Other information :
There are some notes on our production of the service.
A rough plan of the church is available.
A note on copyright.
|Leader||We welcome you here in the name of Jesus. May He speak to each one of us in the stillness of our hearts.
There will be no collection taken during this service. There is a donation box at the back of the church for anyone who would like to give a donation.
Some "house keeping" information -
The sentence for today is from Revelation chapter 3 verse 20 :
Listen ! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me.
Please stand for the hymn :
|Leader||Please sit or kneel for the prayers.
Lord God, thank You for Your invitation to become part of Your family. Help us to accept Your offer.
|People||Help us, Lord.|
|Leader||Thank You for Your blessings that You shower upon the members of Your family.|
|People||Thank You, Lord.|
|Leader||Thank You, Jesus, for Your life here on earth, for Your willingness to die on the Cross, and for Your resurrection.|
|People||We praise You, Jesus.|
|Leader||Thank You for the forgiveness that we receive from You when we turn to You in repentance.|
|People||Thank You, Lord.|
|Leader||Thank You, especially, for the love, joy and peace that You pour upon Your people.|
|People||Thank You, Lord.|
|Leader||Help us to share Your wonderful blessings with those around us.|
|People||Help us, Lord.|
About the banquet
|Leader||Please sit for the reading from Luke chapter 14 verses 12-23.|
|( Jesus stands at hospital side at front, Listener sits near him, Owner stands near table on hospital side, two servants stand in front of table ready to do as the owner tells them. Guest 1, Guest 2 and Guest 3 wait at hospital side to be asked if they're coming to the banquet. )|
|Narrator||One day Jesus was at a Pharisee's house and He said to His host :|
|Jesus||When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.|
|Listener||Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.|
|Narrator||Jesus told this parable :|
|Jesus||A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he said to his servant :|
|Owner||Go and tell those who have been invited that the banquet is ready.|
|Narrator||So the servant went and said :|
|Servant to Guest 1||Come, for everything is now ready.|
|Guest 1||( moves closer to Servant ) I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me, I cannot come. ( moves away again )|
|Servant to Guest 2||Come, for everything is now ready.|
|Guest 2||( moves closer to Servant ) I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on the way to try them out. Please excuse me, I cannot come. ( moves away again )|
|Servant to Guest 3||Come, for everything is now ready.|
|Guest 1||( moves closer to Servant ) I've just got married. Please excuse me, I cannot come. ( moves away again )|
|Servants to the Owner||We've asked all these people and they cannot come to the banquet.|
|Narrator||Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant :|
|Owner||Go out quickly into the streets and the alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.|
|Servant||( goes towards organ ) Come, come to the banquet !|
|Servant||( goes towards other side ) Come, come to the banquet !|
|Servants||( return to owner ) Sir, We have done that. There is still room for more.|
|Owner||Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.|
|Servant1||( goes to back of church ) Come, come to the banquet !|
|Servant2||( Goes up to balcony, climbing stairs noisily ) Come, come to the banquet !|
|Narrator||Soon the house was full, and the banquet began.|
|( Actors go to the hospital side ready for next play. )|
|Leader||Please stand for the hymn :|
I cannot come.
|Leader ( if no one starts sitting down )||Please sit for the play.|
|( Guest 1 moves across to hospital side of table, Guest 2, Guest 3, Guest 4, Guest 5, Guest 6, Guest 7, Guest 8 meet Guest 1 there, and form a conversation group. When speaking, actors must make sure they are facing the congregation. )|
|Guest 1||Are you going to the banquet ?|
|All other actors ( Guest 2, Guest 3, Guest 4, Guest 5, Guest 6, Guest 7, Guest 8 )||Have you heard when it's to be ?|
|Guest 1||They're still preparing it.|
|As usual, they won't set a date until everything is ready.|
|Guest 1 ( to Guest 2 )||Are you going ?|
|Guest 2||I'm not sure - I'm so-o busy.|
|Guest 1 looks at Guest 3.|
|Guest 3||Depends what the weather's like. If it's a nice day I'll probably go to the beach.|
|Guest 1 looks at Guest 4.|
|Guest 4||Yes I'm going - I wouldn't miss it for anything.|
|Guest 1 looks at Guest 5.|
|Guest 5||Depends what else turns up.|
|Guest 1 looks at Guest 6.|
|Guest 6||No - I'm too busy coaching cricket to do anything else.|
|Guest 1 looks at Guest 7.|
|Guest 7||No way - I've nothing to wear.|
|Guest 1 ( to Guest 8. )||I suppose you're not going either ?|
|Guest 8||Oh, yes, I am ! All the family's going. We're so excited about the invitation. I can't understand why you are all making excuses, I think it might be a life-changing experience. Will we see you there ?|
|( Guests return to the back; Organist and Cantor prepare for the Psalm; Official sit at the hospital side ready for the play. )|
|Cantor||Please stand for the psalm.|
Preparing for the banquet
|Narrator||Please sit as we prepare the tables for the banquet.
