Pastors, Bible Study Leaders, Educators:
Would you give me a few minutes of your reading time?
Briefly explore a sample lesson of a new Christ-centered, Bible study, The Life of Christ. This 54 week study will enrich the spiritual life of your congregation. It offers a wide variety of great resources and visual aids from the Internet. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
Blessings to you this day.
Ed Markquart, Author of this website.
View sample lessons
The Voice of God
Drama and Puppets for Lent
centuries, Lent has been a powerful worship experience for the
Church. For thousands
of years, the church has gathered for the special occasions of
worship during this scared season. Lent is part of our legacy.
Lent is an extension of our heritage. Through the years of
being a pastor, Lent has become a highlight of our congregational
me briefly tell you about it. I
learned about the worship potential of Lent from Pastor Phillip
Natwick who taught me much about the parish ministry.
I saw what he did during those Lenten services.
Ash Wednesday was great, with the burning of the ashes and
marking of the forehead with ashes.
Each following Wednesday night was a short service, 35
minutes at the longest, with catechetical preaching for the children
and adults. The
services were geared for the young.
On Holy Thursday, we did the Passover and the Footwashing.
Now more recently, on Good Friday, we do the powerful liturgy
of Tenebrae and the "Carpenter and the Cross."
come...in droves. Oh
yes, grades 5-9 are still required to take notes and that helps
attendance, as do the soup suppers.
But now, in our parish, when "Lift High the Cross"
is sung every Wednesday night of Lent and the children and families
gather for worship, the sanctuary is jammed with worshipers.
Sacred traditional memories are being created.
Our people have become part of a long history that reaches
back centuries. During
Lent, the church is drawn closer and more deeply into the experience
of the Cross. I commend
this form of Lenten service to you, a form that I learned from a
seasoned veteran pastor.
have done many chancel dramas, plays and puppet shows during Lent as
vehicles of the Gospel. This
particular series is called, "The Voice of God."
It features a booming, reverberating resonate voice coming
from good speakers. This
voice of God speaks slowly, deeply and the sound of the voice echoes
throughout the darkened sanctuary. Judas, Peter, Pilate, Barabbas,
Dysmas, the centurion, the mother of Jesus, and the gardener of the
cemetery on Easter morning listen to this vibrating voice.
Judas, of course, doesn't believe in the voice of God
("tricks in the mind, that’s all.") In 1987, the Voice
of God was male; in 1997, the Voice of God was female. Both voices
the Old and New Testament, we hear passages about the "voice of
God." (Ex. 15:26,
"If you diligently listen to the voice of the Lord;" and
Duet. 4:36, "Out of heaven, he let you hear his voice.")
In these plays, the voice of God consistently speaks the
message of God, and the word of forgiveness, compassion and
eternity, to those people near the cross.
As the congregation listens to the voice of God at each of
the services, it is as if the words of Scripture come alive in a new
and intimate way.
of the characters is placed in a moment of time.
For example, Dysmas, the thief on the cross is placed in a
special moment of time. As
I carefully searched the Scriptures, I noticed that the soldiers
came to break the leg of those on the cross but Jesus was already
dead so they didn't break his legs.
(As the Scriptures says, "Not a bone of his body would
be broken.)" I
couldn't quite imagine the thief on the cross in Paradise, so I put
him on the cross, in the time frame between Jesus' death and
the soldiers coming to break his legs to hasten his own death.
There in that moment, I tried to imagine his inner
conversations with God. In that same moment, I tried to tell the
story of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Similarly, each of the characters is located in a very
specific moment in time. (e.g.
the centurion, just as he left the house of Pilate to assure Pilate
that the body of Jesus was dead.)
I think my favorite play is the Easter drama, and the story
of the gardener, who dug the grave and saw the whole event from Good
Friday to Easter Sunday.
puppet shows and chancel dramas are tailored to match each other.
Themes from the puppet show will be repeated in the chancel
drama moments later. For
example, in the puppet show, Dysmas, the thief, will show a large
ten-inch spike and snap a whip, as he talks about the crucifixion;
and the children will discuss the meaning of paradise.
Those same themes are repeated but in a different mood during
the chancel drama. Of course, you would expect little children to
love the puppet shows; but much to my surprise, it was the power of
the “voice of God” and the chancel dramas that they vividly
loved those dramas.
facilitate your use of these resources in your congregation, we
video taped the whole series. It
will help you to watch the video.
These VHS tapes are not intended to be used as devotional
resources in a home, but as aids to the players in the dramas. The
videos are not as powerful as the actual production.
For example, when you photograph rugged mountains here in the
state of Washington, the photographs always come out
"flat" compared to the mountain itself. Mountains rarely are dramatic in most common photos.
I feel that the video tapes are "flat" compared to
actual performance. Even so, they are very helpful to those who are going to
the close of the VHS tapes, we have video taped three important
liturgies: the Burning
of the Ashes, the Footwashing, and the Carpenter and the Cross.
Perhaps, if you don't use these or similar liturgies, you may
find that helpful as a means of increasing the vitality and
imagination in your congregational worship life. You will find these
liturgies under the section entitled, VIDEOS.
God bless you and your congregation as you listen to the "Voice
series of Chancel Dramas and Puppet Shows for Lent
Chancel Drama: James
Puppet Show and Chancel Drama:
Judas (Second Wednesday)
Puppet Show and Chancel Drama: Peter
IV. Puppet Show and Chancel
V. Puppet Show and Chancel
VI. Puppet Show and Chancel Drama: Dysmas
VII. Puppet Show and Chancel
VIII. Chancel Drama:
Mary, Mother of Jesus (Good
IX. Chancel Drama:
The Gardener (Easter
P.S. In the year
2001, when I was initially, preparing this website, I offered a few
comments about this series. In 1997, we had a “woman’s voice”
play the role of God, and that meant we had to do a little teaching
for the whole congregation and for the few dissenters who objected
to a woman playing the voice of God. We taught about the fact that
in the Old Testament, God was invisibly present in the Holy of
Holies between the wings of the seraphim. There were to be no
pictorial representations of God because God’s very nature was
invisible. An artist could not nor cannot portray an invisible
spiritual presence as either male or female, and so it is with God
yesterday and today. God is neither male nor female. Even so, the
concept of male and female is at the core of the mind and heart of
God. We, human beings, are made in the image of God; we are like
God. According to the Bible, God created human beings in “his”
image; that is, male and female. The very image of God contains male
and female and the male and female principle is located wherever
there is life on this planet. The famous psychologist, Carl Jung,
named this the “anima” and “animus” in God. Male and female
is found in all of creation and also in the heart and mind of God.
Of course, all of these explanations will do little to change the
mind of most people who believe that God is essentially male and
should always be personified with a male voice. … When using a
female voice for God, there was an additional tenderness and
understanding that was brought to God’s character.
Also, a video tape
of each drama is offered on this website. Click on videos and you
can see the play and how it can be adapted to your congregation.
Chancel Drama: James, The Sleeping Disciple
The sanctuary is dark. James
is standing in the chancel area, near the Communion table.
The voice of God comes from a good speaker. Through the use of electronics, the voice of God is deep and
reverberating. He or
she speaks slowly, deeply, and the sound of his or her voice echoes
through the sanctuary.)
James? (Pause ... James looks around)
Lord, I didn't mean to do it. It just happened.
You say that often, James.
Please ... let me explain.
Well, you see, Lord, it happened like this. We had finished the Last
Supper. The meal was over. Jesus
and the eleven of us disciples went out to the Garden of Gethsemane.
You know, just a short walk from Jerusalem.
(Chuckle) I know.
Of course, you know. As
we approached the garden, Jesus told the other disciples to wait. He
asked Peter, John, my brother, and I to come with him to pray. The
three of us were very close to him.
Then????? (Slow, deep,
resonating voice at all times)
Well, Jesus, your Son, became very upset, even terrified. He called
out to you ... "Lord, if you will remove this cup from
me." He begged and pleaded with you.
