Scriptural Sweep: A Reader’s Theatre

As with all Reader’s Theatre, this works best when the readers have rehearsed, so that there are no awkward pauses or gaps.  It takes practice to learn to read together on the unison lines.  This Reader’s Theatre was used as a sermon with hymns interspersed as indicated.


 Voice 1:  And God said, Let there be… [normal speaking tone]

Voice 2:  And God said, Let there be… [emphasizing Let there be]

Voice 3:  And God said, Let there be…  [emphasizing everything]

Voice 4:  a Word.
In the beginning was the Word:   [slowly, with emphasis]

Voice 1:  the voice of God…over the deep.

Voice 2:  And God spoke and created dry land,  [this is read quite slowly, majestically]

Voice 3:  God spoke and created light and dark, [still slowly]

Voice 1:  God spoke and created evening and morning

Voice 4:  God spoke and created vegetation [building momentum]

Voice 2:  plants yielding seed, fruit trees of every kind, [building more momentum]

Voice 1:  God spoke and created  living creatures;

Voice 2: birds and sea monsters,  [a bit faster]

Voice  3: cattle and creeping things,

Voice 4:  wild animals and…[pause]

Voice 1:  humankind.

Voice 2:  And God saw that it was good!  [a big declaration]

Voice 3:  The voice of God calling the Rocky Mountains—[back to a slow pace]

Voice 1, 2, 4:  good!

Voice 4:  the arctic tundra, the sun-baked badlands

Voice 1, 2, 3:  good!

Voice 1:  the wide flat prairie, the deep high forest— [with growing excitement]

Voice 2, 3, 4:   good!

Voice 2:  the streams and rivers—

Voice 1, 3, 4:   Grand!

Voice 3:  the seas and lakes—  [building up to a faster pace]

Voice 1, 2, 4:  Great!

Voice 4:  All God’s creatures—the moose, the mosquito, the muskrat.  [fairly quickly]

Voice 1, 2, 3:  Good!

Voice 2:  The polar bear, the eagle, the sockeye salmon….

Voice 1, 3, 4:  Good!

Voice 3:  [slower again]  Human beings of every hue,
differently abled, speaking different tongues.

Voice 1, 2, 4:  Good!

Voice 1: [deliberately…it’s the punch line]   Creation, conjoined, inseparable,
joined together by the voice of God,  [emphasize the “voice of God”]
the voice of God over the deep.

(Congregation sings Hymn:  Praise the Lord sing Hallelujah verse 1 and 3

Praise the Lord, sing hallelujah, from the heavens praise his name!
Praise the Lord, our great creator; all his angels, praise proclaim.
All his hosts, together praise him, sun and moon and stars on high.
Praise the Lord, you heav’ns of heavens, and you floods above the sky.

Chorus:  Praise the Lord, sing hallelujah, for his name alone is high,
and his glory is exalted, and his glory is exalted, and his glory is exalted,
far above the earth and sky.

 All you fruitful trees and cedars, ev’ry hill and mountain high,
creeping things and beasts and cattle, birds that in the heavens fly,
kings of earth and all you people, rulers great, earth’s judges all;
praise his name, young men and women, aged ones, and children small.



Voice 2:  God created the heavens and the earth,  [deliberately, declaratory]

Voice 1:  and God said that it was good. [emphasize good]

Voice 3:  And God said  [emphasize “God”]

Voice 4:  And God said  [emphasize “said”]

Voice 1:   And God said to Cain,  [emphasize to Cain…speak that very clearly and slowly]

Voice 2:  “Sin is lurking at the door, its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Voice 1:  Sin is lurking at the door; you must master it!  [emphasize must]

Voice 3:  But Cain killed his brother Abel.  [slowly, sadly]

Voice 4:  He killed his brother!  [in a shocked voice]

Voice 1:  His brother Abel he killed. [sadly]

Voice 2:  And Sarah beat Hagar  [slowly, clearly]

Voice 3:  And Jacob lied to Isaac

Voice 4:  And the people of Israel grumbled and turned away [less slowly]

Voice 1:  and the people built a golden calf

Voice 2:  and the people wanted to return to Egypt [gaining momentum]

Voice 3:  and the people neglected the widow and the sojourner [a bit faster]

Voice 4:  and the people of Israel went after false gods

Voice 1:  crying  all the while, [slower, with emphasis]

Voice 2 & 3:  Peace, peace

Voice 4: where there was no peace.

Voice 2:  Our voices creating violence.  [slowly, wonderingly]

Voice 3:  Violent words becoming violent actions.  [stating a fact]

Voice 4:  Our words exploding like bombs in living rooms  [slowly, powerfully]

Voice 1:  and church meeting rooms  [emphasize church]

Voice 3:  hateful hurtful words in political negotiating rooms

Voice 2:  words that name people as collateral damage, as casualties, as statistics,

Voice 4:  words in skyscraper boardrooms that translate into people without work,

Voice 1:  people without homes, [a little bit quieter]

Voice 2:  people without food.  [quietly, slowly…and then pause]

Voice 3:  Violence grows and grows, in our hearts and in our world.  [sadly]

Voice 4:  The violence against God’s good creation,

Voice 1:  the violence against the poor, the marginalized, the helpless;

Voice 2:  the violence against those we hate and against those we love.  [emphasize “and”]

Voice 3:  And a voice is heard in Ramah, [slower, with emphasis]
lamentation and bitter weeping.

Voice 1:  It is Rachel crying for her children.
She is crying  [pause]
and she will not be comforted.  [sadly, slowly]

Voice 4:  Esau lifts up his voice and weeps.

Voice 3:  In anger Moses throws the tablets from his hand and breaks them at the foot of the mountain.

