On a Sunday night during the week of Thanksgiving, our church family gathered together for an informal worship service — a time of eating, singing, praying, and sharing our reasons for giving thanks. Because of the current covid-19 pandemic, we made safety a priority — catering the food, spacing and individually releasing the tables, singing only briefly, and wearing masks. Despite all that, we had a wonderful experience of celebrating God’s goodness to us. We also had fun doing a “Readers’ Theater” of Five Thanksgiving Scenes from the Bible. This was my first time writing such a script, and our church people were the best readers a brand-new playwright could ask for! We chose a reader from each table, gave them each highlighted parts, and they read clearly and enthusiastically from their spaced tables.
I’m sharing this little script in the hopes that others can use these Scenes in their church, family, or small group worship. (Please just remember to give credit to the author in any written publications.)
Without further ado, I give you — FIVE THANKSGIVING SCENES.
Narrator: Scene 1. The news has just arrived that a great big army is coming after God’s people. The king of God’s people is a man with a funny name, Jehoshaphat, and he’s scared. So, he calls all of the people together to pray for God’s help.
Reader One (male): “Lord, you rule over everything! Power and might are in your hand! We remember how you got rid of our enemies before. So now, won’t you take care of these invaders? We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Narrator: Then the Holy Spirit comes on another funny-named guy, Jahaziel, and he stands up!
Reader Two (male): “Listen, everybody! The Lord says, ‘Don’t be afraid. Tomorrow, go out to face your enemies, and I will be with you.’”
Narrator: Jehoshaphat believes Jahaziel, and before the battle even starts, Jehoshaphat assigns people the job of singing a song of thanksgiving:
Readers One and Two (together): “Give thanks to the LORD! His love endures forever!”
Narrator: While they sing, God ambushes the enemies with… other enemies! The new enemies fight the original enemies. Then, after the original enemies are defeated, the new enemies turn on each other. When God’s people come to the place where the battle was going to be, all of the enemies are already dead.
Reader One: When we face tough fights in our lives, let’s remember to give thanks even before the battle begins. We can trust God with the result, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD! His love endures forever!”
Narrator: Scene 2. Hannah is a young lady who loves God. But she is very sad, because she isn’t able to have any children. She’s so sad, that she won’t stop crying, and she won’t eat. Weeping uncontrollably, Hannah goes to the temple to pray.
Reader Three (female): “Lord, I’m your servant. Don’t forget me; please give me a son. If you do give me a son, I will dedicate him to serve you at the temple.”
Narrator: While Hannah is praying, her lips are moving even though she isn’t praying out loud. So Eli, the priest, thinks she’s drunk.
Reader Four (male): “Lady, don’t drink anymore!”
Reader Three: “I’m not drunk, I’m just really, really sad. And I’m pouring out my soul to the Lord.”
Reader Four: “Go in peace. May God give you what you’ve asked.”
Narrator: Hannah is no longer sad. God answers her prayer, and she gives birth to a baby boy. She names her son Samuel, which means “God heard me.” Hannah also keeps her promise to God, and Samuel grows up at the temple, loving God and listening to his voice. Eventually, Samuel becomes a prophet who shares God’s messages.
Reader Three: When we are sad, we should go to God and pray. And when God answers our prayers, let’s remember to give him credit. We can say to God, “You heard me.”
Narrator: Scene 3. A girl stands, stunned, looking at the angel who just told her she is going to give birth to the Son of God.
Reader Five (female): “How will this happen?”
Reader Six (male): “Mary, the Holy Spirit will come on you, and your son will be the holy Son of God. No word from God will ever fail.”
Reader Five: “I serve the Lord. I accept God’s word to me.”
Narrator: Mary is very young, and unmarried, and will suffer both shame (initially) and sorrow (eventually) from her role as mother to Jesus. But even though her situation isn’t easy, she gives thanks to God. She even makes up a song to express her thanks.
Reader Five: “My soul magnifies the Lord! I have joy in God my Savior. He has remembered me and blessed me. Holy is his name!”
Narrator: Later, Mary gives birth to Jesus, the Son of God. She remembers all of the amazing things that have happened, and spends time thinking about them.
Reader Five: When God gives us blessings we don’t expect—even situations that seem hard or uncomfortable—we can say, “My soul magnifies the Lord!”
Narrator: Scene 4. Jesus has grown up, and is going around teaching and doing miracles. As he enters a village, ten men with a terrible skin disease come out to see him. Men with diseases like this aren’t allowed to come near other people, since they are “unclean” and contagious. So, they call out to Jesus from a distance.
Reader Seven (male): “Jesus, take pity on us!”
Reader Eight (male): “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
Narrator: A long time before this, Moses had instructed God’s people that, if they were cured of a disease like leprosy, they should go to the priests and show them their healed skin. Then, the priests would announce that they were well, and they could go back to being around people again. The men obey Jesus, and, on their way to the priests, they realize they are cured! One of them runs back to Jesus, praising God loudly. He falls down in front of Jesus, and shouts,
Reader Seven: “Thank you, Jesus!”
Reader Eight: “Weren’t there ten men? Weren’t they all healed? Where are the other nine? Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
Reader Seven: When we experience God’s care for us, let’s remember to say, “Thank you, Jesus!”
Narrator: Scene 5. An old man hunches over a piece of paper. He can’t go outside, because he’s been arrested and right now is either in jail or kept prisoner in a house. His body is in a lot of pain. But despite his suffering, he picks up a pen, and writes a letter to the church in Philippi, saying:
Reader Nine (male): “Rejoice in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Rejoice! Don’t be anxious, but pray to God and give thanks. And God’s peace—more than you can understand—will be with you.”
Narrator: Then this man, whose name is Paul, writes that he knows a secret.
Reader Nine: “I know the secret of giving thanks no matter what. If I’m hungry or I’m well-fed, if I’m poor or I’m rich, Jesus gives me strength.”
Narrator: You see, Jesus had died on the cross and come back to life, and Paul had met the risen Jesus. After that happens, Paul is changed completely, and he starts telling everyone he can about Jesus. Even when he’s in prison and no longer able to travel around telling people about Jesus, he finds a way. He writes letters encouraging and teaching Christians. Paul ends this letter by reminding the church in Philippi—and us—that God will meet all of our needs through Jesus.
Reader Nine: When we are struggling, we should give thanks to God. And when we are thriving, we should give thanks to God. In any situation, “Rejoice in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Rejoice!”
Narrator: On this Thanksgiving, we learn from these Five Scenes, out of many scenes in the Bible where people give thanks to God for his goodness to them. We remember Jehoshaphat, Hannah, Mary, the leper, and Paul. We hear them say:
Reader One: “Give thanks to the LORD! His love endures forever!”
Reader Three: “You heard me.”
Reader Five: “My soul magnifies the Lord!”
Reader Seven: “Thank you, Jesus!”
Reader Nine: “Rejoice in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Rejoice!”