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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category

From the Manger to the Cross: A Short Easter Drama

An Easter drama given through the eyes of those closest to Jesus. Characters include Peter, John the Baptist, John, James, Mary Magdalene and Mary. 

Peter: Hello. I’m Peter. I’m sure that you have all heard about the twelve disciples that Jesus chose to follow Him. I guess I have the reputation for being the spokesman for the group, so I am the one who gets to welcome you tonight. We are grateful that you have come …and I believe that you will be blessed by being here. Perhaps we should just go back for a moment and recall the great moment of Jesus’ birth (music begins). Mary. Joseph. Bethlehem. The Shepherds. The Angels. The birth of a King!

Song: O Come all ye faithful

Peter: Come, let us adore Him? Christ the Lord! Yes, Jesus…our Lord and Savior…the King of kings and Lord of lords…was born. But most of the world paid little attention to the event. He grew up in Nazareth in a carpenter’s shop…(sees John off to side). Oh, there’s John—the one we call John the Baptist. (Calls and motions to him) John, come over here and share with the people what you know about Jesus?

John the Baptist: Shalom, Peter. I always like to talk about Jesus. I was preaching in the wilderness of Judea asking the people to repent for I knew that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand. I was baptizing those who repented in the Jordan River; and I told them by the Spirit of God that there would be One come after me who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. One day as I was baptizing—standing there in the Jordan River—I looked up and saw Jesus coming toward me. As He walked His face was shining, and then He spoke. He asked ME to baptize HIM in the water. I said, “No, Jesus, please, no! I need to be baptized of you, and you come to me?” But He insisted telling me that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Oh, Peter, as soon as Jesus went under the water and came up again the heavens opened up, and the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove and stopped on Him and said in a voice that we could all hear: This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. At that moment God instructed me to tell the people assembled at the Jordan River that this Jesus was God’s Son—the Lamb of God that takes away their sins. It was soon after that I found myself in prison for preaching to Herod that he needed to repent for taking his brother’s wife. (John walks away.)

Peter: (To the audience) While John was still in prison, Jesus began His ministry and started to call together some disciples. I was fishing in the sea of Galilee with my brother, Andrew, the day Jesus walked by. All He said was Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men; and do you know what we did? We immediately left our nets and followed Him! Andrew and I walked with Jesus on down the seashore where He saw James and John mending their nets, and He called to them, “James and John, follow me!”   (James and John come up and greet Peter with a slap on the shoulder while he is talking.)

James: I surely remember that day. It was beautiful, sunny, and warm. We saw Jesus coming with Peter and Andrew. When He spoke, it was with such love that we couldn’t resist the invitation, and to think that a Rabbi such as He would want us for disciples was overwhelming. We were excited to leave all and follow Him.

John: We went with Jesus all around Galilee, listening as He was teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people. How quickly His fame went throughout land. They brought to Him many sick people and those possessed with devils, and He healed them! When they were hungry He fed them. It was marvelous to see!

James: When He opened His mouth and taught it was with indisputable authority.

Peter: Yes, and I remember that He nicknamed you boys “the sons of thunder!”

James: You would have to remember that! It’s true. By the time He finished, Jesus had called together a group of twelve—John and me, you and your brother Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Thaddaeus, James of Alphaeus, Simon and Judas. Most people don’t realize how young the twelve of us were—we were just teenagers. You, Peter, were probably the oldest when Jesus called us to follow Him.

Peter: Those three years were packed with activity—watching Jesus as He moved among the people with such compassion and love.

James: Then the night we ate the last supper in the Upper Room: Jesus broke the bread and shared it with us. He blessed the wine and drank it with us. None of us could comprehend what was about to happen. He said that one of us would betray Him. I guess we all wondered how anyone could possibly betray Him after all the good He had done. We all asked Him, “Lord is it I?”

John: Except Judas!

Peter: Now as we look back we can see that Jesus was trying to prepare us all along for what was about to take place: His death, burial, and resurrection. But it was beyond our understanding.

John: How well I remember the Garden of Gethsemane—He asked us to stay awake and pray with Him but we all went to sleep. Three times He came back to check on us. It must have been painful for Him to know that we didn’t realize He was about to die.