The cloth represents God's covering of protection : a banner of love over us.
|( For each of the symbols carried to the altar in the following section : carry the symbol down the centre aisle, keeping at least two pews behind the person in front; at the altar, turn and show the symbol to the congregation; then place the symbol on the altar. )|
|( Carrier puts cross on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The cross represents salvation, redemption, forgiveness. Because God has forgiven us we are able to forgive others.|
|( Carrier puts wine on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The wine represents the blood of Christ : shed that we might be cleansed, washed whiter than snow.|
|( Carrier puts bread on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The bread represents the body of Christ - food and nourishment for our soul.|
|( Carrier puts water on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The water represents life - everlasting and in abundance, a spring of living water welling up within.|
|( Carrier puts oil on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The oil represents healing of body, soul and spirit.|
|( Carrier puts the Bible on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The Bible represents the Word of God which teaches us how to live together in harmony with God and man.|
|( Carrier puts fruit on the altar. )|
|Narrator||The fruit represents Christ living in us : His spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.|
|( Carrier puts candlesticks on the altar, and LIGHTS THE CANDLEs. )|
|Narrator||The candlesticks represent light - Jesus is the light of the world. We pass the light on to others.|
|( Freda, carrying a newspaper, comes noisily down the centre aisle asking people at random - )|
|Freda||Where's the free banquet ? I heard about the free banquet ! Where is it ? Someone told me about the free banquet ! ....|
|( Meets Official at the front. Most of the action following takes place on the hospital side but near the table )|
|Freda||Hey, you look intelligent - do you know anything about the free banquet ?|
|Official||Oh, yes - that's all arranged. Do you want to come ?|
|Freda||You bet I want to come ! I go for anything that's free. If anyone's fool enough to give away something for nothing, I'll take it. You can get all sorts of things if you keep your eyes open - free food, free drink, free rides, free samples - and inorganic rubbish days are glorious. All that free stuff ! It's agony.|
|Official||Agony ? I thought you liked it ?|
|Freda||Well, yes, but I can't take it all because I've nowhere to put it all, and I hate leaving it behind.|
|Official||Yes, I imagine that could be most distressing. But, look, Ms., .. er .. er ...|
|Freda||( offers card ) My card. It's free !|
|Official||Oh, thanks. ( Reads it. ) Well, Ms - er - Free Loader ? That's an unusual name.|
|Freda||( shyly ) Well, yes. My name's really Freda Loader, but anyone can make a spelling mistake, and I thought the other version suited my personality better.|
|Official||Yes, I see. But how do you find all this free stuff ?|
|Freda||That's easy - just keep looking at adverts. It's everywhere. ( Opens the newspaper, points at it as appropriate ) Look, there's free eye examination in Milford, free dinner in Onehunga, free concert in Mission Bay, free computing course in Waitakere ...|
|Official||Fascinating. But what about the transport costs ? Surely you can't get free transport everywhere all the time ?|
|Freda||That's true enough, and it's pretty expensive when you add it all up. But, like they say, you've got to suffer for freedom. And that's why I've got to get the free stuff - if it wasn't for that, I couldn't afford the bus fares.|
|Official||I've a feeling there's something a bit odd about that argument somewhere. But are there any other little problems ?|
|Freda||Well, yes. Confidentially ( moves a little closer ), a lot of it's rubbish. I suppose it's only free because they can't sell it. Or it's only free if you buy something else. Being a woman of principle I don't touch that sort of thing, but then there I am stuck in Waitakere or wherever. And then there are the people who deliberately mislead you.|