And then his voice became quieter, submissive, and in almost
a whisper, he said ... "Not my will, but yours."
I know. He needed to
die to pay the penalty for the sins of the world ... for the sins of
the whole world.
Well, then Jesus asked the three of us to watch ... to stay alert...
to pray for him. He
walked a short distance from us, and he began to pray like I had
never seen anyone pray before.
He fell to his knees, then his face into the ground, his arms
stretched out, his body sprawled out on the dirt. He was in such
agony. I didn't know
what to do.
My heart grieved for my beloved Son.
I watched him ... suffer
... and watched ... and watched ... and then ... then ... I fell
asleep. I didn't mean
to, but I fell asleep? ...
Before I knew it, he was tapping Peter on the shoulder and we all
woke up, and there he was. His face was sweaty with blood ... his
eyes filled with deep depression ... his clothes soiled and grimy
... and he asked us, "Could you not watch with me for one
We didn't. ... And then it happened a second time.
A second time he asked us to watch.
A second time he agonized.
And again, we fell asleep.
He tapped on our shoulders and said, "Your spirit is
willing, but your flesh is weak."
James, you wanted to do what was right.
Why does that happen all the time to me, Lord?
Why? Again and again in my life, I want to do what is right
... but I always come up short. I never do it perfectly.
Why am I that way, Lord?
I know your heart, James. I
know my Spirit is inside of you. But ... but ... the power of sin is also at work in you.
Lord, how can you put up with disciples like us ... who fall asleep
when your Son is suffering ... who fall asleep when the whole world
around us is suffering? ... How can you put up with disciples like
It's not easy, James. You
test my patience. You
grieve my heart. But I
know you. I understand
you. I love and forgive you.
Lord, it's so much more than I ever deserved.
Help me ... please help me to become a stronger disciple.
I will. I will put my
Spirit inside of you ... and make you stronger ... you and all the
Thank you, Lord. I have
to go now and be with the others.
I think I hear Judas and soldiers coming into the garden.
I'll be watching.
This play is
short in order to accommodate a longer, Ash Wednesday liturgy.
Nor is there a puppet show the first night.
Puppet Show: Judas, The Money-Lover
Hi, children. It's
nice to see you tonight. Would
you come up to the front and meet a friend of mine? ... Please, all
of you who want a good front seat for the puppet show, would you
come up here into the chancel area? I'll knock and see if he is
home. (Knocks on the
table and chatters with the children as they come forward. Cue:
knocks slowly and firmly three times on the table) Judas, are you
Go away. I don't want
to see anybody.
Please, Judas. I have
some friends who want to meet you.
No ... leave me alone.
Five dollars??? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
No, that's not enough.
I'll make it ten dollars.
Well...hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...OK...ten dollars then.
(Judas pops up from behind the table)
It's nice to see you, Judas.
Yes, pay up. I want the
ten dollars now before our conversation begins.
don't think I have the ten dollars right now.
Kids, do you have any money?
(Banters with the children to see if they have money.) Let me
see here in my wallet. OK, here’s ten dollars.
I do have ten dollars. (Gives Judas ten, one-dollar bills,
one at a time, placing them into Judas' fingers)
(Counts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Ten dollars. OK, I will talk with you.
Judas, these are some young children from our church.
Oh, what nice clothes you are wearing, children.
Look at that pretty blue dress and that red shirt over there.
You know what? You
children should sell all your fancy clothes, give the money to me,
and I will give it to the poor children of the world.
Good idea, eh?
Judas, weren't you the disciple who took care of the money bag for
Jesus and his disciples...and you stole from it?
You stole from the money the disciples used to give to the
Rumors. All rumors.
I was never convicted of it in court.
Oh, that was pretty bad. But I still wanted the children to meet
(Breaking in on pastor's question, defensively) Why? Why me?
Children never want to meet me.
Have you ever met a child named Judas before?
Well, I don't think so. Children, are any of you named Judas???
(Asks several children if they are named Judas) You're right,
not one child here is named Judas.
See, nobody is ever named after me.
Why? Why is that,
Please tell us, Judas. Why
doesn't anyone like your name?
Well...I betrayed Jesus...I sold him...for 30 pieces of silver.
Thirty pieces of silver? You
sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?
I like money and Jesus disappointed me.
I thought he was going to be a great political leader.
He wasn't. So I
told the police where to find him...for a good sum of money, of
Judas, I think you love money. You love money so much, you sold
Jesus for 30 pieces of silver...and he was then killed.
I didn't think they were going to kill him.
I just thought they were going to arrest him, ask him some
questions, and then let him go. I never thought they would kill him.
That's terrible, Judas. Even
if you didn't think they were going to kill Jesus, it was terrible
that you betrayed him.
See? That's why I never
like to talk with people like you. You always bring up the
past...like when I betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Betrayed him, how? With
We were all in this old park, with huge old trees.
It was night and very dark.
The soldiers came with torches and lanterns.
They came to arrest Jesus, tie his hands, and put him in
jail. It was dark and
they didn't know who Jesus was.so I kissed him...on the cheek…so
the soldiers would capture the right man.
That's terrible, Judas. What
you did to Jesus was awful!
There you go again. You
and all your Christian friends. You always tell those unkind stories
about me. We've talked
long enough. I must go... (Drops down behind the screen) and count
my money, money, money!!!
children, that was Judas. (Then the pastor asks a series of
questions of the children; letting them respond) What did you think
of Judas, kids? (Gets
answers) Was Judas nice to Jesus?
(Gets answers) What did Judas love more than Jesus?
(Gets answers) Thanks for coming, children.
Next week, come again and we will meet the disciple, Peter. You may return to your seats.
Drama: Judas, The Betrayer
(A long silence ...
almost awkward before beginning.)
Why? Why did I do it?
Sometimes I just don't understand myself.
Sometimes I feel like I sold my soul to the devil. (long
Did you, Judas? (Always
speaking very low and very slowly, pausing before and after Judas
Is that you, God? (Silence)
Are you there? (Silence)
Ha! Just my
imagination. I am not
sure if there is a God at all.
Just voices. Tricks
in my mind. (Long silence)
Having doubts, Judas?
That voice is always playing games with me, but it's only a voice
... just a voice in my mind ... that's all.
Are you sure?
No, not for sure. (Pause)
Judas ... you are a ... thief?
Ha! Playing games with
me, aren't you, voice. Trying to make me feel guilty about two days
Two days ago???
You know. Bethany.
That woman was slobbering Jesus with tears and expensive
perfume. Her sentimentality was nauseating. That perfume was worth 300 denarii ... a year's wages ... one
ton of money!
Concerned about the money, Judas?
A person should be. That
perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.
That's what Jesus should have done.
He should have said, "Lady, cut out that expensive
waste. Sell your
perfume and give the money to the needy children." That's what he should have said.
There you go again. The
next thing you're going to do is accuse me of stealing from the
treasury ... from the money we used to buy food and give to the
Now, I admit ... on occasion ... I was short of cash.
I admit I borrowed from our discipleship fund but I always
paid it back. Let me repeat: I
always paid it back!
Did you? Did you always
pay it back?
Well ... uhahah ... no ... but ... most of the time.
Judas? Do you love
money more than me?
God, I know money exists, but I am not sure if you exist. You may only
be a voice to me. I can feel money. I can rub it between my fingers. I can touch it, kiss it, and
handle it. But you?
You, I can only trust that you exist. I can’t see you or
prove you. I can money.
Oh, Judas! Can you
touch love? Can you rub
love between your fingers? Can you touch happiness?
Can you rub happiness between your fingers?
There you go again, voice sounding just like Jesus, asking the same
questions of me. You and Jesus always say the same thing.
Hmmmmmmmmmmm. I wonder
why. (Pause ... silence
... Judas walks around nervously.) Judas what happened yesterday?
I would rather not talk about it.
