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Summary: This Readers Theater piece, focusing on the Easter story, is an examination of spiritual callings through Joseph of Aramethea and his decision to bury Jesus. (Originally staged with back cyclorama and back lighting, creating silhouettes to the audience). Keywords: Easter, calling, spiritual gifts, ministry, doubts, fear.
Style: Dramatic.  Duration: 15min
Actors: 3M, 2F, 2M/F
Scripture reference:  raising of Lazarus through the Passion and appearance of Jesus to the Apostles in Acts.

Characters:  Joseph, Nicodemus, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Martha, two readers (male or female)

Script

WOMAN
Did you watch the sky?
Did you watch the gathering?
Did you watch the soldier’s declaration?
Did you watch everyone leave?

WOMAN 2
Did you hear the cries from heaven?
Did you hear the tears fall to the ground?
Did you hear the call to God?
Did you hear the shuffling feet walking away from the cross?

JOSEPH
I watched. I heard. I wept.
I walked away from the cross.
I ran from the cross.
I believe and cannot act. I act as if I do not believe.

WOMAN
Do you hear your call?

JOSEPH
I hear nothing.

WOMAN 2
Do you sense a need unfulfilled?

JOSEPH
I am thirsty.
(Joseph’s tone becomes more conversational)

--BREAK-- (THESE BREAKS SERVE TO SHIFT TONE AND FOCUS OF THE SCENE)

JOSEPH
I am thirsty. Nicodemus, can you spare a cup of water for an old friend?

NICODEMUS
“Old” being stressed over friend...for you Joseph.

JOSEPH
You’ll give to the old because you have no friends left.

NICODEMUS
My, you are charming.

JOSEPH
Unfortunately, my charm is not winning any friends in the Sanhedrin.

NICODEMUS
You are a counselor, a trusted member of the community, will you risk your reputation by proclaiming your belief in public.

JOSEPH
Not very trustworthy if I am living a lie. I hold my tongue every time Jesus is mentioned.

NICODEMUS
(some excitement builds)
I heard he is here, in Jerusalem.

JOSEPH
Yes and all the Romans and Rabbis alike want him out.

NICODEMUS
Did you go to him? I heard he rode int to town on the back of a donkey? Did you speak to him?

JOSEPH
I went but only watched, from a distance. I listened to the crowd gathered around him. They told stories...Nicodemus, they told amazing stories....stories of healing and teaching. They spoke about Lazarus. I saw him, I saw Lazarus. Can you imagine? Lazarus!

JOSEPH AND MARTHA IN UNISON
Lazarus!

--BREAK--

MARTHA
Lazarus! He is dead! Lazarus is dead....When I heard that Jesus was coming I was angry, tormented...I was hateful and hopeful all at once. My sister, Mary stayed behind. I could see them in the distance. Jesus walking toward me, determined, calm. As upset as I was, I was frightened for Jesus. So many friends and family from Jerusalem had come to Bethany to pay their respects. Some not fond of Jesus or his teachings. Yet, Jesus walked on and we met, face to face. “If you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died...even now, I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you. Jesus looked at me - “Your brother will rise again.
“I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.”
Then he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe his?”
.... And I knew then, “Yes, Lord; I believe that your are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
And then I ran... I ran to Mary, Mary had to come. I rushed past everyone, into the house. “Mary” I whispered, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” Together we hurried
out. Others followed thinking we were going to pray at the tomb of my brother. When Mary saw Jesus, she fell at his feet, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”
Jesus wept. He cried for my brother, for two sisters, for a family, for all those watching, for all of us. Jesus wept.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” But, I was worried about the stench, the smell, it had been four days. Jesus said to me,” Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the Glory of God?” As they took away the stone, Jesus looked up and said,” Father I thank you, that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for those standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out.”
And my brother walked out. Lazarus walks, he lives. A man who had died lives.

--BREAK—

MARTHA AND JOSEPH
A man who had died lives!

