THE PLAIN VIEW HERITAGE FARM,

RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:

The Empty Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea Where Jesus Was Laid,

the Golal, the Great Stone, Rolled Away

"WHERE I FIRST SAW THE LIGHT,"

A Play About the Cross,

and How Mary the Mother of Jesus and Several Others First Saw the Light,

In One Act, for Children and Youth,

by Ronald Ginther,

Stadem Descendant

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Dedicated to my Niece, Magdalena, and Children & Youth Everywhere

This play begins the ESTELLE A. RANGEN CREATIVE ARTS SERIES.

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CAST OF CHARACTERS

Prudentius Maxentius (a Roman Centurion from the detachment assigned to the crucifixions of Jesus and two robbers)

Tirzah (known anonymously in the Bible as the "Woman at the Well," a Samaritan believer in the Messiah Jesus)

Mary Magdalene (Galilean follower of Jesus he delivered from seven devils)

Zenia (young chatty niece of Tirzah's)

Claudia Procula (aristocratic Roman wife of Judean Procurator, Pontius Pilate)

Old Widow (the one Jesus commended as giving above a rich man when she gave two leptons, or two "mites," worth far less than a cent, but all she had as her living)

Young Woman (name unknown, the woman caught in adultery, who was saved by Jesus from being stoned to death)

Healed Leper

A Beggar with some raggedy Poor People of Jerusalem including unwed young mothers and small children

Simon, also called Niger of Cyrene in Africa (a tribal convert to Judaism, a "God-fearer" making pilgrimage with his family to Jerusalem for the Passover on the Sabbath)

Modern Narrator

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Scene:

NARRATOR: "The sky darkens over the Crucifixion site on Golgotha, the Hill of a Skull, located just outside the great, towering walls of Jerusalem.

"It is the Sabbath, the day after the Crucifixions of Jesus and the two robbers on Friday. It has been a double observance day of both the Passover and the Sabbath.

Gasping, Tirzah and her niece reach the cross and, supporting each other with their arms, stand there gazing up at it with horror. Something was dreadfully wrong."

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NARRATOR: "Too late! Not even a chance to see his body and apply to it the spikenard she brought with her in a vial! It was such a heart-breaking discovery, Tirzah groans and collapses down on the ground, heedless of the dirt. Her niece is very disappointed too, of course, but the natural buoyancy of youth quickly changes the sad look on her face and she is not utterly crushed as her aunt is."

ZENIA: "Alas, dear Aunt, the Lord Messiah is taken away, but at least for the moment it's safe here and we can rest, there are no Roman soldiers or, worse, Jewish temple police around to molest us or drive us away. I see other people are coming up the path too, but I don't see any men, just women like us, so we have nothing to fear from them, whoever they are. Oh, Auntie, what does that sign at the top say, I wonder?"

Tirzah shakes her head slowly, her eyes closed. She is beyond small talk just now. And neither Tirzah nor her niece can read inscriptions, for women commonly were not taught letters or schooled.

TIRZAH:(recovering a bit from her dark despair) "But why did they leave this one stake and crossbeam, and just take the other two? Didn't we hear from travelers on the way that three were to be crucified here together. Was THIS perchance our Messiah's?"

Mary, mother of Jesus, who has just now gained the top of the stony heights,, leans heavily on her staff. She is an older woman now, evidently enduring much suffering, with dark rings under her eyes. She shook her head. She doesn't seem to know or care that the other women there are Samaritans. She even speaks to them, something no pious Jews would normally do, though both peoples knew and spoke a common language of Aramaic hating to use or hear each others Hebrew, one pure, the other full of foreign words.

MARY: "Good, there are women here, so I won't be alone. I perceive by your manner of dress you are strangers visiting our land. Welcome! Have you come here to view my son's Cross? You might know of him, Jesus who is commonly called the Nazarene, for we come from Nazareth in Galilee."

The two Samaritans recoil, and are struck speechless. But Mary pays no mind to their drawing back from her and continues.

MARY: "When I first heard the report His cross remained here alone, my people prevented me, saying I would die if I went out, or be arrested by the Romans as a disciple of the malefactor, and suffer all the more. But, my daughters, I couldn't lie there abed for hours and do nothing. I just had to get away from Salome and John's house. I had to come see for myself, even though I have broken the Sabbath law to do it! Yes, this is his cross, it is the very one he hung upon yesterday when we--"

Tirzah pulled away from Zenia's grasp, and darted at Mary with consternation, wanting to make the matter sure.

