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Summary: The congregation gets unceremoniously blind-sided during a routine scripture reading by a seemingly irreverent bible-time teacher with a modern day lesson about why we worship and read scripture. (The simple message is in why some worshipers traditionally stand for scripture readings, while the larger message goes to the core of the worship experience, and for whom worship is really intended.) Key words: Scripture / Respect / The Bible / Performing / Self-Righteousness / Worship / Audience.

Style: Light-hearted drama.       Duration: 10min
Actors: 1M, 1M/F

Characters:
The READER: normal in every way.
The VISITOR: overacting with stereotypical Jewish accent.

Props: Easily removable typical Biblical garb for the VISITOR. He also wears an easy-to-read
West Virginia tee-shirt or sweatshirt underneath.

Note: Works best with a congregation accustomed to standing for scripture reading, but will work without that tradition.

Script

(The setting is normal for the standard scripture reading, up to and including the first line.)

READER
(To the congregation, which hopefully obliges).
Would you please stand with me for the reading of the scripture.

(Dressed in something akin to a High-Priest's garb from old biblical days, the VISITOR enters from the main entrance of the sanctuary, unannounced. The READER begins, and is quickly interrupted.)

READER
Our scripture is taken from the book of ...

VISITOR
No, no, no, no, no! This isn't right. There certainly is something wrong here. Everybody sit back down. We've gotta work on this.

READER
(Embarrassed & flustered.)
Excuse me?!?!?

VISITOR
Yes, something is definitely wrong.

READER
I beg your pardon, Sir. You are interrupting our service!

VISITOR
Oh, my. So I am. I do get a little carried away sometimes. Please go on. Anyway, I'm not really here, so don't mind me.
(He squeezes into a pew next to an unsuspecting someone.)

READER
Don't mind you?! How can I NOT mind you? You just made my whole audience sit down!

VISITOR
YOUR audience? YOUR audience?!?!
(VISITOR gets up and begins slowly working his way toward the READER.)

VISITOR
Now THAT may be part of the problem right there.

READER
Part of WHAT problem? We didn't have a problem until you walked in here and took over.

VISITOR
Aren't we touchy today! Look... In the first place, I'm just here to help. And, in the second place, I haven't taken over anything. How could I, I'm not even here.

READER
There you go again. What do you mean, "You're not even here."

VISITOR
Weeeeell. I guess I am kind-of-here. But not really. Not completely. I'm.... I'm sort of on a... a mission.

READER
(Quick, angry response ...)
A MISSION!?!? (... then begins to get the picture.)
You mean, a mission? Like, you're on a mission from
(... Looks towards the ceiling. VISITOR follows the gaze upwards, but says nothing.)

READER
(Suspicious, but careful.)
I've never met uh, a uh... I mean someone from, uh... You know. Someone on a "mission!" How did you get here anyway?

VISITOR
Getting here was easy. [or hard, depending on where this is being done. Just give highway directions from Charleston, West Virginia.]

READER
(Suddenly with serious doubts.)
West Virginia! You mean to tell me that West Virginia is heaven?

VISITOR (With a "This-is-too-easy" glance at the audience.)
Well... Almost heaven.

READER
(Patronizing.)
OK. So you're on a mission. You're from West Vir, eh, heaven. And you've brought our service to a standstill. So now, what's this mission all about!?

VISITOR
(Begins measuring the READER as though for a suit.)
Actually, it's about this scripture reading business. Somebody thinks you need some work in this area.

READER
(Defensive.)
Some work!? What's to work on? I read. They stand. I do a nice, short prayer, and we sing some choruses. So, what's your problem?
(Getting irritated at the measuring stuff.)
And what are you doing back there?!

VISITOR
(Still measuring.)
In the first place, if you'll remember, it's not MY problem. In the second place, did you know you wear the same size suit Moses did?

READER
Really? ...com'on! What's this all about?

VISITOR
(Gets serious, and begins to take off his garb and put it on the READER.)
It's about your attitude when reading, and listening to, the Holy Word of God. For example, do you know why you tell "YOUR" audience to stand-up for your reading?

READER
Well, uh. Because it says so in the program?

