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TRUST JESUS TODAY

TRY THE TEST





TITLE: All Things Work Together
By Jason James
04/22/09
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First, this is more of a play than a skit, but it seems to fit here more than in screen plays as it's not intended as a movie. This is my first play so any and all criticism is welcome. Finally, this is an Easter play. The setting alternates between Jerusalem on the day of Jesus's crucifixion, and a small town during the present.
ACT I

SCENE 1

At RISE: (A hill in Jerusalem. Itís nine oíclock in the morning. A single cross stands at center. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his head.)

VOICE 1 (O.S.)
Crucify him!

VOICE 2 (O.S.)
You saved others, now save yourself!

VOICE 1 (O.S.)
If youíre the messiah then prove it. Save yourself.

VOICE 2 (O.S.)
Save yourself, king of the Jews!

JESUS
(Lifting his head.)
Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.

(Blackout.)



















SCENE 2

At RISE: (The interior of a church sanctuary. Sunday morning. PASTOR BLACKWELL stands behind his pulpit upstage and center. On either side of the center aisle are three rows of pews, angled toward the center of the stage. MATTHEW sits in the middle pew on the right side of the church. He is obviously distracted, sneaking several glances across the aisle at EMILY BAKER. He sits next to his mom and dad, MR. and MRS. WALLACE. MRS. COLLINS and MRS. PIERCE sit in the pew behind them. EMILY BAKER sits in the middle pew on the left side of the church and, like MATTHEW, she is stealing looks across the aisle, although they are far less frequent and certainly more furtive. EMILYíS father, MR. BAKER, sits next to her. MR. and MRS. WALSH sit one row behind the BAKERS.)



PASTOR BLACKWELL
At this time, letís all stand and greet one another with the peace of Christ.

(Everyone rises. MATTHEW and EMILY find each other in the center aisle. The rest of the CONGREGATION freezes in tableau.)

MATTHEW
Did you talk to your dad?

EMILY
Yeah, I told him this morning.

MATTHEW
What did he say?

MR. BAKER
(Stepping between MATTHEW and EMILY, and taking EMILY by the arm.)
I told Emily to stay away from you.

MATTHEW
But Mr. Baker Ė

MR. BAKER
I mean it Matthew. Keep away from my daughter.

(The CONGREGATION comes back to life and returns to their places.)

PASTOR BLACKWELL
Now let us present our tithes and offerings.

(Once again the congregation freezes in tableau as MRS. COLLINS and MRS. PIERCE begin to talk.)

MRS. COLLINS
Did you hear about the Baker girl?

MRS. PIERCE
I did and I think itís shameful. The whole thing is a shame. She was such a nice girl.

MRS. COLLINS
Well I donít know what Bob and Carol were thinking, letting her spend her time with that boy. What did they expect would happen?

MRS. PIERCE
Shameful. The whole thing is just shameful.

(MATTHEW turns around in his pew to look back at MRS. COLLINS and MRS. PIERCE. They fail to notice him. A moment later and the whole CONGREGATION returns to life.)

PASTOR BLACKWELL
Please bow your heads and join me as we go to the Lord in prayer.

(The CONGREGATION freezes in tableau as MR. and MRS. WALSH begin to talk.)

MRS. WALSH
You donít think theyíll get married, do you?


MR. WALSH
(His voice dripping in sarcasm.)
Oh, Bob would just love that.

MRS. WALSH
I hope they donít. I mean, I guess itís the right thing to do, but Emilyís already ruined her future, you know. The last thing she needs to do now is get stuck with him for the rest of her life.

MR. WALSH
Donít worry about that. Matt Wallace and doing the right thing donít exactly go together.

(MATTHEW turns to look back at MR. and MRS. WALSH, but like before, they fail to notice him. A moment passes and then once again the CONGREGATION returns to life.)


PASTOR BLACKWELL
Let us prepare our hearts and minds to hear the word of the Lord.

(The CONGREGATION freezes in tableau again as MRS. COLLINS and MRS. PIERCE begin to talk.)

