A New Command I Give You

Let’s not kid ourselves, friends: Everyone has people that they quite plainly and nearly irrevocably do not want to see.

It’s a fact of life that there will be others who rub us the wrong way or get on every nerve possible and some we didn’t know existed. You physically, emotionally, and/or mentally cannot stand them. Simply put, you don’t like them. If you were six years old, they would not be invited to your birthday party.

These people can be anyone. Family members, distant relatives, friends-of-friends, acquaintances, fellow church members, teammates, coworkers, the list goes ever on and on. That wacky cousin. That weird guy at church. That person who you barely know but makes you uncomfortable for reasons you’re not even aware of. The Bible talks consistently on enemies; that we are to love them, and while we may not consider these people to be enemies in the Batman-and-Joker sense, we avoid conversation or interaction with them at all costs. Although we’re running low on Batcaves to hop in when they come near, our aversion tactics are spectacular when it comes to these particular people.

Of course, this is not how God intended us to act. As fun as it would be to blast a hole through the ceiling and escape via helicopter whenever we are imposed upon, Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” A large component I find in my own dislike of certain individuals stems from my pride, believing myself to be better than they are in some mannerism or characteristic. I get snappy, condescending, and brief. While keeping up a facade of politeness, inside I cannot wait to retrieve myself from the situation and get out of Dodge.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

As the Bible also tells us, love is patient and love is kind, and we are given more than we could ever hold within us through Jesus. There is more than enough to spread around. In some cases, love is a natural action, and in others, it feels like a chore. Regardless of our personal feelings on the matter, love can surpass our pride, anger, irritation, discomfort, dislike, weariness, and weakness.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

Loving despite of our human failings and petty emotions is a staple of Christianity. It should be how we identify ourselves to the world and each other, although too often it’s the opposite.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Continue a conversation with someone whose company you don’t enjoy. Treat each other the same. If you are indeed six years old, invite them to your birthday party. If God can love our messed-up sinful disrespectful little selves beyond our comprehension, we can give hugs and shake hands with genuine smiles on our faces.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8

“Mary’s Bedroom” – Christmas Skit

I wrote a Christmas skit this year for the main church service but it didn’t align properly and we were not able to use it, so I have decided to post it here and fully open it to anyone who would like to use it in the future for their theatre group or anything of that sort.

Enjoy!

*

(Skit opens with OLD MARY sitting in a rocking chair, CHILDREN sitting around her. OLD MARY is talking indisctinctly but emphatically.)

OLD MARY:…and I treasured up all these things and pondered them in my heart. The end.

CHILDREN: Tell it again, Grandma Mary! Tell the story again!

OLD MARY: Oh, it’s very late, and I know you little rascals will be up early opening presents. I shouldn’t.

CHILDREN: Please? Just one more time?

OLD MARY: (Pleased) Oh, alright. This is the story of how Uncle Yeshua was born…

(Focus shifts to MARY’s bedroom on the stage. KATIE is lying on the bed chatting on her phone.)

OLD MARY: Let me tell you, children, having an angel visit you wasn’t an everyday occurrence. In fact, God had been pretty quiet for about 400 years. So, understandably, I was a bit surprised.

(MARY screams from offstage. KATIE looks up, concerned.)

KATIE: Mary? Are you okay?

(Indistinct voices are heard from offstage.)

MARY: (Offstage) I don’t understand how this is supposed to happen! I haven’t even kissed anyone.

(Indistinct conversation from the bathroom. KATIE gets off the bed and goes closer to the bathroom door.)

MARY: (Resolved) Okay. (Beat) Could you write a note to my parents, or my fiance, or something, because it’ll sound a lot better coming from you. No? (Shaky) Okay. Thanks.

(MARY enters from the bathroom, looking shell-shocked and stumbling over herself. She is holding a pregnancy test. KATIE supports her and guides her over to the bed.)

KATIE: Are you okay? You don’t look okay. What was going on in there?

MARY: You’re not going to believe me. I don’t think I believe me.

