"Samuel, Samuel"

(Based on 1 Samuel 3)

                    There are 5 characters in this Drama. 1 & 2 are narrators (the same as Opening Day and Day Three Vespers, if possible) who stand to one side of wherever is considered "center stage." S (Samuel) and E (Eli) start out offstage. At the appropriate points they enter and lie down separately (as if in different rooms) on both sides of center stage. Blankets to cover up with might be good props, but not necessary. G (God) should not be visible and, if possible, should speak through some sort of megaphone (bullhorn, microphone, rolled up paper, or something) from offstage.

2 - Do you think these people are getting tired of us.
1 - Why do you ask?
2 - Iíve noticed some of them yawning as we tell our stories.
1 - Well, we have been spinning our yarns rather late at night.
2 - "Spinning our yarns"? What does that mean? Are we headed to a fabric store or
             something? I always hate it when my Mom drags me along to that place.
1 - "Spinning a yarn" is another way of saying that weíre telling a story.
2 - Oh.
1 - Besides, I kind of like fabric stores.
2 - What does that have to do with the story weíre supposed to tell.
1 - You brought it up.
2 - But you continued it.
1 - Anyway.
2 - Anyway.
1 - I was saying that some people may be yawning because weíre telling our stories
         right before bedtime.
2 - That could be. I just hope we donít fall asleep.
1 - Now, why would we fall asleep?
2 - Well, whenever my Dad used to read to me at bedtime, heíd always fall asleep.
            There are a lot of stories I donít know the end of because he fell asleep
            before we got there.
1 - Why didnít you just read on in his place.
2 - I had more fun puttiní stuff in his nose, or messiní with his hair. He has a really weird
             snore. Do you want to hear what it sounds like?
1 - No.
2 - Party pooper.
1 - Weíre here to tell a story, remember?
2 - Okay. But youíre still a party pooper.
1 - (glares at 2, then goes on) Actually, this story takes place at bedtime.
2 - Oh, man! I hope our characters havenít fallen asleep.
1 - Two of them have.
2 - But there are three characters in this story. Whatís with the third?
1 - That would be God.
2 - We wonít be seeing God, will we?
1 - By now you should know that.
2 - Why isnít God asleep?
1 - The Bible says that God neither slumbers nor sleeps.
2 - But I thought that God rested in the beginning.
1 - I guess that, for God, resting is not the same as sleeping.
2 - Or slumbering.
1 - Or slumbering.
2 - Is that how a lumber jack sleeps?
1 - Is what how a lumber jack sleeps?
2 - Slumbering?
1 - Iíll slumber you if you donít watch out.
2 - Oh, Iím soooo scared!
G - Iím watching.
2 - Thank you for reminding me, Lord!   (to 1:)   I forgot, Godís not asleep.
G - Iím listening, too.
2 - Youíre also speaking.
1 - Iím glad you pointed that out, because thatís what our story is about.
2 - It is?
1 - Yes. In our Bible tale, God talks to a young boy.
2 - Oh, yeah. I remember now. This boy is learning about listening to God.
1 - Precisely. You could say that this is a story about prayer.
2 - Prayer? I thought that prayer is talking to God.
1 - It is. But itís also listening to God. In fact, prayer probably involves more listening
            than talking.
2 - Thatís good, because I often donít know what to say when I pray.
1 - Maybe we have something to learn from Samuel.
2 - Thatís the name of the boy. Heís the one God talks to.
1 - Yes. Samuel was a servant of Eli the priest at Shiloh. (pronounced "shy-low")
2 - Wasnít that a Civil War battlefield?
1 - What are you talking about?
2 - Shiloh. Wasnít that a battle in the Civil War?
1 - I donít know. This Shiloh was a holy place in Israel.
2 - Oh, that Shiloh!
1 - You have no idea where Iím talking about, do you?
2 - Not a clue.
1 - Anyway, Eli was a holy man there, and Samuel was his helper.
2 - Sort of like a "staff assistant" here at camp.
1 - Yes, or maybe even like a "counselor in training."
2 - From what I hear, Eli wasnít doing very good.
1 - No, he wasnít. He had two sons who were supposed to be priests themselves. But they
            were doing a rotten job of it.
2 - Yeah. It all seemed to be one big joke to them.
1 - The people were pretty upset about it.
G - I wasnít too happy about it, myself.
2 - And when Godís not happy, ainít nobody happy.
G - I think I can speak for myself, thank you.
2 - Sorry.
1 - Letís go on with the story. Itís found in the first book of Samuel.
2 - You mean Samuel had a book in the Bible named after him?
1 - Two books, to be exact.