Peter: The things that followed happened so quickly. ..the arrest. ..the trial before Pilate…

John: They put that purple robe on Him, and place that prickly crown of thorns on His head… and mocked Him. (head down)

James: And they spit on Him. .and got down on their knees and pretended to be worshipping Him..mocking… (head down)

Peter: Then they took off the robe and led Him to Golgotha. (head down)

Song: My Tribute (Lights reflect Peter, James and John kneeling at cross throughout the song. Lights out at end of song. All three leave stage. Mary Magdalene enters)

Mary Magdalene: I was in the crowd that followed Him up that hill to Golgotha. As He carried His cross, I saw the blood run down His face, yet I saw the glory shine forth from Him. I watched them nail Him to the cross and lift it toward the sky. I stood there at the cross and felt so all alone. Why was I here? Why was He there? I recalled how He intervened and saved my life! I saw Him heal Blind Bartimaeus and make the lame man walk. I saw the love in His eyes when He freed the demon possessed man. Oh, how He loved the children and held them in His arms and talked to them. As I gazed at the cross remembering the great miracles He did, the sun went down and it became very dark. I felt the earth tremble under my feet and heard shouts from the temple as the veil was torn in two. I heard Him cry with a loud voice: “It is finished. Father into Your hands I commend my spirit.” I watched as Joseph of Arimathea begged Pilate to let him take His body, and having obtained permission, he took Jesus’ dead body from the cross. I saw Nicodemus join him as they anointed His body with spices, wrapped Him in grave clothes, and laid him in a tomb. I followed and watched from afar off. Was it true? Was He really gone? (She kneels at the cross during the verse of next song, then walks off stage)

Song: The Old Rugged Cross

Mary: (coming up center aisle with Mary Magdalene) Hurry up! Let’s take these spices and go to the tomb so we can anoint the body of Jesus. The sun is just rising. If we hurry we can get there just at daybreak.

Mary Magdalene: (as they walk toward the tomb) Do you think the soldiers will roll away the stone for us? It is very big! (They approach the tomb) Mary! Look! The stone is already rolled away. (She looks in and begins to weep).

Angel: Why are you weeping?

Mary Magdalene: Because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him. (Keeps head in shawl, weeping)

Angel: Don’t be afraid. If you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, He is not here. He is risen! See! The place where they laid Him is empty. Go quickly now, and tell His disciples and Peter that Jesus is going into Galilee. You will see Him there.

Mary & Mary Magdalene: (Peer into tomb, then exclaim…) He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s alive! (Hugging each other and jumping up and down) Let’s Go!  (Run out of room shouting… He’s alive… He’s alive)

Song: Easter Song 

Mary & Mary Magdalene: (Coming up aisle from back of room and telling everyone, He’s Alive… He’s Alive! We’ve seen Him!

Mary Magdalene: Peter! Peter! Peter! (Calling to him as she sees him sitting on the side with James and John looking sad and whispering to one another)

Peter: Yeah. What is it?

Mary: James! John! Peter!

James, John, Peter: Yeah, ok. What happened now? Did you find out who moved the stone?

Mary Magdalene: He’s alive. We’ve just seen Jesus! He’s alive!

Mary: (Shakes Peter) We’ve just seen Him. He’s alive!

Peter: He’s alive? He’s alive? (He shakes James and yells in his face) He’s Alive! (Then he shakes John, and they are all shaking each other, jumping up and down and proclaiming loudly…) He’s Alive! (They begin the chant, “He’s Alive!” and go throughout the congregation telling everyone. He’s Alive! He’s Alive!)

Song:  He’s Alive, or He Lives

Peter: (To the congregation) Oh my friends!  Weep not! Jesus is Alive! He appeared unto us many times during the next forty days before He ascended into heaven. He told us to wait in Jerusalem and He would send the Holy Spirit to baptize us and give us the power and authority to do greater works than He did!

Mary Magdalene: And we all did as he said—one hundred twenty of us waited in Jerusalem and prayed, believing and expecting to receive His promise.

James: And on the day of Pentecost as we were sitting in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit fell upon us like tongues of fire—as it falls upon us even today, and we receive that power to be a witness for Him.

John: It seemed that all of Jerusalem came out to see what happened in the Upper Room that day, and Peter, you preached, man, did you preach! telling them the whole story of God’s plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Mary:  Three thousand people became followers of Jesus Christ that day.

Peter:  And thousands upon thousands more have joined the Gospel team over the years since that time. Thanks to God, one day that same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us and we will be resurrected to live eternally with Jesus in our Father’s House.

All:  Hallelujah! Amen!

Song:  The Blood will Never Lose its Power

Note: Costumes can be very simple wrap-around togas and sandals or bare feet. Props include a large cross (or silhouette of cross projected on wall), and a stone wall to represent the tomb (made of cardboard or a projected silhouette). Musicians may be soloists, ensembles, choirs, or the congregation. The musical selections given here may be substituted with other appropriate songs. Be creative in the presentation. For example, during Peter’s opening narration, you could have the nativity scene assemble as he speaks their names.

