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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#TuesdayTreasures Guest post by Elizabeth Honaker

Good Morning Friends,

I pray your Easter was blessed and plentiful.

Elizabeth Honaker shared thoughts with us last month, today she returns with some treasures.....

The Action of the Word

Never ask me why I write Christian drama. I can’t really tell you, though I’ve tried to analyze it for years. Perhaps it signifies a certain impatience with prose – after all, action in a story can play out in the imagination in several different ways, but, in the world of my script, I am a “benevolent dictator.” Perhaps it is related to the joy of seeing actors bring scenes to life – being enthralled by their nuanced interpretations of lines. Perhaps it stems from a secret desire to be a multitude of different characters – I get to live inside each of them, as a writer does, but I also get to speak through different mouths and engage the audience with different pairs of eyes.

All I know is that I encountered Jesus Christ in 1973 in a dramatic way, and that encounter has caused dramatic ripples in every area of my life. So I represent it on stage. The following excerpt is from one of my favorite plays, entitled The Bread of the Servant. (Shhh! Don’t tell my actors and crew, but all of my scripts are my favorites!!)

ACT I, Scene 1 

Scripture references: Genesis 1:1, 3 / Isaiah 9:2 / Zechariah 3:8-9 / John 1:1-5, 10-12

A room in a small house on the island of Patmos. There is a raised platform upstage left, on which stands a small table and bench which can seat two people. On the table there are 1st century writing implements, scrolls, pieces of parchment and a candle sitting upright in its stand. A Jewish prayer shawl is draped over the front of the communion rail downstage center.

The stage is dimly lit. An old man, JOHN THE ELDER, makes his way slowly, almost painfully, down the center aisle. He softly chants a psalm of praise as he walks. When he reaches the stage, he walks to the prayer shawl and drapes it over his head. Facing the audience, he begins to pray aloud.

JOHN THE ELDER: Lord, I thank you for allowing your servant, John, one more precious day in which to serve You. I know my time here is short, and I have so much to tell the world about Your Son.

[Finishing his prayer, he removes the shawl and leaves it where he found it. He makes his way towards the platform, then moves up the steps. With a small, grateful sigh, he settles down upon the bench. He lights the candle; the stage lighting should reflect this. Then he picks up one of the scrolls and begins to read thoughtfully, with awe in his voice.]

The scroll of Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light."

[Inspired by what he has just read, JOHN picks up a writing tool and begins to write on one of the pieces of parchment, saying the words aloud as he writes.]

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word...was....God...

[He puts his writing tool down, pausing briefly. He is totally enraptured by his vision of God’s greatness. Picking up the tool once again, he writes, again speaking the words as he writes.] He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

[He pauses again. This time he picks up a scroll lying on the table, unrolls it, and reads aloud.] The scroll of Isaiah says, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

[These last words are delivered with emphasis. Laying down the scroll, he picks up the candle and studies it for a moment.] In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.

[He writes what he has just said. Then he turns his attention once more to the candle. Standing, he picks it up as if he were illuminating something beyond his work space.]

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. [He sets the candle down. Picking up the second scroll again, he reads from it. ]

The scroll of Zechariah says, "Listen, people! I am going to bring my servant, the Branch...and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day."

[Putting down the scroll, he sits and begins to write again, speaking the words as he writes.]

He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God...

[DIANA enters from downstage right and crosses to the steps leading up to John's platform. She is carrying a wooden plate with bread on it and a cup of water.]

DIANA [Matter-of-factly]: Come, old John, it's time to eat. Hurry and finish your dinner quickly; I've got better things to do than wait on you.

JOHN THE ELDER [With good humor, despite her ill treatment of him]: So it is supper time already?

DIANA [Hands on her hips]: If you wouldn't spend so much time writing your stupid books, you'd know how the day passes.

JOHN THE ELDER [Rising, he makes his way slowly down the steps to receive the food, speaking as he goes.]: Diana, we all have so very little time. I must tell all I know about the Master before He calls me home.

DIANA [Irritated]: Forget about escape, old man! The governor is not likely to pardon you any time soon!

JOHN THE ELDER [With a chuckle]: I was not speaking of the governor's pardon. I was speaking of God's summons. 

DIANA: The gods!? Who cares about them?

JOHN THE ELDER [Patiently]: Not the gods, Diana! One God -- one true God!

