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Content about Liturgical drama

March 1, 2009

Declaring what we believe in the words of a creed is an important part of many worship services. It helps us express our theology and ties us to believers around the world and across the ages. When we recite something often enough, though, the words simply roll off our tongues and we don’t think about what we’re saying.

September 4, 2005

How well do you “hear” Scripture?

For some people the spoken or written word is powerful. But others “hear” more clearly through other senses. Worship leaders face the challenge of presenting the Scripture to people who have a variety of intelligences and learning styles. How can we help all these people hear the Word of God with greater clarity and understanding?

September 4, 2005

For centuries churches have played out the Christmas story in drama and song. Todd Farley looks far back into the origins of nativity scenes and liturgical Christmas dramas, and then offers some intriguing ideas for enlivening worship today. His ideas for a complete Christmas service involving the entire congregation are not spelled out in detail; every church would need to consider their own resources and abilities.

December 4, 2004

Keeping Paul’s missionary journeys straight can be tough. The stories are brief and many involve mostly preaching. It is hard to remember what happened. Our challenge was to communicate the information about Paul’s first missionary journey to our congregation in a way that was interesting, memorable, and brief. We wanted to present information about cities as well as people.

September 3, 2004

The following monologue was written for a candlelight service at New Era Christian Reformed Church. It is an interpretation of Scripture passages from Mary’s perspective. She becomes the narrator of the gospel story from the first Advent of Christ’s birth to the anticipation of the next Advent, Christ’s second coming. You will want to add the other elements of your worship service such as greeting, offering, benediction, and so on, to what is found below.

September 3, 2004

Imagine the magnificent words and strains of Handel’s Messiah combined with the exuberance and creativity of children’s artwork, photography, music, and movement. The result makes for a memorable and worship-filled Christmas program for all ages.

December 3, 2003

This article is the fruit of my work with CITA (Christians in the Theatre Arts) and their grant project on Worship and Theatre funded by a Worship Renewal Grant through the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. The substance of the article is the result of workshops offered at the 2001 CITA annual meeting in Oakland, California, and the 2003 Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Thanks to all whose cumulative wisdom and insight contributed to this article. For information about CITA visit www.cita.org.

March 3, 2003

We used this reading in place of the sermon for Pentecost Sunday at Beech-wood Presbyterian Church. It is written for three readers, but you could easily use more. We did feel that it was important for the same person (Reader 3) to read all the Scripture passages from the pulpit, thus setting God's Word apart from the rest of the narrative. We used the New Revised Standard Version of Scripture for the reading.

December 2, 2002

[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)

September 1, 2002

In the Fullness of Time” was the third annual Christmas drama we wrote and produced. This year we decided to present the drama on two consecutive nights: not only for space reasons, but also to give actors a chance to have the satisfaction of performing twice after all their hard work at rehearsals!

September 1, 2002

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.

March 2, 2002

We used this dramatic reading for Pentecost Sunday at All Nations Church last spring. The text, which comes entirely from Scripture, weaves Old and New Testament together in an attempt to enliven the historical context for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ten days after the ascension of Christ. The reading replaced the usual New Testament Scripture reading and was followed by a shortened sermon.

December 1, 2001

The Internet was first touted to the general public as an extraordinary information-sharing tool: a resource to help like-minded people exchange knowledge, encouragement, and inspiration. But today what people share, as often as anything else, is credit card numbers. Everyone, it seems, is out to make a buck—even in the world of worship. There are dozens of sites on the web that offer worship resources—drama, music, liturgy, technical advice, even sermons—for a price.

December 1, 2001
Cast
  • Simon the scribe: a reporter for Jerusalem Broadcast News; serious, professional, holds a mike, carries a notepad and pen.
  • Tobias: an informal acquaintance of Simon.
  • Camera person to train video camera on Simon throughout (optional).

[Simon enters from right with energy, ready to tell the story unfolding in front of him. He and the camera person take their positions; Simon faces the congregation, which is the crowd. He lifts mike and begins his report.]

August 31, 2001

After seeing the issue of Reformed Worship featuring angels on the cover (RW 53), I wrote this program, based on the Christmas story in Luke 2, for our church school.
For our program we had the family scene set up on one side of the platform, while the action scenes with the angels took place on the other side. We borrowed a spotlight from the local school to help shift attention from one scene to another.
—Barbara Vos


Scene 1
December 1, 2000

The previous issue of Reformed Worship (57) included an article describing our church’s dramatic production on the life of Jesus based on Michael Card’s The Life. In this article I’d like to make suggestions for others who want to take the journey from the page to the stage.

1. Start with excellent material.

December 1, 2000

Can we ever truly experience the grief of Good Friday? We know the ending and rejoice with our Savior that it is a happy one come Easter morn, but that very knowledge keeps us from fully realizing the tragedy that Christ’s death brought to those who lived through it. Whatever their understanding of his ministry, whatever hopes and dreams they had built for the future, all came crashing down before the stark and ugly death he suffered on the cross. Leader, friend, teacher, son—all seemed irretrievably lost.

August 31, 2000

Every year around Halloween, our worship committee strains brains and resources: How can we memorably, intelligently, and accurately place worship of God above “Trick or Treat” to our increasingly diverse congregation? We have many from various Protestant and Roman Catholic backgrounds, and some who claim no Christian heritage at all. Thus in 1999 our Reformation Day communion service tried graciously, seriously, yet somewhat lightheartedly, to present three main Reformation-era figures in a conversation imagined from eternity.

August 31, 2000

Having been involved in drama at Jubilee Church for years, I felt inspired to write a dramatic adaptation of twelve songs from Michael Card’s CD set The Life (see right). Our church performed it a year later, involving the majority of the congregation and covering the entire life of Christ in one full-evening production. This issue of Reformed Worship includes a sample—a few songs from the Advent section—for congregations who wish to integrate one or more of these songs into a worship service.

December 1, 1999

Several well-known hymn writers “reappeared” recently for one hour in Bloomington, Minnesota. They were our guests at a hymn festival that was planned to build appreciation for the hymnody of the church among our children—and adults. The service was inspired by an article by Hal Hopson in The Chorister (Summer 1998), the journal of the Choristers Guild.

August 31, 1998

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had many memories that "she treasured in her heart" (Luke 2:51). In this drama, we meet both the young Mary and the older Mary, who remembers and tells once more the wondrous story of how Jesus was born. All the parts can be played by children except for the older Mary, who could well be one of the children's worship leaders in the congregation.

Characters
August 31, 1998

The genealogy in Matthew 1 provides a list of "light bearers," saints whom God used to prepare the way until Jesus, the true Light of the world, was born. In this service, we walked through Matthew's genealogy, highlighting a few of the light bearers he mentions with some Scripture readings and songs that help us see why their particular light shone so brightly. The version printed below does not include the actual Scripture texts; however, we did prepare a script of the service including all the texts for the Scripture readers.

August 31, 1997
Cast

Three wise men
Children dressed in costumes representing some nationality. Each carries the flag of the country represented; for our drama we chose

—Europeans (Germany)
—Asians (Japan)
—South Americans (Venezuela)
—Native Americans (Canada)
—African (Malawi)

[Stage is two levels of risers, empty except for a floor mike, a lectern, and a candle. Angel enters.]

August 31, 1997

Jesus, Joy of All Desiring" may be the single most recognizable piece of music written by johann Sebastian Bach. But although this movement from one Bach's cantatas is familiar, the complete cantata is seldom used in worship today. One reason worship planners avoid this and other Bach worship cantatas is that they seem too daunting.