MRS. COLLINS
And you know Bob and Carolís hearts must be breaking.

MRS. PIERCE
Itís a shame. Weíll just have to keep the whole family in our prayers.

MRS. COLLINS
Of course I donít blame Emily Like the Bible says, ďBad company corrupts good character,Ē if you know what I mean.

MRS. PIERCE
Shameful. Just shameful.

MATTHEW
(Standing up and turning to face MRS. COLLINS and MRS. PIERCE as the whole CONGREGATION returns to life.)
Both of you need to shut-up! Now!

MR. WALLACE
(Standing up and putting his hand on MATTHEWíS shoulder.)
Thatís enough, Matthew!

MATTHEW
No Dad! Iím not going to sit here and listen to these two old hags Ė

MRS. PIERCE
Why I never Ė

MRS. COLLINS
How dare you!

MR. WALLACE
I said thatís enough, Matt. Now apologize and sit down.

MATTHEW
Iím not apologizing to them, and Iím not apologizing to the Walshes, or Mr. Baker, or anyone else in this church thatís got a problem with me.
(Pulls away from his father and exits. Blackout.)






SCENE 3

At RISE: (A hill in Jerusalem. It is late morning. A single cross still stands in the center of the stage. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his head.)

VOICE 1 (O.S.)
Save yourself messiah. Step down off your cross, and while youíre at it, save us as well.

VOICE 2 (O.S.)
This man is innocent, and still you mock him! Have you no fear of God? You and I are guilty of our crimes, and we are being punished for them as we deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.
(Pause.)
Jesus, remember me.

JESUS
(Looking to his left.)
I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.

(Blackout.)























SCENE 4
At RISE: (The WALLACEíS dining room. Itís Saturday evening and time for dinner. MR. WALLACE and MRS. WALLACE sit at opposite ends of their dining room table. MATT and his good friend SEAN EWING are seated between them. The table is set for dinner.)

SEAN
Thanks again for dinner, Mrs. Wallace. Everything was delicious.

MRS. WALLACE
Youíre welcome Sean. You know youíre always welcome here
(Awkward pause.)

MR. WALLACE
(Never looking up from his plate.)
So, are you going to church tomorrow?

MATTHEW
(Also staring down at his plate.)
Wasnít planning on it.

MRS. WALLACE
Will, not now Ė

MR. WALLACE
How long has it been? Six? Seven weeks?

MATTHEW
I donít know. Youíre the only one counting, Dad.

(Another awkward pause.)

SEAN
Well, I gotta say it. Personally, Iím proud of Matthew.

MR. WALLACE
(Looking up from his plate for the first time to stare hard at SEAN.)
What was that?



SEAN
Itís just that our little Mattyís finally growing up and thinking for himself. I mean, to be perfectly honest, Iím a little surprised that you and Mrs. Wallace still believe in all that stuff.

MR. WALLACE
What stuff is that, Sean?

SEAN
Listen, Iím not trying to offend you guys, but you and Mrs. Wallace are educated people. Iím just saying you should know better.
(Sigh of resignation as Mr. and Mrs. Wallace stare back in disbelief.)

Listen, from our very start, mankind has been inventing God. Itís recognized as a basic psychological need. I mean, lets face it, the universe is a big, scary place and it helps to pretend that someone is in charge of the whole thing. Doesnít matter if you call him Zeus, or Brahma, or Yahweh.

MRS. WALLACE
(Turning to MATTHEW.)
And you agree with all this?

MATTHEW
Yeah. I mean it makes sense, doesnít it?

SEAN
A million years ago some caveman sees snow for the first time, or lightning, or a supernova, and he needs to explain those things away, so he makes up God. But now we have science. There are no more miracles, just facts. Unless you want to totally ignore, I donít know, fossils, telescopes, physics?

MR. WALLACE
Let me tell you something Sean, just because you can measure something with science doesnít make it any less of a miracle.

