(Editor’s note: Any of the following could also be used as “reader’s theater”
experiences in Youth or Intergenerational Activities. Be sure to allow time for
discussion and reflection afterwards so that concepts are understood.)
#1: “Take It Back”
by Gwendolyn J. Kandt
Gwendolyn J. Kandt is a homeschooling mother of two in Sioux City, Iowa.
She has coordinated drama ministries at three different congregations and
writes sketches and plays for her church and homeschool drama program.
Usher: The dramatic storyteller, determined to make Man (or Woman) “feel the joy.”
Man: (or Woman) An everyday parishioner who doesn’t think about this stuff much but gets very caught up in Usher’s storytelling.
Man is sitting at the end of a pew. Usher approaches and holds out offering plate. Man rolls his eyes, sighs, then grudgingly pulls out a dollar and puts it
in the plate.
Usher: Take it back.
Man: (Looks up, confused.) What?
Usher: I said, “Take it back!”
Man: What – my money?
Usher: Yeah, your money. (Points in the plate.) You can take that piece of lint you left in there, too.
Man: But . . . but why?
Usher: (Sarcastic.) Well, obviously it’s a terribly trying and burdensome thing to give up that dollar bill, so by all means – take it back!
Man: (Looking around, a little embarrassed.) C’mon, man – it’s only a dollar. We don’t need to make such a big deal about it.
Usher: Well, that’s exactly what I would’ve thought, but the look on your face told me otherwise.
Man: The look on my face ... ?
Usher: Yeah! (Imitates him, exaggerating.) The rolling eyes – the deep, heaving sigh – good grief! Do you really think God wants your money when you’re such a grouch about giving it up?
Man: (Takes money out of plate again.) OK, OK – Look, I’ll do it again. (Smiles a fake, cheesy smile and puts the money back in the plate with a flourish.)
Usher: Oh, now you’re just patronizing me.
Man: Well, what do you want from me?
Usher: How about a little genuine joy? – Some grateful feelings about giving back to the God who’s given you so much?
Man: I’m grateful! I’m very grateful!
Usher: Well, alright then! Let’s kick that attitude of gratitude into gear and do some cheerful giving!
Man: OK, OK. (Takes the money back again, puts on the same cheesy smile, and looks up to the ceiling.) Wow! Thank you, God! (Puts money in plate and looks at usher for approval.)
Usher: (Pauses; sighs.) This is all very new for you, isn’t it?
Man: (A little embarrassed.) Yes. Yes, it is.
Usher: (Hands him his dollar, motions him to scoot over and sits beside him.) OK, I’ll give you a crash course here. Now, the money you put in this plate: where’s it going?
Man: Uh, I thought you guys took it to the conference room back there and counted...
Usher: (Interrupting.) No, no – after that. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering – what’s this money going to do eventually?
Man: Well, it’s going to help people, I guess.
Usher: Sure, it is! It’s going to help a lot of people! People who don’t have enough to eat each day; people whose homes have been destroyed in earthquakes or fires and such; people who can’t get their sick kids to doctors... Hey, you’re a parent, right?
Usher: So, imagine this: (Gestures to imaginary girl in front of them as he speaks.) You’ve got a little girl – one, two years old?
Usher: Three! Oh, that’s a precious age. A three-year-old little girl. She’s a beauty, isn’t she? (More gestures.) ...Little dark curls, sparkling eyes, a laugh that just makes your heart sing.
Man: (Getting caught up in the image, smiling dotingly.) Oh, yeah. She’s adorable. Looks just like her mother.
Usher: Well, she would have to if she’s that adorable. (Back to imaginary girl.) But now, imagine that your precious little girl is sick.
Man: (Face falls.) Oh, no!
Usher: Terribly sick. High fever, listless, won’t eat or drink. And she’s so tiny, you know?
Man: (Distraught.) So tiny!
Usher: She’s not going to make it if she doesn’t get some medical help.
Man: (Looks at Usher.) We’ve got to get her to a doctor!
Usher: Yes, yes... but – Imagine that there is no doctor. (Man gasps.) Yousee, your community has no doctor. In fact, there’s no doctor anywhere within seventy miles, and you have no means to transport her to the nearest medical facility.
