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Earth, Fire & Spirit: A Dramatic reading for Pentecost Sunday- UCC

Earth, Fire & Spirit: A Dramatic reading for Pentecost Sunday- UCC

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Published by paceminterris
A dramatic reading based on Acts 2:1-21 which can be used as is or adapted as need be for Pentecost Sunday. Developed by the Worship and Education Ministries Team, Local Church Ministries, UCC
A dramatic reading based on Acts 2:1-21 which can be used as is or adapted as need be for Pentecost Sunday. Developed by the Worship and Education Ministries Team, Local Church Ministries, UCC

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Published by: paceminterris on Apr 18, 2013
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Earth, Fire, and Spirit 
A Dramatic Reading for Pentecost Sunday
Based on Acts 2:1–21
P
entecost! The birth of the church! We’ve come a long way since that ancient beginning.The biblical passage for Pentecost suggests that the Christian church did not arise froma clear, single-mindedness of purpose. Our tradition, instead, burst into the world in arush of wind, a blaze of fire, and a cacophony of voices and languages. There was no “gold-en age” of unity and harmony.The mystery and miracle of the Jesus movement is that it rapidly gave birth to a vast arrayof interpretations, beliefs, and practices of faith. It may well be that this is, in part, what thepassage in Acts 2 is trying to convey—that the speaking of tongues to the nations gathered in Jerusalem opens up the possibility that each nation will find its own unique way to expressand to live out discipleship in Christ. All of those folks gathered around Peter and the firstfollowers are going to go home and tell the story in their own language and with their ownvariations and nuances. Indeed, that has been the history of Christianity throughout the cen-turies. We may be called to be one in the Spirit, but certainly not one in practice!The opening chapter of the biblical book of Acts provides an important context for theevents that unfold in chapter 2. Remember that the remnants of Jesus’ followers were smallin number and uncertain of their future. They had seemingly lost everything and now clungto a command and a promise—to wait in Jerusalem for the arrival of the Spirit. Surely theyhad no idea what that meant.The following dramatic reading is written for seven speakers: a Narrator, Peter, James,Andrew, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Jesus’ Mother. The presence of “certain women”(Acts 1:14) is absolutely essential to the telling of this story. Jesus’ mother is named. It isprobable that Mary Magdalene and Joanna would have been among those certain women. Joanna is one of the women named in Luke’s gospel, which was written by the same hand asthe Book of Acts. The Narrator may be male or female. The men and women could stand onopposite sides of the narrator until the tongues of fire descend, at which point they couldcome together at the center for the remainder of the reading. They might think of creativeways to enact the coming of the Spirit while the narrator tells of it. They should also gazewith amazement (or perhaps some incredulity!) at Peter as he makes his speech at theclimax.Narrator:How dramatically their lives had changed! They had wandered thehills and valleys and lakeshores of Galilee and Judea. They had practi-cally stormed Jerusalem. They had watched and listened as their beloved teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, had lived and taught hissoul-stirring message of radical love, compassion, and nonviolence.God’s realm was at hand, he told them. It’s all around you and it’sinside you. Oh, those were the days, all right! Those were the days.And then, how suddenly it all seemed to fall apart: they saw Jesusarrested and handed over to the Romans. They—his closest friends
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and disciples—had fled in fear, unable to walk the final path with himto the hill where he was crucified. Terrified, they huddled in the shad-ows, hid in rooms behind locked doors, waited breathlessly for theknock that would signal their own unhappy end. Then—wonder of wonders!—Christ appeared to them. Alive!Well, first he appeared to some of the women. And, yes, the disciplesdidn’t believe that the women had seen him. But then, he appeared tothem! At first they didn’t recognize him. But it was Christ, all right.He presented himself to them by many convincing proofs during fortydays, and he spoke again about God’s realm. He told them to stay in Jerusalem, to wait for the promise, to be baptized by the Spirit, toreceive the power, to become his witnesses to the ends of the earth.As the story goes, they had returned to Jerusalem from the mountcalled Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs wherethey were staying. They were constantly devoting themselves toprayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of  Jesus, as well as his brothers. They also managed to pick a replacementfor Judas. One day, Peter said:Peter:So, how many did you say there are? James:One hundred and twenty.Peter:How many? James:Ahundred and twenty.Peter:Thats it? James:Yep.Peter:You sure? James:Yep.Peter:Cant be!Andrew:What do you mean?Peter:Well, three long years of trudging all over Galilee and Judea and awhole bunch of other places—and that’s while he was with us, don’tforget!—and we’ve only got 120 believers to show for it? James:What’s wrong with that? That’s not so bad.Peter:Are you kidding? When I think of all the miraculous deeds he per-formed, and the healings, and those great teachings that everybodyloved, and the way the crowds all cheered him and followed himaround, and . . . and . . .
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Andrew:People are funny. You know, in the excitement of the moment they all jump on the bandwagon, but then everything quiets down again andlife goes on . . . James:That’s right. I mean, 120 people is pretty good, really. What did youexpect?Andrew:Yeah. Its not like were trying to start a mass movement here oranything.Peter:Listen. You saw all those things he did, right? You heard him say allthe things he said, right? We were all standing there when he disap-peared into that cloud, right? James:
(Shaking head “yes”)
What’s your point?Peter:Well, he also said to wait right here and something . . . somethingextraordinary will happen. Do you believe it? James:To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what to believe anymore.Narrator:Meanwhile, some of the women were talking among themselves. Joanna:I think the men would feel better if they’d get outside more often.Mary Magdalene:They’re too scared to go out. Jesus’ Mother:It’s too bad. They were so brave and full of life when Jesus was withthem. Joanna:So were we.Mary Magdalene:We still are. Joanna:I wish more of us felt as strongly about that as you do.Mary Magdalene:We’re all brave and strong. Who goes out every day to get food anddrink for this bunch? Who keeps watch at all hours of the day andnight? Jesus’ Mother:True. I just don’t know how much longer we can hold up like this. It’ssuch a strain on everyone.Mary Magdalene:Except them
(pointing to the men)
. All they do is sit around and talkabout how it used to be, how it could have been. You know, theynever really understood him. Then they deserted him that night in thegarden. Then they denied ever knowing him. Jesus’ Mother:I know, I know. But I think they felt that they were in danger, too.That’s why they stayed away from his crucifixion. They thought theymight be next. Joanna:Maybe. I guess I think that if the Romans wanted any of us, theywould’ve found us and hauled us away in the night.
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