KATIE: That’s what you said when you got an orange Tic-Tac stuck in your nose. I’m your best friend. You can tell me.

MARY: (MARY holds up the pregnancy test.) I hope you still are after this. Katie, I’m pregnant.

KATIE: No way. No. Way. How is that even possible when you haven’t even kissed someone? You’ve never kissed anyone. Did you kiss someone?

MARY: No, I haven’t kissed anybody! It’s not a kissing test, Katie. It’s a pregnancy test!

KATIE: Well, it’s gotta be wrong. Or expired, or something. You cannot be pregnant. It is scientifically impossible.

MARY: (Slightly hysterical) Ha! Heh! Ha. Heh. Huh…

(KATIE grabs MARY’s shoulders, MARY and KATIE continue having an unheard conversation as OLD MARY speaks.)

OLD MARY: You see, children, I was in shock. An angel had shown up to my house, saying I was going to have a baby, and not only that, told me exactly what that baby’s name was going to be and what he was going to grow up to do! I was scared.

CHILDREN: What was he going to do, Grandma?

OLD MARY: (Teasing) Like I haven’t told you a million times! Your mind has a hole in it, mister. But I’ll tell you again. (Sober) He was going to grow up to do amazing things. Heal the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead. And best of all? He came to save us. But it was going to cost him a lot. His friends, His family, His reputation, and even His life.

(Back to the bedroom scene.)

KATIE: But why would God pick you? I mean, no offense, but it’s not like you’re perfect or anything!

MARY: God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

KATIE: Did you get that off a t-shirt? (Beat) You need to call Joe. Like, right now. And tell him to hurry.

(MARY pulls out her phone and dials a number before pressing it to her ear.)

MARY: Joe? Hi. I need you to come over real quick. Sorry, I know you’re busy, but it’s important. Thanks. Love you. (MARY puts the phone down.) He’s coming.

(KATIE rubs MARY’s shoulders as MARY stares down at the pregnancy test, bewildered. Focus shifts to OLD MARY.)

OLD MARY: Your grandpa…was such a good man. We were going to get married. But so far, all we’d done was hold hands! How was I going to look him in the eye and tell him I was pregnant? How was he going to believe what the angel had told me? It would take a miracle.

(Focus shifts back to bedroom. A knock is heard.)

MARY: Come in!

(JOE enters from the right wearing work clothes.)

JOE: Mary? Oh, hi Katie. Um, your dad said it would be okay if just this once I came up here. I’ve never actually seen your room before. I like the teddy bear. (Sees MARY’s expression) Are you okay? I came from work as fast as I could.

MARY: (Stands) I need to talk to you.

(MARY and JOE both stare pointedly at KATIE.)

KATIE: You know what, I’m going to go downstairs and, um, feed the cat. Yeah.

(KATIE exits.)

JOE: You have a cat?

MARY: No.

JOE: Oh. Got it. What’s up?

MARY: I don’t know how to say this. There was an angel in my bathroom.

JOE: What?

MARY: There was an angel in my bathroom. And he gave me this. (MARY hands JOE the pregnancy test. JOE stares at it.)

JOE: I don’t know what the lines mean.

MARY: I’m pregnant, Joe. And not just with any baby. This baby is the Son of God. The angel told me that his name is going to be Jesus. I haven’t messed around with anyone, I promise. This baby was concieved by the Holy Spirit.

(JOE paces back and forth, clearly conflicted.)

JOE: Mary…are you listening to yourself? You expect me to believe that? Mary, we had plans! We were going to grow old together! We were going to have a life together, and then you tell me this? How could you do this? You’re clearly not who I thought you were. How could I be so stupid. Dear Lord, what are people going to say? What are they going to think of you? There’s a lot that I could deal with, Mary. I don’t know if I can deal with this. But I still care about you. I can’t let you be an outcast. Your life, reputation…would be ruined. Guess there’s only one thing we can do. We call it off. No one needs to know. We’ll keep it quiet. We’ll just go on like…like nothing ever happened.

(MARY reaches for his arm.)

