About 14 years ago some friends and I wrote, produced, and performed a play called "The Reduced Bible - from Genesis to Revelation in 60 minutes or less or your money back." A few years ago I rewrote a few parts of it and made them into self standing one acts. This week I rewrote Paul Live, in which all of the Epistles of Paul are reimagined as a radio call-in show, and it was performed at the church I in which I grew up in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Here's the whole thing for anyone who wants to read it.
It can also be found on leiturgia.net.
If you want to perform this piece, I remind my gentle readers that everything on this site is under a Creative Commons license.
Cast in order of appearance
Lydia – Paul’s sidekick
Paul – apostle and radio show host
Luke - a writer
Phil – from Philippi
Gail – from Galatia
Earl – from Ephesus
Rhonda – from Rome
Carrie – from Colossus
Cory – from Corinth
Thelma – from Thessalonica
Timothy - a youth
Lydia – Good morning East Asia and all the ships at sea! It’s time for Paul Live. Heeeere’s Paul!
Paul – Good morning all! I’m your host, Paul the Apostle, and I’m here to answer your questions. I’m here with my good friend, Lydia of Thyatira. She and I met up one day by a river and I saved her from a life of wealth and influence. Isn’t that right, Lyd?
Lydia – Don’t even remind me! I can honestly say my life has never been the same. I gave up a job in the fashion industry to join your show. But I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way… except for the coffee. Can’t we get better coffee?
Paul – (laughs) We’ll see what we can do about that. The phone banks are full, so let’s go to Luke on 1. What’s up Luke?
Lydia – Hi Luke!
Luke – Hi, I’m writing this history of the church and I was doing some research into your past. Weren’t you once called “Saul” and didn’t you use to persecute Christians? I have evidence that you were the coat check boy at the stoning of Stephen. Is this true?
Lydia – Oh, I’m sure you’ve got the wrong guy. The Paul I know would have never done something like that.
Paul – Well I hate to say it, but you’re right, Luke. It’s a chapter of my life I don’t much like to talk about, but that was all before I saw the light. Literally. I was heading to Damascus to wipe out the church there when I saw a blinding light.
Lydia – What happened?
Paul – I was blinded. What do you think happens when you see a blinding light? Anyway, I heard this voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” and I’ve never been the same since. Changed my name. Did a 180. Never looked back. And that’s the gospel truth. Good luck with that book, Luke. Sounds like you got a winner on your hands. Who’s our next caller?
Lydia - Phil from Philippi, you are on Paul Live.
Phil – Hey, Paul, long time listener, first time caller. I think I knew you too, way back when, in the Saul days. Weren’t you a big shot in your old life? Why did you turn your back on it?
Paul – Yeah, I was a good Jewish boy, circumcised on the eighth day, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, zealous in my persecution of the church, and if you count legalistic righteousness, I was faultless.
Lydia – You were such a momma’s boy, weren’t you?
Paul – Maybe I was, but compared to knowing Christ, I count that all as so much…
Lydia – Whoa! You can’t say that word on the air, Paul!
Paul - Well, you know what I mean. But the point is I didn’t lose a thing, Phil. I gained everything. Who’s next?
Lydia - I’ve got Gail from Galatia on 3. Hi, Gail. What’s your question?
Gail – Hi, Paul! So Doris and I were talking the other day and she said that she heard a preacher say that you had to be circumcised to become a Christian, and I says to her, I says, “Not according to Paul.” Cause I listens to you all the time, Paul.
Paul – Thanks for listening, Gail. You stick to your guns. We have got to defeat this whole “circumcision party” nonsense. These flesh choppin’ preachers just burn me up. You know what I wish? I wish they would just cut themselves off entirely and be done with it, if you know what I mea…
Lydia – Paul!
Paul – Lyd, I’m sick and tired of these preachers who try to put up hurdles for people to jump to get to God. Christ came to tear barriers down, not put up new ones! Besides, Lyd, you of all people should understand the secret agenda here of the circumcision crowd. If you have to be circumcised to be a Christian who does that eliminate from the running?
Lydia – Well, people who can’t be circumcised.
Paul – And that would mean?
Lydia – Women!
Paul – You got that right. Think that’s by accident? I don’t think so. Who’s next?
Lydia – We got… Earl from Ephesus, you’re on.
Earl – Paul! Why do you spend your time going out to the Gentiles? Why have you abandoned your people? What’s your problem, pal?
Lydia – Hey, Earl, I’m a Gentile! You got a problem with that?
Earl – Maybe I do.
Paul – Earl, you better back off. I have not abandoned my people. Whenever I go on the speaking circuit the first place I go is to the local synagogue. I only go to the marketplace after they kick me out of the synagogue…
Lydia - So you can usually find him in the synagogue in the morning and the marketplace by noon. (laughs)
Paul – (laughing) True enough! Look Earl, Christ came to bridge the gap between God and all of humanity, not just the Jews. He came to bring peace for all, not just some. Christ is fulfilling the promise to Abraham that his descendents would be a blessing to all nations. So are we or not, Earl? Earl?
Lydia – I think he hung up, Paul.
Paul – (shakes head) Some people… Who’s next, Lyd?
