Summary: Not everybody invited to banquet chooses to come. An interactive play suitable for Thanksgiving, or any service with the theme of sharing, loving others, the invitation of God, etc.
Style: Drama. Duration: 10min
Scripture: Luke 14: 15-24
Actors: 2M, 3F
Eli and Miriam, servants in the house of a wealthy home owner
Fortius, a Roman Centurion (in the congregation, with script)
Sophia, wife of Abimilech, a vineyard owner (in the congregation, with script)
Eve, a widow (in the congregation, with script)
Set-up: front microphone, for the main actors, and a central mike in the congregation.
One large sign, on the floor near the front mike: “Thank you. We’d love to come!”
Miriam: Hurry up, Eli. We’ve got a lot of work to do and not much time to do it.
Eli: Coming, Miriam. Just let me get my buttons done up here. Jeepers, you’d think the old man was inviting the Emperor himself to this banquet. Hustle, hustle, hustle. Boy, does that man ever rest?
Miriam: Actually, no. I don’t think he ever does. He’s very ambitious and not a bit patient. He wants everything done his way, and now! It’s a wonder he keeps his servants as long as he does. And if we don’t get a move on, we may not be long for our jobs, either. Now, where is the list of guests? Have you got it?
Eli: Here it is. Let’s see. Who’s on it? Whoa, this is a very impressive list. Fortius, the head centurion. Abimelech the vineyard owner, and his dear wife Sofia. You can go and visit them, and give the invitation. Their dog bit me the last time I went there.
Miriam: I’ll go there if you go visit Fortius. I get nervous around him. OK? Who else do we need to find? Let’s see. O, there’s Eve, the widow.
Eli: Miriam, it would be my pleasure to go and visit the poor widow and invite her family to dinner.
Miriam: And her lovely daughter, Rachel, no doubt!
Eli: Now that you mention it, I do recall a certain young woman living in this house.
Miriam: OK, Eli. Go ahead. But just behave yourself. Let’s go, then, and meet back here at three o’clock.
Eli: That’s a deal. Off we go.
(Miriam and Eli go in different directions. Eli goes to the central mike, knocks, Sophia comes forward …)
Miriam: Good afternoon to you, madam Sophia, and to your husband, Mr. Abimilech. With sincere greetings from my master, I kindly offer you an invitation to dinner at the home this evening. I can assure you of the most delicious food, elegant company and favourable conversation.
Sophia: “Sorry, my husband just bought a piece of land. He’s way too excited about that. We really can’t come now. Another time, perhaps. Gotta go. Bimmy, wait for me. Don’t start the wagon yet.”
Miriam: My, they seem in a hurry. I hope Eli has more luck.
(Eli goes to central mike, knocks, Fortius comes forward…)
Eli: Mr. Fortius, sir, I have an invitation for you to attend dinner this evening at the home of my master. My apologies for the late notice, but everything is ready. May I tell him you will attend?
Fortius: “Sorry, but you see I’m about ready to retire from the army. Just this morning I finally bought five yoke of oxen. I can’t leave them. I need to finish building a corral for them. Another time, perhaps. Gotta go.”
Eli: I don’t think the master is going to be too pleased with this. Alright. Last one on the list is - O goody, Ms. Eve and her lovely daughter, Rachel. (straightens his tie, runs his fingers through his hair, knocks on the door. Eve comes forward…)
Ms. Eve? Thank you for a moment of your time. My master has kindly sent me with an invitation for you and your daughter - Rachel, I believe is her name, to come to dinner this evening. And a fine evening it will be. Wonderful food, all prepared. Stimulating company. Shall I say you will come?
Eve: “Sorry, young man, I just can’t go. Really, I am so beside myself with joy. (Giggling)… you see, I just got married. This morning. After all those years of being on my own, raising my daughter, this wonderful man came into my life, and I - well, I’m sure you understand. This is my honeymoon. Another time, perhaps.”
Eli: (hanging his head) This is turning out badly for everyone. Me especially. O dear. What will I tell the master?
(Eli and Miriam meet in the center of the chancel.)
Miriam: Well, Eli, how did it go? Is your friend Rachel coming to dinner?
Eli: No and neither is her mother. Seems she got married today. And the same with Mr. Fortius. Seems like he married a bunch of cows. Any better luck with you?
Miriam: Zero out of one. Looks like you and me have a lot of eating to do.
Eli: Don’t count on it. I dread telling the boss what happened. Come on, let’s get it over with.
(Eli and Miriam turn their backs to the congregation for a moment, then around to the mike.)
Miriam: That turned out better than we might have hoped. At least we have our jobs.
Eli: Barely. Holy Moses, was that guy ever mad! But what a strange bit of work he gave us now. “Go out into the streets and bring in the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.”
Miriam: I guess he has a bigger heart than I imagined.
Eli: And a lot of food. Well, let’s get to it.
(They walk into the congregation, asking members if they would like to come to the banquet. “There’s lots of room and lots of food.” After a while, come back to the front.)
Miriam: That should just about do it. Though I don’t imagine it will be the same kind of clientele as the first list. They’re not a very well-mannered lot.
Eli: All I can say is the master got who he asked for. Let’s hope he’s satisfied this time.
(They turn around, pause, then turn back to the mike.)
Eli: I can’t believe this. We have to go and get more. Into the roads and lanes. The back alleys. The homeless shelters. Street people. Beggars.
Miriam: That is a pretty wide-open invitation, isn’t it? Say, Eli. I wonder. I’ve been thinking about this since the master sent us out the second time. I remember something the rabbi said last Sabbath at worship.
Eli: You go to synagogue? Good for you.
Miriam: You should come sometime. But the rabbi was talking about the prophets, and how sad it is that some feast while others starve in a world of plenty. He felt that God shared that sadness, but that what gave God the greatest joy was when all shared in the banquet. He said was that there should never be any special seats of honour and that all were children of God.
Eli: I like that. Come on, let’s invite the rest of the community to the feast. Friends, would you like to come to the thanksgiving banquet? (Holds up the sign: “Thank you. We’d love to come!”)
(c) Jim Hatherly
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license. Some rights are reserved. For the full license visit visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ca/. A donation of equivalent to $10.00 Cdn. to the United Church of Canada Mission and Service Fund for use of this work is suggested. Please visit www.united-church.ca/msfund"