Your voice never quits, does it? Your voice always comes after me. You never stop, do you? OK.
I will tell you. I
went to the chief priests. I knew they wanted to kill Jesus, in
order to avoid mobs, scenes, and riots.
So, I offered to cooperate ... to help them ... find Jesus
when he was alone...
Is that all?
There was a small sum of money involved.
Not much. Only
30 pieces of silver. It
wasn't like the 300 denarii. That woman was wasting a lot of
expensive perfume for Jesus’ body.
You do love money, don't you, Judas
I'm ... I'm not sure.
Did you love my Son? (Long pause)
Did you know him?
Yes, of course, I knew him. We spent three year together. I kept the
treasury box for him. I heard all his teachings. I listened to his
parables. I saw him work miracles. We were together night and day
for three whole years.
But, did you love him?
I told you, I knew him. I spent time with him: fishing
together, traveling together, walking together.
But, did you know his heart? Did you know what was inside his heart?
No, not really.
I was in his heart. My
love. My kindness.
My forgiveness. My joy ... was all in his heart.
But ... but ... but ... you are only a voice ... maybe! You are only
questions in my mind ... I think.
Judas ... I love you ... very much. I created you to be loving, like
Jesus. Underneath your hard shell, there is love and goodness.
Come ... be open ... let me enter your heart and live in you.
How can you say that to me ... that you love me ... after what I
did? I stole from the treasury ... I betrayed your Son with a kiss
... I ... it was I ... who arranged for your Son to be killed. How
can you say that you love me?
But I do love you ... and will forgive you.
I can't stand it any more. I can't stand that voice. I can't stand
what I have done. I can't stand what I have become. I… I ... I ...
I ... I am going to ... kill myself. (Exits out the door.)
Oh, Judas, no. No ...
Puppet Show: Peter, The Fisherman
Fishing net over Communion Table.)
Children, why don't you come up front for the puppet show? I
have a friend I want you to meet. Please, I want you all to be
seated there on the floor, outside the Communion rail.
If you all sit there you will be able to see. OK?
(Gets everyone seated ... welcoming.) Well, kids, who did we
talk to last week? Do you remember his name?
Judas. (They will
respond like a cheering chorus.)
Children, did Judas love Jesus?
Did Judas betray Jesus with a kiss?
Do you remember - What did Judas love more than he loved
Good answers, kids.
OK, well tonight I want you to meet another friend ... Simon
Peter is his name. I'll knock and see if he is home ... (Knocks seven times,
(Pause) Hi there
laugh) Good to see you
Hi, Peter. I'm Pastor
O'Neal and these are friends here from Grace Lutheran Church.
They want to meet you.
I want to meet you, too, children. (Booming laugh) You seem to be nice little kids.
Are you nice little kids, children? (Simon Peter grabs net - plays
What's that in your hand, Peter?
You know, Pastor O'Neal. It's
a fishing net.
Why do you have a fishing net?
Because I am a fisherman. I
love to go fishing ... and I love seeing this net full ...
(booming laugh) I mean really full ... of fish.
Weren't you fishing the first time you met Jesus?
You better believe it. I'll
never forget that day. (Booming laugh again)
Ho, Ho, ho. Wow.
My kid brother, Andrew, and I were fishing partners, along
with two good fishing buddies; James and John There were four of us.
That night we had fished all night and caught nothing. You
kids ever been fishing? (Starts
to banter with the kids) You have? What kind of fish do you catch?
Do you kids use a fishing pole or a net? Do you use worms for bait?
(Get kids talking with him about fishing.)
Then what happened, Peter? I want to hear the story.
Oh, yeah. The story.
We fished all night and caught nothin.
Then the next morning, Jesus comes along and says:
"Simon Peter, the crowds here want me to teach them
about God. Would you
row me out in your boat and I will preach from your boat? Kids, have
you ever seen a preacher preach from a boat? (Booming laugh) Can you
imagine ... your pastor preaching from a boat?
He'd get seasick. (Booming laugh) Well, I never met a preacher preaching in a
boat until I met Jesus.
Peter, would you please tell us the story?
I am. I am.
After Jesus finished preaching, he says: "Peter, put out
into the deep water so we can catch some fish" I said,
"Lord, we fished all night and caught nothin" ... and
Jesus looked me in the eye, and said,
"Peter, go into the deep water and put your nets over
What happened? ... What
Bingo! (Booming laugh)
You never saw so many fish, kids.
There were so many fish, the two boats started to sink. And
then you know what happened, kids?
Do you know what Jesus said?
Jesus said, "Peter, I'm going to make you fishers of men and
women and boys and girls ... from now on, you're going to catch
people for God."
Wow! That's quite a
And I've been fishing for people ever since. Hey, kids ... do
you believe in Jesus?
Good ... so do I. You see, if you love Jesus with all your heart, he
has already caught you in his net and put you in his boat.
Sounds like you were a good and faithful disciple, Peter.
Oh, no. Don't get that
picture. I denied Jesus
three times. Three times I pretended that I didn't know him.
Tell us about it.
No, that's another story for another time.
I have to run. (Peter exits.)
Thanks Peter. Kids, I want to ask you some questions about Peter.
Did Jesus love Peter a whole lot?
(All say yes) Was Peter a fisherman?
(All say yes) Does he want you to be fishers of men and women
and boys and girls and catch people for Christ?
(All say yes). Come next week, kids, and we will meet another
friend of mine. Pilate
is his name.
Drama: "Peter's Long Night"
What are you doing, Peter?
About last night. After it was all over, I needed to be alone ... to
lick my wounds ... to feel like a failure ... So I came here ... to
this lonely, isolated place.
Very ashamed, Lord.
You know why. I loved him very much. We spent three amazing years
together. Those were
the best years of my life. I've never known and loved someone
as much as I did Jesus. He
was not only my Lord and master; he had become my very best
friend. I could talk with him about anything ... and I let him down
... when he needed me the most.
You regret that!
I blew it. (...crying)...
I really blew it last night. One disaster after another. It was the
worst night of my entire life.
Tell me more.
tearful) ... it began with the Passover Meal. James, John and I were
arguing about who was the most important disciple ... the best
disciple ... the most faithful disciple. How silly.
What a joke when I think about it.
Jesus overheard us and made us all sit down. He then took a
dish towel and a pail of water and began to wash our feet. It was so
Trying to teach you
a lesson you still hadn't learned.
I know. He washed the feet of the other disciples, and as
usual, they didn't say a thing.
They were the silent type. He then came to me and looked me
squarely in the eye and said, "Peter, your turn." As
usual, I shot off my mouth, “No, you don't Lord ... not me."
He said: "If I
don't wash you, you will not be truly clean and you cannot be my
disciple.” Then I said, "Lord, wash all of me.
My head, my heart my hands ... that I may be truly clean and
be your disciple." What a joke ...
me ... truly clean.
Did it last?
My clean heart lasted about an hour. On the way to
Gethsemane, he said, "You disciples will desert me." Once
again, instinctively, my mouth shot off.
I cannot control my mouth. Lord, why can't I control it?
I said: "Not
me, Lord ... not me ... the others may desert you ... but me?
Never!!!” What a jerk I was for saying such things.
He knew the inside
of your heart better than you did.
Then he went to the
garden ... and there ... the good old faithful disciple that I was
... I fell asleep while he was praying ... old reliable himself that
I am. He called me the rock, but the rock cracked under pressure.
You're being hard on
You think this is
bad. I'm not done with
the whole story yet. Then the soldiers came. Jesus had never
hurt anyone. He never
lifted his hand or mouth to strike.
He was the prince of peace. He told us again and again ... No
violence ... no revenge ... love your enemies ... pray for those who
When they grabbed Jesus and began to rough him up, I grabbed
a sword and cut off a man's ear. Instinctively ... in a flash ... in
a fit of rage, I grabbed a knife and slashed.
nature, but not my nature (slowly).
It happened so fast
inside of me.