TIRZAH: "Could YOU really be his mother, the woman called Mary? How could you be her? How could you give him birth, suckling him at your breasts, and then return to this ghastly thing that slew him? It is... it's too horrible! The blood, HIS very blood everywhere on the cross and on the ground!"

Her horror was so great, she drew back from the ugly dark stains on the ground as if she saw serpents coiled there. At the same time she stuffs a part of her head shawl over her nose, overcome by the stench of death that covers Golgotha.

Mary's face looks stricken. She gazes first at Tirzah and then at Zenia, and lastly back at the cross. "Oh, it is not loathsome and ugly to ME, it is beautiful, so beautiful! Don't you see its beauty, my daughters? Don't you smell the sweetness of its perfumes with the aloes, myrrh and frankincense"

Mary draws slowly toward it, step by step, her hands out. Tirzah and Zenia stare at her with something like shock and repulsion.

Now a woman with a beautiful gold veil, attended by a maid, carefully approaches the cross and the people gathered there. Of all people, she has least reason or qualms about breaking the Sabbath law against travel and has come all the way from a palace across the City to reach Golgotha.

NARRATOR: "Who is this latest newcomer? She is Claudia Procula, a Roman woman of noble birth, married to an ambitious Pontius Pilate. She has come on foot, having left her sedan chair and all but one attendant at the base of the hill. She hasn't slept but a few fitful hours since the crucifixion, but she recognizes Mary at once, having been given a full report on her by her spies. She takes several mincing, careful steps toward Mary, trying to avoid the worst of the blood stains.

PROCULA: "No, don't touch it, dear mother, don't!"

Mary seems not to hear her cries. Her eager hands reach the filthy, blood, spittle and gore-spattered cross, and she enfolds it with her arms, putting her cheek against it as if in an embrace of her son and Lord.

Tirzah rouses herself. Mary's embrace of the cross somehow sets her free of her own unbearable grief. She remembers the rare spikenard perfume she has brought all the way in case it was needed. Drawing the vial out of her robes, she goes and pours the costly ointment, anointing the cross, since she dare not hope she will ever locate the Lord's body, much less be allowed to see it once buried or entombed. Immediately, the cross and its environs is enveloped in the wonderful scent.

TIRZAH: "But where are the soldiers? Why haven't they returned? They mind no Sabbath of the Jews surely! Why did they leave this one cross and not retrieve it today if not yesterday? Have they gone mad? I never heard of Romans acting this way before. It makes no sense. Nothing does! All I know is Jesus is dead, dead! Our great Messiah is dead!"

Procula draws her veil away from her face and smiles at this outburst. She goes and speaks confidentially aside to Tirzah.

PROCULA: "Oh, but you must know how superstitious they are, my dear. These crude, uneducated men from the lower classes fear and abhor bloodguiltiness, and believe that merely touching the blood of an innocent man slain unjustly will unleash a deadly curse of the gods upon them! So they gladly took away the robbers and their crosses, who were criminals and riff raff, to save the valuable wood from Jews who they say will steal it, but not one man of them dares so far to touch this cross for the present. Everyone saw the events on Friday and the auspicious quake and storm that attended its end. To free himself of any taint of bloodguilt, did not even the Procurator dares curse his hands with an innocent man's blood! Did he not publicly wash his hands in a basin before the eyes of all the people and their leaders? Yes, indeed, we all know his orders were to take it away for safekeeping in the Antonia's vaults, but soldiers are still men, and fear the wrath of heaven more than the sword. So I think they are delaying as long as they can--perhaps till after the Jews' Sabbath. You understand this, don't you, dear?"

Tirzah is still bewildered after Procula's explanation, draws away from Procula while staring at the woman's face and costly ear and neck ornaments. TIRZAH: "What did you say? Who are you? How do you know so much about them and their commander? You are saying those terrible men believed Jesus was innocent of all crime, just as we believe? That was why they took the robbers' crosses away, but not the Lord's! Then if that is so, why, in the first place, did they hang him here and kill him? How could they dare to commit this great crime against God's Messiah?"

