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Embracing Godís Call

Ministry Sunday—Culture of Call
Eastern Mennonite Seminary
By Heidi Miller Yoder

Background:

This dramatic litany requires the use of nine different voices(voice=V) in order to depict biblical narratives of God’s call on the lives of Moses, Jeremiah, Esther, Mary and Ananias. In each instance of call, the actual biblical narrative is used to give voice to the character. The first part (the longest section) of the litany gives voice to the human resistance, questions and fears in relation to being called. The second part of the litany gives voice to the yes that each character comes to in relation to being called. Both parts of the litany can be done in succession or they can be done in two different times in the worship service in order to echo the movement from resistance to the call of God to the willingness to say yes to the call of God.

Because this dramatic litany uses so many voices, the staging requires some forethought. It is also recommended that this be practiced with the persons participating in the litany before using it in a worship service. The narrator can be placed in the front and center of the worship space throughout the litany or even standing in the aisle among the gathered congregation. The voice depicting God can either be standing in the center back of the worship space or somewhere unseen and only heard. The rest of the characters are to be placed individually (and in some cases in clusters) across the front of the worship space. Moses, Jeremiah, and Ananias each stand individually. Esther stands clustered with Mordecai and Mary stands with Gabriel. Please feel free to experiment further with other staging to suit the worship space and sound needs for your setting.

Characters:

N=Narrator
G=God
Voice 1 (V1)=Moses
Voice 2 (V2)=Jeremiah
Voice 3 (V3)=Esther
Voice 4 (V4)=Mordecai
Voice 5 (V5)=Gabriel
Voice 6 (V6)=Mary
Voice 7 (V7)=Ananias

Part One:

N:        God, the Lord of the harvest, is sending laborers into the harvest.

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

V1:        But God . . . I have never been eloquent,
                        neither in the past,
                        nor even now that you have spoken to your servant;
                        but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.

G:          Who gives speech to mortals?
            Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind?
            Is it not I, the LORD?
            Now go,
                        and I will be with your mouth
                        and teach you what you are to speak.

V1:        O my Lord,
                        Please send someone else.

            (pause)

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

V2:        Now the word of the LORD came to me saying.

G:          Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
                        and before you were born I consecrated you;
            I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

V2:        Ah, LORD God!
                        Truly I do not know how to speak,
                        for I am only a boy.

G:          Do not say, “I am only a boy;”
                        for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
                        and you shall speak whatever I command you,
            Do not be afraid of them
                        For I am with you to deliver you says the LORD.

(pause)

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

V3:        All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces
                        know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court
                                    without being called, there is but one law---
                                                all are to be put to death.

V4:        Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape
                        any more than all the other Jews.
            For if you keep silent at such a time as this,
                        relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter,
                        but you and your father’s family will perish.
            Who knows?
                        Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.

            (pause)

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

V5:        Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.
           And now,
                        you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
                        and you will name him Jesus.
                                    He will be great,
                                                and of his kingdom there will be no end.

V6:        How can this be,
                        Since I am a virgin?

V5:        The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
                        and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
                        therefore the child to be born will be holy;
                        he will be called Son of God.

            (pause)

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

G:         Ananais . . . Ananais

V7:        Here I am Lord.

G:          Get up and look for a man of Tarsus named Saul.
            At this moment he is praying,
                         go and lay hands on him,
                                    so that he may regain his sight.

V7:        Lord, I have heard from many about this man,
                        How much evil he has done to your saints.

G:          Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen
                        To bring my name before Gentiles and kings
                                    and before the people of Israel ;
            I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.

(pause)

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

Part Two:

V1:        The great I AM sends me.
                        I will go.

V2:        I have heard the voice of the LORD,
                        Send me.

V3:        I will go the the king,
                        though it is against the law;
                                    and if I perish, I perish.

V6:        Here am I, the servant of the Lord:
                        let it be with me according to your word.

V7:        Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,
                        who appeared to you on your way here,
                        has sent me so that you may regain your sight
                                    and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

N:         Consider your own call, brothers and sisters:
                        not many of you were wise by human standards,
                        not many of you were powerful,
                        not many of you were of noble birth.
            But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
                        God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong:
                        God chose what is low and despised in the world,
                                    things that are not,
                                                to reduce to nothing things that are,
                                    so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

G:         Whom shall I send?
                        The harvest is plentiful,
                        but the laborers are few.
            Whom shall I send?
                        Who will go for us?

Written by Heidi Miller Yoder, 2003, revised 2006

 

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