MATTHEW
Thatís not really what heís talking about, Dad. Listen, itís like, whenís the last time youíve seen somebody walk on water? When have you ever seen the Red Sea split in two? Those miracles donít happen anymore, and if they donít happen now, what makes you think they happened back then? The bottom line is thereís no proof that God exists.

MRS. WALLACE
Let me ask you two then, do you believe that black holes exist?

SEAN
We donít need to believe they exist, Mrs. Wallace; we know they exist.

MRS. WALLACE
Oh really? Well, how do you know? We canít see them, so how do you know they exist?

MATTHEW
We know they exist because we can see their effects. The gravity of a black hole affects everything around it.

MRS. WALLACE
Oh, so thatís all it takes? You have to see the effects? Funny, because I canít see God either, but I feel His effects everyday.

MATTHEW
Thatís nice for you mom, but I havenít seen any effects of God in my life. All I have is a lot of questions without any answers. So where does that leave me? Does God exist for you, but not for me?

MRS. WALLACE
No Matt, even if I didnít see God working in my life I would still believe in him, because thatís what faith is. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.



MR. WALLACE
But thatís not good enough for you two, is it? Thatís because faith is a miracle, all by itself, and there are no miracles anymore, right? I said isnít that right, Matthew?

MATTHEW
(Standing up.)
Letís go Sean.

(SEAN stands up and exits left.)

MRS. WALLACE
(Standing up.)
Where are you going Matt?

(MATTHEW starts to exit left.)

MATTHEW
Out.

MR. WALLACE
(Standing up.)
Matthew Ė

MATTHEW
(Stops and turns back to his parents.)
If I wanted to get preached at Dad, Iíd still be going to church.
(Exits left.)

MR. WALLACE
(Softly.)
Be careful.

(Blackout.)

SCENE 5

At RISE: (A hill in Jerusalem. It is still late morning. A single cross stands in the center of the stage. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his head.)

VOICE 3 (O.S.)
(Grieving.)
Jesus.

JESUS
(Looking down and to his left.)
Dear woman, here is your son now.
(Turning his eyes down and to his right.)
John.

VOICE 1 (O.S.)
Yes, Lord.

JESUS
(Still looking down and to his right.)
Here is your mother.

(Blackout.)




















SCENE 6

At RISE: (The interior of a hospital room, shortly after 11:00 p.m. In a single bed, at center stage, lies EMILY BAKER. She is pale and weak. DR. REYNOLDS stands next to the bed obviously concerned as he and EMILY speak quietly. An empty chair is also pulled up close to the side of the bed. MATTHEW enters slowly from right. He sees EMILY and freezes in place still several paces away from the bedside. DR. REYNOLDS notices MATTHEW standing just inside the doorway, and crosses to him.)

DR. REYNOLDS
(Good-naturedly as he crosses to greet Matthew.)
You must be Matt. Iíve heard a lot about you from Emily. Have you had a chance to see your daughter yet?

MATTHEW
(Hesitant, glancing from Dr. Reynolds to Emily.)
No, I . . . they brought me right in here.

DR. REYNOLDS.
(His voice dropping and his tone becoming serious.)
Itís because Emily asked to see you. Your daughterís fine, but Emily lost a lot of blood during the birth. That bleeding still hasnít stopped on its own. Weíre getting her ready for surgery now, but she wanted to see you first. Do you understand what Iím telling you, Matt?

MATTHEW
I mean, sheíll be fine, right? This sort of thing is just a common Ė

DR. REYNOLDS
No, itís not. Itís not common. Hopefully sheíll be fine. Sheís a fighter, but right now things are very serious.
(Pause.)

Weíll be coming to take her up to surgery in a couple of minutes.
(Exit right.)


MATTHEW
(Crossing to the bed and sitting down in the chair.)
How are you feeling?

EMILY
(Sounding weak and tired.)
Matt, our daughter is so beautiful. Iíve never seen a baby so beautiful. I guess everyone says that, but I really think she is. I named her Hope, after my grandmother. I know we didnít talk about it, but I thought Ė

MATTHEW
No, I like it. Itís perfect.