MARY: Joseph, if we could just-

(JOE shrugs away from her touch and cuts her off with a look.)

JOE: I’m going to splash some water on my face. Is this the bathroom? (Gestures towards the bathroom, MARY nods. JOE exits.)

(MARY sits on the bed, clutching the teddy bear. Sound of running water and a loud sigh is heard, then a step, slip, exclamation of surprise, and a loud thunk.)

MARY: Joe?!

(Focus shifts to OLD MARY.)

OLD MARY: I know it sounds terrible, but that bonk on the head was the best thing that ever happened to us. When Grandpa Joe slipped and fell, he blacked out. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that everything I had said was true. He was supposed to take me as his wife, and we were going to have a son. God’s Son.

(Focus shifts back to bedroom. JOE enters from the bathroom, rubbing his head gingerly.)

JOE: You’re not going to believe what happened to me in there.

MARY: Try me.

JOE: This baby…is the one we’ve been waiting for? You’re- you’re carrying the Messiah! (JOE takes MARY’s hands.) We’re going to have a son!

(Lights out.)

Good Morning Africa!

Muli bwanji!

In other words (English ones, to be exact), how are you?

I am fantastic. We arrived in Blantyre, Malawi, yesterday to finish up a trip that pretty much could not have gone smoother. Except for the occasional hiccup and a case of an apple juice-soaked skirt attributed to a crying child on the airplane, we had an easy-breezy CoverGirl travel experience. It’s interesting to think that even with all of our planning and preparation, it has been and always will be 100% in God’s hands no matter how hard we try to control the situation.

The weather is beautiful and it matches the surroundings. It has been nice and cool with a hot sun and the mountains remind me of home, except with more trees. And yes, there is dirt everywhere. Even from inside my shoes my socks have nice brown skid marks.

We visited the supermarket yesterday, and you might want to mentally adjust what you consider a supermarket. The place was about the size of my living room and crammed with food. They have what I personally consider a surprising amount of “American” food. If I ever get the hankering for Doritos or Heinz ketchup, they’ve got me covered. A woman browsing in front of us had her baby strapped onto her back using a blanket and she was definitely not the first girl we had seen doing such.

After a night of sleeping underneath a mosquito net, I rolled out of bed for a walk around the area. It was like a feast for the senses. We passed so many people who were making their way to work on their own two legs, and not for exercise purposes. It is simply how people get around here. I mean, the average citizen doesn’t have a vehicle, so what else are you going to do? Women in colorful skirts were calling to their friends across the road and laughing, and we heard and saw at least two men singing as they pattered along. Men in nice business suits walked the same road as a man whose shirt was so full of holes and covered in dust that it no longer resembled an article of clothing.

I am told that what I am undergoing right now is called the honeymoon phase, when everything seems fun and imperfectly perfect. Apparently the culture shock will hit me soon, the realization that I’m not in America anymore and it’s different and strange, but currently I could not be happier. God is in control and Africa is beautiful. I could not ask for more.

Easter Skit – Act Three

Act Two: https://booknutsy.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/easter-skit-act-two/

[PLEASE NOTE that this is a group project and I can in no way take full credit for its creation – this was the product of great brainstorming sessions between Elizabeth Schroeder, Katie and Sarah Turner, Greta and Kaitlin Solofra, Christian Casey, and myself, and was therefore written by all of us combined.]

*

[The disciples are sitting around the table with mostly empty plates in front of them, having just finished their meal. OD is patting his belly contentedly.]

OD: Awww, I am stuffed. [Notices that Peter still has some food on his plate.] Oooh! Hey, you gonna eat that?

Peter: Nah, go ahead. I’m saving room for dessert.

OD: Like pie! I wonder if they have pie…

[Waiter pops up. This time there is less shock and more irritation at the waiter.]

Waiter: Did someone say dessert? I’ve got the menus right here! There are nooooo calories in looking! [Hands out dessert menus and then exits.]

OD: So…Pete and Johnny, are you reconsidering your tall tale now that you have some food in your bellies?

John: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

OD: You know, that JC’s body was missing and all that.