It always does ...
anger ... revenge ... flashes of temper.
Walking in the way
of peace is not easy, Lord.
I never said it
And then I ran away.
What a coward.
About the courtyard.
You don't want to
You need to tell.
That wasn't so
pretty, either. Jesus was inside the home of the judge. I was outside in the courtyard ... by the fire ... warming my
hands. This lady came up to me. "You were with him."
I said, "You're crazy, lady." So I got away from
her. I went out to the gate but she followed me and again pointed
her finger and said, "You're one of them." I denied it. To
escape her, I began talking with the men by the gate. They said,
"You have an accent, a Galilean accent. You must be one
of them." So I began to cuss and swear and use every
four-letter word I knew.
Then the rooster
crowed...and I remembered what Jesus had said. It was like a knife
cut through my heart. (Painful cry) I felt terrible ... like I was bleeding inside
... So ... I ran and
ran and ran ... And
here I am ... all alone ... in this lonely place ... with you.
Do you remember
Capernaum? ... After the transfiguration? You asked
Jesus: "How many
times shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him ... seven
"No, Peter. Seventy
and again and again ... (slowly)
I am forgiveness. (Pause)
Am I forgiven for
Thank you, Lord, I
needed to hear that. Be with me, Lord, in the days that lie ahead.
I'm going to need your help to make it.
I am always
with you, Peter
I'll count on you,
Puppet Show: Pilate, The Busy Bureaucrat
Books, inkwell or pen, papers on altar
I wonder if many
children are here with us tonight? Why don't all of you children
come up here to meet a friend of mine?
Come on up. So that everyone can see and hear, remember that
you need to sit on the floor. Great! I know
you remember the other people you've met here. Can you tell me their
names? Who did we meet first? The one who loved all the money?
What do you remember
(They will shout
Who was the second
person we met? Do you remember from last week?
What do you remember
(They will shout
I can tell you've
been listening and learning about the people who knew Jesus. Well,
tonight I'd like you to meet someone else who knew Jesus. His name
is Pilate. Let me see
if he's here. (Knocks several times, saying, "Pilate,
Pilate" but no response. Turns
to children.)Can you help me? I
know Pilate is a busy man. If I knock three times and we all call
"Pilate, Pilate" really loudly together, maybe Pilate will
hear us. Ready? (Knock three times, then signal children.)
PASTOR AND CHILDREN:
(Sound of shuffling
papers, book slamming shut) Who
is bothering me now? Don’t they know how busy I am?
Oh, it’s you, Pastor Markquart.
What do want?
remember I told you I was going to bring some of my friends to meet
Oh, that's right.
I am a busy man. I
am an important man. I
work for the king of the whole world.
Caesar Augustus is his name.
He lives in Rome.
Wow, kids, that's
impressive. He works for Caesar Augustus, the ruler of the whole world.
Pilate, do you think you have just a few minutes to talk with
A few minutes.
That’s all. This report can wait.
I write a lot of reports you know ... for Caesar.
Have to let everyone know what's happening, and (he seems to
go on chatting indefinitely).
(Butting in) Wait a
minute, Pilate. I don't want to be rude, but I have a question.
Aren't you the governor who sentenced Jesus to suffer and
(Sighs deeply and
hangs head; speaks softly) Yes ... (with hesitation) and no.
Pilate, could you speak up so we can hear you?
Aren't you the one who sentenced Jesus to death?
again, but speaking louder) Yes
... and no.
What do you mean,
yes and no? Come on, Pilate, tell us the whole story.
Well, the chief
priests in the temple wanted to get rid of Jesus, to have him
killed. They were jealous of Jesus. Because I was a judge, they
brought Jesus to me. They
made up three lies about Jesus.
(Holds up three fingers)
The first lie:
They accused Jesus of being a trouble-maker.
Children, did you
hear that? They accused
Jesus of being a trouble-maker. Do you children think that Jesus was a troublemaker?
(Pastor shakes head, "no.")
The second lie:
They accused Jesus of telling the people not to pay taxes.
Not to pay taxes????
Do you children think that Jesus told the people not to pay
taxes? (Pastor shakes
The third lie? Jesus
said that he was a king. That was the problem.
You can't have two kings. There can only be one king.
Caesar or Jesus. I sided with the king of Rome.
Kids, do you think
Jesus is king? (nods his head yes.)
A lot of kids
don’t agree with you, Pilate. They think Jesus is king.
That’s the way it
was in Jesus’ day. Because so many people believed Jesus was king,
I had to do something.
What happened then?
I still tried to
save Jesus. But the Jewish leaders wanted him to die ... I offered
them a choice of Jesus or Barabbas. Barabbas was one of the meanest,
most evil men in prison. ...But
the crowd chose Barabbas to be freed.
You let them choose
Barabbas, a murderer, a killer, to be set free, instead of Jesus?
It was not my best
choice. After the
crowds chose Barabbas, I washed my hands of the whole matter.
(Wrings hands and continues "washing" hands
throughout the remainder of the play)
Perhaps I made a mistake.
I think you made a
mistake Jesus and these kids here do as well. You should not have
sentenced Jesus to die and free that murderer Barabbas.
I wash my hands of
it! And now, I must get
back to writing my report. Good day! (Disappears
Well, children, that
was Pilate. I have some questions for you: Was Pilate a very busy
man? (Yes) Was Pilate a
very important man? (Yes)Did
Pilate work for the world ruler, Caesar Augustus? (Yes) Who is the bigger
king: Jesus or Caesar?
(Jesus) That's right. Well, thanks for coming tonight.
And next week? You
will meet Barabbas himself, the murderer, the killer, so we’ll see
you then. You can return to your seats.
Drama: Pilate, The Busy Bureaucrat
Pilate is sitting in his office making out a report to be
sent to Rome regarding the execution of the two thieves and Jesus.
Throughout the entire drama, Pilate is forever picking up a cloth
and trying to wipe the stains of blood from his hands. This is an
intermittent and persistent gesture.
(Sitting, talking to
himself): Reports, reports!!! I have much more important things to do
than write up a report every time we crucify some revolutionary and
a couple of thieves! That Jesus sure was different though. Not the
typical revolutionary. I still think it had more to do with the
Jews' crazy religion than Jesus claiming to be a king. I'm not sure
just what the truth really is.
What is truth,
(Standing up from
his desk): What was
that? Who's there? ...
Guard? (Pause)Zeus? ...
Who are you anyhow? …
I am the God of the
Jews. I am the one who sent Jesus into the world. Jesus whom you
I didn't crucify
him. The Jews did that.
You ignored my
I didn't! I
listened to my wife! I wanted to release Jesus.
I had nothing against him. It was the crowds of people who
wanted him crucified, not me. I wanted to let him go.
Why didn't you?
There was too much
pressure! There would have been a riot!
I had no choice but to turn him over to the people. My job is
to keep peace in the province at any cost….
I didn't want Jesus to be killed.
I certainly didn't want his innocent blood on my hands. So I
washed my hands of the whole business ... In public, too, so
that all could see I was not responsible. I am not responsible.
(Begins wiping his hands with a bloody cloth and that nervous
gesture persists throughout the play.)
(Ever so slowly) Did
you wash away your guilt as easily as you washed your hands?
guilty. I wanted to set Jesus free ... I wanted to save him, but they
would not let me.
You are the
governor. You had the authority not to kill him.
I used my authority
to maintain the peace. One man's life is not too great a sacrifice
if it will keep peace. Who was this Jesus anyway ...
the one who was called the king of the Jews?
He was my Son.
Why did your people
want him to die if he was your Son?
Jealousy. They did not know him.
Neither did I, but I
didn't want him to die. But what else could I have done?
Yes, Pilate, what
else could you have done?
I could have told
the chief priests off ... I could have told them what I really
thought. I tried, but they wouldn't listen. Your people are a
stubborn people God. They would not listen to reason. Why did I let
them pressure me? Yes, I could have spared Jesus' life ... I could
have saved him ... It all happened so quickly.