EMILY
But I didnít give her a middle name yet. I was thinking . . . I just thought that you could pick it out, okay?

MATTHEW
Listen Emily Ė

EMILY
Matt, if something happens to meĖ

MATTHEW
Nothingís going to happen. Youíre going to be fine.

EMILY
No, listen. If Iím not . . . I want my Mom and Dad to take care of Hope. Itís nothing against you, Matt; itís just . . . They could give her so much, you know? I talked to them about it and they said they would.

MATTHEW
Whatever you want Ė

EMILY
But Matt, youíre still her father. You understand that too, right? Sheís going to need you. Donít let her lose both of us, okay?

(Looking up at MATTHEW.)
Promise me, Matt.

MATTHEW
I promise.



NURSE
(Enters right carrying a baby.)
Emily.

(Crosses to the bed and hands the baby to EMILY. Exits right.)

EMILY
(Still looking up at Matthew.)
Matt, would you like to meet your daughter?

(Turning her eyes back to the baby.)
And can you say ďhiĒ to your daddy? Can you say ďhiĒ little one?

MATTHEW
(Reaching over to hold the babyís hand.)
Sheís beautiful, Emily.

EMILY
(Pause. Still looking down at the baby. She starts to sing almost as a lullaby.)

(NURSE enters right. EMILY hands the baby to MATTHEW. MATTHEW turns all his attention to the baby as the NURSE busies herself around EMILYíS bed, preparing her to leave for the operating room.)

(ORDERLIES enter to assist with EMILY. ORDERLIES and NURSE exit right with EMILY. Lights dim. Spot stays on Matthew)

DR. REYNOLDS
(Enters right. Heís tired and stops just inside the door.)
Matt . . .
(MATTHEW looks up and meets the eyes of DR. REYNOLDS. Neither speaks. DR. REYNOLDS lowers his eyes and exits right.)

EMILY
(Enters right. MATTHEW does not respond to her entrance. Instead he continues to look down at his newborn daughter. Emily is walking now and wearing a simple white dress.)

(EMILY crosses to MATTHEW and the baby. She kisses both MATTHEW and the baby. Neither MATTHEW nor the baby respond.)

(JESUS enters left. He is no longer wearing the crown of thorns. He appears peaceful. He holds both his hands open at his sides.)

(EMILY turns all her attention to JESUS standing at the far left. She is filled with joy and peace as she slowly begins walking to JESUS. From this moment on, she no longer looks back to MATTHEW or the baby.)

(EMILY reaches JESUS. She takes hold of his hand as he leads her off stage left.)


NURSE
(Enters right.)
I can take her, if you want.

MATTHEW
(Looks up from the baby. He stands and crosses to the nurse, handing her the baby.)
Yeah, sure. Thank you.

NURSE
Have you decided on a middle name yet?

MATTHEW
Itís Emily, after her mom.

NURSE
Thatís nice. I think she wouldíve liked that.

MATTHEW
Listen, can you keep her? I gotta . . . I have to get out of here.

NURSE
(Understanding.)
Sure.

(MATTHEW exits right. Blackout.)



















SCENE 7

At RISE: (A hill in Jerusalem. Itís early in the afternoon. A single cross stands in the center of the stage. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his bowed head.)

JESUS
(Raising his head to the far away sky. With a tremendous effort, he cries out in anguish.)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

(Blackout.)
































SCENE 8

At RISE: (A deserted street. Itís the middle of the night, or, more appropriately, very early morning. MATTHEW stands under the solitary light of a street lamp.

STRANGER
(Enters right. He walks directly to MATTHEW holding two bottles in two separate brown paper bags. He hands one to MATTHEW before unscrewing the top of his own bottle and lifting it in a ďtoastĒ to the young man.)
Thanks again.

MATTHEW
(Taking the bottle and unscrewing the top as he returns the STRANGERíS ďtoastĒ.)
Yeah. Enjoy it, buddy.

