On our way to the Celestial City: six service plans with dramas based on The Pilgrim's Progress, page 2 of 2



Call to Worship

Come, worship the King, give glory and honor to Jesus Christ, whose name is above every name. Listen to his instruction and so put on the full armor of God so that you may resist Satan and give praise to our Lord.

Scripture: Psalm 42

Sermon: "Hope in Dark Days"

Affirmation of Faith: Apostles' Creed

Sang Suggestions

"How Firm a Foundation" PsH 500, PH 361, RL 172, TH 94, TWC 612
"Standing on the Promises" TWC 306
"As the Deer" Voices United 766, Celebration Hymnal 348
"Jesus, Name Above All Names" TWC 106
"Blessed Assurance" PsH 490, PH 341, RL 453, TH 693, TWC 514


Narrator: After Christian escaped from Vanity Fair, where his good friend Faithful was put to death for believing in Jesus, Christian and a new traveling companion, Hopeful, walked on towards the Celestial City. On the fourth day, they came to a beautiful meadow called Bypath Meadow. "Let's walk through the meadow," said Christian to Hopeful. "It's a shortcut. We can pick up the road on the other side." So they left the road they were supposed to stay on, climbed the fence, and began crossing the meadow. When evening came, they fell asleep. In the morning they were awakened by the footsteps and the big voice of a giant whose name was Giant Despair.

Giant Despair: [Grabbing them by the neck and slinking them awakej Who are you? And what are you doing here?

Christian: We are two pilgrims on the way to the Celestial City but we have lost our way.

Giant Despair: So you have! You are on my property, the grounds of Giant Despair. Now you must pay for your mistake. I'm taking you to my castle. It's called Doubting Castle. Now come along! [Giant Despair takes them to his castle, opens a cell door, and promptly throws them in,]'I'his is where you will stay until you die. So don't get your hopes up.

Narrator: The dungeon was dark, not a single window in it. And the walls were very thick. What a grim place! They could hear creatures scurrying around them. Hopeful tried to cheer Christian up, but he could not. Christian knew that it was because of him that they had left the path and been taken to this awful castle. It was all his fault.

Meanwhile, Giant Despair was having supper with his wife, Gloom. He told her about the intruders,

Giant Despair: I caught two men trespassing on our land today and threw them into the dungeon.

Gloom: Who are they?

Giant Despair: They're some of those pilgrims on their way to the Celestial City. They got lost. They'll never get there now because 1 won't let them go. I just don't know what I should do with them.

Gloom: I hate those pilgrims. They always think they can shortcut through our property. [Pause] Beat them and starve them! Beat them so badly that they give up on life. Beat them so badly that they kill themselves.

[Giant Despair returns to the dungeon and opens the door.]

Hopeful: Have you come to let us out?

Giant Despair: [With a deep laugh] Are you kidding? [Begins to beat first Hopeftd and then Christian] You trampled on my property. 1 will make you pay. I will beat you and starve you till you die! [Giant Despair leaves and locks the door after him.]

Christian: We'll never get out of here. We're going to die, and it's all my fault.

Hopeful: Let's not despair yet. God, who created the world, also controls every situation. We must trust him to help us. We must watch for an opportunity to escape.

Narrator: For several days Giant Despair kept coming to the prison and beating the two prisoners. Beat them long enough, he thought, and they will grow so weak and discouraged that they will take their own lives.

Giant Despair: 1 can't believe they're still alive.

Gloom: You must beat them harder and scare them worse. Take them to the castle yard and show them the skeletons of other pilgrims who have come this way.

Giant Despair: Yeah. That's what I'll do tomorrow.

[Giant Despair and Gloom retire for the night.]

Narrator: About midnight Hopeful and Christian began to read their scrolls and pray, and they kept this up until dawn.

Christian: O God, we have sinned and strayed from your way. Please forgive us and help us to find our way back. [Pauses; then sits up with a start] What a fool I have been! I just remembered. [Peeling in his pocket] I have a key with me that will open any door.

Hopeful: What kind of key is it?

Christian: It's the key called Promise. We can use it to get out of Doubting Castle.

[Christian hies to open door. At first, it doesn't work. He tries again; this time it works. Cautiously they open the door and escape.]

Narrator: So Christian and Hopeful, sustained by the promises of God, made their way out of Doubting Castle and continued on their journey. But before they left the meadow, they returned to the place where they had climbed the fence and put up a warning sign. It said: "Over this fence is the way to Doubting Castle kept by the Giant Despair, who hates the owner of the Celestial City and seeks to kill all pilgrims who trespass," For years afterward, many who followed along the road and were tempted to climb the fence into Bypath Meadow were saved by this sign.



Call to Worship: from Revelation 4

Scripture: Revelation 21-22:5

Sermon: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Heaven But..."

Affirmation of Faith: Our World Belongs to God

stanzas 57-58

Song Suggestions

"Jerusalem the Golden" PsH 618, RL 579, TH 539, TWC 754
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" PsH 617, SFL 197
"Holy God, We Praise Your Name" PsH 504, PH 460, RL 619, TH 103, TWC 3
"Alabare" PsH 234, SFL 193
"You Are Worthy" PsH 232, TWC 58


Narrator: After narrowly escaping Doubting Castle, Christian and Hopeful continued on their journey to the Celestial City. The landscape was more beautiful each step of the way. Gardens and orchards abounding with fruit and flowers lined the path. Along the way they met a group of shepherds tending their flock. One, named Knowledge, warned them to beware of the Deceiver, even though they were so close to the City.