What about the
way he died?
Yes, I could have at
least spared him the scourging and the mocking. I could have stopped
the soldiers from making fun of him. I could have had him killed in
another way ... The way he died was terrible.
He was gentle sort
of man. I could have spoken a word of comfort to him, in private of
course. I could have
let him know that I didn't want him to die.
But you did none of
It was all so crazy
... All the shouting and commotion. I had to make quick
decisions. There was no time for sentiment. I just cannot let my
personal feelings stop me from doing Caesar’s work ... Caesar
and Rome must come first!
You gave in to
crowd pressure, Pilate. You tried to please the crowd. You tried to
save your own skin.
I have washed my
hands again and again of this man's blood …but… my guilt still
The blood that you
wash from your hands is the very blood that takes away your
sin and guilt.
Oh Lord, what have I
It is not what you
did, Pilate. It was what you could have done but did not.
Oh, how I want to be
at peace with myself ... I want to be able to sleep at night again.
I used poor judgment ... I am sorry. Could Jesus forgive me for what
I have done to him? Could you forgive me for what I have done to
your Son? What am I to do now?
Believe in the one
who was crucified ... In him is forgiveness ... In him is truth.
Is it true
that even I, Pontius Pilate, can be forgiven?
Yes, that is true.
You can be forgiven. That is the truth.
Puts downs the
bloody rag. Pauses. Leaves.)
Puppet Show: Barabbas, The Murderer
No special props
It's time, kids!
Why don't you come on up for our puppet show tonight? That's
right, Please remember, you all need to sit down on the floor so
everyone else can see. Can
you recall who we're going to meet tonight?
What great memories you have. Let's see if Barabbas is here,
shall we? (Knocks on
the altar) Barabbas, oh
Barabbas ... are you here? Come on out ... We'd like to talk with
Humph ... who's
there? (Gruffly) Oh ...
oh ... its' you ... What do you want now, Pastor O'Neal?
don't be grouchy. I just wanted to talk with you for a few minutes.
OK. I have time
to spare. ... Plenty of time now that I'm free again.
Hold it, Barabbas.
Before you get into what's going on in your life now, why not
tell us a little about yourself.
Kind of your life story
... an autobiography.
OK. I had a pretty
normal life as a child, Pastor O'Neal. I have several brothers and
sisters. I am the oldest. My father was a rabbi, or teacher.
He was a very important and respected man.
Well, Barabbas, I
bet you wanted to be a rabbi, just like your father?
Even though my father was important, he couldn't change
things? What kind of things?
Things like the
Romans living here and ruling our country. The Romans don't belong
here! (Emphatically) We
gotta get rid of the Romans, even kill them.
So what did you do, Barabbas?
I joined other
people who felt like I did. We
are all revolutionaries, people who want to change things by power
and violence. I became
a ring leader.
Were you able to
Some ... But then
one day we were fighting with the soldiers.
Some of them were killed.
I was arrested and put into jail.
Pilate told me I was going to die because I had killed a
soldier and was always causing trouble.
You're here today!
I waited and waited for the soldiers to come and get me ...
Then, I heard them --- clomp, clomp, clomping down the stairs.
The keys rattled at the door, then it opened.
And one soldier
shouted, "Barabbas -- out!
You're free to go!" I couldn't believe my ears!
Free to go -- me? When I questioned the soldiers, they said,
"You're free. Someone else will die in your place." Die in
my place? Weird.
I bet you were
But I didn't stick around to find out who that person was to
die in my place. I left quickly to find my friends.
Did your friends
know what had happened?
A few of them did.
They told me that Jesus, a teacher, was going to die instead
Wow. Did you know
who Jesus was?
Nah, not really.
I'd heard he liked people like me, people who didn't fit in.
And that he claimed to be God's Son.
But I didn't really know why he died instead of me.
You see, the chief priests wanted to get rid of Jesus. So
they arranged for Pilate to sentence him to death. Pilate didn't
really want Jesus to die. Pilate didn't know what to do.
Then Pilate remembered there was a prisoner in jail ... you!
Pilate always let one prisoner free for the Passover, so
Pilate asked the crowd who he should release.
They said you, Barabbas!
It still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. …
I saw the crowd following Jesus as he carried his cross on
his way to die. Jesus looked so tired and sad.
The cross he was carrying was so heavy.
That should have been me ... Jesus carried my cross!
Jesus died to save me, of all people!
you know something? ... Jesus died to save me and everyone in this
room, too! Jesus died for all people.
Jesus carried the cross and died because he loves all of us.
Does Jesus love everyone ...even someone like me?
Yes, Barabbas. Even
someone like you … and me. We sometimes sing a song about God’s
love for all of us. Kids, can you sing a song with me to let
Barabbas know about Jesus' love? Let's sing "Jesus Loves
Me" ... You all know it. Let’s sing for Barabbas and everyone
PASTOR AND CHILDREN sing:
Thank you for
singing, kids. To think
that Jesus loves me. That is awesome. And he died instead of me.
Instead of you.
Thank you, Barabbas,
for talking with us tonight. And thank you, kids, for sharing Jesus'
love! I'll see you next week when we'll meet another person who knew
Jesus. His name is
Dysmas. See you then!
Drama: Barabbas, The Murderer
Barabbas running out on stage extremely excited and at the
same time confused that he is free and does not have to die.
I can't believe I'm free!
It's unbelievable! What could have happened?
Why would Pilate let me go free? It's proof that God wants
the revolution to continue! The God of Abraham has delivered me so
that I might continue to drive the Romans out of Palestine.
Those Roman fools don't know what they've done. I'll pave the
streets of Palestine with Roman blood!
I am here.
Why this talk of
It's the only way to
accomplish our task God. We
must rid Palestine of Roman rule and return the land to your people.
Revolution! ... It's the only way!
The only way?
Yes! The only way!
How will we drive out the Romans if not by force and violence?
Isn't that why you set me free?
I suppose you have a
What could that be,
God? Nothing will ever change unless it is through violence and
force. The revolution must go on!
This is our land and we will take it back from the Roman
Remember Jesus of
He was in prison at the same time I was. Some believed that
he was a great revolutionary. They even called him a king. He sure
turned out to be a big disappointment.
He never even defended himself.
He shouldn't have been in prison at all.
(As always, slowly)
You do not understand, do you, Barabbas?
All I understand is that to save our nation the Romans must
be destroyed. And I'm
prepared to do just that. Destroy them, I say.
Do you know why you
To continue the
revolution and to establish Israel as a free nation.
Do you know how you
came to be set free?
Uh, no ... I guess I
don't really know how it all happened.
Look over there ...
What do you see on the hill?
I see one, two, three crosses ... And people ... it looks
like the two thieves I met in prison and the one in the center is
Jesus from Nazareth. Why? ... Why is Jesus on the cross?
He wasn't guilty of any crime.
The cross in the
center is yours.
You mean the cross
Jesus is on ... that was the cross I was to die on?
Are you trying to
tell me that this man Jesus has taken my place on the cross ... that
he has died in my place?
Now you are
beginning to see.
But, why would he do
that? I don't know
Jesus. And he didn't
know me. Did Jesus want
the revolution to continue too?
Your ways are not my ways.
Your thoughts are not my thoughts.
That seems to be
true. But what does
that have to do with Jesus dying on the cross in my place?
This is my way.
The way of the cross.
How does your way
change anything? How can anyone bring about change in our world by dying on a
Barabbas, your way
is the way of force and violence. The way of Jesus is the way of
love and gentleness.
Love and gentleness
is of no use in the revolution. Jesus' death on the cross makes no
difference in the cause of freedom.
His death has set
You mean that
freedom comes from one man's death on a cross? ... What kind of
freedom is that?
Freedom to walk in
my ways, not yours. My
kingdom is not of this world.