Usher: (Both are looking sadly at imaginary girl.) It’s a terrible thing, isn’t it?
Man: So sad!
Usher: Heart-breaking. (Points with a surprised look to imaginary person coming from a distance.) But look! Who is that? Is that a doctor?
Man: (Looking with him.) Is it?
Usher: It is! (Man’s face brightens.) A woman doctor! With her stethoscope and thermometer and medicines! Coming to help your beautiful little girl!
Man: (Slobberingly tearful.) Oh, that’s so wonderful!
Usher: Yes. Yes, it is. This woman came from her home far away to your community to help your child and other children like her, and do you know why she came? (Man looks at him.) Because God sent her. And do you know how God sent her? (Points to Man’s money.) Through this dollar.
Man: (Slowly, still looking at him.) Oh. That’s beautiful, man.
Usher: Now, how does it feel to know that your dollar is saving the life of somebody’s precious little girl?
Man: (Pulling out wallet to get more money.) It feels fantastic!
Usher: But, wait! There’s more! (Stands dramatically, looking slightly upward. Man joins him.) Now, imagine God looking at you with that wallet. That same God gave you a family, a home, a job... That same God has watched over you, guided you, protected you, comforted you... (Looks at Man.) Hasn’t God done a lot for you?
Man: God’s done SO much for me!
Usher: (Looks up again.) And God looks down on you, a precious child, giving the money so that the doctor can go save that little girl, and you know what God feels?
Man: (Hesitant.) Well... I hope God’s happy...
Usher: Happy? God is THRILLED! OVERJOYED! “That’s my boy!” God’s telling the angels up there! Isn’t it great to know you’ve made God happy?
Usher: Makes you feel happy, too, doesn’t it?
Man: (Excited.) Yeah!
Usher: Makes you want to give others joy, too, doesn’t it?
Man: (More excited.) You betcha!
Usher: (Grabs offering plate.) Quick! Now! While you feel the joy! (Man scrambles to get out a couple more bills and put them in the plate;
Usher puts an arm around his shoulder.) Ah! Now, that’s the way to give, isn’t it?
Man: (With a contented sigh.) Oh, yeah! That was a lot better!
Usher: Good work, son. (Walks away.)
Man: (Calls after him, opening his wallet again.) Wait! Wait! I’ve got money for the youth service project,* too!
* Substitute any other service fund of your congregation.
by Mary Helfrich
Mary Helfrich is a retired high school English teacher and a 40-year member of the Columbia City Church of the Brethren. She has written a number of plays for women’s groups and in district gatherings.
4 readers, junior high or older
All: As you sow, so shall you reap.
1: (Do not spell words here, just speak them) Sew?
2: Not that sew. Sow, meaning plant.
1: Bush or tree?
2: Not that plant. Plant, meaning to put in the ground, like planting flowers.
3: Reap? As in I “reaped mah” shirt?
4: No, reap as in harvest, gather in.
All: As you sow, so shall you reap.
1: So this saying is for farmers and gardeners and landscapers.
4: No, this is for all of us.
2: How so?
4: What you plant, you harvest.
3: You mean if I plant beans, I won’t get corn. I’ll only harvest beans.
2: No, you will get weeds, too.
4: But if you want beans, you have to plant beans. You can’t just stare at the ground and expect a bean plant to appear. You have to plant the seed. Then you have to pull the weeds and water the soil.
2: And the more seeds you plant, the more they’ll produce, and the more you’ll harvest!
1: But I don’t plant anything.
3: I haven’t put in a garden in years.
1&3: We buy what we need at the store.
2: Yes, but you still plant seeds...
4: seeds of kindness, patience, humility, goodness, generosity...
2: or seeds of discord, cruelty, selfishness, or just plain indifference.
2&4: Whatever you sow, that’s what you’ll reap...
4: or someone down the line will reap because of you.
3: So we’re all farmers?
2&4: We all plant and we all harvest what we’ve planted.
1: So if I want to be treated kindly, I have to be kind?
3: If I want to be forgiven, I have to forgive?
1: If I want to have friends, I have to be a friend?
3: But what if I am kind, and I still get treated cruelly, unkindly, unfairly? What then?
