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The Light of Life: A dramatic reading for Epiphany

What is the meaning of light in the Bible? This drama was prepared for the conclusion of a series of sermons our pastor preached between Epiphany and Lent that asked that question. Rather than using a narrative approach, I began with three scenes: creation, fall, and redemption. Using my concordance, I found relevant Scripture passages for each scene. (All Scripture is taken from the NRSV.) When I noticed that my original three-part structure didn’t satisfy, I added scenes 3 and 5.

Placement of readers in the sanctuary will depend on your church architecture. For example, in our production the voice of God and the Judge came from our balcony, while “Jesus” stood beneath the front cross, unlit until scene 4. Readers begin each scene with their backs to the congregation, turning to face the congregation at the beginning of each scene, and then turning their backs again to mark the transition from one scene to the next. Instructions for lighting are written within the script.

No props are necessary, but you may wish to have everyone dress in black for uniformity and place their scripts in identical black binders.

This piece could lend itself to a five-part sermon series with one scene performed each week. The scenes could be repeated all together again in the final service. You may wish to end each scene or the entire drama with a song.

Readers

Historian
Apostle
Voice of God
Jesus
Judge Prophet
People (a small chorus of readers, perhaps placed within the congregation)
All (all readers in unison)

Scene 1: Creation Light

[At the beginning of the drama, all of the lights in the sanctuary should be off, except for those that illuminate the front where the readers will be standing. Those should be dimmed as low as possible but provide enough illumination for the readers to see their scripts.]

Historian: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

People: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps. 119:105)

Historian: God said,

Voice of God: Let there be light.

[One single spotlight comes up full on one side of sanctuary front. Throughout the rest of scene 1 front lights come up slowly until the entire area where the readers are standing is brightly illuminated.]

Historian: And there was light. (Gen. 1:3)

Prophet: The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (Ps. 119:130)

Historian: God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. (Gen. 1:4)

Apostle: This is the message we have from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

People: O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment. (Ps 104:1-2a)

Apostle: If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Historian: He was in the beginning with God. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness. (John 1:2, 3b-5)

Judge: This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world. (John 3:19a)

Scene 2: Sin’s Darkness

Historian: Then the Lord said to Moses,

God: Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.

Historian: So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.

[All lights are turned off immediately except for the single source of light that came on during scene 1. Adjust the dimness to provide enough light for reading.]

People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were. (Ex. 10:21-23a)

Prophet: See, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation, and to destroy its sinners from it.

For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.

Voice of God: I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the insolence of tyrants. (Isa. 13:9-11)

Judge: The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers. (2 Cor. 4:4a)

Apostle: All who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. (John 3:20)

Judge: The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:4)

Apostle: Whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness. (1 John 2:11)

Judge: This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)

All: The lamp of the wicked goes out. (Prov. 13:9b)

Scene 3: The People Cry Out

Prophet: Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us; we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. (Isa. 59:9, 11a)

Prophet: If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. (Isa. 58:9b-10)

Apostle: It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers. The night is far gone, the day is near.

People: Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Rom. 13:11b-12)

Preacher: Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

Even those who live many years should rejoice in them all; yet let them remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. (Eccles. 11:7-8)

Scene 4: Redeeming Light

Historian: For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;

Prophet: but the Lord will arise upon you,

[Second spotlight begins to gradually illuminate the opposite side of the sanctuary front.]

and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isa. 60:2-3)

All: Arise, shine; for your light has come,

[Second spotlight is now fully lit. The rest of the front lights are gradually turned on to full illumination.]

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Isa. 60:1)

Prophet: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

[Sanctuary front lights are on full until the end of the drama.]

those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. (Isa. 9:2)

People: For a child has been born for us; a son given to us. (Isa. 9:6)

Jesus: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)

People: For a son has been given to us. (Isa. 9:6)

Jesus: I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. (John 12:46)

People: O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! (Isa. 2:5)

Jesus: Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part if it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays. (Luke 11:34-36)

People: O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! (Isa. 2:5)

Jesus: You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)

People: O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! (Isa. 2:5)

Voice of God: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. (Isa. 42:6-7)

Judge: This is the judgment, those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. (John 3:19a, 21)

People: For God, who said,

Voice of God: Let light shine out of darkness,

People: has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)

Apostle: Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. (1 John 2:10)

People: You have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life. (Ps. 56:13)

Scene 5: Future Glory

Prophet: A day is coming for the Lord. On that day there shall not be either cold or frost. And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the Lord), not day and night, for at evening time there shall be light.

On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. (Zech. 14:1a, 6-7, 9b)

Apostle: I saw the Holy City,

[Balcony light or back light slowly comes up and remains on for the rest of the drama.]

the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light

Jesus: and its lamp is the Lamb.

Apostle: The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. (Rev. 21:2a, 23-24)

Prophet: Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;

Historian: for my eyes have seen your salvation,

Apostle: for my eyes have seen your salvation,

All: for our eyes have seen your salvation,

Prophet: which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

Apostle: A light for revelation to the Gentiles

Prophet: and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)