JOSEPH
 (distant thought)
A man who died lives.

WOMAN 2
Do you hear your words?
Do you hear the word?

WOMAN
Will you follow the word?
A man who died lives.
Do you hear your words?

JOSEPH
I hear you. I don’t understand. What am I to do now?

WOMAN 2
Will you follow? Or will you abandon?

WOMAN
Will you betray?

JOSEPH
I will not.

WOMAN 2
Will you betray when you walk away from the cross?

JOSEPH
I will NOT BETRAY HIM!
(almost to himself)

--BREAK--

JOSEPH
I will not betray our Lord.

NICODEMUS
So, you will stand up for him amongst your peers. You will use your position as high counselor to call out his name?

JOSEPH
I am just one man.

NICODEMUS
One of many who believe.

JOSEPH
Judas believed! And Judas turned him in.

NICODEMUS
Judas believed what Judas believed. Now what do you believe?

JOSEPH
I believe Jesus is the Messiah and so do you. But what do we do?

NICODEMUS
Petition Pilate.

JOSEPH
I can’t. Its too risky.

NICODEMUS
Then we hide and when we hide we deny Jesus is Lord.

JOSEPH
His own Disciples deny him! Judas betrayed him, Peter disowned him!

NICODEMUS
Will you deny him?

JOSEPH
I will not vote to execute him.

NICODEMUS
But, will you deny Jesus?

JOSEPH
I will not deny Jesus. I will not deny you, Lord, I will not deny you.

PETER AND JOSEPH IN UNISON
I WILL NOT DENY YOU.

--BREAK--

PETER
I will not deny you. If I must die with you, I will not deny you. My words. There were many discussions in those last days. Our Supper was more than a supper. Our Teacher broke bread with us. “This is my body....” He raised his cup, “this is my blood of the covenant , poured out for many.”
So much I didn’t understand. “Is it I?” We all asked one after another. Judas, I still don’t understand.... After that we sang together and went to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus looked at us...at me....”You will all fall away,” he said. “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.
 “No, others may fall away, not I, Lord.” I told him, “Even though they fall away, I will not.”
Jesus told me I would deny him that very night, not once but three times. Three time before the rooster crows twice.
“If I must die with you, I will not deny you!” We all pledged the same. Death before denial.
Judas arrived with the Priests and the Romans. Judas kissed him and delivered our Teacher to his death! A kiss, Judas?! They grabbed at Jesus, I lashed out in anger. My sword lifted the ear from someone, a priest or servant, my world was spinning with fear and anger. “No more of this!” said Jesus, he touched the wounded man and healed him. Then they were gone.
I followed as close as I could, trying to work my way into the crowd. They gathered around a fire, in a courtyard outside the home of Annas. Jesus was inside, I huddled in lose to the fire for warmth. A servant girl looked up at me..” This man was with him.’
And the words bolted from my mouth, “Woman, I do not know him.” I pulled away from the fire, withdrawn to another small group. A man stopped and studied my face,” You also are one of them.” “I am not,” and quickly moved across the courtyard. I waited and waited, an hour past when I heard, “Aren’t you from Galilee? I saw you at the garden with him.”
Panic set in, “I don’t know what you are talking about!” I spun away...and there he stood, Jesus...and I heard the rooster crow....and he looked at me....I wept, bitter tears and I left.
So, much I didn’t understand. But now...well now. I have my charge, “Follow me,” he said, “Tend and feed my sheep.... follow me.”

PETER AND JOSEPH IN UNISON
Follow me.

--BREAK--

JOSEPH
Follow me.

WOMAN
Can you follow?
Can you carry the weight?
Can you follow?

WOMAN 2
Will you follow?
Can you hear your call?
Will you follow?

JOSEPH
Follow me? Follow me....Follow me.
(from confusion to action)

--BREAK--
Follow me!

NICODEMUS
Where? Where are you going?

JOSEPH
To Pilate.

