Season of Pentecost week 17, Common Lectionary year A
Luke 17:11-19Â Â A Reading in 7 parts.
By Rev Elisabeth R. Jones
Â Feel free to play up the character of your part: (Narrator = straight-laced, #1 Full of questions.Â #2 Knows it all.Â #3 and #4 are â€œLepersâ€ â€“ with licence to act.Â Â #5 is the grateful one.Â #6 â€“ donâ€™t let it go to your head, but youâ€™re Jesus!
No â€˜actingâ€™ is required, but evocative reading is! Because we wonâ€™t have much chance to practice itâ€™s VITAL you a) prepare yourself well- read the script LOTS of times, and pay attention to the â€˜stage directionsâ€™Â b) stick to the script so others know when to come in!
Narrator:Â Let me tell you a story from the Gospel of Luke about the time when Jesus healed ten people who had leprosy.
Reader 1: Leprosy?Â Whatâ€™s that?
Reader 2:Â Itâ€™s the name that people used back then to describe all sorts of skin conditionsâ€¦.. sores, rashes, that sort of thing. They didnâ€™t have creams and drugs back then, so lots of people got skin diseases.
Reader 1: Oh, okay. Seems an odd thing to tell a story about though.
Narrator: Well, let me tell the story and letâ€™s see if itâ€™s odd or not, shall we?Â As I was saying this story is about the time when Jesus healed ten people who had leprosy.
Jesus was going to Jerusalem and he was travelling in the border region between Samaria and Galileeâ€¦.
Reader 1: Ermmâ€¦. hang on a moment. What border region? In my Bible Atlas there was no border region, they were next to each other, like Beaconsfield and Pointe Claire.
Narrator: Well, thatâ€™s what it says in the Bible. Luke must have had a reason for saying that.
Reader 2: In Luke everything happens in the â€œborder regionâ€ or just outside the gates, or â€˜in betweenâ€™ one place or another.Â He seems to like living on the edge, even when there isnâ€™t one.
Narrator: Can I continue? Are you done?
Readers 1 and 2: For now, yes. Go on.
Narrator:Â â€œOn the edge of a villageâ€
Reader 2: There! See!!
Narrator: frowning at reader 2, and carrying onâ€¦. â€œOn the edge of a village, ten people who had leprosy called out to him.
Reader 2: They were â€˜on the edgeâ€™ because they werenâ€™t allowed in the town.
Narrator:Â I was going to say that!!
Reader 1: Why werenâ€™t they allowed in the town?
Reader 2: Because they had those skin diseases, which were very contagious.Â They kept lepers in shacks outside the villages so no one else would catch their disease.
Reader 1:Â Thatâ€™s pretty harsh, isnâ€™t it? Not being able to live with your family when youâ€™re sick?
Narrator: How about you two just hush for a little while and let me tell this story. Everyone else wants to know what happened.
As I was saying,Â â€œTen people who had leprosy called out to Jesus.â€
Readers 3,4,5:Â ringing bells, and crying out not together but over one another.Â Â Â Â Â Jesus! Jesus! Master! Teacher! Rabbi!Â Have mercy on us!!
Narrator:Â You scared the daylights out of me! What are you doing?Â
Reader 4: Weâ€™re helping tell the story. Itâ€™s a good one.
Narrator: Oh my, oh my, really? I assume you have a â€œJesusâ€ somewhere too?
Reader 6:Â That would be me. But not just yet. (to congregation) Pretend you havenâ€™t seen me yet.
Narrator:Â Okay, back to this story. Nowâ€¦ where were weâ€¦.?
Readers 3,4,5:Â start ringing bells, and repeating â€œJesus! Have mercy on us!â€
Narrator: They were shouting because they knew they werenâ€™t allowed to come close to anyone without ringing a bell in warning.Â Jesus saw them and heard them (looks towards Jesus), and he had compassion for them all. He called back out to them:
Jesus: â€œGo, show yourselves to the priests!Â Go on now! Itâ€™s okay!
Reader 1: leaning over to reader 2:Â Why did he say that? Why do they have to go to the priests?
