side or the other of a political argument.

Reader 3: With him, it was always, “Ask the poor; ask the integrity of your soul.” I don’t think it’s so much what he did. He made us think about ourselves and about what we were doing.

Reader 1: And he seemed to be collecting quite an odd assortment of followers, fishermen, tax collectors, women, and every hard luck case and ne’er do well in each town he visited.

Reader 2: It was sometimes embarrassing. He would talk to beggars and foreigners as if they were important people. Each person thought he cared particularly about them.

Reader 1: Well, not every person. Some people thought he was insubordinate and a trouble- maker. They thought he was mocking powerful people. I remember he said, “Woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation already.” Some people heard that as threatening.

Reader 3: Well not the poor. He made them feel worthy and lovable and important.

Reader 2: And what about the healing? That made a lot of people uncomfortable. Instead of quietly going to those who could afford a healer, he would walk around the marketplace, touching people, listening to their stories, not even charging them for it. It is as if he didn’t recognize the differences between one kind of person and another.

Reader 1: He treated everyone the same way, but he didn’t have much patience with his friends when they tried to keep the riffraff away. Instead he told them to go get enough food to feed a whole village! It wasn’t easy being one of his followers.

Reader 2: We all wanted to know what we had to do but he said there were no rules, only relationships. He said the rules would take care of themselves if we loved each other enough.

Reader 1: But how would we keep order? How would we know where we belonged and what was expected of us? How would we ever trust each other enough for that?

Reader 3: There is one very strange story that his followers tell about a time when he was praying. They looked at him and it was as if he had been changed. He seemed to be filled with light and so they thought they saw Moses and Elijah too. They heard that voice again, but this time it told them to listen to him because he was God’s chosen.

Reader 2: Right now, I think I am glad not to be God’s chosen. Who could face this?

Music

Reader 3: Just a few nights ago, he was arrested after one of his times of prayer. They said an angel came to him because he was so afraid.

Reader 1: But I heard that the disciples all fell asleep because they were so scared and worried themselves.

Reader 2: I just think it’s too bad that even when they knew he was in trouble they seemed to only think about themselves. Even Peter, who told everyone how important he was. When it came down to the moment, he denied even knowing him. He was too afraid of being arrested himself I guess.

Reader 1: And it was not good what Judas Iscariot did either. He thought that he could force Jesus to reveal his powers maybe, or maybe it was for the money, or maybe he thought he was doing the best thing. But anyway, he told the authorities something that allowed them to arrest Jesus as a trouble-maker.

Reader 3: I heard that Judas let them know how to identify Jesus by giving him the kiss of peace. Do you think he was sorry? Did he expect Jesus to forgive him or even understand?

Reader 2: Never mind them. Jesus must have felt abandoned. He is so alone now. Do you think the Voice can reach him? Maybe he should have run for his life. Can he pray for his angels to come?

Music

Reader 3: The trial was a farce but I am surprised they even bothered with one.

Reader 1: Even after he talked back to Pilate, who asked him: “Are you the king of the Jews?” And he said: “You say so, not me.” Pilate still didn’t want to condemn him. He was afraid of another riot I suspect.

Reader 2: So Pilate heard that he was from Galilee and shipped him off to Herod who was very interested in meeting him.

Reader 3: But he sent him back to Pilate and to mock him, put a king’s robe on him. Pilate and Herod were partners in crime after that, I can assure you.

Reader 1: It is really hard to understand what happened next. Did the temple authorities hate Jesus so much that they insisted on having him killed? Did the Roman officials just hand out their usual “injustice” because it set a good example of fear and terror? Did Pilate set Barrabbas free to make a point or did he hope the crowd would kill him as soon as he got out of prison?

Reader 2: Somehow or other, Jesus went from being mocked and beaten to being crucified. No one could believe it. One day, he was a great teacher, a friend to everyone and the next day, he became the king of the Jews and an enemy of the state. This is a disgraceful death and the end of a good cause, I say.

(turning back to face Jesus)

Reader 3: As they lead him away, they seize a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and they lay the cross on him, and make him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people follow him, and among them, women wail for him.

Jesus: ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’

Reader 2: Two others also, criminals, are to be put to death with him. They come to the place that is called The Skull and they crucify Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

Jesus: ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’

Reader 1: They cast lots to divide his clothing. The people stand by, watching, helpless. The leaders laugh at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’

Reader 2: The soldiers also mock him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’

Reader 3: There is an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

Reader 1: One of the criminals hanging there derides him and says, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’

Reader 2: But the other scolds him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are dying too? And we deserve our fate, but this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

Jesus: “Today — with me — in Paradise.’

Reader 3: It is noon, so why is darkness coming over the whole land?

Jesus: ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’

(At the time of Jesus’ death, the whole community shall observe a period of silence.)

Reader 3: That centurion praises God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’

Reader 1: This spectacle is over so let us return home, albeit in sadness.

(All players leave.)

Solemn Intercessions for the World

Lord’s Prayer

Music

OfferingCollection for world peace and development organizations.

Leader: But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Music

Postlude