A Reader’s drama in the Tenebrae form, (pronounced ten-na-bray), recapturing the mood of the original Good Friday.
The fact is that the disciples and others attending would be dealing “in the moment” and not even aware that “Easter Sunday was coming” therefore the entire happening would be solemn and painful and can only be portrayed by a solemn and low key service, essentially without joy or hope. The music, (if any), would be mournful and slow, likely without instruments.
Those in attendance appear to be primarily the women. Likely Peter was in the shadows, away from the action, (perhaps others as well).
Bible Reference: the final days of Jesus’ life taken from the four gospels
Cast: 8 (3 male, 3 female, 1 boy, pastor or narrator)
Male2 includes Judas, Herod and Pilate
Male3 includes Peter and Caiaphas
Woman1 includes Mary of Bethany and Mary the mother of Jesus
Woman2 includes Martha of Bethany
Woman3 (many characters)
Boy whose lunch fed the 5,000
Set: blank set
Lighting: spots (2) as required, ability to darken the room
pre-recorded sounds of: happy crowd noise, angry crowd noise, angry crowd noise males only, crowd noise amazement, rooster crowing, sounds of coins dropped, hammer blows on nails, drum sound for earthquake
Special Instructions: songs of your choice may be inserted at any or all of the points where candles are extinguished
We suggest that the DramaShare song, “Without You” be sung after the final candle is extinguished. The MP3 file for this song can be downloaded by DramaShare members at “TECHNICAL HELP” under “Script Songs”. Non-members may request the song.
Costumes, Props: none
Sample of script:
Readers are in place, spots up, pastor comes on stage, speaks
Welcome to our Good Friday service.
This service is based on the final few hours of the life . . and the death . .
of Jesus Christ.
Our readers will take us through those few hours,with narrative based on the gospels.
candle lighters come on stage and light the candles
This Good Friday service is modeled on the Good Friday "Tenebrae" services which date back to early church history.
The Latin word “Tenebrae” translates roughly into “shadows” or “darkness”
If you have never experienced a Tenebrae service you will likely find it unsettling at times.
This may be particularly true for younger people in the congregation.
This is a sombre service,
as it must be . .
for it reflects on the sufferings of Christ.
pastor moves to the candles
We have here the candles of the Tenebrae . .
As we visit each of the various stations of those final hours, one of the candles will be extinguished,
until finally the sanctuary will be in total darkness . . .
this signifying the death . .
of Jesus Christ of Nazareth . . .
he who many believed to be the Messiah.
Today we are remembering the death of Jesus.
To a great extent the story of the earthly life of Jesus,
as told in the Bible,
was a message of joy.
The joy of the coming of the Messiah,
the joy of the miracles he performed,
the joy of the salvation he promised.
But then there is Good Friday.
Viewed in isolation,
there is nothing “Good”
in “Good” Friday.
In our modern day world
the temptation is for us
to view Good Friday
from our prior knowledge
that, while Good Friday does happen, . . .
Easter Sunday is coming.
But we need to remember . . .
those witness to the events of that first Good Friday,
saw only . . .
the mock trial,
and the . . death . . .
And in spite of being forewarned by Jesus,
that in three days he would return . .
likely in the fury of the moment
all that those like Mary, at the foot of the cross . .
and those like Peter, hiding in the shadows . .
all that they could see was
the false accusations
the death . . .
the aloneness . .
and the sense of utter disillusionment.
Good Friday was not, and is not, a happy event,
but what those at Calvary could not appreciate,
and what Christians today need to understand,
without His death,
there could be no resurrection.
Before our minds can comprehend the glory of Easter Sunday,
we need to more fully understand the horror of Good Friday.
spotlight off on Pastor, short pause
Woman1: During this period a prophet from Nazareth, one claiming to be the son of God, was travelling the region, performing great miracles.
Woman2: Wondrous miracles: curing diseases, even lepers were healed.
Woman3: Those blind from birth were given back their sight.
Woman1: The more Jesus of Nazareth performed these miracles, the more his fame grew.
Woman2: And the more his fame grew, the larger were the crowds who came to learn more of the prophet and healer of Nazareth.
Woman3: And the more the crowds grew, the more worried the leaders of the Jewish community became, since they feared that they were losing control.
SFX: sound of happy crowd
Woman2: One such occasion happened when Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee. A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples.
Woman1: It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews. When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he called to his disciples:
Jesus: Where can we buy bread to feed these people?
Woman2: He said this to stretch the disciple’s faith . . . For Jesus already knew what he was going to do.
Man2 Judas: As the treasurer, I must tell you that two hundred silver pieces, . . . eight months wages for a working man, . . wouldn't be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.
Jesus: Judas, do look beyond finances!
Woman3: Andrew said there is a little boy here who has offered his lunch.
Man3 Peter, chuckles: Tell me child, what have you brought us which could feed the five thousand assembled here.