MR. BAKER
(Enters left, looking up and down the street. He is walking with another OLDER MAN, obviously a friend. As they walk, MR. BAKER freezes. He sees MATTHEW. He crosses quickly to the boy, seething with a cold anger.)
There you are.

MATTHEW
(Looking up and recognizing MR. BAKER.)
Mr. Baker, listen Ė

(Before he can say another word, MR. BAKER punches MATTHEW in the jaw, sending him staggering to the ground.)

MR. BAKER
(Still standing over MATTHEW.)
I shouldíve known! You Ė
(Catching himself.)
My wife is sitting in the hospital with your daughter, our granddaughter. And my baby girl is lying . . . sheís dead, Matthew! Sheís dead, and here you are, getting drunk in the street!

MATTHEW
(Sitting up on the sidewalk.)
Mr. Baker Ė

MR. BAKER
Donít you dare! You donít get to say anything to me. You took her from us, and now . . . She had so much, and you took it away . . . And look at you, youíre nothing.

OLDER MAN
(Stepping in to take MR. BAKER by the arm, almost dragging him away.)
Címon Bob. Itís not worth it. Címon.

MR. BAKER
(Halfheartedly struggling against the OLDER MAN as heís lead off left.)
You should be the one lying in that morgue! It should be you! Youíre nothing! You hear me? Youíre worthless! It shouldíve been you!

(MR. BAKER and the OLDER MAN exit left.)

MATTHEW
(He is sitting alone now beneath a solitary streetlight.)
Heís right.

(Looking up, his voice rising.)
You hear me? I said heís right. It shouldíve been me.

(Blackout. End ACT I.)

































ACT II

SCENE 1

At RISE: (A hill in Jerusalem. Itís early in the afternoon. A single cross stands in the center of the stage. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his bowed head.)

VOICE 1 (O.S.)
Look at him

VOICE 2 (O.S.)
(In mockery)
The King of the Jews!

VOICE 1 (O.S.)
He wonít be king of anyone much longer.

JESUS
(Rousing himself)
I thirst.

(Blackout.)





















SCENE 2

At RISE: (We return to the same time and place as the close of Act I. It is the middle of the night on an abandoned street. MATTHEW still sits on the sidewalk, recovering from MR. BAKERíS punch. The STRANGER stands off to the side, staring down at MATTHEW. There is a light smile on The STRANGERíS face, suggesting both amusement and understanding.)

STRANGER
Is what that man said the truth?

MATTHEW
(Looking up, more frustrated with himself than the question.)
Yeah, itís the truth. Every word.

STRANGER
Well then, I suppose congratulations are in order!

MATTHEW
(Laughing bitterly to himself.)
For what part? For being worthless or better off dead?

STRANGER
(Chuckling to himself.)
Nah, neither one of those. I meant congratulations on being a new daddy!

MATTHEW
(Still with sarcasm.)
Yeah, for being a daddy. Let me tell you, itís great.

STRANGER
Oh, I see. So you donít wanna be a daddy.

MATTHEW
No, itís not that. Itís . . . Itís just. . . Listen, Iím the last person who should be a father.

STRANGER
Well what should or shouldnít be donít much matter now. Facts are you is.

MATTHEW
Listen, you donít know me.

STRANGER
Oh, I donít know about that. I bet I know you more than you think. Like I can see all that guilt youíre carrying around. Just wearing it around your neck like itís some kind of badge of honor. Like youíre proud of it or something. And Iím smart enough to know thereís only one man ever did make it through this life perfect. As far as I can tell, you ainít him.

MATTHEW
(Snapping.)
You donít think I know that.

STRANGER
(Staying perfectly calm, his voice unchanging.)
Well now, maybe you did or maybe you didnít. Either way it had to be said. Now you can go ahead and get on with it.

MATTHEW
Get on with what?

STRANGER
(Laughing.)
Get on with what the rest of us mere mortals do everyday; every single time we make a mistake. We ask for forgiveness. We say weíre sorry; we ask the good Lord for another chance, and then we try our best to do it just a little bit better. I mean after all, thatís what life is right, one big trial and error?

