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COUNCIL  5'2m*f RT: Jerusalem council, works, baptism, sabbath

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of delegates are
salted throughout the audience.)

PETER -- (enters wearing tunic and sandals, crosses to podium)
Welcome to the Jerusalem Council, fellow Christians! We have
delegates here at this council from all over the Roman Empire.
I'm sorry that it took such a heated controversy to get us all
together for a reunion, but I am pleased to see so many old
friends again.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Simon Son of
Jonah. To some of you I am also known as Peter. I am an apostle
of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

DELEGATE -- (stands in audience) How do you stand on the issue
of circumcision?

DELEGATE -- (stands in audience) Yes, why are Paul and Barnabas
allowed to convert the gentiles to Christianity without
requiring them to be circumcised?

DELEGATE -- Paul of all people should know better! He's a
Pharisee!

DELEGATE -- I think Paul has lost his mind!

(all shout their own personal biases about Paul and
circumcision)

PETER -- (raises hands) People, please! (waits for crowd to
quiet) Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice
among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message
of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that
he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he
did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he
purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test
God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither
we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is
through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as
they are.

DELEGATE -- (stands in audience) Then why did the Lord command
circumcision through Abraham and Moses?

DELEGATE -- (stands in audience) Has Paul's craziness infested
your mind too?!

(all shout their own personal biases about Paul and
circumcision)

JAMES -- (enters wearing tunic and sandals, raises his arms)
Please! Please! Listen to me. Peter and Paul are right.

DELEGATE -- (stands in audience) They have all taken leave of
their senses.

DELEGATE -- (stands in audience) Who is this stranger? He's not
an apostle!

JAMES -- (steps up to podium) I am James, Son of Joseph. I am
the brother of Jesus our Lord.

DELEGATE -- You have no right to speak to this assembly. This is
a CHRISTIAN assembly!

JAMES -- I am a Christian.

DELEGATE -- Merely SAYING you're a Christian doesn't MAKE you a
Christian.

PETER -- I will attest to this man. James did not believe that
Jesus was the Son of God until after Jesus rose from the dead.
Now, he is not only a believer, he is one of the pillars of the
church.

JAMES -- Brothers, listen to me, please.

(all grumble and sit)

JAMES -  Simon has described to us how God at first showed his
concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The
words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is
written: "After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen
tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the
remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear
my name, says the Lord, who does these things" that have been
known for ages.

DELEGATE -- (stands) So, you're siding with Paul too?!

DELEGATE -- No circumcision?

PETER -- Circumcision, like the Sabbath and the passover
observance, was given to us Jews, not to the gentiles.

JAMES -- But, you see, people, all of these observances were
given as a foreshadow of Jesus and all were fulfilled in Jesus.

PETER -- That's right. Jesus himself is our circumcision. He
himself is the flesh that was cut off from mankind.

JAMES -- Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. HE is our sabbath
rest.

DELEGATE -- I suppose you're going to tell us that the gentiles
don't have to even be baptized to be saved!

PETER -- The Lord is the cleansing for our sins.

JAMES -- That's right. Jesus is our baptism. And we have been
baptized in the Holy Spirit.

PETER -- That's not to say that we shouldn't be baptized.

JAMES -- We SHOULD be baptized. Jesus himself commanded baptism,
but it isn't baptism that saves you.

PETER -- You have been saved by a person, not a ritual.

JAMES -- No ritual can save you. It is my judgment, therefore,
that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are
turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to
abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,
from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

PETER -- I agree. If we command any Christian whether Jew or
gentile to do ANY ritual that Jesus himself did not command
them, we run the risk that people will conclude that it is the
ritual itself that saves you, not the person the ritual points
to.

DELEGATE -- Well, then, if you're going to go that far, why even
forbid food polluted by idols, or sexual immorality or strangled
animals or blood?

DELEGATE -- Yes, if the letter you write to the gentiles is not
going to require any of the Jewish rituals, perhaps you should
not give the gentiles any Jewish prohibitions either.

JAMES -- These prohibitions I've mentioned are common practices
of idol worshippers. Do you want our believers to be counted as
idol worshippers?

DELEGATE -- Well, no.

DELEGATE -- I suppose it would be alright to set us apart from
idol worshippers.

PETER -- Very well, then, let's all go back to our churches and
tell them that circumcision, and baptism, and the passover meal,
and all the Jewish observances have been fulfilled in Christ.

JAMES -- Yes, and let's all celebrate our freedom in Christ!

(cast members in audience applaud as James and Peter exit)

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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Pay no royalties, even if you make money from performances.
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