|Official||You mean they tell you lies ? That's not very nice.|
|( During Freda's story Phrenologist enters between them and the left wall and sets up the chair and "PHRENOLOGIST" banner ready for the "consultation", then waits. )|
|Freda||Maybe they're not exactly lies. But there was this chap who said that if I were so fond of free things I should see a Free nologist. I said anything free was good, but what was a nologist ? He said a phrenologist was someone who could tell your character from feeling the bumps on your head. Anyway, he gave me a telephone number and I made an appointment ...|
|( As Official drops back and waits for the episode to finish, Freda wanders over towards the left of the "stage", knocks on an invisible door [ Sound effects : knock, knock ]. Phrenologist "opens" it, shakes hands, welcomes her in, "shuts" the "door", leads her to the chair, moves behind her, and feels her head carefully with expressions of surprise and alarm. )|
|Phrenologist||Ms Loader, you have two bumps. They show that you are greedy and stupid.|
|Freda||( gratefully ) Thanks very much. ( She stands up, moves towards the "door", stops when - )|
|Phrenologist||HOI ! That will be $200, please.|
|Freda||Whaddaya mean, $200 ? If you're a free nologist, why do I have to pay ?|
|Phrenologist||( to congregation ) Obviously my diagnosis was correct. ( to Freda ) Yes, I'm a phrenologist, but I'm not a free phrenologist, I'm an expensive phrenologist. $200, please.|
|Freda||You mean I came all this way from Devonport for free stuff, and you expect to take $200 off me ? You've got a nerve ! $200 for being called greedy and stupid ?|
|Phrenologist||( Moving round Freda to between her and the "door" ) $200 for an expert diagnosis. Or you can have a free gift instead.|
|Freda||( Looking happier ) Well, that's better. What's the gift ?|
|Phrenologist||A brand new bump on your head, applied by an expert. And that one will show that you are in great pain.|
|Freda||( pays ) Caught again. ( pleadingly ) Can't I have just a little free gift ? Please ?|
|Phrenologist||Oh, all right. I'll give you a free addition to my diagnosis. Your bumps of greed and stupidity are EXTREMELY LARGE bumps.|
|Freda||( happily ) Oh, thank you, thank you !|
|( Goes off back to the other side; forgets the "door" [Sound effects : Thud], stops abruptly. Then tries again, carefully opening the door and slamming it behind her [Sound effects : Door slams] vindictively.
Freda returns to the conversation with Official.
As the play proceeds, Phrenologist quietly, and as unobtrusively as possible, takes down the "PHRENOLOGIST" banner, then goes to the back of the church by the side aisle. )
|Official||That's very sad. But you still keep looking for free stuff ?|
|Freda||I do. It's a sort of addiction now. All the old fire's gone; nothing is really free. There's always a catch : the stuff is useless, or it doesn't work, or it's just a trap to make you spend money on something else. But I can't stop now. So where's the free banquet ?|
|Official||Here, soon. Stick around. You might be surprised.|
|( Freda and Official go to the back. )|
The blessings are brought up and placed on the table. With each blessing are cut-out pieces of card with the corresponding Bible verse for people to collect later.
In the following section, "Carriers" pick up the blessings and Bible verse cut-outs item by item from the table at the back, come down the centre aisle, turn at the altar steps and show the blessing to the congregation, place it on the table, then return to the back down the hospital aisle. Use as many carriers as is convenient.
|Narrator||The Lord's banqueting table holds so many blessings.
Blessings that not only satisfy our physical needs but also blessings to satisfy our emotional and spiritual needs.
We have chosen a few of these blessings to place on the table this morning.
Each blessing is a verse from the Bible.
Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path. Psalm 119 v 105.