MATTHEW
You donít understand.

STRANGER
Why you keep assuming I donít know nothing? I certainly donít have the most

(Contíd.)
STRANGER (Contíd.)
education, but then again, I donít see anyone handing out PhDís in love, so maybe I understand just right. Maybe you donít understand. Let me ask you something. Whatís your daughterís name?

MATTHEW
My . . . ? We named her Hope.

STRANGER
(Smiling to himself at the name.)
You say Hope?

(MATTHEW nods.)
Now thatís a sweet name. One of the sweetest a child can get, I think. Right up there with Faith and Love.

(Laughing at his own joke.)
Well let me ask you something about little Hope. Have you held your daughter in your arms yet?

MATTHEW
Yeah, I have. Just for a couple of minutes . . .

STRANGER
Now tell me, when you was looking down at little Hope, did you love that little girl?

MATTHEW
Yeah. More than anything.

STRANGER
See that! And she ainít done a thing yet, and here you are, loving her like that. No reason for it. It just is. Now let me ask you something else . . . what would that little girl have to do to make you stop loving her?

MATTHEW
(Laughing quietly to himself.)
Nothing. Thereís nothing in the world. Not even if she tried.

STRANGER
And thatís the smartest thing youíve said yet. Sounds like you understand this love thing pretty good too. And think about it, youíre just guilty, messed-up, old you.

MATTHEW
Yeah, I guess, but. . .


STRANGER
Now tell me something else, donít you think our heavenly father can love like that? Son, heís dying to love you like that.

MATTHEW
(Softening.)
Look, I hear what youíre saying, but . . .

STRANGER
Yeah, you hear what Iím saying, but you ainít listening. Youíre too busy hearing me with your ears and with your head. But you keep on listening and sooner or later youíll hear me where you need to. ĎCourse it wonít be me youíre hearing at all.

(The STRANGER takes another swig from his bottle, then turns to leave.)
Anyway, I think I oughtta get home myself. You take care now, son, and you tell little Hope weíll be praying for her.

MATTHEW
(Fumbling in his pocket for a few dollar bills.)
Listen . . . here, take this. You can use it for another . . .

(He points to the convenience store.)

STRANGER
Nah!

(Taking a bottle of soda out of the bag.)
I can only have one a night. The caffeine gets to me after a while, you know.

MATTHEW
(Dumbfounded.)
I . . . I mean I thought . . .

STRANGER
(Smirking to himself.)
Yeah I know what you thought. I let you think it. But it donít matter. You just go on and take care of that little girl, and you go and take care of yourself too, and . . . I guess I never did catch your name.

MATTHEW
Itís Matt.

STRANGER
Well Matt, weíll be praying for you too.

(The STRANGER exits left, singing quietly to himself. Matthew watches him go. Blackout.)
































SCENE 3

At RISE: (A hill in Jerusalem. Itís still early in the afternoon. A single cross stands in the center of the stage. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his bowed head.)

JESUS
(Looking up to heaven and calling out in a loud voice.)
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

(Blackout.)
































SCENE 4

At RISE: (The interior of the church sanctuary. It looks exactly as it did in ACT I SCENE 2, only itís darker now and empty of people, as it is the middle of the night. MATTHEW enters the church from right and quietly steals up the middle aisle. He sits in his usual seat, second pew, right side, closest to the aisle. He is obviously awkward in the abandoned church and would just as soon leave, but even so, he forces himself to stay. He thinks about praying, but he canít. Instead he sits in silence, staring toward the front of the church, but looking at nothing in particular. After a few moments PASTOR BLACKWELL enters the church from right. He walks in silence up the middle aisle and MATTHEW fails to notice him until PASTOR BLACKWELL sits down in the pew across the aisle.)

PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Speaking as he sits down in the pew.)
I thought Iíd keep the church unlocked tonight, just in case. Still never thought Iíd see you.

