At stage left, we see a pulpit and a few pews. The preacher wears a short-sleeved white shirt and a slim black tie. The pews are occupied by a dozen people or so—women in flowered dresses, men in shirts and ties. Perhaps there is a child or two. The staging should give the impression of a small country church. With the timelessness of small country churches, it could be any decade from the 50s to the present.
At stage right is a white screen.
As the lights rise on the pulpit, we hear the last few measures of an old hymn.
CONGREGATION: (singing) …Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
PASTOR: Amen and amen! Now before we dismiss with prayer, I want to remind y’all of the potluck dinner immediately following the service. I’m sure you’ve been noticing the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen (a smattering of laughter and an Amen! from the pews). If you’re visiting us this morning, I hope you’ll stay, there’s always plenty. Sister Louise, did you bring your fried chicken?
WOMAN: I did!
PASTOR: That chicken is a national treasure…
The pastor’s voice fades as the white screen is backlit. In silhouette, we see a child squatting on the ground, holding up a bowl. A hand ladles something into the bowl, and although the child continues to hold it up, the hand withdraws.
Fade lights on screen. Back to the church. For the rest of the skit, lighting alternates between the church and the screen.
PASTOR: …I just know there’ll be biscuits and gravy, and my dear wife made her famous tuna casserole, can I get an amen? And please tell me there’ll be something down there with jell-o and marshmallows in it!
A woman in the congregation raises a shy hand.
At the backlit screen, we see several people crowded together, jostling, hands outstretched to catch the boxes tossed to them. One box falls to the ground, and the people fight for it, pushing each other out of the way. Fists fly.
PASTOR: Sister Anne, maybe you better go pour that sweet tea, we’ll be headed down to eat before you know it. (One of the women slips out of her pew and exits.) And I happened to see a great big jug of lemonade for the young folks. Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink, am I right?
Behind the screen, a woman stoops to pick up a large jug. She hoists it to her shoulder and then to her head; it’s apparent that the jug is heavy. Holding it steady with one hand, she trudges slowly into the distance.
PASTOR: Well, I’ve gone on long enough, I guess. Brother Herman, you’re looking mighty eager to head for the kitchen. Don’t you push anyone out of the way to get to that fried chicken, now! (A man in the congregation laughs and starts to stand. His wife grabs his arm and pulls him back.) Matter of fact, Brother Herman, you can bless the food for us in just one minute, and then I’ll ask you all to let the mothers with babies go first. We can’t have any crying babies, can we?
A little boy tugs his mother’s sleeve and says “Mommy, can we go first? I’m little!” She shushes him.
On the screen, we see the shadow of a woman holding an infant. She is trying to get the child to nurse. After a few attempts, she switches the baby to the other breast, and after a moment she holds it to her shoulder. She rocks back and forth; the baby is still.
PASTOR: Oh, one more thing. Hold on, Brother Herman, I’m almost ready for you. There’s a chocolate cake down there, and Sister Tilly, did you put in that secret ingredient?
WOMAN: Half a cup of strong coffee!
PASTOR: Chocolate, coffee, sugar, praise the Lord. Three of His best creations in one dessert, hoo-boy.
A boy swipes at a large plant with a machete. His work may be too slow, because a large man towers over him with a whip. The boy glances back, then chops at the plant again.
PASTOR: …Amen, Brother Herman! Now let’s enjoy some fine food and fellowship—there’s seconds, if you’re quick!
Now the child we first saw is cleaning the bowl with his fingers. He holds it up: is there more? No one comes. As the lights dim, we hear the clinking of silverware and dishes, overlapping conversations, a child’s laughter.
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