Voice 1:  And Tamar tears her clothes and goes away, crying aloud.

Voice 2:  And the king cries out with a loud voice, “O Absalom, my son, my son.”

Voices 1, 2, 3, 4:  And the people lift up their voices and weep.

Voice 1:  And the Lord said,

Voice 2:  And the Lord said,

Voice 3:  And the Lord said,

Voice 4:  “What have you done?

Voice 1:  Listen [loudly]

Voice 2:  Listen [softer but insistently]

Voice 3:  Listen [softer yet but very forcefully]

Voice 4:  …your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground.  [very slowly, with great emphasis]

Congregation sings Hymn:  From the depths of sin  verses 1 and 3

Lyrics:  From the depths of sin and sadness, I have called unto the Lord.
Be not deaf to my poor pleading, in your mercy hear my voice.
For the Lord my heart is waiting, for God’s word I hope and wait.
More than watchers wait for sunrise, I am waiting for the Lord.


Voice 3:  And God said, [slowly, fairly quietly]

Voice 4:  And God said, Let there be…  [slowly, but with more excitement]

Voice 1:  And God said, Let there be…   [gaining momentum and excitement]

Voice 2:  a rainbow, [delightedly]

Voice 3:  a heavenly visitor, [excitedly]

Voice 4:  the hope for a son, [wonderingly]

Voice 1:  a promise of descendants without number for a slave girl  [in amazement]

Voice 2:  a dream of angels ascending and descending!

Voice 4:  Surely God is in this place!
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!

Voice 3:  And God’s voice came from the burning bush,
and there was…a hope for freedom

Voice 1:  a  warning to Pharaoh [at an even pace]

Voice 2:  frogs without number,

Voice 3:   a river of blood, [pause]

Voice 4:  a way through the wilderness,  [with relief]

Voice 1:  a deliverance from evil for Israel’s children.   [thankfully]

Voice 3:  And there was manna in the desert,

Voice 4:  water flowing from the rock.

Voice 2:  There was a Promised Land.  [this is a punch line]

Voice 1:  And God spoke from the mountain  [slowly, deliberately]

Voice 2:  The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

Voice 3:  And the voice of God came to Deborah and Gideon

Voice 4:  And Samuel heard God calling in the night.
And Samuel said,

Voice 1:   “Here I am.  Speak for your servant is listening.”

Voice 2:  Generation after generation we listen

Voice 3:  we listen in our hearts,

Voice 4:  we listen at church

Voice 2:  we listen to the sound of the whirlwind

Voice 1 & 4:  we listen for God’s voice.

Voice 3:  And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah

Voice 2:  and Jonah

Voice 4:  and Job

Voice 1:  and Jeremiah

Voice 2:  and John.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,

Voice 4:  “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

Voice 1:  And the Word of the Lord came to Mary
and Mary said,

Voice 3:  “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.
Let it be with me according to your word.”

Voice 2:  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Voice 1:  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
And a voice from heaven said,

Voice 4:  ‘This is my Son, the Beloved.”

Voice 1:  And the people came to Jesus,
the people crowded around Jesus,
the people flocked to Jesus, and asked,

Voice 2:  Are you really the Messiah?  [slowly]

Voice 3:  What is the most important commandment?

Voice 4:  How can a man be born again?

Voice 2:  Which of us is the greatest? [gaining momentum and volume]

Voice 3:  How often should I forgive someone?

Voice 4:  When will the kingdom of God come?

Voice 3:  Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners? [loudly, insistently]

Voice 1:  And Jesus said,  [change of pace, slowly]

Voice 2:  And Jesus said,

Voice 3:  And Jesus said,

Voice 4:  I am the Bread of Life.  [calmly, declaratory, emphasizing “I am”]

Voice 1:  I am the Light of the World.

Voice 2:  I am the true Vine.  [a bit faster, with more excitement]

Voice 3:  I am the Gate.

Voice 4:  I am the Way, the truth and the life.

Voice 1:  I am the good Shepherd, the shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

Voice 2:  I am the resurrection and the life.  [this is the punchline, with great emphasis]

Voice 3:  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.

Voice 1, 2, 3:  Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.

Congregation sings Hymn:  Obey my voice 

Obey my voice and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people,
and walk in all the ways I have commanded you,
that it may be well with you, and I will be your God.
Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.


Voice 4: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
We beheld his face.  [slowly, wonderingly]

Voice 1:  And the voice of the Pharisees  said,  [quietly, with emphasis]

Voice 2:  And the voice of the Sadducees said,

Voice 3:  And the voice of Herod and Pilate said,

Voice 4:  and the voice of the people said, [pause]

Voice 1: Crucify Him!  [loudly, and then a pause]

Voice 1 & 2:  Crucify Him!  [more loudly, and then a pause]

Voice 1 & 2 & 3:  Crucify Him!   [very loudly, and then a pause]

Voice 4:  And Jesus said,  [gently, quietly]

Voice 3:  Father forgive them for they know not what they do. [sadly, slowly]

Voice 1: Jesus cried with a loud voice

Voice 2:  and Jesus gave up his spirit.  [pause]

Voice 3:  And darkness came over the whole land.

Voice 4:  They laid him in a tomb.

Voice 1:  He had given up his Spirit, [pause]  but on the third day, he rose again.

Voice 2:  He appeared to Mary and the other disciples, who saw his hands and touched his side.

Voice 3:  And Jesus said, I will send you a Comforter.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Voice 4:  The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth.
The Spirit will declare to you the things that are to come!  [wonderingly, happily]

Voice 1, 2, 3:  Let those who have ears to hear, hear!  [urgently]

Conclude with a hymn about the holy spirit working in the church…

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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