MATTHEW
(Starts to get up.)
Yeah, I guess itís been a while . . .

PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Holding up his hand to stop MATTHEW.)
Sit down, Matt. I learned a long time ago not to take church attendance personal. Besides, itís good that youíre here.

(Quietly, as if speaking almost to himself.)
You know, I used to sit over here for hours after Abby passed away. I didnít mind that it was quiet here. . . Youíre not old enough to remember Abigail, are you?

MATTHEW
No, I remember Mrs. Blackwell. She taught our Sunday school for a year.

PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Almost speaking to himself.)
Thatís right. I forgot she did that . . . You know itís funny, Matt, but it never seems to hurt any less. I guess it just hurts less frequent. You know, something like that happens and at first, itís all you can think about. But then, after a while, you go a couple days, sometimes even a couple weeks, and you just donít think about it. But then you get a day like today, and it all comes back, and every time it always feels the same. I know you were young when it happened, but do you remember anything about Abbyís accident . . . ?

MATTHEW
No, not really. I mean, I remember my mom telling me about it, and I remember her crying a lot, but thatís about it.

PASTOR BLACKWELL
Well let me tell you, those first few days after the accident were bad. I was a mess. I couldnít sleep. Couldnít think. I couldnít do anything. Itís like I was walking through a fog, just waiting to wake up. I didnít know what to do, so eventually, after those first few days went by I thought Iíd start back to work; Iíd try and force myself back into some kind of routine. Problem was I wasnít ready to go back to work. I couldnít be a pastor to anybody. But I kept at it. Then a couple weeks went by. Then a couple months, and I was still doing my job, but I sure wasnít doing it very well. ĎCourse the folks here at Calvary were great. They supported me the best they could. But after six months of dealing with a mediocre pastor, even they had had enough. Thatís when they figured it was time to do something, and they picked your dad to do it.

MATTHEW
(Laughing.)
I never heard this. What did he do?

PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Laughing to himself.)
Well, your parents had me over for dinner. Your mom made her lasagna, and then, after dinner when she took you upstairs to put you to bed, your dad and me. . . well, we had a talk. I remember we were having our coffee when he fixes me with that look heís got. You know the one Iím talking about?

MATTHEW
(Laughing.)
Yeah, I know that look. Thatís his, you-better-listen-up-because-Iím-only-going-to-say-this-once look. Yeah, I may have seen that once or twice.




PASTOR BLACKWELL
Well he hits me with that stare of his and he says, ďPastor, you can either keep trying to beat this thing on your own, and you can keep failing at it, or you can ask for help.Ē
Then he takes a sip of his coffee, and without ever looking back up he says, ďAnd Iím not talking about Susan and me.Ē

MATTHEW
What did you do?

PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Stands up and walks around to the pulpit.)
I walked out. I donít remember ever being so angry at another person. I was mad at your dad for . . . well, for having the guts to say those things, and I was mad at myself, because I knew it was the truth. That was a Saturday night. The next day in church I was still angry. I was standing right here, just seething with all my anger, when we finally got to the hymn before the sermon. It was Be Thou My Vision. Now we had sung that hymn at my wedding. So I was standing here, singing, and all my anger just seemed to slip away. And then I wasnít really singing anymore at all. I was praying with the words of the hymn. I realized I was holding back; holding on to some illusion of control over my life. You know, talking about Godís will for our lives that was all well and good, just as long as Godís will fit in with my own plans. But then losing Abby . . . well, that was never a part of any plan. So that Sunday, and maybe for the first time in my life, I truly prayed, ďGodís will be done.Ē

PASTOR BLACKWELL (Contíd.)
(Stepping down from the pulpit and returning to the pew across from Matthew.)
After that I was a different pastor. Heck, I was a different person. We started up the
Ruth Ministry for families coping with grief soon after, and thatís been such a blessing to this church. I mean, did you know thatís how Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Collins first started at Calvary? And Chris and Jennifer Walsh met for the first time at one of our Ruth meetings. And, when theyíre ready, the Ruth Ministry and this church will be there for Bob and Carol Baker. And Matt . . . weíll be there for you too.

