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GOSSIP   7'?m3f Gossip: the ministry of under-achievers

(scene: six chairs in semicircle facing audience)

WILMA -- (enters with cell phone to ear, crosses to chairs, sits 
in end chair while talking) You don't say. You don't say. You 
don't say! Well, of all the people... I would have never 
suspected her.

MARCY -- (enters with cell phone to ear) I'm told it's the 
gospel truth. (looks up, sees Wilma)

BOTH --- (to phones) Well, I didn't know you were coming to this 
meeting. (put away cell phones in unison)

WILMA -- Do you know why they called this meeting?

MARCY -- (sits in opposite end chair) No, they just said it 
was important.

BOTH --- (look to exit in unison, then to each other) Hmmmm.

WILMA -- So, tell me more about this thing between Lila and 
Bruce.

MARCY -- I've already told you more than I know.

WILMA -- Oh. Then, let me tell you what I heard from Marie.

BOTH --- (move one chair closer, look to exit in unison)

MARCY -- Well?

WILMA -- I can only tell this once, because I swore to Marie 
that I would not repeat it.

MARCY -- I'm listening.

BOTH --- (move one chair closer, look to exit in unison)

WILMA -- Well, I can't mention the name of the supermarket, but 
I'm told that a certain produce manager who goes to this 
church....

MARCY -- ...I think I know who you're talking about... go on...

WILMA -- Well, he just happened to mention to Marie that he saw 
none other than Lila and Bruce pushing their shopping carts 
down the same isle at the same time.

MARCY -- Then, it's true! Can you imagine that?! She's a married 
woman!

KATHY -- (enters) Good morning, ladies. 

BOTH --- (move one chair away in unison) Good morning. (try to 
be casual)

KATHY -- I suppose you'd like to know why I called this meeting.
(sits in an end chair)

BOTH --- Yes, we would.

KATHY -- This meeting is about gossip.

BOTH --- Gossip. (look to each other, shrug innocently) Gossip?

WILMA -- What ever could she be talking about?

MARCY -- I have no idea.

KATHY -- We have a problem with gossip in this church.

WILMA -- What a shock!

MARCY -- This takes me completely by surprise!

KATHY -- Did you know that gossip is just a polite word for 
slander?

WILMA -- Oh, really!?

MARCY -- I had no idea.

KATHY -- Yes, passing on unsubstantiated accusations to others 
without clear evidence is slander.

WILMA -- And you say we have a problem with that in THIS church?

MARCY -- I had no idea.

KATHY -- You wouldn't happen to know anybody with this problem, 
would you?

MARCY -- I have no idea.

WILMA -- Perhaps you're talking about Marie Johnson. I hear that 
her tongue wags like a dog's tail.

MARCY -- That's what I hear.

KATHY -- The apostle Paul says that we are not supposed to 
associate with "anyone who calls himself a brother but is 
sexually immoral or greedy, an idolator or a slanderer, a 
drunkard or a swindler." 

MARCY -- Did he say that? I had no idea.

KATHY -- He also says that when a brother is caught in sin, we 
should confront him with two or three witnesses. I think we 
should bring Marie Johnson in here and give her a chance to 
repent before we kick her out of the church, don't you?

BOTH --- (look to each other, then to Kathy in unison) Excuse 
me?

WILMA -- You want us to be witnesses against Marie Johnson?

MARCY -- We couldn't do that!

KATHY -- Oh? Why not? Didn't you just accuse her of being a 
gossip and a slanderer?

BOTH --- (look to each other, then to Kathy in unison) Us?

KATHY -- Yes, either you just accused Marie Johnson or you 
yourselves are guilty of gossip and slander.

WILMA -- No, you misunderstand. I was merely telling you what 
I've heard.

MARCY -- Me too.  I had no idea that you were going to ask me to 
testify against her.

KATHY -- In other words, you were passing on unsubstantiated 
accusations to others without clear evidence.

BOTH --- (look to each other, then to Kathy in unison) Well...

KATHY -- That's the definition of slander. 

BOTH --- (look to each other, then to Kathy in unison) Slander?! 
Us!?

KATHY -- According to the apostle Paul, if you don't repent, you 
should be put out of the church.

WILMA -- We were just telling you what we heard.

MARCY -- (points to Wilma) SHE was just telling you what SHE 
heard.

KATHY -- (stands) So, you're not going to repent?

BOTH --- (look to each other, then to Kathy in unison) Alright, 
so we gossip a little.

WILMA -- It's not like we do it all the time.

KATHY -- (sits) What ministries are you in?

MARCY -- Ministries? What do you mean?

WILMA -- What does that have to do with gossip?

KATHY -- Apostle Paul says that gossip is the product of 
idleness.

WILMA -- We're not idle.

MARCY -- No. We're all over the place.

KATHY -- And what lives have you changed?

WILMA -- I don't understand the question.

MARCY -- What do you mean?

KATHY -- If you're ALL OVER THE PLACE, you should be reaching 
lots of lives for Jesus. Are you making a lot of converts?

WILMA -- Well, no.

MARCY -- That's not my ministry.

KATHY -- Then, what IS your ministry? Do you feed the poor? Give 
shelter to the homeless? What?

WILMA -- I help out sometimes.

MARCY -- Me too.

KATHY -- But what impact have you made? Have you done ANYTHING 
to change the world?

WILMA -- I still don't know how this has any connection to 
gossip.

KATHY -- I have a theory. I think gossip is the ministry of 
under-achievers.

MARCY -- Did she just call us under-achievers?

WILMA -- Of all the nerve!

KATHY -- I think that people who gossip do so to fill the void 
in their lives that comes from not accomplishing anything of 
lasting value. They pass along unfounded accusations about 
others in order to bring them down to their own miserable level.

WILMA -- Who are you calling miserable!

MARCY -- Yeah, I resemble that remark!

KATHY -- (stands) Well, I guess if you won't repent, I'll just 
have to...

WILMA -- (stands) Alright! I'll admit it! I gossip. I gossip a 
lot.

MARCY -- See, I told you! (pauses, stands) Alright. I'm a gossip 
too. I'm probably the worst one.

KATHY -- (pen to paper) So, what ministry do you want to run?

WILMA -- Excuse me?

MARCY -- What are you talking about?

KATHY -- If gossip is the ministry of under-achievers, you have 
to change ministries in order to occupy your idleness. You can't 
just expect to stop gossiping without filling the void with a 
ministry that makes a difference.

MARCY -- She's right. I've become a pipeline for a half dozen 
gossips. If I don't get busy doing something worthwhile, I'll 
just end up on the phone all day long.

WILMA -- Hey, maybe that can be our ministry!

MARCY -- What do you mean?

WILMA -- I mean, we're good on the phone. We get around a lot. 
We could make phone calls to shut-ins and visit people in the 
hospital.

MARCY -- Good idea!

KATHY -- Great minds think alike. I was just going to ask you 
two to head up a new ministry like that. (exiting) Come on, 
let's go talk to the pastor about it.

(all exit)

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