PROCULA: "Who am I? I needn't tell you my name, Madam! I haven't asked yours, have I? It is safer or more discreet for us both if we remain strangers in this terrible place. You have uttered reckless accusations against the Procurator, which I dare not repeat. But I will say this. I daresay not all people, but some did believe in Him, we have to think. I myself was so inclined. For I have dreamed much of him of late and beheld this Man as a God, even the Son of God, while being warned of harming him by a great voice from heaven, so I feel strongly he was what He claimed. For when he died about the third hour yesterday, it grew very dark of a sudden, with a fearsome storm in the heavens, and the whole earth shook. All, including the soldiers, were terrified by those omens, and many fled away at once."

Procula paused, peered more closely at the cross, then shrank back a few paces as if the horror of it, even with the spikenard perfume, was too much to bear up close.

PROCULA: "And where I reside, the whole building shook as if it would collapse upon me and my servants! I'll never forget it! Never! It was as if the world was ending! Everything seemed turned upside down! Everything!" Procula's voice now turned heated, troubled, even scornful in tone.

PROCULA: "But all this happened, all this calamity and woe, because His Excellency, Pontius Pilatus, did what he never should have done--he sentenced that righteous Man to death, all because he was afraid the Jews would accuse him to the Emperor By the gods, what a mistake! Even Herod Antipas declared this Man innocent! The Jewish authorities, all from envy, pressed for the Man's death, citing crimes that were no crimes. They charged he said he would tear downs he temple and in three days raise it again! Absurd, and so what if he said such a thing, which I doubt very much? But it is done! We have lost this greatest and best of men! Now we will just have to make the best of the loss however we can. I am so sorry, sorry for all of us!"

Procula looked over to Mary, as if she wanted to go to her and comfort her, but she did not go.

Tirzah also glanced toward the mother, who was still embracing the awful cross, her lips moving as if in prayer or grieving.

TIRZAH: (suddenly suspicious) "Ha, are you a secret follower of his then? Is that what you are saying? So don't tell us who you are! Keep your pity for yourself, if you please! And by all means keep your name and reputation unstained from the filth and the folly and the crimes of this place! Well, I don't care what people think of ME anymore! My name is Tirzah, Tirzah of the Samaritan people, a dweller in Sychar, residing with my niece in the house beside the gate nearest the well of Father Jacob--if you don't mind an uncouth Samaritan addressing the likes of you, fine lady!"

Her fury and contempt voiced, Tirzah wheeled away to look at the others, her face full of utter sorrow.

TIRZAH: "But tell me where on earth now can we go now? For He had the words of life, and they were living water to my soul!"

Overhearing this exchange are some other folk lately come up the hill, people of the lowest, most despised levels of society, who ordinarily observe little or nothing of the Jewish laws regarding the Sabbath.

They are three, a Widow, a former Leper, and a Young Woman, a former condemned adulteress. Seeing the single cross, they don't question if it is Jesus's or not, they clasp their hands together, one by one crying out as they stagger toward it and fall upon the rocky ground.

The widow is an old woman, stooped enough to use a bent stick for support, and her voice is shrill.

WIDOW: "He was my greatest Friend! Where can I go, who will help me now with words of cheer and comfort? He was my bread from heaven! I feasted on his words and did not starve and die as everyone supposed I would, having nothing after I gave my last money as tithe to the Temple Treasury. Where can I go now? Who will help, defend, and strengthen me?"

YOUNG WOMAN, formerly a condemned adulteress: "He stopped the people and the authorities of the Temple from stoning me! He saved my life, he saved my soul, and forgave me, and wiped away my shame and my tears! Who will help me now? Where can I go?"

"Where can we go?" chorused the two women, one young, the other very old. "Where? Who will be our Savior? our Friend? our Helper? our Defender?"

The man who was healed of leprosy cried out even louder.

HEALED LEPER: "He healed me and my friends! I was cast out unclean by all the people, and my family shut its door to me, and there was no hope left for me but to starve and perish of my sickness. I was one of ten, who were from our village and were forced out to starve and hide in the Vale of Hinnon and under the bridges. But now I am back with my family, clean of the disease, and Jesus healed me! Nobody at the temple would go near me or pray for me to be healed. They had also cast me out, so I could not worship in the temple and beg God for healing. But Jesus came to me and laid his hand on me and healed me! He alone did not fear my disease! He made me clean, clean! Now where can I go? Who will be my Lord now? Whom can I follow that is like him? I would seek out his disciples if I knew where they dwell."