VISITOR
I don't think so.

READER
(As the VISITOR shakes his head to each suggestion.)
Uh, so they can hear better? ...
Because [the preacher] thinks it's a good idea?...
Because the Elders voted on it?...
Because .....

VISITOR
(Jumping in.)
Back in my days as a High Priest...

READER
(Jumping back and impressed.)
A High Priest?! You are a High Priest...

VISITOR
WAS a High Priest.
But back in my days, nobody ever had to be told to stand for the reading of the scripture. Somebody would pull out a scroll and boom! Everyone gets to their feet...

READER
Out of respect! That's why we do it. Respect for the Lord's word. I knew that, I really did, I just forgot. You know, with the pressure of the audience, and you, and...
I really did know that.

VISITOR
Respect was so important in my day, we didn't even use God's name because we felt it was so holy that it shouldn't be uttered by mere mortals. You've heard the term "Yaweh?"
That's what we called God instead of using his name. Some of our scribes would even wash themselves all over before writing the name, and they would use a brand new pen each time so they wouldn't offend Yaweh.
Yes indeed. Respect and reverence were VERY important in my day.

READER
And I guess you even had to dress a certain way before talking to God, er, Yaweh.

VISITOR
(Pulling the head cloth over the READER's head.)
Something like that. Especially over the head. We wouldn't dare address the Lord with our heads uncovered.

READER
So that's what your mission is about? To teach us about respect?

VISITOR
That's part of it.

READER
(Feelin' fine in the clothes.)
And what about those great clothes? Are those really your High Priest clothes from thousands of years ago?

VISITOR
I wish. Those old things rotted away centuries ago.
No, these are just some things I found in your drama group's prop area. But they do help get the point across, don't they.

READER
(Confused and almost disappointed.)
So we don't have to get all dressed up to pray?

VISITOR
If I had anything to do with it you would, but, well, things have changed since my time.
You don't have to dress-up any more.
You don't have to avoid pork any more.
You don't have to tithe any more.
And "your audience" doesn't even HAVE to stand when they see the Lord's word pulled out to be read. You don't have to.
That's the great thing about love and respect: you do the right things because you WANT to, and because they are appropriate. Jesus has given you that freedom through his tremendous sacrifice.
But, it doesn't hurt you to know about the old laws, and even to do some of them, if you do it for the right reasons, and out of respect.

READER
(With understanding.)
You mean, like standing for the scripture reading.

VISITOR
Exactly. Now, if we only had a scroll....

READER
(Holding up the Bible.)
How about this?

VISITOR
What will modern technology come up with next! OK. Let's see if anybody's been listening.
(VISITOR guides the READER back to his starting point.)
You just come back over here and we'll start this all over.
Now, make sure the people see your scroll of the Lord's word so "your audience" will have the opportunity to stand, out of respect -- if they want.
(READER gets up and moves to the pulpit holding the Bible prominently.
Everyone should stand, READER covers his head.)

VISITOR
(Clears his throat as READER is about to begin.)

READER
Now what? The audience stood on their own, I even have my head covered.

VISITOR
Just one last thing. This "audience" business...

READER
Yeah, they did good didn't they.

VISITOR
These people did fine. But they are not your audience. In fact, they are not an audience at all.

READER
OK, so they're not MY audience. But if they aren't the audience then who is?

VISITOR
Think about it. This is suppose to be worship. And we all should be worshipping, not just those up here in front. Our performances, if that's how you want to think of them, are all for HIS pleasure, HIS enjoyment, and HIS praise. Your audience, OUR audience, is the smallest you could ever have. Just one member. It is also the most important. Just think about it.
(Short pause as the READER thinks, then ...)

READER
(To the congregation. Begins without looking at the Bible, then lifts it so as to be obvious that this is scripture.)
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
(The VISITOR begins backing out of the scene, then turns and quietly leaves through the nearest exit.)
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
-- Psalm 95:1-7 NIV

..............................................
By John Wayne Samples, ©1996 JSam Communications, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This script is available at no charge to church theatre groups who do not charge to watch the performance, and who include the author's details in an appropriate credit.

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