MATTHEW
(More frustrated than angry.)
So thatís it? Thatís your advice? Look for the silver lining in all this? Trust that this is all part of some master plan?
PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Still calm.)
Matt, I learned a long time ago not to guess at Godís plan, but Iíll tell you what I do know. Here you are at two oíclock in the morning, sitting in an empty church, looking for answers. And here I am, at two oíclock in the morning, to unlock the door. I take some comfort in that.

(Stands and turns to leave, but before he goes he touches MATTHEWíS shoulder.)
Maybe you can too.

(As PASTOR BLACKWELL leaves, the lights fade to black except for the single light that stays on MATTHEW. He sits silently, with his head bowed and his hands folded. As he sits, the rest of the church interior is removed.)












SCENE 5

At RISE (A hill in Jerusalem. Itís early afternoon. A single cross stands in the center of the stage. JESUS hangs from the cross with a crown of thorns around his bowed head. At the same time, itís also 2:00 in the morning in the interior of the church. MATTHEW still sits in his pew at left, praying with his head bowed and hands folded. Throughout the scene, he never looks up.)

MATTHEW
(Head bowed, hands folded, praying aloud.)
Iíve been here my whole life, listening with my ears and with my head, but never really hearing what I needed to . . . God, I know that you are good. You are holy. Youíre perfect, and I know, with all my heart, that I am not.

MR. and MRS. WALLACE
(Enter and stand at right. They exist in MATTHEWíS memory, and therefore, MATTHEW still doesnít look up or acknowledge them.)


MATTHEW
God, I have sinned. Iíve made so many mistakes in my life that I donít know where to begin. And I know that each one of these mistakes has hurt someone I love. Iíve hurt my family and my friends. Iíve hurt Emily. And Iíve hurt you, and for that Iím sorry.

MR. BAKER
(Enters and stands at left. Like MR. and MRS. WALLACE, MR. BAKER exists in MATTHEWíS memory, and therefore MATTHEW does not acknowledge him.)


MATTHEW
I know you hate my sins. How could you not? But I also know, even with all my sins and mistakes, you still love me. You love me, and you want a relationship with me.

STRANGER
(Enters and stands right. Like the others, he is a memory.)


MATTHEW
Iíve tried to save myself by my own means, and every time Iíve failed. But now I have a daughter. Iím her father, and the time for playing games with my life and my faith is over. I know the only way I can be saved is through you.

PASTOR BLACKWELL
(Enters and stands left. Like all the rest, he is a memory.)


MATTHEW
I know the price of my sins should be death, but you loved me so much that you sent your son to take my place. He became a man and lived a perfect life. Then he humbled himself and submitted to death Ė even a death on a cross Ė to save my life. Father God, let me confess out loud what I believe in my heart. Jesus is Lord of my life. You raised him from the dead, and through him I am saved.

EMILY
(Enters and stands left. Like the others, she is a memory.)

MATTHEW
(Still looking down and praying.)
Dear God, forgive my sins. Wash me and I will be clean. Create in me a pure heart and make me a new creation. I pray for all these things in your name . . .



JESUS
(Stepping down from the cross and walking directly to MATTHEW. He places his hand on top of MATTHEWíS head as he speaks, while MATTHEW continues to bow his head in prayer. The words are intended specifically for MATTHEW.)
It is finished.

(For the firs time MATTHEW looks up from his prayer and into the eyes of JESUS. JESUS reaches down and helps MATTHEW to his feet. Then he turns MATTHEW around to fully face downstage. As MATTHEW steps forward, JESUS exits.)

(MATTHEW looks back, first over one shoulder then the other. He holds out each hand and MR. and MRS. WALLACE, MR. BAKER, the STRANGER, PASTOR BLACKWELL, and EMILY step forward to join him, all holding hands and forming a single row across the stage.)


(Blackout. Curtain. End ACT II.)
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