Is Jesus a king in
Jesus is the King of
kings. Jesus died so
that you might live. He died so that you would learn to walk in the
paths of peace. The greatest revolution is when the Prince of Peace
begins to live in human hearts.
The Prince of Peace?
Yes and the greatest
revolution in the world.
Puppet Show: Dysmas, The Thief in Paradise
children. Won't you all come up to the front to meet another friend
of mine. Sit there,
outside the altar rail and make room for everyone. It's so nice to
have you here tonight. Last
week, do you remember the name of the person we met?
Was he a murderer?
Was he a killer?
Did he get people to
Did Jesus die in his
Did Jesus die in
Children, do you
know on what day of the week Jesus died?
Several answers. The
children finally get to “Friday.”
Yes ... Friday ...
Good Friday ... Can you all say Good Friday?
Now, how many
crosses were on the hill on Good Friday? Jesus died on the cross.
How many crosses were there?
Finally get the answer "three."
Yes, three crosses.
Jesus was on the middle cross. There was one cross on his left and
one cross on his right. Now, there was a man who was a robber on one of those
crosses. We have named him, Dysmas. Can you all say Dysmas?
Now, I’ll knock
and see if he is home. If
and when he pops up, you all say, "Hi Dysmas."
(Knocks)... Dysmas? Are
you home? (Dysmas pops up.)
Dysmas, I was
telling the children that you were killed on a cross with Jesus on
Oh yes, I was
Was it very painful?
Did it hurt a lot?
Oh children, it was
awful. I don't want to upset you, but you see this big nail in my
hand? (He holds up a 10
inch nail.) How long do you think this nail is, children?
What do you think
kids? How long is that nail?
The Roman soldiers
took big nails like this one, and nailed Jesus and two of us robbers
to the cross. Nailed us
right through our wrists.
Oh, that must have
It was unbearable.
Why were you nailed
to the cross, Dysmas?
For punishment, I
was a robber ... a thief ... and poor.
Rich people didn't get crucified. Only poor people, slaves
and robbers like me. (Pulls out a whip and whips it.)
What is that Dysmas?
This is a whip.
(Whips it so it snaps)
That looks like it
could hurt someone.
Yes, the soldiers
took a whip like this and whipped Jesus' back.
Again and again, they whipped him so his back was red with
Oh children ...
aren’t that awful ... what they did to Jesus?
Do you know what
Jesus said to the soldiers who whipped him?
Do you know what he
"Father forgive them for hurting me."
Can you imagine that
children? People were whipping and killing Jesus, and Jesus asked
God to forgive them.
When I saw Jesus
could love who were so cruel to him, I started to believe in him.
I said to him, "Jesus...remember me when you go to meet
What did Jesus say
He said, "Today
you will be with me in Paradise” ... and that's where I live.
You live in
heaven??? Tell the children. Tell all of us about Paradise.
Heaven is wonderful,
children. It's so good. There is
... No sickness. No pain.
No mean people. ... No nailing of wrists.
No whipping of backs. No
evil. And someday ...
when you die ... believing
in Jesus ... you will
be in paradise with Jesus too.
isn't it children ... you will be in paradise with Jesus ... and
with Dysmas the robber?
That's right. Bye
children. Gotta go. Gotta get back to heaven.
It's nicer up there than down here on earth.
I have some questions to ask you.
Dysmas, did he do anything bad during his life?
(Yes) Was he a robber? (Yes)
And, where is he today? (In
paradise) And ... when you die, where will you be?
(In paradise) Good... Now, next week on Thursday, not
Wednesday, come again, and meet the Roman centurion. He was a
captain in the Roman Army. You may be seated
Chancel Drama: The Thief on
play, the arms of Dysmas are stretched out as if he is hanging on a
cross. If wearing a
dark brown garment, the body and outstretched arms make the form of
a cross. Signs of pain
increase in intensity (gasping for breath, panting, gagging,
rasping, and coughing) as the play progresses and as Dysmas
approaches his death. His head is bowed for most of the play but
occasionally looks up at the Voice of God.)
O God, I hurt...The
pain is killing me...My hands ... my legs ... me feet ...
O God, I want to die.
I am waiting for
Is that your voice
I hurt so much I
can't hear or think.
I am watching over
The drug the
soldiers gave me is not helping anymore (gasping). Jesus refused to
take any (pause). He died a few moments ago.
Your Son made a
promise to me.
He said, "Today
... today you will be with me in paradise...
paradise? I don't know!
Paradise is being
with me. There is no pain ... there is no crime…there is no death
forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever (7
O God, I want to
come ... now ... please ... now.
(Pause - coughing -
silence - transition) Everyone made fun of him. The people passing
by ... laughing, "Come down from the cross," they said.
… The Jewish leaders ... the soldiers ... “Come down from the
cross;” they taunted. And then the other robber ... the same. They
all said the same thing.
My Son could not
come down from the cross. It was my plan ... for him to pay the
penalty for the sin of the whole world.
The penalty for my
But ... I am a thief
... a robber ...my whole life ... a robber ... (coughing, gagging
throughout the speeches) I am no good ... a no good ... never was
You are good in my
positively -- as if in appreciation) But ... I only knew him for
such a short time... together on the cross ... I, too, made fun of
him ...I believed only for one hour...
That is long enough.
I heard him pray to
you ... "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."
He was forgiveness
... I am forgiveness. ...
I heard him cry:
"Why, why have you forsaken me?" … He felt you
I did not desert my
Son. Suffering people
feel deserted, but I never desert anyone ... ever.
I heard him
shout,”It ... is ... finished ..."
Yes, he completed my
task. He was perfectly obedient until death. He fulfilled his
And will rise again.
(Looks up) Rise
again? I've never
heard! I don't
In three days, my
angels will roll the stone away. He will rise from the dead.
Impossible ... Lord
With me nothing is
impossible ... Dysmas, you too shall rise from the dead to live
eternally ... with me.
Is that paradise,
I want to come soon
... my pain is so great.
I am with you.
The soldiers are
coming ... to break my legs ... as they always do ... in every
execution. (Pause)... (Cries out twice)... (As each leg is broken) O
God ... that hurts ... I'm
coming Lord ... I'm coming. … I ... (head drops, shoulders drop,
as if died)
Puppet Show: The Centurion's Faith (Holy Thursday)
Children, won't you
please come forward? I
want you to meet a friend of mine.
He is a centurion in the Roman Army.
Please sit down, outside the communion rail.
Be seated so that everyone else can see. Now, do you remember
the name of the person we met last week?
Was Dysmas a robber?
Did he die a painful
death on the cross?
Now, this is a
harder question. Jesus told Dysmas that when he died, he would be
with Jesus in ... where?
Yes ... paradise ...
heaven. And when you die, you will be with Jesus where?
Now, tonight, I want you to meet another friend of mine. We
don't know his name but he is a Roman centurion ...That means he
works in the army, like a soldier. Now, since he is an important
officer in the Roman Army, I want you all to stand and salute like
this. (Teaches them how
to salute) When he comes, you salute him and say, “Good evening
sir.” Let's practice and all say, “Good evening sir.”
Good evening sir.
Now remember to
salute. First I'll salute, and then you salute, ok? (Knocks on the
(Pops up) (Firm
military voice throughout) Hup
... two three four ... hup two three four ... company halt.
Good evening sir.
Good evening sir.
(They all salute)
evening children. You
may be seated. (Firm
You are a centurion.
What does that mean, the word “centurion?”
Children, have you
ever heard of the word "century?" Do you know the meaning
of the word, "century?"
Kids, do any of you
know the meaning of the word, "century?"
finally one blurts out ... 100 years.)
Yes ... 100 years
...It means a hundred years, sir.
I was in charge of
100 men ... 100 soldiers ...therefore, I was a centurion.
Can you imagine that
children? He was in charge of ... ah ... ah ...How many soldiers was
he in charge of, children?
Yes, of course.
100 soldiers. Sir, can you tell us about what happened at the
crucifixion of Jesus?