Boy, proudly: I have five barley loaves and two fish. . . And I want you to have them, to feed those who have come to hear the Messiah!
Man2 Judas: Don’t be a fool child! “Five barley loaves and two fish” indeed! . . That’s not even enough for one hungry man. A drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.
Jesus: Bring the loaves and fish to me son. Now then, there is a lovely carpet of green grass on the hillside, . . .
Peter, have the people sit down.
Man3 Peter: Very well Teacher, but . .
Woman3: And, with a look silencing the protests of Peter and Judas, Jesus took the boy’s lunch, gave thanks and gave it to those who were seated.
Woman1: And Jesus did the same with the fish. . . And all who were there ate as much as they wanted.
Jesus: Now gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.
Boy: It was amazing, truly a miracle! From my five barley loaves and two small fish, five thousand people were fed . . and here is the best part . . twelve large baskets were filled with the leftovers!
Woman2: The people realized God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done.
Woman3: They said, “This is the prophet for sure, God's prophet right here in Galilee!”
Boy: This was the first time I met the Messiah. . . And I knew this amazing man had to be what he said he was, . . . the son of God!
Man2 Judas: I was ecstatic! . . The enthusiastic crowd were about to grab Jesus and make him king. . . And, equally important, to dig deep in their purses!
(slight pause, takes a deep breath)
But does Jesus grasp the opportunity, rally the crowd, and gain their support?
No . . he slipped away by himself . . . and went back up the mountain to be alone!
SFX: happy crowd noise
Woman1 Mary: Shortly thereafter, Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. I came up to Jesus as he was eating dinner and I anointed him with a bottle of very expensive perfume which I had purchased.
Man 3 Peter: When we saw what was happening, all of us, especially Judas, we were furious.
Man2 Judas: That's criminal! The perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.
Woman1 Mary: When Jesus realized what was going on, he intervened.
Jesus: Why are you giving this woman a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives, but not me. When she poured this perfume on my body, what she really did was anoint me for burial. Whenever the message is preached, what she has just done is going to be remembered and admired.
Man2 Judas: A waste, pure and simple! . . And Jesus did nothing to admonish the woman!
Woman3: That is when Judas went to Caiaphas and the high priests with a proposition:
Man2 Judas: Caiaphas, a question . . what will you give me if I hand the Nazarene over to you?
Man3 Caiaphas: My good man, we would be delighted to work with you. . .
Man2 Judas: Well we should discuss the small matter of my fee for services.
Man3 Caiaphas: Fee? . . For services? . . I am afraid I don’t understand, . . whatever do you mean young man? . . Might you be suggesting . . blood money?
Man2 Judas: I have certain principles . . I prefer to call it . . fee for services rendered.
Man3 Caiaphas: My dear Judas of Iscariot . .You are a traitor and a thief. . . neither to be trusted nor believed. . And certainly we are prepared to work with you . . . and to cross your wet palm with thirty silver coins.
Woman3: Judas began looking for just the right moment to hand Jesus over.
Boy: His own friend, . . betraying him . . A friend wouldn’t do that . . I mean . . would he?
candle is extinguished
Woman1 Mary: About this time my brother, Lazarus, took seriously ill. I am Mary, the woman who poured perfume on Jesus. So my sister Martha and I sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so much is sick.”
Woman2 Martha: Mary and I were surprised and disappointed when Jesus didn’t come immediately.
Jesus: This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God's glory by glorifying God's Son.
Woman1 Mary: Jesus loved my sister and I, and we knew he loved our brother, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days.
Boy: The Master must have had a good reason for waiting before he left, right?
Woman3: Well . . . I hope so, but . .
Jesus: Now the time is right, let's go back to Judea.
Woman3: Rabbi, you can't do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you're going back?
Jesus: Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up.
Man3: Master, if he's gone to sleep, he'll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.
Woman3: Jesus was talking about death, but we thought he was talking about taking a nap. Then Jesus became explicit.
Jesus: Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him.
Woman1 Mary: When Jesus finally got here, our brother Lazarus already had been four days dead.
Woman Martha 2: Bethany is only a couple of miles from Jerusalem, so many of our friends and family who had come to Jerusalem for the feast were with us, sympathizing with us over the death of our brother.
Woman1 Mary: Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. I remained in the house.
Woman2 Martha: Master, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.
Jesus: Your brother will be raised up.
Woman2 Martha: I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.
Jesus: You don't have to wait for the end. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this Martha?
Woman2 Martha: Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.Then I went to my sister Mary and told her that the teacher was here, and that he wanted to see her.
Woman1 Mary: The moment I heard that, I ran out to him. When I got to Jesus I fell at his feet, and said, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus: Where did you put Lazarus?
Woman2 Martha: Master, come and see..
Woman1 Mary: Then Jesus went to the tomb where our brother had been buried, and demanded that the stone at the opening of the tomb be removed.
Woman2 Martha: Master, he's been dead four days! There will be an awful stench.
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