Peter: We know what we saw. The stone in front of the tomb was rolled away and when we went inside, the body was missing.

John: Even his burial linens were folded, which we can agree isn’t the habit of most tomb robbers. If you are so full of unbelief, go see it for yourself.

OD: With all these Romans around? Not a chance! [Makes a throat-slitting motion.]

James: Did you really see the tomb empty and our Lord gone?

John: Would I lie about this?

[John’s question hangs in the air for quite some time until someone enters the room. Without looking at who it is, Peter speaks.]

Peter: We’re not ready for dessert, okay…? [Turns around to see Jesus and Peter’s mouth drops open in shock. The other disciples do the same with various different reactions of shock. The tension is palpable as they all struggle to find the words. Each disciple slowly gets out of his respective chair and goes to Jesus.]

OD: Are you a ghost? Are we in the middle of The Walking Dead?

John: Lord? Is it truly you?

Jesus: Peace be with you.

[Recognizing the voice, they rush forward to hug Jesus. The disciples are filled with joy, smiling. OD waits longer than the others though, poking Jesus in the side and inspecting the holes in his hands before he is confident that Jesus is real.]

Jesus: As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you! The Holy Spirit be with you.

[Happy (OD is even dancing a little bit) the disciples leave, asking questions and just celebrating in general. Disciples and Jesus exit. A few moments after they leave, the waiter pops up and sees the empty table. With a wail, she sinks to the floor.]

Waiter: But what about dessert?!

*

And that’s it! For clarification, OD stands for “Other Disciple” because the poor lad doesn’t have a name. I’m playing John and I can’t wait!

The skit will be performed Easter Sunday at Crosswalk Church.

Easter Skit – Act Two

Act One: https://booknutsy.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/easter-skit-part-one/

[PLEASE NOTE that this is a group project and I can in no way take full credit for its creation – this was the product of great brainstorming sessions between Elizabeth Schroeder, Katie and Sarah Turner, Greta and Kaitlin Solofra, Christian Casey, and myself, and was therefore written by all of us combined.]

*

[The disciples are sitting around a table at a restaurant, fidgeting and nervous. Every sound sets them on edge. A waiter pops out of nowhere, shocking them all and causing a general uproar.]

Waiter: Hi, welcome to The Locked Room. My name is Martha. I’ll be serving you this evening. Mary was supposed to be helping me tonight, but it looks like it’s just me…again. [Hands out menus.] I’ll give you a few minutes to look over the menus.

[Waiter exits.]

James: It’s not possible.

John: I can’t believe his body’s gone.

Peter: You know they’re coming after us next.

[Silence.]

OD: I’m thinking the chicken.

John: How can you think of food at a time like this? When Jesus’s body is missing and we don’t know where he’s been taken?

[Brooding silence.]

James: We saw him heal lepers, cast demons out of people…he even brought Lazarus back from the dead – so why didn’t he save himself – now, when it really matters?

Peter: He skipped away from people who wanted to kill him before. What makes this time any different?

John: I feel like there are clues we’re missing somewhere.

James: Yeah, let’s back up. What do you guys remember from that night in the garden?

Peter: He was in bad shape, I’ve never seen him like that before.

John: He told us to watch and pray.

James: I don’t know about you, but I fell asleep like right after he left.

Peter: I don’t know about you, but I feel like crap that I couldn’t do the one thing he asked me to.

OD: I don’t know about you, but I feel like waffles!

Peter: Really not the time, dude.

OD: Well, I know for sure that I don’t want anything flesh colored after seeing you cut that dude’s ear off when the police came to arrest Jesus.

[Waiter pops out again, surprising the entire group.]

Waiter: Who wants to hear the specials?!

[The disciples stare at her in disbelief and shake their heads. Waiter realizes that she’s interrupted something and backs out of the room, giving two thumbs up and mouthing “Okay, okay, gotcha.” A short silence follows her exit.]

James: Wait, hold up, you actually cut his ear off? I couldn’t see above those thugs.