Yes, of course, I
was in charge of the execution. I had our soldiers working for me I
didn't do the dirty work myself.
The soldiers did it for me.
Didn't I read about
the soldiers dividing Jesus' clothing?
Yes, when Jesus was
crucified, the soldiers got his clothing. One soldier took Jesus'
head scarf .One got Jesus' outer white garment, like the one you are
wearing (pastor touches his alb). One got his rope, like the one you
are wearing (pastor touches cincture). And one got his undergarment.
Didn't they throw
dice for his robe?
Kids, do you throw
dice in your games? Do you roll the dice? (Has dice and rolls them).
The soldiers rolled
the dice to see who would get the nice robe that Jesus had. They
didn't want to cut it up into four pieces!
What was Jesus like
when he was crucified?
I never saw anyone
like Jesus. He didn't swear or use any cuss words. Usually, when
someone got crucified, the pain was so great, they always
swore. Not Jesus.
What else can you
I had my men execute
hundreds of people, but, I never saw anyone like Jesus ... never in
my whole life. He was innocent.
That was for sure. He had done nothing wrong. He was in
enormous pain. They were all laughing at him. Jesus said, “Father,
forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."
Did you realize your
soldiers were killing … the Son of God?
No, I didn't at
first ... but gradually, as I watched him on the cross, I came to
believe he was the Son of God. I never met anyone like him before.
But I must go. My men are ready to march. … Hup, two three
four ... Hup two three four ... Hup two three four ...
All children stand now stand up and face me.
Salute and say to
the centurion, “Good evening sir"...
Good evening sir.
children ... (leaves)
children ... this was our last puppet show. We certainly met some
nice people who were near to Jesus on the cross. Thank you for
Drama: The Centurion's Fears (Holy Thursday)
Pilate was spineless
and gutless today. He
sent an innocent man to be killed.
I hate that part of my job anyhow. … Nailing the body ...
Offering the drugs ... Smashing the legs with the hammer ... Do you
think that's fun? But, when a man is innocent ... Ohhh ... that ...
You know he was
innocent. I know he was
innocent. Pilate, that spineless maggot, knew he was innocent. And
those rotten Jewish leaders, rotten to the core of their hearts,
they were jealous ... and so they framed him. But, it was ugly. What
was a mess! Yes, I had
to do their dirty work for them today.
You are angry.
Of course. For 20
years I've been in this God forsaken corner of the world ...
Thousands of miles from Rome ... from my home ... my family
... my civilization.
I just left his
house moments ago. His servant came and gave me orders, "The
Roman Procurator wants to see you immediately."
So I went. Pilate
wanted to know, "Is this Jesus really dead?"
I said, “Yes, he is, sir. He is really dead." Pilate
persisted, “Are you certain he is dead?"
"I am, sir." Pilate barked: "Joseph of
Arimathea is here. He
wants the body to prepare it for burial. You are dismissed."
… But, that didn't dismiss the ugly rage inside of me.
Why are you angry?
Because I shed
innocent blood ... that's why.
more that's bothering you.
(Softening) Yes, he
was not only innocent ...There was something strangely different
about him ... The way he didn't swear when we put those nails
through his hands ... The
way he looked at the people who were taunting him… The way he
looked at me.
How did he look at
I don't know.
But he looked at me so carefully ... so gently ... a softness
... Like he
didn't hate me. That never happened to me before. I have executed
hundreds of people ... thousands ... They screamed at me in rage ... their eyes
crucified me from their crosses. But, his eyes ... he kept looking
... at me gently
... It made me feel uncomfortable.
Why were you afraid?
Because I knew I was
in the presence of divine holiness. That there was something sacred
about this man. As we
continued to crucify him, I felt like I was...
a part of God.
Yes ... I knew it!
I knew I was killing part of God ... And I ... I...
Became afraid for your
Afraid ... that God
would damn me... for what I had done.
But, it wasn't my fault ... It was Pilate ... that spineless
maggot ... It was those Jewish leaders ... rotten to the core.
It was their fault I had to kill him ... But now ... I
might have to pay the price.
Did anything else
make you afraid?
From 12:00 to 3
o'clock, it became dark, like a blanket covered the earth.
It was eerie. It was a sign ...a sign from God of Jesus’
innocence ... and ... and ...perhaps a sign of…GOD:
Yes, the Gods above
all nations are angry at me! Are you? ... Are you angry with me? ...
(Long pause looking for a response; there is none, but only silence.
The centurion steps back in fear.)
… As Jesus was ready to die, he cried out, with a groaning
shout, "It is finished" ... Immediately, the ground began
to tremble ... to shake ... an earthquake.
My heart exploded with fear ... and I cried out.
I heard you.
"Truly, this man was innocent.”
(Shouting) “He was
the Son of God."
I don't know what to
make of it all. It all
has been confusing. I
am afraid ... because of what I have done ... Killing divine
I am the Creator God
of the heavens and the earth. ... I am the Living God of Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob. … I am the all-powerful God who rules over the
nations from generation to generation. … And I am the Father of
Jesus of Nazareth. You killed my Son.
(Falling to his
knees, head bowed) Please, God of all nations have mercy on me. I
beg for your forgiveness ... I know he was your Son.
In my eternal love,
you are forgiven. Go
and sin no more. Do not
shed innocent blood. Jesus’ blood has been shed for sins of the
(Stands and gives a
Roman salute to the Voice with the right fist closed and right arm
slapped across the chest. He walks briskly off stage.)
Chancel Drama: Mary, The Mother of Jesus (Good Friday)
I feel so empty here
in this strange city. I
wish I were home in Galilee ... with my family and friends. I don't
like this city, with its millions of nameless faces, with people who
don't know or love me, especially at a time like this
Is that you, Jesus?
Are you there? Are
It is I, the Lord
O Lord, I am in
pain. Today was awful ... My Son was killed just a few hours ago. I
am all alone.
I am with you.
But who will take
care of me? Where will I go? What
will I do?
John ... John will
take very good care of you.
But ... but ... it
all seems so unreal ... like a bad dream ... a nightmare ... like it
didn't even happen. Sometimes I am not sure if he is really dead.
He is dead, Mary.
His death is real.
My feelings are
real, Lord. I ache in every bone of my body ... I feel a shortness
of breath in my chest ... a numbness in my hands and fingers.
I know your grief.
I feel the same way.
My heart is broken.
So is mine.
(Tender, softly and gently throughout)
I can't stop my
Neither can I.
It was the death of
I loved him so much.
So do I.
do you hurt the way I hurt inside?
I loved him as much as you did. He was my Son, too. His
suffering and death were much for me to bear (voice almost
Lord, are you
(Long pause) Yes,
Mary. (Voice of God
breaking) I hurt when I saw my Son in pain.
(Very slowly) Knowing that the innocent lamb had to be
slaughtered for the sin of the people, it was agony to see him
There was nothing we
could do to stop it. We couldn't stop his execution any more than we
can stop nations from going to war and killing our sons. We could
not stop it, as much as we wanted to.
But you were there
to support him ... to be with him. That was enough.
And so we watched
... and prayed ... and looked ... and … listened. And we cried.
That's all we could do.
At times, that is
all one can do ... to silently watch ... and love.
Lord, I remember the
angel, Gabriel, and his warning.
That a sword would
pierce your heart.
O God, it has cut so
And his body wasn't
even properly prepared for burial. (Pause)
audible) No grave will contain him.
followed Joseph to the tomb with the body. It was a short walk.
She watched his body be put into the grave.
No grave will
contain him. (A
stronger whisper, but Mary still does not hear)
So we have been busy
tonight, before the Sabbath begins. We have been gathering perfumes
and oils. We just had
No grave will
contain him. (Still
O God, I don't want
to go there on Sunday morning. I can't bear the thought of seeing
his body again. I'll
break down ... fall apart ... cry.
Listen to me, Mary!