DIANA [Sarcastically]: True to what?

JOHN THE ELDER: Not "true to what," Diana. True to whom…true to Himself.

DIANA: Now, listen, old man! I don't care how many gods there are; one or a thousand, they are all the same. Sadistic, they are. Always causing trouble for mankind. I don't bother them, and they leave me alone. A blood sacrifice now and then to keep them satisfied...

JOHN THE ELDER [Smiling, he produces a crude cross from a pocket in his robe as if it were a precious thing.]: Have you seen what I keep with me at all times?

DIANA [Spitting towards it angrily]: A curse on that accursed thing! Why did you make such a thing! My father died on a cross in Jerusalem sixty years ago because the Romans said he was a thief!

[Spitting again and getting emotional] A curse on their crosses! A curse on them!!

JOHN THE ELDER [Quietly and directly]: My Master was crucified on a Roman cross sixty years ago.

DIANA [Reacting in horror]: And you keep that accursed thing with you?

JOHN THE ELDER [Holding it higher and remembering]: My Master served His Master by sacrificing Himself on a cross.

DIANA [Hesitantly]: Who was His Master?

JOHN THE ELDER: God the Father.

DIANA [Reacting with shock and sarcasm]: A god as a father? Impossible! Absurd!! And why would a fatherly god order his servant to die?

JOHN THE ELDER [Going back up the stairs to sit down, and beckoning her to follow him]: It is a very long story, Diana; too long for an old man to tell standing up. Will you sit with me awhile as I explain?

DIANA [Turning as if to go, and taking a few steps]: I have better things to do than listen to fables, old man!

JOHN THE ELDER [In a very authoritative, yet gentle voice]: If you listen to fables, you will learn only morality. If you listen to the story -- the true story -- I have to tell you, you will learn LOVE.

DIANA [Stopping in her tracks, she turns her head, and asks cautiously]: Why are you here, old man? Why have they locked you away on Patmos like this?

JOHN THE ELDER: Because I dare to believe that love allowed itself to be nailed to a cross.

[JOHN resumes his seat at the table on the platform. DIANA walks slowly back to the steps, goes to the top, and sits down next to him.]


What a treasure, Elizabeth!

We wish you the utmost of luck and God's blessings with your plays.

Elizabeth Golibart Honaker hails from Sparta, Tennessee, where she teaches writing support and English at Motlow Community College. Her undergraduate degree is in Liberal Arts, and her first MA is in Theology. This has given her the breadth and scope to write over fifteen full-length passion plays in the last twenty years – seven of which are in print with others being prepared for publication – as well as dozens of shorter scripts, short stories, and poems on Christian topics. Her first historical fiction novel, Come Before Winter, was published in 2014. In that same year, she completed her second MA in English and Creative Writing (Fiction) at Southern New Hampshire University.

When she is not writing or tutoring, she spends her time devising new home projects for Allen, her husband of 45 years. She also enjoys communicating with her two wonderful grown children and buying (and making) trinkets for her four lively grandchildren. She is passionate about sharing Christ, missional activities, and her local church. She also loves gardening, sewing, piano playing, and Star Trek as time permits.

You can connect with Elizabeth on her Facebook page, Bread of Life Facebook page, her blog The Interpreter's House and on LinkedIn. And check out her new book, Come Before Winter on Amazon in Ebook and Print!

Hope you enjoyed today's post friends and that you'll visit each week for Tuesday Treasures, Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God Bless.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Congrats on getting your plays produced. It is quite an achievement!

Alina K. Field said...

John's story is so interesting! Best of luck with your plays, Elizabeth. Wishing you many opportunities to share your blessings!

Mizz Liz said...

It brings back SUCH memories to re-read this portion! The Wesley Grove Disciples presented this play in 1998 and 2008; both times were unique and exciting. The best aspect of being their Director for 20 years (and their writer for 28 years) has been presenting the Gospel with people who will share eternity together. Last week, the Disciples presented their 28th production since I was first asked to be their Director. The play (which they asked me to write) was entitled "The Brother's Basket," and although I no longer live in the vicinity of the church, my husband and I make the pilgrimage there each year to do the lights and sound (his skills), costumes and make-up (my skills) for the Holy Thursday performance. More information about this year's play is available on the Bread of Life Books Facebook page. Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes! Mizz Liz

Diane Burton said...

Congrats on your plays. Best wishes.