Lydia - Hey, we’ve got a call from Rome. Rhonda from Rome, you’re on.
Rhonda – Hey, Paul! Great to finally get on! So, if God has raised Christ from the dead and rejected the Jews in favor of the Gentiles, can we trust this God? I mean, God seems pretty capricious!
Paul – Well, Rhonda, I take issue with the idea that God has rejected the Jews. Actually, just the opposite. I believe that the covenant that God made with my people is as strong as ever, but that God has brought the Gentiles, like Lydia here, into the fold, just as was intended from the beginning. Think of God’s love for the Jewish people like an olive tree and the Gentiles, well, they are like a branch that is grafted onto that tree.
Lydia – Nice metaphor, Paul. Got any more gardening tips? Let’s move on to Carrie from Colossus. What’s your question, Carrie?
Carrie – Hey, Paul, I’m a new Christian, or follower of Christ, or Jesus, or the Way, or whatever you call it, and I’m really really confused about what I’m allowed to eat and drink…
Lydia – (tries to interrupt Carrie as she builds, gently at first) Carrie…
Carrie – and what I’m supposed to do on what days
Lydia – Carrie…
Carrie – and there seems to be so many rules about things to do during certain cycles of the moon and…
Lydia – Carrie! Get a grip, girl!
Carrie – I’m so confused! I’m totally wigging out here! Tell me what to do!
Paul – Okay, Carrie, first thing I want you to do is to take a deep breath. Okay?
Carrie – (a little calmer) Okay.
Paul – Okay, I know there are some people out there that like to tell people the right way to live and observe holidays and diets and stuff like that. Carrie, I’m here to tell you that that stuff has nothing to do with being a Christian. Really. That’s all human rules and teachings. The important thing is that in your baptism you died with Christ and now you live for Christ. Keep that first, and everything else will fall into place.
Carrie – But what am I supposed to wear and…
Paul – No “buts” Carrie. Keep it simple. Who’s next, Lyd?
Lydia – Okay, let’s go to Cory in Corinth. You’re on the air, Cory.
Cory – Hey, piggybacking on Carrie’s question, sorta, I got into this argument the other day with someone in my church about the local butchers here in Corinth. See, all the butchers here work through the pagan temples so all the meat they serve has been dedicated to idols in its preparation. So he said we should boycott the meat and become vegetarians. But I said that since Jesus was above any petty deity that it was okay to eat the meat. So which is it?
Paul – Great question. Okay, Cory, I agree with you up to a point. We know there is the one God, and so the meat… it’s just meat.
Lydia – So it’s okay to eat it, right?
Paul – You’d think that, but here’s the tricky part. I know it’s just meat, and you know it’s just meat, and Cory knows it’s just meat, but what about other people?
Lydia – What about ‘em?
Paul - See, people are superstitious about these things. If they see us eating the meat they might think we were condoning worship of these false gods, and even though that wasn’t the intent, that would be the effect. So, even though you are strong in faith, Cory, and I agree with you, don’t eat the meat.
Lydia – Huh, never thought about it like that. We’ve got another call from Thelma from Thessalonica.
Thelma – So, Paul, Patty and I were wondering when we should expect Jesus to return. I was thinking next Thursday afternoon, sometime between 3:13 and 4:42. Whaddyasay, Paul?
Paul – (laughs) No one knows, Thelma. And the point isn’t to be guessing. Christ comes like a thief in the night. The point is to live a good life – a life that would be pleasing to God. Stick to that Thelma, and then you don’t have to worry about God’s timetable, you’ll always be ready.
Lydia – Hey, Paul! It’s our old pal Titus, on line 2!
Paul - Titus, how are you? Last time I saw you was in Crete!
Titus – Hey, Paul, yeah, still in Crete, and that’s part of the problem. There are these preachers going around saying that Cretans are fat, lazy, good for nothing liars and cheats. That’s sort of negatively impacting my ministry here, Paul. Help!
Paul – Yeah, well, those are rumors being spread by my old pals from the circumcision crowd again. Snip, snip!
Lydia – (with warning in her voice) Paul…
Paul - The problem with those people is that they start out negative so their whole message is negative. They themselves are corrupted so they see everything as corrupted. You tell the folks in Crete that they don’t speak for the whole church. They certainly don’t speak for me. Hope things get better, Titus.
Lydia - Hey, it’s old home week! We’ve got Timothy on 1. Heya, Timmy!
Timothy – (squeaky adolescent voice) Hi, Lydia! Hi, Paul! I’ve been having some problems in my own ministry because people tell me I’m too young.
Paul – Tim, don’t let anyone put you down because of your age. Set an example in the way you live, love others, and your faith. You were called to preach, so preach! Don’t doubt God’s calling. Hang in there, Tim.
Well, that’s about all the time we have for Paul Live today. One last thing. Philemon, if you’re listening, Onesimus is safe with me here and I’ve got him working in the control room. Now, I know he’s your slave and he took off without your leave, and he’s heading back your way. And I know that you will treat him very well. Everyone who’s listening knows you will treat him very well, right? Okay? Nuff said.
Okay, that’s it for today. Keep the faith, everyone.
Lydia – Bye!