2 - Whoa! He must have been a cool dude!
1 - Can we move on?
2 - Sure, why not!
1 - "Samuel served the Lord by helping Eli the priest, who was by that time almost blind."
2 - "In those days, the Lord hardly ever spoke directly to people, and he did not appear
            to them in dreams very often."
1 - "But one night, Eli was asleep in his room."
                ("E" enters, yawns and stretches, then lies down on one side of "center stage.")
2 - (after "E" is in place)   "Samuel was sleeping on a mat near the sacred chest
            in the Lordís house."
1 - (after "S" is in place) "They had not been asleep very long when the Lord called out
            Samuelís name."
G - "Samuel ! Samuel !"
1 - "Samuel answered,"
S - "Here I am."
2 - Wait a minute. That was Mosesí line. Isnít that plagiarism or something?
1 - Actually, many people in the Bible answered Godís call to them with those very same words.
2 - No kidding?
1 - Samuel didnít realize it was God calling. He thought it was Eliís voice. So he ran to
            Eliís side.   ("S" runs over to "E" and shakes him awake)
S - "Here I am. What do you want?"
E - (grumbling) "I didnít call you. Go back to bed."   (rolls over and returns to sleep.
                "S" goes back and lies down)
2 - (after "S" is in place) "Again the Lord called out his name."
G - "Samuel ! Samuel !"
                ("S" again runs over to "E" and shakes him awake)
S - "Here I am. What do you want?"
E - (more perturbed, and louder) "Son, I didnít call you. Go back to bed."
                (rolls over and returns to sleep. "S" goes back and lies down)
1 - (after "S" is in place)    A third time God called.
G - "Samuel ! Samuel!"
                ("S" again runs over to "E" and shakes him awake)
S - "Here I am. What do you want?"
2 - Eli finally figured out something was going on here, like maybe it was God speaking.
E - Samuel, it wasnít me. This is what you should do. "Go back and lie down! If someone speaks
            to you again, answer, ĎIím listening, Lord. What do you want me to do?í "
1 - Samuel did as Eli said. ("S" goes back and lies down)
2 - (after "S" is in place) "The Lord then stood beside Samuel..."     Did God really
            stand beside Samuel?
1 - Thatís what it says.
2 - Did Samuel see God standing there?
1 - It doesnít say that.
S - ("S" sits up to speak)   It was dark that night. I couldnít see a thing. But I was hearing loud
                and clear.
2 - Interesting! "The Lord called out as he had done before."
G - "Samuel ! Samuel !"
1 - This time Samuel was prepared.
S - "Iím listening, Lord. What do you want me to do?"
1 - And so God told him.
2 - It wasnít good news, was it?
1 - No. God was upset with Eli and had Samuel tell him so. Things were going to change,
            and Eli and his sons would soon be out of the picture. ("E" gets up and leaves)
2 - And Samuel grew up and became a real prophet of God. ("S" stands up)
1 - Thatís right. It all began, though, on that night when God spoke and Samuel listened
            for the first time. ("S" leaves)
2 - I like that story! Now Iíll know what to do if I ever hear God call me.
1 - Whatís that?
2 - Iíll say, "Here I am. What do you want me to do?"
1 - Not a bad idea. Of course, you need to be listening to hear Godís voice calling in the
            first place.
2 - Of course.
1 - Donít grow discouraged, though, if you donít hear what Samuel heard.
2 - What do you mean?
1 - Well, God speaks to us in lots of ways. Through the Bible, in prayer, in the words of other
            people, and even through nature as youíre just walking along the trail here at camp. 
            It may be a thought youíd never thought before. Or it might be something youíve heard
            many times, like a Bible verse.
2 - Cool.
1 - Itís good to have people we trust to talk to afterward. Sometimes we donít hear very
            well, and itís good to bounce what we hear off of others.
2 - Sounds okay to me. Are we done?
1 - I guess we are. I need to head off. See you later! (1 leaves)
G - (after pause, speak out 2's name twice)   _______!    _______!
2 - Here I am, Lord.

©1999, Pete Haynes for Shepherdís Spring OMC and Camp Mardela, Mid Atlantic District Church of the Brethren (Outdoor Ministries), to be used with "God is in our Midst" (rev. ed., ©1998, Geneva Press), part of the Sow Seeds ... Trust the Promise series. Except for a few instances, scripture texts are from the Contemporary English Version, ©1995, American Bible Society.

©1999Peter L. Haynes

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