There is much moaning and crying.

Tirzah is still uncomprehending, and bewildered and questioning, but she gains enough command over her grief somehow to speak, and her voice prevails over the weeping, and they pause to listen to her. She addresses the former Leper, but everyone is listening after what she said to the well-dressed, rich lady.

TIRZAH: "Oh, his disciples too are no good at all, if you think they might be of any use to you! I heard they have gone into hiding, and it must be so, because they are none of them in sight. But whether they believed or not, Romans still crucified him, and his body lies in a tomb or grave somewhere, and his blood...his blood is shed on this very ground on which we stand!--holy blood they shed unjustly. May God have mercy on their souls for this evil deed! Killing an innocent man, who loved us all dearly and did us many kind deeds, and never did any of us any harm! What can ever repair this crime or make it right? Nothing! We are all lost, Roman and Jew and Samaritan together!"

Procula, seeing her own effort to comfort the women was of no avail and nobody will listen to her consoling words, and still not wishing to reveal her identity, draws a veil over her face, and lifting her robe's purple and gold hem away from the ground, with her maid disappears down the path.

Tirzah and Zenia sink down, drawing their robes around them against the cold creeping up over the hill. Some more Poor of the City have now come up, joining the others, as if to keep a vigil with them. They too are living beyond the Jewish laws, impoverished outcasts of society, and don't observe even the Passover, much less the Sabbath. Some young women in the group, whose husbands had left them, even have small children along.

BEGGAR: "Good women, do not fear us. We will do you no harm. O blessed Daughters of Zion, we have come to mourn and bewail with you the death of this good, just man! For we all loved him! Did he not heal me of the shaking in my arms and legs, so that I could stand and walk upright like a man again?"

All the woman stare at the beggar and his group, and say nothing. But the beggar is not put off, and he tries again.

BEGGAR: "Is it true this is His cross, the doleful fate of the holy One who lately rode into Jerusalem through the Gate of Benjamin on a donkey's foal. Wasn't He the Blessed One we hailed with palm branches and singing, crying 'Hosanna to the King of the Jews!'? How then can he be crucified and dead as people tell us he is? Please tell us what happened!"

Mary gazes at the speaker kindly but appears near to collapse. Her voice trembles.

MARY: "Yes, this is the cross where he died. But why come here now after He is dead and lies yonder in a tomb? There is only this cross left behind he was hanged on. But he is not here, his body is laid in the tomb of the rich man from Arimathea. Go there, if you will, but beware, Children, it is guarded by fierce soldiers Pilate assigned to the chief priests of the Temple, who will beat you severely if you bother them."

The Beggar shakes his head and doesn't know who she is yet, though he is calmed by the kindness in her voice. He too cannot read in any language, so the inscribed Roman tabula atop the cross is of no use to him.

BEGGAR: "Why do we come here now, O Daughter of Zion? Why are you here, all you Good Women? We heard certain things from others who were here when he died yesterday before the Sabbath, that he was acclaimed the King of the Jews on a sign the Roman ordered inscribed. Is that the sign up there? No one else dares tell us anything, fearing the Temple authorities and the Romans, so we came here supposing we might learn something. And here we find you!"

NARRATOR: "Before either Mary or Zenia or Tirzah can answer, an armored figure of a man climbs up and gains the top of the hill. Now everyone, except Mary at the cross, draw back in mortal dread. By his uniform and armor, it truly is a Roman, an officer of the guard. Surely, he will punish them all severely. He will accuse them of attempting to steal the cross!

But their fears are mistaken. The Centurion hasn't come to arrest this ragtag group, so his eyes are not on them but the cross itself. But he can't look at the cross very long. He stares first at one woman and then the next, finally fixing his gaze on Mary the mother of Jesus, whom he does not seem to know or recognize, for he addresses her as any Jewish matron.

