Seward United Methodist Church
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Search this site.View the site map.

Christmas Eve 2015 Dramatic Readings

Isaiah

Who am I?

 My name is Isaiah, the son of Amoz.  Perhaps you have heard of me, but then again, maybe not.  I did, after all, live a very long time ago, 700 years before Jesus.  

 I thought I knew where my life was going.  I came from a well-to-do family.  I had a good education and a good job in the government of King Uzziah.  But my life was turned upside down when I had a vision of God and he placed a calling on my life.  Once you meet God face-to-face, your life can never be the same!  

 For more than 50 years, I served God as a prophet.  I spoke the words he put in my mouth and on my heart.  I preached against the injustices of my day; the way that the poor and powerless were taken advantage of; the way that people did whatever they wanted but pretended they were godly simply by offering a sacrifice or going to a festival.  I warned the kings of Jerusalem not to try to make their own peace and security through foreign alliances but to turn to God in all things.  

 You see, I lived in dangerous times.  There were two great empires, Egypt and Assyria, fighting for control.  And guess where we were?  Right in between them!  Some of our neighbors wanted to join with one or the other and fight.  We survived because God was gracious to us.  We trusted him to be our protection, and he did not fail us.  When the Assyrian king came to destroy us, we turned to God, and God did not disappoint us.  He fought for us, and we survived.

 Others were not so lucky.  Our neighbors, our brothers, in Israel were defeated and taken away into exile.  Certainly, we had our disagreements with them.  After all, what is family for!  But we never wished to see them destroyed.  

 What about God’s promises for his people?  Was he not the king?  Would there never be peace in our world?  These questions troubled us.  

 But then God gave me a message of hope.  Even though our nation might be reduced to a mere stump, out of that stump a new shoot would grow.  Our God is holy and gracious.  And he does have a plan and and purpose for all people.  And one day a child of God’s promise would come, a child who would finally bring peace to this troubled world.  And he would reign forever.  I never lived to see this promise fulfilled, but I still praise God for his promise.

Mary

 Who am I?

 My name is Mary.  I am sure that you have heard of me, but I certainly never expected to be someone famous.  I was just a simple, young girl from a small town in Galilee.  I never expected my life would be anything extraordinary.  I was going to marry a carpenter.  I wanted to raise a family, and I expected that I would simply pass from the pages of history without a second thought.  After all, who would ever take notice of someone like me?

 But then the most remarkable thing happened!  I was visited by an angel, a messenger from God.  I was shocked to find out that God had a purpose for my life!  For me, of all people!  I was to be the mother of the Messiah, God’s Anointed One, the son of David and the Son of God. 

 But how could I ever do such a thing! Who was I for a job like that?  I certainly felt inadequate.  Maybe you’ve felt inadequate for doing God’s work, too.  But if God was asking me to do it, then I certainly wanted to.

 So I said yes.  I knew there were risks.  I knew that Joseph, my husband to be, and my parents, and well, everyone in Galilee would be talking about it!  There would be anger.  Joseph would probably decide that he no longer wanted anything to do with me.  But if God was asking; who was I to refuse?  

 It was difficult, yes, especially when I came to understand that there would be pain and grief in my life because of God’s plan.  But God’s grace always sufficient.  And I know that if you say yes to God, then amazing things will happen in your life, too.  

 

Joseph

 Who am I?

 I am Joseph, a carpenter.   

I was born in Bethlehem in Judea, the same town as my distant ancestor, King David.  But I couldn’t stay there.  I needed work, and I heard about good jobs in Galilee.  They were building a city there called Sephoris.  They needed a lot of workers, and they were willing to pay, so I went.  

It’s not easy to leave your hometown for work, but in the end, good things came out of it.  I was living in a village called Nazareth, just a short walk from Sephoris, and there I met Mary.  She was such a good person, innocent, honest, and she truly loved God.  So a marriage was arranged.  I thought I knew where my life was going at that point.  But I was in for a surprise.  