(Mary looks up ... finally to hear)
(Pause) … NO GRAVE WILL CONTAIN HIM!!!
What do you mean,
Remember his promise
... my promise ... that on the third day, he will rise from the
I heard him say it,
Believe, Mary! As
you believed the angel, Gabriel, believe his promises!
The first day of the week?
are my promises! … He shall rise again!
... (Pause)… NO GRAVE SHALL CONTAIN HIMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!
(Slowly, almost a shout, a ringing proclamation, that slowly
becomes softer) (Silence)(Mary
Cancel Drama: The Gardener (Easter)
(A one act play
involving the gardener who took care of the gardens in which the
body of Jesus was buried and the Voice of God whose voice rings
throughout the sanctuary. The
play is the ninth drama in a Lenten Series called, THE VOICE OF GOD,
available through Grace Lutheran Church and this website (under
dramas); yet this play stands on its own, without the other dramas.
... The mood of God’s voice is cheerful and elated.
God is immensely pleased with what he did earlier that day.
The mood of the gardener is happily excited because of seeing
the empty tomb, the grave clothes, and the faith of the disciples.
He has been convinced of the resurrection. He is carrying a shovel (symbolic of the
gardener/gravedigger) that he leans on until the very end of the
play. It is a prop to be used creatively.
O God, what a
surprise! What a
wonderful joke! Did you
blow them away!
liked what I did?
I loved it! It
was mind boggling! They
didn’t know what to think!
My truth is
surprising. What I
prepare is so good and so
wonderful, no mind can comprehend it.
I loved it!
So did I!
(With a smile in his voice)
I had the best seat
in the house, front and center. I
mean, being the gardener and caretaker of the cemetery and all.
Digging out the graves from the limestone wall right over
there. Planting the flower beds.
Raking the grounds. I
got to see everything, the
You had a special
You better believe
it. It started on
Friday, late Friday afternoon, about five or six o’clock, to be
specific. I saw Joseph
of Arimathea, Mr. Megabucks from the Jerusalem Bank ....and
Nicodemus, Mr. Senator from the Sanhedrin; they, of all people, were
carrying the body of Jesus up
the hill from Golgotha to my cemetery.
I couldn’t believe it!
The two of them, of
all people. We put the
body into that grave right over there, the grave that I had dug last
week. It was a big
vault, big enough for two bodies.
Five or six mourners could stand inside of it at one time to
grieve. They placed the
body there, on that niche to the right.
And then, they stood there silently for a moment, and then
bowed, as if before a king.
Jesus, my Son, is
king. King over life
and king over death. No
grave shall containnnnnn him!
(The gardener responds positively to God’s voice, nodding,
agreeing, because the gardener “knows.”) For I am the God of
life and living. I am
the God of eternal thanksgiving, and I raised my Son from the dead!
(The gardener listens very carefully to this poem. As God
repeats it in later speeches, the gardener will be learning it.)
I know. I know
that you did. After
what I saw today, I know it.
Very early this morning, I heard sounds at daybreak, at the first
hint of dawn. As you
know, God, I live in the little cottage here at the cemetery.
I’m a light sleeper. I
looked out....and it was the women I had seen here on Friday.
They had been watching as we put the body into the vault. I
watched one lady as she approached the grave.
She shrieked: “Who rolled the gravestone away!!!” I was shocked! She
was right! The
gravestone had been rolled away during the night.
What happened? I
watched her as she went into
the grave vault. She
was there, only for a short while, and when she came out, her face
was shining as the sun. She shouted at the top of her lungs:
“He is not here!!!”
And off she and the other women ran, down
the hill towards the city wall of Jerusalem.
To tell the
disciples the good news....the message of my angels.
That I am the God of
life and living. I am
the God of eternal thanksgiving, and I raised my Son from the dead.
I didn’t know what
to do. Before I knew
what happened, I heard footsteps, running.
Two of his disciples came running up
the hill from the city. First,
a younger man....a dark beard...he came puffing up real fast.
He approached the grave here, but he didn’t dare go in. He was afraid. Shaking
in his sandals, he was. A
moment later, the second disciple arrived.
A big burly man...gray beard...he looked like an old
fisherman. He came
right up to the grave and boldly walked right in.
No fear in his old heart.
The young man quickly followed.
They were in there for what seemed
like an eternity. And
then...when they came out...their faces were shining like they had
seen the sun. They were
laughing, smiling, and slapping each other’s back.
It was like they were hilariously drunk on some new kind of
wine. And off they ran down
that hill, back to Jerusalem.
To tell the world
the good news, the message of my angels.....that I am the God of
life and living. I am the God of eternal thanksgiving, and I raised my Son
from the dead! (The
gardener is now repeating the words of God’s rhyme with God, in a
But before you knew
it, the Jewish guards came running from over there. They had been
sleeping nearby, camping out. And
then all hell broke loose. They were squabbling with each other,
swearing at each other. “What happened?” “Who
rolled the stone away?” “Where’s
the body?” “O my
God, the linens and napkin are here.
“The disciples must have come and stolen the body.”
“We will get killed for this.”
“Who will tell the chief priest?”
“Not me!” “You
do it.” .....In a moment, the Jewish priests came puffing up
that hill from Golgotha, dressed in black, looking like a flock of
crows squawking at each
other. “You soldiers will
die for allowing them to steal the body.”
Those poor blind
Jewish leaders...Blind to eternity.
Blind to immortality. Blind to eternal spring.
I, the Lord God, turn ...brown seeds into beautiful flowers.
And dead bodies into
It has been a madhouse here all day, God.
Everybody has come
to the cemetery. Would
you imagine? The scholars from the uppity University of Jerusalem arrived.
Scientists. Astronomers. Well educated men. They
came to examine the evidence. They
carefully touched the walls to make sure that there was no other
route of escape. They
made me come in, to prove that there was no escape door. Then,
they took the linen cloth and carefully stretched it out and closely
examined the blood stains. Their
minds were perplexed and puzzled and they finally concluded: “Either...somebody
has stolen the body or
something very strange has
happened here today.”
What human mind can
fathom the intelligence of God? What human mind can comprehend the
universe? What human
mind can understand life itself?
And I, God, who created all of life, can raise one man from
the dead...if I so chose!
God, I know that you
created life itself, and I know that you raised Jesus from the dead.
But....but....but how about
a poor Jewish gardener?
My wife? My
family? The bodies here
in my cemetery? Will we
What did you see
What I saw was
gloriously wonderful! I
saw the empty tomb. The
grave clothes folded neatly in the grave.
The faith and faces of the disciples. ... And I also saw the
daffodils blooming in my garden.....and a cluster of butterflies
flutter past me. They
were beautiful. Today,
I felt the deep hope of eternity spring forth within me, like a
flower blossoming forth into full bloom.
My friend, you will
never die. Your eyes are open and you have seen eternal spring.
Your heart is open and you know eternal love.
Your ears are open and you have heard my eternal song.
O God, how I love
your song. Sing it to
I want the whole
world to know that...I am the God of life and living, I am the
God of eternal thanksgiving, and I raised my Son from the dead! (The gardener is repeating the words with elation as God
I will tell.
I will tell the whole world. I will
run to tell the whole
world....(The gardener shouts these lines as he is running from the
chancel to the rear of the sanctuary.
He now spins and triumphantly shouts to the congregation and
He is risen!
Your Son is risen indeed! ... For ours
is a God of life and living.
is a God of eternal thanksgiving.
And he raised his
Son from the dead!
(The organist hits
the keys for the beginning of a triumphant Easter hymn.)
(This sermon grows
out of the time when Pastor Markquart visited the Garden Tomb which
is located immediately above a cliff with eye sockets in it that
make the cliff look like a skull of Golgotha.
This area is right outside the wall of
the Garden Tomb is a burial vault carved out of the limestone,
“traditionally” thought to be the burial place of Jesus. Thus,
it is easy to visualize people running up to the Garden Tomb from
the city and back down again.)