PRUDENTIUS: "Jewess, yes, you there! Why do you embrace that foul stake? It is covered with blood still, you are ruining your robes! If you are a decent Jewess, and so I perceive you to be, then according to your Sabbath law you are defiling yourself! Have you no regard for your own religion's laws? And mind, I know if the chief priests and scribes catch you all here, they will order their guards to beat you for breaking their Sabbath."

Mary hears him, and starts. But as she replies her words seemed to be dragged out of her, as she addresses him with eyes nearly closed.

MARY: "You are mistaken, sire, this is my son's blood, and the blood of my Lord and God! So I cannot be defiled in the eye of God! And I do not fear their beating me. I could not stay at home and so have come back!"

Prudentius hears mention of the name of the God of Israel on the lips of the grieving mother of Jesus, and he is greatly shamed somehow. That he has made first acquaintance with the mother of Jesus is also more than he expected.

PRUDENTIUS: "Forgive me, I did not know it was you, his mother! They claimed he broke your laws and was a criminal, employing false witnesses and lies. But truly, as I said after he was perceived dead, I say now to you: He was a righteous man, even the very Son of God, and so...and so I shed the blood of an innocent, righteous Man!"

The Beggar, hearing this, claps both his hands on his head, staring at the centurion.

Prudentius seems to feel the full weight of his own words when he spoke of Jesus as innocent and righteous. He stares at his own hands with horror as if they had blood on them, for he has slain many men in battle and never felt any qualms whatsoever before, he was only doing his duty. But his now shaking hands have touched Jesus' blood, and the blood of Jesus is another matter entirely different to deal with. With a cry he steps away, staring still upwards at the cross, beating his breasts, and rocking back and forth as pious, praying Jews do, in his great distress, as if he is imploring the God of Israel to forgive him. Then he turns and hurries back down the hill.

NARRATOR: "The hours pass as the women huddle together, and the Poor, beyond them, huddle in their group. Misery loves company, but it is none the less uncomfortable to be so miserable and hopeless at the same time. The little children are now whimpering due to hunger and the cold."

The POOR OF THE CITY: "Has Sabbath passed?" "Yi yi yi, it's so bitter cold up here! All my bones ache so much I could scream!" "What day is it? Has the new day come yet? Let's go from this evil place before the soldiers come and catch us!"

Someone else among the poor people replies to them both, "Oh, hush, you and you! Let us wretches and offscourings of the earth rest a while more before we all go back to our holes in the City!"

NARRATOR: "Someone runs up toward them, and Tirzah and Zenia clutch each other hard and shrink away. The poor people all spring up together as if to run away, but the runner reaches them before they can escape. Whoever the intruder is soon made known. She throws back the head shawl, and it is Mary Magdalene, the once notorious woman out of whom the Nazarene cast seven devils. The women gasp."

Mary Magdalene addresses Mary, mother of Jesus, first.

MARY MAGDALENE: "Oh, dearest! How could you do this? You shouldn't have come here! You're not well, and you should be in bed! You'll die out here. Come, you must not stay a moment more! I thought you might be here, after you left Salome and John's house! Other than the tomb, or to seek out Pilate to grant you his body for taking back to Nazareth, it was the only place I knew you might go!"

Mary Magdalene turns to the others, after throwing her arms around Mary and drawing her gently away, with Jesus's mother making no protest. She throws back her head shawl and clearly has something important to say to the group.

MARY MAGDALENE: "You all, wake up and hear my words! God's mercy on me! Why do you look at me so strangely? What do you think you see? A ghost from among the ancient tombs? It is only I, Mary of Magdala, a follower of the Master! Don't fear! I've got news for you, dear mother, and you all!--"

As Mary Magdalene continues, her mouth moving soundlessly and her hands gesturing, the Narrator speaks for her.

NARRATOR: "Mary Magdalene is beside herself, but she speaks rapidly, almost breathlessly, as if she were reliving every word. She is even acting it out with expressions and gestures, it is so alive to her mind since she has experienced it all a short time before."

NARRATOR, OR ACTRESS PLAYING MARY MAGDALENE: "I've just come from the disciples in hiding in the city after telling them this," she says. "I and the women with me saw the great stone, its chief priestly-marked seals broken, rolled away and the tomb empty. There were some soldiers, but they sat or lay on the ground, doing and saying nothing! I ran to tell the disciples. I told them 'They have taken away the Lord from the tomb, and I don't know where they have laid him.' Peter and John ran to see what had happened, and I followed. All the soldiers were gone, so no one prevented us. I saw John stop in the open door, but Peter went in. John's face was changed, but Peter's was bewildered, and both soon left and ran back toward the others.