NICODEMUS
But it’s too late. Jesus is dead, you saw him on the cross.

JOSEPH
I will not walk away from that cross. I will bury Jesus. I will bury Jesus in my tomb.

NICODEMUS
What will you tell Pilate?

JOSEPH
I don’t know, that he killed an innocent man, that he killed our Messiah...I don’t know. I will bury Jesus. It is what I am supposed to do. Now, follow.

--BREAK--

NICODEMUS
And, he did. Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus. I don’t know what he said to Pilate, but he was granted permission to bury Jesus. Joseph carefully removed Jesus from the cross. He carried the body of the Messiah and together we wrapped him in clean linen cloths...we buried him according to custom.
The women who stayed by the cross, watched as Jesus was laid to rest in a tomb...in a garden...not far from where he was crucified. The world changed forever... see for
yourself....follow me...

NICODEMUS AND MARY M IN UNISON
Follow me.

--BREAK--

MARY MAGDALENE
“Follow me!” I shouted. “I have seen the Lord!” I wept, but this time for joy. After a week of misery and sorrow, my tears turned to joy. Before the joy, I watched as they took him from the cross. Joseph and Nicodemus carried him to the tomb and rolled the stone in place. We cried all through the Sabbath. I went early the following day... the stone was moved. The tomb was open, the stone had been rolled back! I looked inside...I was frightened...and there sat two men dressed in white.
“Why are you weeping?”, they said. I was confused, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” I turned around and there was a man standing there, I thought he was the gardener. I cried out, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away.” And then I saw him...I recognized him... Jesus. I wanted to reach out and touch him, but he said “Do not cling for me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; Go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
That is what he said...ascending...to my God and your God. I must tell Peter and the others, it is my call, follow me.

JOSEPH AND MARY M IN UNISON
Follow me.

--BREAK--

JOSEPH
Follow me. Yes, follow me. I understand.

WOMAN 2
Did you hear the call?
Did you hear your call?

WOMAN
Can you answer?
Will you answer?

JOSEPH
I answered once, I buried Jesus.

WOMAN
You acted once.

WOMAN 2
Did you hear your call?
Will you answer?
Can you answer?

JOSEPH
I want to...can I answer? I am confused.... troubled.

JOSEPH AND PETER IN UNISON
Troubled

--BREAK--

PETER
Troubled? Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” This is what Jesus said when he appeared among the disciples. We hid... locked away from all...in our tomb, a self made sepulchre. We all turned our backs in various ways and still Jesus found us; he came for us. “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.”
He asked me if I love him. Yes, Lord , you know that I love you....Jesus asked me again, “Do you love me?” Yes, Lord, you know that I love you ...”follow me,” he said...”you
follow me.”
Three times he asked, “do you love me?” Every time, I answered - Yes Lord, you know that I love you....

JOSEPH AND PETER IN UNISON
Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

--BREAK--

JOSEPH
Yes, Lord , you know that I love you.”

WOMAN
Did you watch the sky?
Did you watch the gathering?
Did you watch the soldier’s declaration?
Did you watch everyone leave?

WOMAN 2
Did you hear the cries from heaven?
Did you hear the tears fall to the ground?
Did you hear the call to God?
Did you hear the shuffling feet walking away from the cross?

JOSEPH
I watched. I heard. I wept.
I walked away from the cross.
I ran back to the cross.
I walk with the cross.

WOMAN
Can you follow?
Can you carry the weight?
Can you follow?

WOMAN 2
Will you follow?
Can you hear your call?
Will you follow?

JOSEPH
Yes, Lord , you know that I love you....I will follow.

WOMAN 2
Will you follow?
Can you hear your call?
Will you follow?

ALL - IN A STAGGERED MURMUR
Yes, Lord , you know that I love you....I will follow.
(silence)

GIRL
Yes, Lord, you know that I love you, I will follow.

....................................................................................
© Copyright Kevin Renshaw, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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