In the late afternoon Christian and Hopeful came to a place where another path joined theirs. Both seemed to go in the right direction.

Hopeful: Which way?

Christian: [Shaking his head] don't know.

Deceiver: [In a smooth voice] Gentlemen, perhaps I can help you. I wait here for pilgrims on their way to the Celestial City. Many have followed me before, and now I'm willing to help you. Would you care to follow me?

Christian: [Speaking only to Hopeful] I don't like this guy. 1 le's too hidden.

Hopeful: But he's all dressed in white. He's probably one of the Shining Ones sent here to guide the pilgrims to the city.

Christian: [Hesitantly] Maybe . . . all right, let's follow him.

Narrator: So the white figure took the left fork, and almost immediately the path turned away from the Celestial City. The further they traveled, the more uneasy Christian and Hopeful were. Finally, with their backs to the City, they stopped their guide.

Christian: Stop! This can't be the right way.

Narrator: The figure slowly turned around and raised its white hands to lift its hood. They saw its face for the first time.

Hopeful: The Deceiver! Run!

Narrator: But it was too late. A weighted net fell upon them, and they quickly got entangled in it. The Deceiver said nothing, pulled his hood over his head, walked past them, and headed back the way he had come, looking for more pilgrims.

Christian and Hopeful tried everything to free themselves, but nothing worked, and soon darkness fell. They feared the Deceiver's return. Then they saw a white light moving through the trees.

Christian: Is it the Deceiver?

Hopeful: [Stating at the figure as he approaches] No, it can't be. The light is too bright.

Shining One: What are you doing here? This is not the way to the city.

Christian: We allowed ourselves to be led away by the Deceiver, and now we're caught in his net.

Narrator: The Shining One took out his flaming sword and slashed the net. [Net is removed] Then he led them back to the path witli his light shining all around them in the dark woods. With joy in their hearts, Christian and Hopeful continued on their journey. But not far ahead, the path ended abruptly in a deep and dark river that flowed swiftly. Across the river sat another Shining One.

Christian: (To Hopefulj There's no way across, not even a bridge. We'll never make it, [To the Shining One] Is there no other way to cross over?

Shining One: Only Enoch and Elijah were permitted to bypass this river. All others must pass through it.

Hopeful: [Calling across to the Shining Quel Is it deep?

Shining One: That depends on how firmly you believe in the owner of this place.

[Christian anal Hopeful hang on to each other as they step into the water.]

Narrator: With determination, Christian and Hopeful entered the river. [They puss the first set of waves. I At first Christian kept his eyes on the City, but then thoughts of the struggle with Apollyon and the Giant filled his mind. [They puss the second set of waves.j Suddenly the river seemed to rise up all around him. Hopeful was nowhere in sight.

Chistian: This is the River of Death! [Sinks into the water/ Hopeful, where are you?

[Christian and Hopeful go under the third set of waves and come up on the other side.]

Hopeful: [Grabbing Christian's arm/ Do not despair. 1 see the gates! We're so close! Remember the promise.

Christian: "When I pass through the river, you are with me."

Narrator: As they remembered the Owner's promise, the waters stilled, the mist cleared, and they could see the gates of the Celestial City again. When they came out of the water, their bodies had changed. They were new and light and strong. They ran with ease up the steep ascent to the City. The gates opened, and a Shining One greeted them. He asked for their certificate and welcomed them. [Shakes hands] Faithful was there to put a robe on each of them and place a crown upon their heads. [Docs so} The long journey was over. No more wandering, no more suffering, and no more pain. It was all over. [Pause] But really, it was only the beginning.

[Fivesaints come out to give praise and glory to the Owner and to welcome the pilgrims.]

Saint 1: Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sits upon the throne.
Saint 2: And unto the lamb forever.
Saint 3: Enter into the joy of the Lord.
Saint 4: Here you will see Emmanuel as he is.
Saint 5: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

[At this point Christian and Hopeful enter the City and all the instrumentalists come out.]

Song: "Holy, Holy, Holy" PsH 249, PH 138, RL 611, SFL 66, TH 100, TWC 827
stanza 1: flute and violin
stanza 2: flute and violin and soloist
stanza 3: instrumentalists, with saints and angels instrumental interlude (flute, violin, sax, trumpets, French horn)
Stanza 4: instruments and congregation



We kept things very simple. Everyone wore street clothing; the only costume was Christian's armor and a dragon. We rented a breastplate, helmet, sword, shield, and spear from a local costume shop. 1 made leg guards out of cardboard and Velcro colored to match the helmet and breastplate. We also rented a dragon and claws from a costume shop. Total cost was just under .$60.00.

Most of the props are self-explanatory; we did manage to find a very large backpack for Christian to wear. For the carnival atmosphere in Week 4, we placed three tables in front, piled with lots of international items for selling as at a bazaar. A kind of jack-in-the-box served as a distraction for the pickpocket scene.

For a prison, we constructed three wooden frames on casters to form a three-sided cell. Ropes dyed black were strung across the openings from nails in the frames.

For Week 6, we used the same frames to construct two doors to the Celestial City. We filled in all three frames with insulation material covered with contact paper that looked like wood (The ropes stayed on for support.). When the two doors opened, the third frame, depicting the skyline of Celestial City was revealed. We used gold material to outline the Celestial City and shone bright lights on it. For the river in Week 6, children stood opposite each other holding long light blue and white ribbons, which they waved to give the appearance of moving water.

—Grace Cremer, drama director at Westend Christian Reformed Church.


Reformed Worship 55 © March 2000, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.