OD: Oh yeah! And then Jesus just popped it right back on his head and went with them without a fight! Including that traitor, Judas.

Peter: What a jerk.

John: I know. I can’t believe he would sell us out – sell Jesus out – like that. We’re his friends!

Peter: Insanity, that’s what it is. I don’t know why he did it. I mean, WE had a good reason for running away. Those guys were huge! We were outnumbered. Like…what could we have even…it was…we… [begins stuttering in his attempt to justify their actions] What could we have done anyways?

[Anger/indignation fades away to be replaced with a moment of reflection on if they would’ve betrayed Jesus if the price was right. Peter coughs to break the silence.]

Peter: Speaking of insanity…do you know what I heard about that trial for Jesus?

James: What about it?

Peter: It was an absolute joke. They brought in liars with these accusations that were so off the mark they may as well have been saying that Jesus was a flying unicorn. And the crowd asked for freaking BARABBAS instead of Jesus. Who likes Barabbas? Nobody, that’s who. In my opinion, totally. Rigged.

John: But he didn’t even respond.

OD: What do you mean he didn’t respond?

John: He didn’t respond to their accusations or name calling. Just…stood there. And then they…they beat him for saying nothing.

OD: Is that when they put the thing on him? [OD mimes a crown of thorns]

[John nods.]

[All murmur in sympathy.]

OD: Ouch.

James: Was anyone there when it actually happened?

[Short silence, then John raises his hand in that half-hearted, barely-above-the-head way.]

John: I was.

James: What was it like?

[Short silence as John gathers himself together.]

John: We all know he could’ve come off that cross any time he wanted to, right? We’ve seen how powerful he is. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that he was holding himself there.

OD: That makes no sense.

John: Listen, listen. When he was up there, and there were people shouting curses at him, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Who says that when they’re on their death bed? And, on top of that, he refused any of the alcohol that would numb the pain. Those aren’t the actions of a normal man. He held himself there.

James: But why?

Peter: Have none of you been listening for these past couple of years? He kept talking about his mission on earth. Maybe this was his mission.

OD: His mission…was to die.

John: You weren’t there, you didn’t hear what he said. There was this moment when he was in so much pain, and he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He sounded like he had just taken the whole world on his shoulders. And then… [cuts off]

OD: Then…?

John: Then – and I’ll never forget this – he said, “It is finished.” And it was over.

[Dead silence at this statement – it basically hit them like a bag full of bricks. Waiter enters.]

Waiter: So, are we ready to order?

[Set darkens. End of act.]

*

Act Three: https://booknutsy.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/easter-skit-act-three/

Easter Skit – Act One

My youth group at church is doing a skit this Easter that we are writing entirely by ourselves. As I think it is the best Easter skit script ever written (although my bias knows no bounds), I wanted to post it here. Enjoy!

[PLEASE NOTE that this is a group project and I can in no way take full credit for its creation – this was the product of a great brainstorming session between Elizabeth Schroeder, Katie and Sarah Turner, and myself, and was therefore written by all of us combined.]

*

[Text messages between God the Father and Jesus Christ appear on the screen back and forth in true text formation.]

Father: Ping

Jesus: Hey.

Father: Wanna talk?

Jesus: You got timber?

Father: ???

Jesus: Grrr…autocorrect. Got TIME?

Father: All the time in the world.

Father: 😉

Jesus: You know that plan we discussed?

Father: For decorating the mansions?

Jesus: Uh, no…before that.

Father: Ohhhhh, that plan. The one you’re almost done with.

Father: Having second thoughts?

Jesus: Is there any other way?

Jesus: Everything is possible for you.

[Texts come quicker and more frantically.]

Jesus: Please take this cup from me.

Jesus: Father?

[pause]

Jesus: Dad?

Father: You know the answer, don’t you? There is no Plan B. You know that you are the only way.

Jesus: Not my will but yours be done.

Father: I’m so proud of you.

Jesus: I love you too. Gotta go.

[Screen fizzles and turns to static bearing the words CONNECTION LOST.]

*

Act Two: https://booknutsy.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/easter-skit-act-two/