Service with a Smile
Eliza: A news reporter. Could be dressed in either Biblical clothes or modern day clothes. Either way, she should have a hand held microphone. Throughout the interview, as Mary and Martha "overtake" the interview at times, she is frantically passing the microphone from one person to the next, trying to catch the next line.
Mary: Martha's sister. A bit of a jokester. Thinks Martha takes things way too seriously. She can wear either Biblical or modern day clothing.
Martha: Mary's sister. The serious one, usually, but can crack a joke. She thinks Mary doesn't take enough responsibility. Martha can wear either Biblical or modern day clothing, but either way, she should wear a well worn/used apron.
Setting and props: A news studio. A desk/table sits center stage with three chairs behind it. At the beginning of the scene, the stage is in blackout. Eliza sits in the center chair with a microphone.
A paper bag, with an apron inside, but the apron cannot be seen. Martha carries this on stage with her. This could also be a gift bag.
Eliza: Good evening. This is Eliza Higgins, reporting for Channel Five News. Tonight, my guests are Mary and Martha, who recently had a very special guest at their house. Mary and Martha, come on out!
(Mary and Martha enter stage left. Martha carries the paper bag. Before sitting down, she pulls out a dust rag and wipes down the news table and chairs. She puts the bag on the floor and sits down to the left of Eliza. Mary sits in the remaining chair.)
Martha: Thank you. We're pleased to be here.
Mary: Thank you, Eliza. Eliza. Hmmm.... Is that some weird combination of Elijah and Elisha? You must be their sister or something.
Eliza: Well, seeing as they weren't brothers....
Martha: And the fact that Elijah and Elisha lived hundreds of years ago....
Mary: Oh. Good point.
Eliza (ignoring Mary's comment): So anyway, you two recently had a special guest at your house, Jesus of Nazareth. Tell me about that.
Mary It was so... (in unison with Martha's line) wonderful!
Martha (In unison with Mary's "wonderful."): ...Exhausting!
Eliza(Looks from Martha to Mary and back to Martha): In what way?
Martha: Well, you know, the house had to be perfect, and the food, and the fellowship, and...
Eliza: Why did it have to be perfect?
Martha (Seriously, in unison with Mary): Because Jesus is perfect!
Mary (Mockingly, in unison with Martha): Because Jesus is perfect! (more seriously) I tried to tell her that Jesus wouldn’t mind, but she wouldn’t listen. I told her she would just stress herself out. She did.
Martha (Defensively): I did not!
Mary (Turning to Eliza) Ask her what she does when she gets too stressed and needs some "private time."
Eliza: I'm not sure I want to know....
Martha: Well, sometimes things get just a bit overwhelming, with all the housekeeping, and with the other family members there, I can't always escape. So I flip my apron over my head and kneel down and pray. It's like my own private tent.
Eliza: You... what?
Martha: Like this. (flips apron over her head, kneels down, and starts praying/mumbling, then flips the apron back) See?
Eliza: That's... fascinating. So let's move on. Tell me about your visit with Jesus.
Mary: Well, when He came, I immediately led him to the bench and sat down at His feet.
Martha: Leaving ME to do ALL the work. Luckily for me, though, this apron has super powers. Any apron, actually.
Martha: Really. When I put my apron on, I feel like I can accomplish almost anything. I feel like I can clean, and cook, and decorate, and... everything. But even that wasn't enough. I mean, this was JESUS we were talking about.
Mary: So she tossed her spare apron at my face and asked... No, she begged me to help her.
Martha: I'll admit, I was a bit mad. I said, "Jesus, don't you care that my sister has left me to do ALL the work? Tell her to help me!"
Eliza: And what did Jesus say?
Martha: He said... He said (sighs, resignedly) "Martha, you are so worried about many things. But Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will not be taken away from her."
Mary And you know what she did next? She huffed away and went right back to working.
(Throughout Mary and Martha's next lines, Eliza looks back and forth between Mary and Martha, getting more and more nervous)
Martha (Building in intensity as she speaks): Now Mary, you know I couldn't just leave the house like that. I had food to prepare. Dishes to clean. Favors to prepare. I mean, I couldn’t let Jesus think that I was a poor hostess. You're lucky I didn't tie that apron around your neck and drag you..... (Pause. Takes a deep breath, regaining composure.) Now where was I? Oh. Yes. Well, I did go back and finish making preparations. And I'll admit, I was a bit preoccupied, and maybe just a little bit stressed....
Mary (indignantly): A bit? If those fish hadn't already been dead, I'm pretty sure she would have beaten and cursed them to death right there on the counter. And if potatoes had feelings....
Martha (Sheepishly/embarrassedly): Oh. (Twirls her hair in her finger) You heard that?
Mary I tried to speak loudly enough so Jesus didn't hear, but...
Eliza (Jumping in quickly): So! Tell me a bit more. What happened next?
Martha: Well, I finally finished everything and invited Jesus and Mary to recline at the table.
Mary (laughing): You should have seen her. She was completely covered in flour. She looked albino.
Martha: When we finally sat down, it hit me. Here I was, spending all my time preparing a meal for Jesus. He didn't care that I was covered in flour. He didn't care how the house looked, and he didn't care about the food. I was so preoccupied about having a perfect meal that I forgot about our guest. I completely missed Him. So I finally sat down and just listened to Him. It was like He took the weight of everything I was doing off of my shoulders. I apologized for ignoring Him earlier. He just chuckled, and repeated what He said earlier. This time I let it sink in.
Mary We both did. I don't know how much time we spent, just listening to Him and talking to Him.
Martha: It seemed like hours and hours, but at the same time, it seemed like it was just a few seconds. I could have sat there forever. When He left, it was all over too soon.
Eliza: So what happened after He left?
Mary (begrudgingly): That's when Martha got her revenge.
Martha: That's right. I took off my apron and tossed it right at her. (Martha takes off her apron, wads it up, and tosses it past Eliza to Mary, hitting her in the face [if possible/desired] "Your turn!"
Mary Can you believe she made me do ALL the cleanup, all by myself??
Eliza: Actually, I think I can. So did Martha's apron have any super powers for you?
Mary: I don't think so. I think that superhero power only works for hyper people. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get fish guts out of stoneware?
Eliza: I'd rather not imagine, actually. (Pause) Well, I hate to say it, but we are almost out of time. Before we end, why don't you tell us what you learned. What will you do differently next time you have a special guest at your house?
Mary: You know, it's not that service is bad, or anything like that. Serving others is great. I think I learned that I could help Martha just a little bit more before the gathering, so we can both enjoy our time with our guests.
Martha: I'll try to remember that a big part of service is just spending time with the guests. What our guests really want is our fellowship. So if everything with the house and meal isn't perfect by the time the guests arrive, I'll let it go and enjoy the time with my guests. And I'll even help Mary with the cleanup afterwards.
Eliza: So you're saying that service should have a spiritual aspect to it? (Mary and Martha nod in agreement.) (Enthusiastically) Wow! That IS news!
Martha: Before we go, we have a gift for you, Eliza.
Eliza: A gift? Why, I...
(Martha pulls out the apron from her paper bag and tosses it to Eliza. You could also have an actual gift bag for Eliza to open.)
Eliza: My very own apron? Wow! (Eliza puts on the apron backwards, like a cape, stands, and strikes a superhero pose, possibly even standing on the interview desk/chair/both) I am... APRON MAN! (Holds pose)
Martha: Uh... wouldn't that be Apron Woman?
Eliza (Breaks pose to address Martha): Hey! This is MY alter-ego here. Besides. I've always been a tomboy. I can be whoever I want to be.
Martha (In unison with Mary's next line): Uh... Yes Sir!
Mary (In unison with Martha's line above): Uh... Yes Ma'am!
(Mary and Martha exchange glances)
Martha (In unison with Mary's next line): Uh... Yes Ma'am!
Mary (In unison with Martha's line above): Uh... Yes Sir.... (pause) whoever you are.
Eliza: (Strikes pose again): This is Apron Man... (regains composure, turns apron around, sits, and dusts herself off) I mean, this is Eliza Higgins, with Channel Five News. Join me next time, as I interview Ruth and Naomi and talk about their journeys. Until then, this is Eliza Higgins, signing off. Good night.
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