|Giovanni Paolo Pannini, Ruins with Paul Preaching|
Here is a dramatic monologue reflecting on Paul’s sermon “to an unknown God” in
(Acts Athens : 1 7 2 2- 3 1), given from the perspective of an Athenian listener. It comes from the Leader Online website, a quarterly publication for pastors and lay leaders in the Anabaptist tradition.
This monologue was designed to follow a readers’ theater presentation of Acts
: 1 7 2 2- 3 1. If you’re interested, you can find it here.
(Comes walking across stage and pretends to hear a question from the congregation. It would be especially effective for him to be carrying a filled pita wrapped in wax paper—or something that looks like it) What was that? How did I learn about Jesus? Hmm. . .well, I’d known about him for a while. Stories of his life and prophetic work would pop up occasionally even here in
—this is one of those cities that sees lots of travelers, and we do love news from other places. Never met this Jesus person face to face, mind you—he was just a stranger who was occasionally featured in a story from far away. That is, until recently. But let me start at the beginning. Athens
I was at the market getting a couple of slices of roast lamb to make gyros [pronounced heroes] for supper when I heard a man talking about another type of hero. That caught my attention, and since I had some time on my hands, I got closer so I could hear what he was saying.
The speaker said this crazy thing: the God he was talking about was not an “unknown” god like we have written on one of our public altars, but the real deal: the God who created all and lives in all. Not only that, but we were this God’s children—we were alive and living because of him. Well, I thought to myself, that takes the cake, all right. I’ve never heard of a god who claimed humans as his offspring. Usually it’s just “plop down that offering and off with you,” if you know what I mean.
The man—Paul, his name was—said that now that we knew the unknown God, and that he wasn’t unknown, we might as well give up worshipping gods made out of gold and silver or stone, ones that had been created by a sculptor’s hand. Kind of made sense to me, I have to say. Never did understand what good a statue was going to do anyone, no matter how much you prayed to it.
Then he started talking about a final judgment with a man God had appointed—and apparently raised from the dead. He also said we should repent and ask for forgiveness. Some of the people standing around lost interest when it came to this: the entertainment was over. But it seemed to me that we were finally getting somewhere, so I invited Paul home so I could hear more. A few others followed along: I figured once I was feeding one extra, what difference did a few more make? All in all there were eight of us, a good table-full. Paul told us all about Jesus—I mean, the real stuff, not just a story or two—and. . .well, to make a long story short, we all became followers of the Way that very night.
So that’s how it all happened, and I often think how fortunate I am. If it wasn’t for Paul, and for Jesus, I might still be worshiping false idols. But now, I’ve found a better way. Praise be to God! It’s really too good to keep to myself, so I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen—like you, for example—about what I’ve learned and how my life has changed. Which reminds me. . . .(to congregation) look, why don’t you come to our meeting on the Sabbath and learn more for yourselves? Paul’s still with us, and you could hear it direct from him (walks off stage as he’s finishing talking).
—from Leader Online
See also Sermon at Mars Hill: Acts
—a paraphrase of Paul’s entire sermon in 1 7 . Athens
For other creative worship resources for the
6th Sunday of Easter (May 2 9, 20 ), click on Easter 1 1 6 in the list of “Labels” on the lower right side of the page.