2: That happens. Sometimes others make different choices.
3: Then can I be cruel and unkind and unfair in return?
2: God is not mocked.
1&3: What does that mean?
2: That means you can’t trick God. God knows what you’ve planted, and what you’ve planted will sprout and grow sooner or later, like it or not,
in God’s time.
1: I don’t like it. I want to get better than I put in – Harvest the good stuff, you know, without the hard work.
3: Yeah – Two-for-one!
1: On sale!
2&4: God is not mocked.
1: But God has other things to worry about.
4: Yup. God isn’t going to worry about how this works. God will provide an abundant harvest.
3: As we sow, so shall we reap?
1: So I can’t pull any fast ones?
1: I can’t let someone else do the work?
1: I can’t throw a tantrum when things don’t work out the way I think they should?
3: So even in sad times if I plant joy, I’ll experience joy in return?
3: So even in hard times, if I share the good things I have with those who need them, I’ll experience blessings in return?
2&4: Yes! Blessings in abundance!
4: Doing the right thing,
3: being kind, gentle, patient, and good,
2: faithful, self-controlled, and generous
2,3&4: are always good seeds to plant that will be harvested in abundance.
2: We need to plant our best seeds and tend our lives as best we can –
3: to be generous in thought, word, and deed –
4: to love our neighbors –
1: no matter how we’re treated in return.
All: Because in the end,
2: God has promised us:
All: What we sow, we will reap abundantly.
#3; Sharing the Gift of Giving
by Leigh B. Gillis
(Editor’s note: This interpretation can also be used as an offering reminder.)
The Rev. Leigh B. Gillis is Associate Executive Presbyter for Congregational Vitality of Heartland Presbytery in Kansas City, MO. Leigh is a native of
Norfolk, VA and attended Union Presbyterian Seminary. She has pastored churches in Virginia and North Carolina.
PROPS NEEDED: coins, cell phone, offering container
SETTING: Sunday morning; Teen Brother’s room
CHARACTERS: S = Teen Sister (phone in hand, texting), B = Teen Brother
(This can be adjusted to be played by older kids or young adults in a dorm room.)
(Teen Sister enters Teen brother’s room when she hears the sound of coins rattling.)
S: What are you doing? (texting while she talks)
B: Putting coins in this container for One Great Hour of Sharing
S: That thing from church? How much you got in there?
B: I dunno. For the past month, ever since they announced this year’s offering at church, I’ve saved all the coins I get back when I pay for something with paper money. It really adds up.
S: Why are you giving it to that offering instead of using it for iTunes or something?
B: What they said in Minute for Mission that Sunday and each week since then – about God loving a cheerful giver and that those who sow bountifully will reap bountifully – just really hit me. I mean, I would have just used the change for junk anyway.
S: What did they say it goes for, and how do you know it really does?
B: Don’t you ever pay attention in church? Are you too busy texting?
S: (Rolls eyes, looks at phone display) Oh... Hayley says to tell you “hi”…No, just tell me, OK?
B: It goes for lots of things, like food, shelter, medical clinics and clean water for folks in disaster areas, and education and job training to help them in the future. It also helps refugees driven from their homes. Did you know that millions of people all over the world LIVE on about $1 per day and can barely scrape that together? Look at all this change I have that’s just extra and gets lost in our couch or rattles around in
S: (Puts phone down, wide–eyed) A dollar a day? No way! I spend more than that just on my cell bill! Not to mention the junk food I eat, gas for our car…
B: MY CAR…
S: Yeah, and all the other stuff we need to live – stuff for school, hair products, gum…
B: Sounds like you’re getting the point.
S: (Picks up cell phone.) Lemme go check the pockets of MY jeans to see what I have, and I wanna throw in that $5 grandma sent me in that card the other day. I woulda spent that for junk too. (Wanders off stage, still reading the phone and texting. Says over her shoulder…) Hayley says she’s checking around for some money she can give, too.
B: (To audience) Wow, I thought I just might make a little difference for the people who would get this with what I could gather to put in this container myself. (Grabs his cell phone and starts to text.) I didn’t realize others might want to help! Lemme text all the guys to see what they can bring. And, I’ll put it on Facebook, too…