Left there like that, what was I, a woman, to do? I was weeping by the tomb door when two young men I hadn't seen there before appeared and said to me in my native tongue, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' I said, 'Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' I turned around, for I felt someone else had come. I supposed he was the gardener, when he too asked me why I was weeping. He said to me, "Mary!" Then I knew! I cried, "Rabboni!" I fell at his feet, which still bore the marks of the nail. And I touched his scarred feet all over, and saw the very hole the nail piercing them had made, kissing it and wetting his feet with my tears, for he was alive! Alive! Then he said to me, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father and your Father, and to My God and your God." It was so hard to leave him! I just couldn't! But I obeyed the Master, my Lord and my God. I went as he commanded me, back to the disciples, and though I could hardly speak a word without tears and coughing and losing my breath, I told them all what he said to me, and still they did not believe, and would not believe a woman's word..."

As Mary Magdalene concludes her news, with the Narrator possibly speaking for her this long speech, she begins pointing in the direction of the tomb, still making an appeal while the Narrator continues.

NARRATOR: "Most all still stare at her as if she has gone stark raving mad and there is much shaking of heads. A few believed her, though it was a woman's testimony, you can tell by both bewildered and joyful faces, when she said that the tomb is indeed empty, the guards all run away."

Mary Magdalene makes one last appeal as she points toward the empty tomb. Without waiting any more, the people all hurry off in the direction she pointed, yelling and shouting and several rejoicing.

Slowly, Mary Magdalene, her arm around her Mary, helps Jesus' mother each step of the way down the steep path."

Mother Mary takes a few steps, then abruptly halts, holding Mary Magdalene back.

NARRATOR: "Mary gazes off toward the tomb, while Mary Magdalene stares at her with surprise. Mary's eyes and face are lighting up, shining expectantly. Then she starts off toward the tomb, Mary Magdalene holding her by the arm.

While the women are descending, a Passover pilgrim has climbed the hill and passed them on the path. He is Simon, also known as Niger of Cyrene. He has taken a Jewish name, "Simon," after becoming a "God-fearer," a Gentile African observant of Jewish law. He looks furtively around the vacant scene and fixes his eyes on the cross. He knows a number of languages, being a dealer in draught animals in an important port city ,and he reads the sign.

He falls to his knees. He stretches his hands out over his bent head, as if pleading for something. Then after a moment or two, raising his head he rises unsteadily to his feet and goes to the cross. He takes a knife and cuts off a blood-stained sliver, which he slips quickly in a leather bag and ties round his neck by a small strap, pressing it to close his heart with one hand. Then he turns and hurries off down the path.

End with Chorus:

"At the Cross, at the Cross,

Where I first saw the light

And the burden of my heart rolled away.

It was there by faith

I received my sight,

And now I am happy all the day...

And now I am happy all the day."

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*Note: Other additional songs that can be sung: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?" and "The Old Rugged Cross."

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*Note: Why not at a performance, since a cross is the main prop, conclude the gathering, then invite those who wish to come afterwards for prayer, praying either individually or for anyone on request, that God might shed His light in their hearts and answer their need? Just as Jesus did (and testified to in the play by the characters), you children and young people can, whatever your age, pray for people to receive salvation, deliverance, healing, provision, comforting and defense. God will hear and answer your prayers!--Ed.

Note: More of the Opening Scene: On this day officially no Jews are allowed normal work and travel, and permitted travel is not more than a thousand or so paces to take care of necessities or present offerings in the Temple of sacrificial animals.

The Sabbath and Passover observances are winding down as the light wanes. A single cross, which could be seen for a long distance, stood atop the hill.

Two foreign women, Samaritans from out of Judea have left their donkeys tethered at the base of the hill where there is a little grass for forage, and after hiring a poor shepherd boy to guard them along with his few wretched sheep, they now approach the cross after a hard climb up the stony path of the hill.