Before we were married, I learned that she was already with child!  I was heartbroken!  How could she have been unfaithful?  She never seemed like the kind of person who would be.  And as if it weren’t enough that she was pregnant, she had a crazy story about how it was a miracle!  God had given her this child!  Have you ever heard such a thing?  

I needed a way out of this situation, but I just couldn’t bring myself to hurt her.  I couldn’t bring charges against her or anything like that.  I always tried to do the right thing, and some people might have said that was the right thing to do.  But I knew that God is a God of mercy, and so I tried to be merciful, too.  I resolved that I would end the betrothal, but I wouldn’t do it publicly.  That would spare her the worst of the shame.  

Then God stopped me in my tracks.  He told me not to be afraid to take Mary home as my wife because she was speaking the truth.  God was doing a miracle in our midst, and I could be a part of it.

I knew people would still talk.  But if God was with me, then I would not be afraid of what others would say.  I swallowed my pride and took God at his word.  And I never regretted it.  And I don’t think you will regret it either if you walk with God and do his will.  

 

Shepherd

 Who am I?

 I was one of the shepherds that came to see the Savior on the night of his birth.  History did not record my name, so I won’t trouble you with it either.  

 After all, I was used to being overlooked.  You see, shepherds weren’t considered important people among the Hebrews in my day.  We were nobodies.  Oh, yes, everyone knows that the patriarchs were shepherds.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all shepherds.  But after we had settled in the land of Canaan, the profession fell on hard times.  It became a job for hired men or servants.  Those who couldn’t afford them would simply give the job to the youngest son of the family.  You might say, “But wasn’t King David, greatest of all Israel’s kings, a shepherd?”  Yes, he was.  But go back and read that story again.  When the prophet of God, Samuel, came to Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be king, they didn’t even invite David, the shepherd boy, to come to the feast.  They left him out in the field with the sheep.  That’s what people thought of shepherds!

 But they should have thought more of us!  After all, David also taught us that God is a shepherd in that psalm he wrote:  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”  Maybe you’ve heard that one once or twice.  

 And when God went looking for someone to be the first to see the Messiah and to tell others of his birth, who did God choose?  Shepherds!  We may not have been much in the eyes of the world, but God thought something of us.  

 Maybe it’s because we weren’t just any old shepherds.  In our day, the Temple had special flocks of sheep, “sacrificial lambs.”  Every single morning and evening they would sacrifice one.  Those sheep were kept in the fields between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  And those were the very sheep we were watching that night.  We were used to seeing sacrificial lambs.  Maybe that’s why God chose us to see the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  

 Jesus died for each of us.  And that means that God loves each of us.  And no one who is loved by God that much is a nobody.

 

Magi

 Who am I?

 I was one of the magi who traveled to see the child born to be king.  You might call me an astrologer, or maybe even a fortune teller.  Day after day, we read the wisdom of the ages.  Night after night, we stared into the heavens, watching the stars, trying to discern the mysteries revealed there.  

 I came from Babylon.  In my time, Babylon was part of the great Parthian Empire, but centuries earlier, it was the place of exile for the Hebrews.  They believed that they knew the one, true God.  From their time of exile in my homeland, we came to know their holy writings, the Law of Moses and the great prophets.  

 One of their prophets spoke of a child who would come out of a long-ended line of kings.  He would bring in an eternal reign of peace.  And not just for his own people, but he would be a light to all the nations.  The prophet called him “a banner of salvation to all the world.”  

 As someone who had spent his entire life reading and studying the stars to try to gain a little more light, I was intrigued.  When we saw the sign in the heavens pointing to his birth, we knew we had to go.  So we gathered up gifts and took them to him.  How could we do anything less for the King of Kings?  

 If only all the world would do as we did, bringing him their love and loyalty.  For that is the gift he wants most of all from us.  And to those who bring him that gift, he gives a gift no one else can:  He gives us peace.  

Verse of the Day...