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"The 2nd Mile" Sunday #4-Student Focus

Reformation Sunday
Text: John 8:31-36
October 30, 2011      

The following was done as a Reader's Theatre presentation by some of our high school students.  It was filmed during youth group and played back on Sunday morning during the sermon time.

Speaker #1:  Hey, watcha doin?

Speaker #2:  I was just thinking about ways to raise money for the new building at church.  I was wondering if I could make cookies and sell them and then give the money to the building fund. 

Speaker #1:  That’s a great idea.  How many cookies do you think you should make? 

Speaker #2:  Well, I am not sure.  I think this recipe I have makes about 3 dozen.  If I make 4 batches of cookies, that’s 12 dozen, which is 144 cookies…and if I sell them for 50 cents a cookie, that’s…lets see…72 dollars.  That should help with the building, right?

Speaker #1:   Sure.  Do you know how much money it will take to pay for the building project?

Speaker #2:  I don’t know for sure, but I think it is several hundred thousand dollars. 

Speaker #1:   Maybe we should try to figure out a way to raise more money.  I mean, 72 dollars is great and all, but what if we could give even more?

Speaker #2:  That would OK.  I just don’t know how to do that.  I will have to think about it.

Person 3 walks in and greets them 

Speaker #3:  Hi.  What’s that in your hand?

Speaker #2:  Oh.  That’s just my cookie recipe.

Speaker #3:  Awesome! Are you making cookies??? I love cookies.  I hope you are planning to share them with me.

Speaker #2:  Actually, I was going to sell the cookies to raise money to help pay for the building project at church.

Speaker #1:  But then we were thinking that we should figure out a way to raise more money than just what we could make selling a few cookies.

Speaker #3:  Well, yeah, and besides, wouldn’t you rather eat the cookies that you make, rather than selling them?  I know I would!

Speaker #2:  That’s not really the point.  Its not that I really want to make and sell cookies, but I do really want to help the church and this seemed like a good way to do that. 

Speaker #1:  Wait a minute!  I have a great idea.  It would raise a lot more money and it would not be as difficult as baking all those cookies!!!

Speaker #2:  What are you thinking?

Speaker #1:  What if we charge admission to church?

Speaker #2:  Huh??

Speaker #3:  Oh!  I GET IT!  What if, we have the ushers stand OUTSIDE the church, and when people show up on Sunday morning they have to put some money in the offering plate BEFORE they go inside—or else we don’t let them come in. 

Speaker #2:  I don’t know…

Speaker #1:  YES!  AND we can charge individually or give a group rate for a family of four or more.  And we could charge different rates for different pews, like the pews closest to the front are cheaper, since not many people really want to sit there. That way, the most popular pews cost a little more. 

Speaker #2:  Well…

Speaker #3:   Oh my goodness…this is the best idea ever!  What if…we break down the service into sections and charge for each thing.  So…we stop using the powerpoint and make people pay rent on the hymnals so they can follow along in the service.  That actually would save money, too, on electricity and projector upkeep. If people want to take communion, we will charge for that; a blessing would be extra.   And you know those green communion cards?   Lets charge an administrative fee for those.  People will buy those to make sure they get credit for taking communion. 

Speaker #2:  I don’t….

Speaker #1:  Everyone loves to help with worship, so lets charge people for the privilege of helping out.  I think its hard to find people to read scripture, so we won’t charge much for that job, but if you want to usher or help with communion, its going to cost you!

Speaker #2:   Uhm…
Speaker #3:  OK OK OK  What if, people pay for shorter sermons?  Like…you know…depending on how much money is raised before the service starts will determine how long the pastor preaches.  The more money raised, the shorter the sermon. 

Speaker #1:  EXCELLENT!

Speaker #2:  STOP!!! 

Speaker #1 & 3:  What???

Speaker #2:  This is a BAD idea!  We can’t charge people for coming to church.  We certainly can’t charge people if they want to take communion.  And it might hurt the pastor’s feelings if they found out that people like short sermons.  If we pay for the new building with money that we took from people just so they could be part of worship on Sunday morning…well…doesn’t that kind of go against what we always talk about at church?

Speaker #3:  What do we talk about at church?

Speaker #1:  We talk about Jesus but I don’t see how that has anything to do with this…

Speaker #2:  At church we talk about how much God loves everyone and that Jesus came into the world to show us how much we are loved.  We always talk about God’s free gifts of love and forgiveness.  FREE gifts.  That EVERYONE can have, whether they have money to give or not.  Jesus didn’t die for our sake because we paid him to.  Forgiveness does not come with a price tag. 