Despite the ban on travel or work of any ordinary kind except for the Temple festival observances, behind them struggle several other people climbing the hill. Tirzah and Zenia missed the crucifixions, having heard too late to make the long journey on foot to Golgotha in time. Located near Sychar's Jerusalem gate, they were well situated to gain the first news arriving there, and so had heard alarming reports of trials and floggings suffered by Jesus the Messiah, which boded ill for him. Were the Jewish authorities conspiring to sentence him to death? Taking a few things, the women departed immediately for Jerusalem on two donkeys.

Note on the Play: A wooden cross, fourteen feet high, fashioned by a carpenter was erected in June 2016 on Plain View Farm and represents the Cross of Jesus Christ. It inspired this play in large part. If not the Empty Tomb (which really runs "tandem" with the Cross in significance), and in concert with the Gospels and the Bible, the Cross of Christ remains the single most important and engrossing object in the history of mankind.

Even that statement is a gross understatement! Few could argue sensibly that it has never been fully explained, even with thousands of books written by the greatest theologians extant, and thousands more to come, both written by theological experts and Biblical luminaries beyond my ability to mention them all.

The Gospels are preeminent, of course, in the revelation of the Cross's significance and meaning for every single individual and all of mankind, past, present, and future. This object stands, therefore, at the very crossroads of humanity, and from its time it took a course it could deviate from but which it could never again totally ignore.

What did the Cross work of Christ accomplish? Many things, and to start with the most overlooked today: The Cross essentially created Western Civilization and all its freedoms and even its prosperity. The Cross liberated mankind and continues to liberate sin-and-man-oppressed people, and such were and are the black people of Africa, in that continent or enslaved in their dispersion in Moslem-dominated lands today. One character in this play is Simon, who is also called Niger, for he is of the black tribal peoples of Africa, who was forced by Roman guards to carry the Cross of Christ and help Jesus too make it to the site of the crucifixion, Golgotha, after he collapsed in the street. To do that feat, Simon of Cyrene had to be mighty in strength to bear both burdens, and possibly he was given supernatural strength by Christ beside him, though Christ took none for himself.

The Cross turned the Jewish race Messiahward like no prophet in their religious history had ever accomplished. The Cross will save the Jewish remnant at the end of human history, in fact, as Revelation portrays so well it need not be repeated here.

The cross is where Jesus won salvation for each and every sin-doomed human soul, paying the full penalty we owed for our individual sins.

For these and other reasons, the Cross Play is recommended to one and all as a humble attempt to shed a little light on its overwhelming magnitude and and transforming effect it had in the lives of Jewish individuals such as you find in the Bible and portrayed in this play.--Author

**Though written for children and young people to perform, this play may seem to be too "grown-up" to be understandable to them. Some of the speaking parts are quite long, even for a one act play they may be a bit of a challenge. Yet I know from experience, back when I was twelve years old, I memorized one third of Luther's Catechism in a 2-3 day stretch of frantic, last minute memorizing for our big Confirmation test at church which was public, conducted before all our parents by the pastor.

So, children, I know what memories God has given you at your young ages far exceeds what I have now to work with! Then, ask your parents to explain difficult words or sentences. They can do that for you, or you may even cut down the parts if you will keep the meaning intended.

For the 2017 play rehearsal, we must start well in advance to get our parts chosen and the speaking parts memorized. We cannot wait until the reunion to do that. Then when we gather, we can work on the action, learning how we are to act out the various parts. We can decide to perform it after rehearsal, or we can even reserve the major performance for the 2018 Centennial of the Farm when many people will be present.

Lastly, if I didn't believe that children and young people can do great and even awesome things, to glorify God, with their talents, this would not have been written.--Author

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Upcoming mini play for children and youth: "The Miracle of the Two Mites," by Ron Ginther. This play features the devout Widow who was so impoverished she could only give two mites, less than a cent in value, but which represented her entire income, as she tithed to the temple treasury for God's service. Pearl Stadem Ginther's life history of 101 years and lifelong example of selfless giving to God's work and tithing to her local church inspires the writing of the play. A link to the mini play will be on-line soon so that those who wish to reserve parts can do so by contacting the author, using his email address: ronaldginther42@yahoo.com

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LOOK FOR MORE UPCOMING PLAYS FOR THE ESTELLA A. RANGEN CREATIVE ARTS SERIES AS THEY ARE POSTED HERE

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