Reader 2: Because if for some reason you ever got cured from your skin disease,Â you had to prove that you were healed by going to the priests who checked your skin to make sure it was unblemished â€¦. all smoothâ€¦. again.Â If the priest said it was okay, you were allowed to go back home, and join in the life of the community again.
Reader 1: Ooohâ€¦ thenâ€¦.??
Narrator: kind of interrupting: As the ten went towards the village to the priests, all of a sudden they noticed one another:
Reader 3: Wow! Look at my hands!
Reader 4: Look at his face!Â His feet! point to
Reader 5:Â The sores have gone!Â My skin is smooth as a baby!
Reader 3: Do you thinkâ€¦.? Can it be?
Reader: 4:Â I think heâ€™s cured us! Quick letâ€™s run to the village!!
Narrator:Â And they did. They ran, laughing, crying, jumping, rushing to get to the priests as fast as they could. Â But one stopped running.Â She looked at herself from head to foot, and turned back to look at Jesus. She ran back to him.
Reader 1: Was it a woman? Really?
Reader 2: Well, Luke said it was a â€˜heâ€™, and said he was a Samaritan too, you know a bit of an outsider, but I think the Minister is trying toÂ include more people in the story, so she wrote â€œsheâ€.Â It works either way, really.Â And remember itâ€™s Luke; the one on the edge, heâ€™s always talking about Godâ€™s blessing reaching out beyond the predictable boundaries. Woman, Samaritan, child, leperâ€¦.. Godâ€™s healing is for all of them, not just the guys.
Reader 5: Jesus, Rabbi.Â Forgive me for coming back first, but I â€¦. I just had to thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me. How this will change my life! How can I thank you enough!
Reader 6/Jesus: God bless you for coming back! But the others, the other nine, where are they? Werenâ€™t they healed too? Strange they didnâ€™t come back with you to thank God.
Reader 1: But I donâ€™t get it, whyâ€™s he asking that? He just told them to go to the priests!Â Theyâ€™re only doing what he told them to do. Thatâ€™s not so fair, is it?
Narrator: Itâ€™s what it says here in the Bible, but Iâ€™m not sure I get it either. Luke writes â€œ Was none found to return to praise God except this foreigner?â€
Reader 2: It is a bit weird, and it does look unfair, but I wonder if itâ€™s Luke doing his thing again.Â You know, the border thatâ€™s not there, the foreigner that â€œgets itâ€ about Godâ€™s salvation being for everyone.Â It does make Jesus seem a bit grumpy though.
Reader 1: And I donâ€™t like that. Jesus shouldnâ€™t be grumpy.Â turning to Jesus reader: Can you try your part again a different way?
Reader 6/Jesus:Â Â Â Ermm, letâ€™s seeâ€¦. Â
Well, first, God bless you for coming back to thank me!
That makes my heart glad, that you, of all peopleâ€¦
(sorry, but you are a foreigner, and in this version a woman too!)
should â€œget itâ€ what God has just done here.Â
Curing you all of your illness is one thing,
and I guess the others are busy making sure that the priest gives them the â€˜all clearâ€™, so that they can get on with their old lives again.
But for you, the gratitude in your heart is whatâ€™s going to make all the difference in the world.
Itâ€™s going to change your life, youâ€™re going to see Godâ€™s blessings and healing at work in all sorts of places in your life and in the lives of those you know.Â Â
I just really, really wish that it was possible for everyone in the world to understand that â€œgiving thanksâ€ for the â€˜ordinary blessingsâ€™ of life and for those â€˜extraordinary blessingsâ€™Â is what makes all the difference.
Itâ€™s what heals the world and fills it with joy.Â
Thatâ€™s what I want the world to know. Gratitude is such a gift for living.
Reader 1: Well, now I see why you (pointing to narrator) you wanted to tell this story. Â
Reader 2: (stunned, slow dawning) Oh my goodness! That makes sense, doesnâ€™t it. Thank goodness!
Reader 3,4: Â Â Noooo, â€œThank God.â€
Narrator: This is Gospel! Good News!
All: Thanks be to God!!