[Two people dressed in black stand silently beside a table with a folded white sheet in the center. To the right of the table stands a bench. To the left of the table, and slightly behind it, stands a wooden cross. Two readers, also dressed in black, stand on one side of the stage area; a third reader stands on the opposite side of the stage area. Performance time: 30 minutes.]
Reader 1: Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. (Ps. 104:1)
Hymn: “You Are Worthy” PsH 232
Reader 2: In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked and they were not ashamed. But they sinned against God. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:7-9)
Reader 3: We confess that we try to cover our spiritual nakedness, each with our own facade. We try to hide from you, but you pursue us with your love, as you pursued Adam and Eve.
[As Reader 1 speaks of God unfolding history, the two people by the table begin to unfold the sheet.]
Reader 1: Throughout history God has unfolded his salvation plan, desiring to clothe us with garments of salvation and array us in robes of righteousness. (Isa. 61:10)
[Reader 2 waits to read until the sheet is completely unfolded.]
Reader 2: God appeared to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. (Ex. 19:16-18b, 19a)
Hymn: “O Come, O Come, Immanuel” PsH 328, PH 9, RL 184, SFL 123, TH 194, TWC 133
Reader 2: God wanted to come nearer to his people. He descended to the atonement cover on the Ark of the Testimony. It stood behind the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The curtain was made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. (Ex. 26:31)
Reader 1: Time passed. Years and years. And through those years God spoke through his prophets. But then he spoke the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.
[Person 1 standing by the table cuts the manger cloth from the sheet (see illustration). Both persons stand in front of the table. Person 2 drapes the manger cloth over the arm of Person 1, as if she is Mary holding baby Jesus, then stands behind her, as if he is Joseph admiring the baby.]
Reader 2: While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7)
Hymn: “Away in a Manger” PsH 348, PH 25, RL 213, TH 204, TWC 147
Reader 3: Jesus, Son of God, was wrapped in cloths like a common child!
[Person 2 takes manger cloth from Person 1 and lays it on the bench. Both return to the side of the table.]
Readers 1, 2: Jesus paid a great price in order to dress us in garments of salvation.
Reader 2: Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company 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 and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 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. (Matt. 27:27-31)
Reader 3: Jesus wore a scarlet robe thrust on him by hateful hearts for our sake. Though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isa. 1:18b)
[Person 1 cuts four pieces of cloth from the sheet (see illustration)—Jesus’ clothes. She hands one to Reader 1, who drapes it over her arm. Person 2 takes one to Reader 2 who also drapes one over her own arm. Person 1 and Person 2 drape the remaining pieces over their own arms as they stand by the table again.]
Reader 1: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” (John 19:23-24a)
Reader 3: Jesus hung naked on the cross for us.
[During the singing of the next song Person 1 and Person 2 collect the cloths from Reader 1 and Reader 2 and place them on the bench. They return to the side of the table.]
Hymn: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” PsH 384, PH 101, RL 293, SFL 166, TH 252, TWC 213
Reader 2: It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
[Person 1 and Person 2 tear the remaining part of the sheet—“temple curtain”—in half. Each hangs a section on the cross. They stand by the cross as Reader 1 reads the next section.]
Reader 1: The curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn apart, not by human hands. Now we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body. (Heb. 10:19-21)
[During the singing of the next song, Person 1 and Person 2 walk over to the bench for the burial scene.]
Hymn: “There Is a Redeemer” SNC 145
Reader 2: As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. (Matt. 27:57-61)
[Person 1 takes the manger cloth, which is now used to represent Jesus’ burial head cloth. Person 2 takes the four strips of Jesus’ clothes, which now represent Jesus’ burial linen. They form the cloths to the shape of a body.]
Reader 1: The body of our Lord was wrapped in burial linen.
[During the following reading, Person 1 neatly folds the head cloth. Person 2 dishevels the four strips of cloth.]
Reader 2: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. (John 20:1-8)
[Person 1 holds out the folded head cloth for Person 2 to see, a look of amazement on her face.]
Reader 1: Strips of linen lying in disarray? Could Jesus’ grave have been robbed? But wait! The cloth that was around Jesus’ head is neatly folded. No grave robbers would have bothered to do that. It can mean only one thing.
Reader 3: He has risen, just as he said! (Matt. 28:6)
[Person 1 places the head cloth on the bench. Persons 1 and 2 stay at the bench.]
Hymn: “A Shout Rings Out, a Joyful Voice” PsH 392
Readers 1, 2: Because he is risen, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 13:14a)
[Person 1 and Person 2 walk to the cross, take the torn parts of the “curtain” and wrap the sections around themselves. They may raise their arms in praise during the singing of stanzas 1 and 4 and kneel for stanzas 2 and 3.]
Hymn: “We Will Glorify” SFL 18, SNC 21, TWC 118
Reader 3: You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Ps. 30:11-12)
[During the singing of “Amazing Grace,” Readers 1, 2, and 3 and Persons 1 and 2 join in front of the table.]
Hymn: "Amazing Grace"
Readers 1, 2, 3: The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed with majesty and is armed with strength. (Ps. 93:1a)