Speaker #1:  I never thought about it that way.  I was just trying to come up with an easy way to raise lots of money. 

Speaker #3:  It seemed less time consuming than baking cookies.

Fade out….

Speaker 4:  They had the right idea about helping with the building project, but they got a little carried away, didn’t they?   

Speaker 5: Its funny, actually.  Today is Reformation Sunday.  Did you know that Reformation had to do with a building project, also?

Speaker 6: St. Peter’s church in Rome needed to be renovated.  It had been built in the 4th century and by the fifteenth century it was in bad shape. 

Speaker 7:  Well, eleven hundred years is a long time for a building. 

Speaker 5:  True.  Anyway, they started working on the renovation about 1450.  It was 176 years before the renovation was complete and in modern day financial terms, it cost about forty-eight million dollars.

Speaker 4:  Well, that certainly puts our building project into perspective, doesn’t it?  That was clearly a lot of money that needed to be raised to pay for this new church building. 

Speaker 7:  Pope Leo X and his advisors devised a way to raise money to pay for St. Peter’s renovation.  They began to sell salvation.  They sold indulgences to people.

Speaker 6: People were told that they could buy an indulgence that would shorten the time spent in purgatory.  They could buy indulgences for themselves or for someone they loved who had already died.  Basically, they were paying for salvation. 

Speaker 4:  There was a very famous saying, “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” 

Speaker 5:  Martin Luther traveled to Rome and while he was there he had a revelation.  The legend is that he was crawling on his knees up some steps called Pilates Staircase…

Speaker 7:  Crawling on his knees?  Up steps??

Speaker 5:  Yes, crawling on his knees up the steps.  He was doing penance for his sins.  That is, he was paying for his sins with his suffering.  While he was doing this he heard a voice from heaven say, “The just shall live by faith.”

Speaker 7:  What does that mean?

Speaker 5:  Basically, it means that we are not made right with God by anything that we do or any money that we pay, rather, it is faith that makes us right with God.  We don’t have to suffer by climbing stairs on our knees or buy indulgences to stay out of purgatory.  Jesus Christ did all the work that was needed for our salvation.

Speaker 6:  Luther went home and wrote his famous document called the 95 Theses that he nailed to the university church door at Wittenburg.  It was on October 31, 1517.  He wanted to have a debate with other scholars about what was going on in the church so he wrote 95 statements that he wanted to talk about.

Speaker 4:  Statement #43 says:  Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons.  We should spend our money helping our neighbor instead of paying for salvation. 

Speaker 5:  Statement #46 says:  Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.  Apparently, people were spending money on indulgences and ignoring the needs of their families.

Speaker 7:  Luther went on to write many things about money and stewardship of our lives.  For instance: Whoever wants to be a Christian must undertake good works as a means of serving God through his office or station, his money or goods, or whatever other possessions or abilities he may have, doing what he can to God’s glory although he may never merit any things for it on earth at all.

Fade out…. 

Speaker 8:  See, God’s salvation is for everyone and nobody should be told they have to pay to receive it.  Even for a building project. 

Speaker 9:  They why do we ask people to give an offering every Sunday? 

Speaker 8:  Because being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about remembering who we are and whose we are.  It is also about knowing that everything we have is a gift from God.  The bible tells us that we are to use those gifts to bless the world. 

Speaker 9:  Oh right.  I think we talked about this before…Blessed to be a blessing, right? 

Speaker 8:  Exactly.  God made a promise to Abraham that he would bless Abraham so that Abraham and his family could bless the world.  Because of Jesus Christ we are part of Abraham’s family and so we, too, are blessed by God so that we can bless the world. 

Speaker 10:  And we bless the world by giving what we have.  Not just our money, but our time and everything we are.

Speaker 8:  Giving money every Sunday is part of discipleship.

Speaker 10:  Ok then…how about giving to a building project? 

Speaker 8:  This building project is something extra special that we are giving money for.  When the building is finished we will be able to use it to bless each other and to bless our town and even to bless the world.

Speaker 9:  As we bless our community, we share the good news that Martin Luther learned so many years ago….that God loves everyone….and God’s love is free to all people.  No strings attached.


Pastor Charlane Lines

418 W. Main St.

Sidney, MT 59270