|Carrier places lamp and Bible verse cards on table.|
|Narrator||For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal Life. John 3 v 16.|
|Carrier places heart on the table.|
|Narrator||For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is our sins are forgiven. Ephesians 3 v 7.|
|Carrier places Crucifix on the table.|
|Narrator||Jesus said "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11 v 28.|
|Carrier places the burden at the foot of the Cross.|
|Narrator||For I am the Lord who heals you. Exodus 15 v 26.|
|Carrier places 'red cross' on the table.|
|Narrator||The Lord says "I am the one who comforts you." Isaiah 51 v 12.|
|Carrier places the hot-water bottle on the table.|
|Narrator||I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4 v 8.|
|Carrier places the poster on the table.|
|Narrator||I know that Your goodness and mercy will be with me all my life. Psalm 23 v 6.|
|Carrier places picture on the table.|
|Narrator||He provides food for those who honour Him. Psalm 111 v 5.|
|Carrier places provision basket on the table.|
|Narrator||Give to others and God will give to you. A full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be given to you. Luke 6 v 38.|
|Carrier places vase on table and fills it to overflowing with 'seed'.|
|Narrator||If any of you lack wisdom, you should ask God and it will be given to you. James 1 v 5.|
|Carrier places owl on the table.|
|Narrator||The joy of the Lord is your great strength. Nehemiah 8 v 10.|
|Carrier places "sparklers" on the table.|
|Narrator||Jesus said "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you." John 14 v 27.|
|Carrier places dove on the table.|
|Leader||Please stand for the hymn :|
My beloved is mine and I am His.
|Actor performs actions during the hymn.
During this hymn Leader goes to the back, and Preacher comes to lectern ready to give the message.
After the banquet
|( Official comes down centre aisle and Freda come down another aisle to meet at the front. )|
|Official||Hello, Free ! How was the banquet ?|
|Official||Confusing ? How was that ?|
|Freda||Well, it was so straightforward. There've always been catches or traps before, and there weren't any. It was a really good meal, and it really was free, and I haven't had to sign anything.|
|Official||What's wrong with that ?|
|Freda||I couldn't find the ulterior motive. They even said I could come back again any time, almost as if they liked me.|
|Official||Perhaps they do.|
|Freda||I'm not used to it. Free stuff always has a hook in it, but this didn't. And it was really enjoyable. I actually enjoyed it !|
|Official||Maybe we'll be seeing you again, then, Free ?|
|Freda||Maybe you will. ( thoughtfully ) You know, when you really do get a free gift, you want to return it. Maybe I could help somehow. ( shyly ) And - er - call me Freda.|
|Official||Of course, if that's what you want. But why the change ?|
|Freda||It was a bit of a silly joke really. And I'm not very proud of trying to get something for nothing for all this time.|
|Official||That's all past now. I hope we'll see you often, Freda.|
|Freda||Oh, I think you will. FREEquently.|
|( Official and Freda move to the back; Guest 1 and Guest 6 meet at the front )|
|Guest 1||Well, did you go ?|
|Guest 1||Neither did I, but Joe went and he said it was great. I wish now that I'd gone.|
|Guest 6||Why ? What was so special about it ?|
|Guest 1||Well, Joe said that there was all this information about the blessings of God.|
|Guest 6||Oh, that old stuff !|
|Guest 1||No, but really, Joe said it changed his life. He suddenly realised that people in God's family receive blessings from God - blessings such as forgiveness, love, joy, peace, and heaps more. And he decided that he was fed up with this rat-race and wanted those blessings too.|
|Guest 6||You mean Joe joined that lot ?|
|Guest 1||Yes, and he's enjoying life so much better, and his family are so much happier too.|
|Guest 6||Oh, families ! I'm fed up with my family. Each day is like a battlefield.|
|Guest 1||Yes, it's like that at our place too. That's why I keep away as much as possible. But Joe says that now he's seen what Jesus has to offer and has taken it on board, he finds he's full of love, joy and peace, and able to cope with the family rows - and anyway they're decreasing all the time.|
|Guest 6||I want to be at peace with my family. Is it too late ?|
|Guest 1||No, because one of the blessings is forgiveness, I'm going to the banqueting table to ask God to forgive my wrong-doing and to help me become more like Jesus.|
|Guest 6||I think I'll come too. ( both move to table and kneel and say : )|
|Guest 1 and Guest 6||Lord, forgive us and help us to be better people. ( Stand and move to the table ) We take from this table these verses to remind us of Your blessings. ( Take one or two verses. )|
|( Guest 1 and Guest 6 return to the back )|
|Leader||After the next hymn we invite those of you who would like to come before God and receive His blessings to come and take one or more of the "blessings" from the table.
Please sit or kneel for the hymn :
|PAUSE for people to come forward. If the pause is too long Leader is to offer the invitation to come forward again. It helps to have a few cast members set an example.
When all who wish to do so have taken their "blessings" and returned top their seats :
||Together we pray :
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
||Please stand for the hymn :|
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
which we shall sing twice.
We invite you to join us for a cuppa in the Hall at the end of this service.