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, Chapter 17. 2003.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

My Experience at the Tomb, 05 April 2006

Jerusalem, Wednesday, 5 April 2006.

A defining moment for me

After walking through the empty tomb at Calvary, we followed the path up to the park benches and sat down with others to discuss what we had seen and await the communion service we would soon experience together.

Throughout my time in Israel, I had been thinking how wonderful it would have been if my late husband could have shared this experience of traveling through the Holy Land—walking through the land where Jesus walked two thousand years ago.

Then my ears perked up. Could it be? Yes; there was a group of people assembled by the open tomb singing “Fairest Lord Jesus”—in German! It was the first German I had heard in Israel, and this happened to be my husband’s favorite hymn. I sang along on the first verse, but by the time they began the second verse the reality of the words and the incident began to well up within the depths of my soul. This group sang all five verses in German—my husband’s native tongue.

It had been a while since my tears came gushing with this magnitude. You see, my husband is buried in the Resurrection section of the cemetery in Livonia, Michigan. Right beside his grave is a replica of the tomb with the stone rolled away and a sign reading: “He is not here; He is risen!” The German group was singing beside the open tomb—under the exact same sign. When I gained my composure, our tour coordinator, Pastor Wright, was asking if anyone had any comments. With the prodding of the Holy Spirit, I rose and told what had just happened. Pastor asked how many in our group understood German. No one.  In fact, most of our people were oblivious to the singing. A few people later told me they thought the melody sounded familiar but couldn’t place it. Why? It was just for ME! That’s how much my Lord loves me!

After returning home, I shared this story with my children, and they cried with me. My daughter asked, “Mom, what day did this happen?” I thought back and realized it was Wednesday. You guessed it—April 5my husband’s birthday! But he, too, has risen and is very much alive with his Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Since that time, I have noticed a new spring in my step, a new freedom that’s difficult to express. Grief is gone—even that which I did not know still remained. Now when I think of my late husband, it is with joy that he is in the presence of His heavenly Father whom he dearly loved, free from pain and worldly conflict and confusion, forever basking in the sunlight of God’s glory—Jesus Christ!

All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and

in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. – Jude 25

Oh how HE loves you and me!

UPDATE: My late husband had moved to his Heavenly Father’s house on January 25, 1999. Any grief that remained in me after seven years was released that day at the tomb in Jerusalem. I will always be thankful for my new friend and sister in Christ, Hyacinth Rose, who held me while I released it all that day at the tomb. Having no idea at the time what was happening in me, she was praying all the while and knowing God was at work. I shall forever feel bonded to her in love. She and her husband pastor the Cayman Islands Church of God.

(c) The Alabaster Box. C. Yvonne Karl, 2006.  Updated 2008.

Author’s Note – I was privileged to visit Hyacinth and her husband in the Cayman Islands in March 2007.

Flashback to the first week of April 2006.

  1.  On a trip to Israel, I had the awesome opportunity to baptize my niece Lane in the Jordan River. (She had long before dedicated her life to Jesus and has been “Pastor Lane” since her ordination in 2010.)

2.  My sister, Virginia, tripped and fell on the Mt. of Olives sending us by ambulance to the clinic where the surgeon “super-glued” the gash on her forehead and put a cast on her broken wrist. The medical staff allowed me to stay with her the whole time. (Photo below from the Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem, the same day.)

3.  On April 5th, my late-husband’s birthday, a choir showed up at the tomb singing his favorite song in German, his native language.

4.  The day I arrived back home in Michigan, I fell flat on my back on the wet pavement at the Detroit airport. An ambulance came, but I chose to go home, then the next day was diagnosed with a compressed fracture.

5.  The evening of the day I returned from Israel, April 8th (my sister’s birthday), the call came to do the funeral for a dear friend, Diane Ottewell, the ballet instructor at our Academy, who had just died unexpectedly at age 46. Without telling anyone of my fall or the pain I was in, the Lord helped me make it through the planning, visitation, and service for Diane—in Flint Michigan—an hour’s drive from my home. Thankfully, my daughter was available to drive me there.

Life consists of a mixture of highs and lows. It rains on the just and the unjust (Matt.5:45).

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

In everything, give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). (Note: it doesn’t say “for” everything.)

______________

My husband’s tombstone

My husband’s grave is beside this sign in Livonia, Michigan

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

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