A Reformation in Faith

For our celebration of Reformation Sunday, the Lord's Players (the Abiding Peace drama team) performed a dramatic proclamation of on the significance of God's work of Reformation in the life of the church. (Script adapted from Reformation Sunday Service by Lisa Frenz)

Cast:

Tetzel – (at front of altar)

Frau Margarete Luther – (from choir area)

Katie Luther – (under Luther Rose window)

Modern 1 – (front row)

Modern 2 – (middle of congregation)

Modern 3 – (back door)

Pastor – (at pulpit)

* * *

Tetzel: (holds up hand, commanding voice) Alright, nobody move! There’s somebody very dangerous here today: somebody actively working to undermine what’s comfortable and reliable; the structures and authorities that tell us what to think, and what to do, in order to please God.

Frau Luther: Oh come on… sit down: this is church, a spiritual place where we come to worship and pray. Don’t be such a fear-monger! Nobody here is a threat to anything or anybody.

Pastor: Ummm…I’m not here to make your life cozy. “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. (Luke 12:51-52)” If you’d rather stick with your family when the chips are down, then you can’t be part of what I’m bringing into the world.

Katie: What? That’s outrageous! If you break apart families, you’re chipping away at the foundation of our society! Who would dare to suggest that family isn’t the source of security and love in our world?

Pastor: I’m not the one who said it, (holds up Bible) Jesus did!

Katie: No way! Why would Jesus challenge the role of the family?

Modern 1: Well, some families need to be challenged. When my mother caught me doing something bad as a child, she would lock me in the basement and turn out the lights. It was pitch dark, and she would leave me there for hours. She said it was for my own good, that the dark basement is what Hell is like, and Hell is where disobedient children go. I was about 4 years old when she started doing this. I’ll never forget it. I’m still afraid of the dark…

Pastor: You know, Jesus’ own family tried to get him to behave and conform. They were worried that he was creating trouble for himself and tried to get him to come home with them. But Jesus asked “who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my siblings. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:48b-50).

Katie: So… maybe Jesus is saying that how we understand family needs to be reformed, by being expanded! Family is more than blood: it’s about who we get to love because God loves us.

Modern 2: For me, it wasn’t my family that was the problem, it was my church. When I told my pastor I was gay, he told me I should pray to God if I ever felt tempted by feelings for a person of the same sex. I tried, but the feelings didn’t go away. The pastor said I wasn’t praying hard enough. When I told him this is just how God made me, he said I had a rebellious spirit and threw me out of the church.

Tetzel: Well, he was just doing his job, after all, keeping the church pure! And besides, he had to defend his authority!

Frau Luther: But, consider the pain he caused. Do you really think that we should be breaking apart the church because we disagree about what God has said? My husband and I did not agree with our son, Martin, about his reform ideas, but I know Martin’s wish was to bring healing to the church, not division.

Pastor: You know, when a crowd came to Jesus dragging a woman caught in adultery and asking him to condemn her, he reminded the accusers that none of the them were without sin. They wanted to see her as somehow different than themselves, unworthy of mercy, but when Jesus challenged them, they all walked away. (John 8:1-11)

Modern 3: I know what it’s like to be treated like I’m different, unworthy. I had my first baby at 16, and my parents kicked me out. I tried to finish High School anyhow, but babies are expensive. Food stamps won’t pay for diapers, and when I had the choice between picking-up an extra shift at work and studying for a test, I took the paycheck. I didn’t feel like I had a choice. Anyhow, I flunked out of school, which means I’m pretty much stuck in minimum wage jobs. I have worked two and even three jobs at a time, but even so it’s almost impossible to make the rent. And once you’ve been evicted from one apartment, good luck getting past the screening process. There have been times I’ve had to choose between staying with a random guy and being homeless with my kid… so now I’ve got two kids! And I still can’t make more than $9 an hour. My childcare costs more than that! And when I ask for help, I’m told that I shouldn’t have made such bad decisions. I feel alone and scared. I’ve walked past churches before that say “all are welcome”, but I can’t help but wonder if that welcome actually includes someone like me.

Modern 1: Well, churches have to be careful, you know. We want people who can contribute to the church, not always be a drain. And we have to think about the example for our young people too.

Pastor: When the religious people saw the kind of company Jesus kept, they murmured about his bad example, eating and drinking with sinners and social outcasts. But Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29-32).

Modern 2: Maybe our welcome needs to be reformed by being expanded so that we actually INVITE outsiders in, not just “welcome” them if they get here. (holds out hand and motions for Modern 3 to join her; Modern 3 moves forward to sit with her).

Pastor: Jesus said “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven… It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:23-24). He didn’t care about what religious ‘commandments’ people claim to obey. He challenged people to be willing to part with whatever they owned, give it to those who are most in need, and live their lives the way he did.

Modern 1: Really!?!? Will plunging myself into poverty really make the world better? Or will it just add one more poor person to the mix? It’s totally unreasonable.

Tetzel: Well, it depends…. God will reward you if you give your money away to the church… (holds up collection box).

Modern 2: I don’t know. Shouldn’t our giving be about the difference it makes – in our lives and in the world?

Pastor: There were women who left everything to follow Jesus as he spread God’s love. Some had been in desperate situations, but he healed them. Others had some wealth and prominence, and they gave generously to support the others. And they were all united in the same community as followers of Jesus.

Modern 3: So, even our understanding of money needs to be reformed, expanded beyond greed or guilt. LOVE of money CAN be the root of all evil, but when what we have is shared to build relationships, faith, and community, then the world can be a different place.

Tetzel: You can’t say I didn’t warn you! There is somebody among us who is working to challenge our faith, revise the way we think, and change the focus of our community.

Modern 2: You know, there’s a word for that: Reformation! (raises fist in the air)

Modern 1: Is that a good thing?

Katie Luther: Well, it can be. To re-form something means it is given a new shape, maybe a shape that is opened up to new possibilities that seemed off-limits before.

Frau Luther: That’s what Martin Luther wanted for the church.

Modern 3: It’s what Martin Luther King wanted for society.

Modern 2: And both of them took their lead from Jesus, who led by example in his living and even in his dying. And who – in rising from death – re-formed living and dying!

Modern 1: Talk about radical!

Tetzel: Careful now! Following Jesus may lead us to touch the untouchable, reach out for the impossible, welcome the unthinkable. Is it worth the risk?

Pastor: Jesus said “If you continue in my Word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) To follow Jesus is to trust that every challenge Jesus gives us to reform our attitudes and our actions comes with a promise: a promise that we are being led out of bondage, sometimes a bondage we do not even recognize. And, through the grace of God, we are being led into a freedom we can hardly imagine. Isn’t that worth the risk of take a good, hard, reforming look at ourselves, our world, our future?

Modern 3: Yes!

Modern 2: Yes, it is.

Modern 1: You know, yes, I actually believe it is.

Pastor: Thanks be to God!

[1] Adapted from Reformation Sunday Service by Lisa Frenz.

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