Let’s open with a prayer. Josh Archer has asked to pray. Josh plays John Mark, a young man when we first see him; a son in the faith to Peter, and eventually the author of the gospel of Mark.
We come before you to glorify your name. Please bless this production and make miracles happen. Be with everyone’s health, and be with their spirit. Thank you so much for the positivity surrounding our upside down family, thank you for the humility of our leaders and the steadfast spirit of the cast. I know the devil opposes us and wants this story to fail, much like 2,000 years ago when he fought the original cast of apostles—help our revival of ordinary people to have a victory just as powerful. We long to praise you and let the world know just how incredible you are. We love you reverently and devote every ounce of our breath to you. You created art, lord, so let us glorify you with ours.
Always yours, and eternally in your sons name.
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies.
This king is the last of the Herodian line; the last of the Herods. His father is the one who beheaded James, threw Peter into jail, and was eaten by worms. His father was also known as a great proponent of Judaism, so it may be assumed that Herod Agrippa was well trained in the history of his people. He was known to be a friend to Josephus and supplied Josephus with a wealth of information for the work “Antiquities of the Jews”.
Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
Here is one of the confessions of Paul pertaining to his involvement in killing Christians.
11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
Perhaps Damascus was not the first trip young Saul took outside of Israel to arrest Christians.
12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
Goads were the hooks placed behind the hooves of oxen to prevent them from resisting plowing ahead; if they tried to go backwards, the hooks would cut into their tendons. Jesus is implying that, fervent as he was for stopping Christianity, it wasn’t easy for him to go the wrong direction.
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you…
Appoint, as he did his 12 apostles before.
…as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
The second time the word Christian is found in the bible. The first time we know disciples were called Christians in Antioch. Here Agrippa implies the fact that to to be a Christian you must be persuaded… convinced, convicted, and committed… The third and only other time the word Christian appears in the bible is where?
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”
32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
Today we’ll be doing our first “stumble through” rehearsal; which is exactly what it sounds like. This is a wonderful cast; I’m crying all day long, they move me so. I do miss Lisa and the church back home in Portland, but the magic that is being created with this dedicated group of people is so inspiring.
Please forgive me if this is too short. But we’re coming closer and closer to the climax of this bible story and the opening of our theatrical show. I’ve never noticed before just how closely Luke’s story telling formula follows so many of the rules of an outline for movie script writing. So if you think it’s over, just wait for it.
But now, it’s time for our closing prayer, and Marc Thompson shall lead us; a truer disciple I’ve never known:
Dear all-knowing,all-powerful, all loving Father. You are our director, you are our choreographer, you are our author, you are our composer, you are our muse, you are our benefactor! You are the one who we want to make proud, you are the one who we want to hear say “bravo,bravo! well done good and faithful servants!!! Everything we do is for you…to please you, to thank you, to showcase you. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending him to earth and showing us a better way. Thank you for his grace. Thank you for erasing our mistakes, for editing them out. thank you that anyone,from anywhere, can be forgiven, and can be with you for eternity. Thank you for music, and dance, and theater. Thank you for the ways that they can help people see things in a fresh new way. Please allow this show to help people see you in a new way. Help people to be stirred by the music. Help people to be challenged and inspired by the scenes they are seeing. Help people to realize that though this is a stylized performance that these people were real! That they really did these things! That they really gave up everything, and changed the world. I pray this show exudes love. Love for you, and the love the disciples had for each other. Make that love evident!! Help us to inspire other people to love that way. Help us to remember our notes, to remember our choreography, to remember our lines, and most importantly to remember the Lord.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen