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Lead Me to the Rock

Passion Service with Readers' Theater

Props and Set

Eleven medium-size rocks, ten on a large black cloth at stage left and one at front, center stage. Metal wheelbarrow at back, center stage. Wooden cross, stage right. Lighted Christ candle on a high table next to Narrator.

Participants

Narrator; Person (dressed in black and wearing black gloves); Judas; Jesus; False Witnesses; High Priest; two Servant Girls; Peter; Observer; Pilate; Crowd (can be made up of False Witnesses, two Servant Girls, and Observer); Soldiers

Note: Readers’ theater text is based on passages from Today’s New International Version, as indicated below.

[As the narration begins, Person is standing by the rock pile.]

Call to Worship

Narrator: But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa. 53:5)

[Pause]

Betrayed

(Matthew 26:14-16)

Narrator: Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked,

Judas: What are you willing to give me if I deliver Jesus over to you?

Narrator: So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Betrayed!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Arrested

(Matthew 26:47-50)

Narrator: Later on, in the garden of Gethsemane while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them:

Judas: The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.

Narrator: Going at once to Jesus, Judas said,

Judas: Greetings, Rabbi!

Narrator: and kissed him. Jesus replied,

Jesus: Friend, do what you came for.

Narrator: Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested him.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Arrested!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Deserted

(Matthew 26:55-56)

Narrator: At that time Jesus said to the crowd,

Jesus: Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.

Narrator: Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Deserted!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Hymn: “Ah, Holy Jesus,” stanzas 1-2 PH 93, PsH 386, TH 248, WR 262

Accused

(Matthew 26:57, 59-64a, 65a, 66)

Narrator: Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared,

False Witnesses: This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”

Narrator: Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus,

High Priest: Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?

Narrator: But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him,

High Priest: I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus: You have said so.

Narrator: Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,

High Priest: He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses?

False Witnesses: He is worthy of death.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Accused!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Disowned

(Matthew 26:69-75)

Narrator: Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. She said,

First Servant Girl: You also were with Jesus of Galilee.

Narrator: But he denied it before them all, saying,

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

Narrator: Then Peter went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there,

Second Servant Girl: This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.

Narrator: He denied it again, with an oath:

Peter: I don’t know the man!

Narrator: After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said,

Observer: Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.

Narrator: Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them,

Peter: I don’t know the man!

Narrator: Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken:

Jesus: Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.

Narrator: And he went outside and wept bitterly.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Disowned!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Hymn: “Ah, Holy Jesus,” stanzas 3-4

Condemned

(Matthew 27:11-14, 22, 26b)

Narrator: Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, Pilate, and the governor asked him,

Pilate: Are you the king of the Jews?

Jesus: You have said so,

Narrator: Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him,

Pilate: Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?

Narrator: But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. Pilate asked the crowd,

Pilate: What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?

Narrator: They all answered,

Crowd: Crucify him!

Narrator: So Pilate had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Condemned!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Ridiculed and Beaten

(Matthew 27:27-31)

Narrator: Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole community of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him, saying,

Soldiers: Hail, king of the Jews!

Narrator: They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

[Person takes two rocks from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops them into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Ridiculed! Beaten!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Hymn: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” stanzas 1-2 CH 316, PH 98, PsH 383, TH 247, WR 284

Crucified

(Matthew 27:32-35)

Narrator: As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

[Person takes a rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Crucified!

[Person returns to the rock pile.]

Hymn:“Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed” CH 306, PH 78, PsH 385, TH 254, WR 263, HUDSON CH 323, WR 258

Forsaken

(Matthew 27:45-46)

Narrator: From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

Jesus: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

Narrator: which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

[Person takes the last rock from the pile, slowly walks to the wheelbarrow, and drops it into the wheelbarrow with a loud bang.]

Person: Forsaken!

[Person returns to the black cloth where the rocks were.]

Dead

(Matthew 27:50)

Narrator: And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

[Person takes the black cloth, drapes it over the wheelbarrow, then pushes the wheelbarrow stage right, in front of the cross.]

Person: Dead!

[Person blows out the Christ candle and bows his/her head.]

Moment of silence

[Person picks up the rock at front, center stage, and lifts it up, as if pleading with God.]

All: Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Ps. 61:1-2)

The Relighting of the Christ Candle

[Person exits stage. At the same time, Narrator relights the Christ candle and then slowly exits the stage. The congregation follows in silence.].