Summary: A sketch to illustrate the hypocrisy of judging others without being aware of our own failings. The action is interspersed with the normal elements of a Sunday service.
Style: Dramatic/light. Duration: 60min+
Scripture: Based around Matthew 7: 1-5
[There is a disturbance from the office door and X totters in dressed as a rather ancient and doddery judge (His Honour Judge Mental). The person leading the service glances nervously over his shoulder momentarily distracted and then presses on as Judge Mental slowly shuffles to the centre]
Service Leader: Err..umm..my name is Y and I am the Curate/ whatever here and I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to you if you are visiting or are here for the first time. Please come and introduce yourselves to me as I would love to…
[by this time Judge Mental has reached the centre and wants to get past Curate]
Judge Mental: Out of my way, boy!
[Y steps aside compliantly with a shrug to the congregation and Judge Mental sits heavily in the chair and then starts muttering]
Don’t know what this place is coming to. These young curates – think they own the place!
[Y shrugs again but doesn’t comment]
In fact I don’t know what the world’s coming to. Time was when everyone knew their place. We didn’t have these new fangled things like Family Services – don’t know what that’s all about. I sat through 1662 as a child and I see no reason why …
[he suddenly appears to lose his chain of thought and reminisce]
Actually, I think I played marbles under the pews and tried to move Old Joe’s walking stick when he fell asleep. Ah yes, wonderful days those…
[he snaps out of it]
…not like today. Everything’s changed! – I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.
[suddenly becomes aware of the congregation looking at him]
And as for you…[not sure what to call them] you congregation, you! You sit there judging me, thinking what a doddery old fool…and then you judge the music and those modern “happy-clappy” songs which are always repeating the same line or those boring old hymns with words that no one understands…like “ineffable”. Sounds like something I take for my indigestion. And then you judge the…
[Y decides this has gone far enough]
Curate: Now hold on a moment. You can’t judge people like that.
Judge Mental: [looking surprised by this interruption] Why not. I’m a judge.
Curate: For a start it is hypocritical to criticise others for being judgmental when you are doing the same yourself. You may be a legal judge who is authorised to decide questions of law, but that doesn’t give you the right to judge people’s different styles of worship or the way they try to make the gospel relevant to each new generation.
Judge Mental: I don’t see why not.
Curate: Well, if you just sit quietly I will tell you because, strange as it may seem, this service is all about not judging others. If you listen you will hear the reasons Jesus gives why we shouldn’t judge others. But before we do that, we are going to have a time of praise when we acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord and therefore the only one who is truly qualified to judge.
Judge Mental: Humph! If you’re going to sing I’m going to retire to my chambers.
Curate: You’re very welcome to stay.
Judge Mental: Oh, I’m not into all this singing malarkey. [he starts to haul himself to his feet]
Curate: With all due respect, Your Honour, that’s not the point. We don’t sing just because we enjoy the particular hymn or song. We sing to express our praise to God.
Judge Mental: That’s as may be, but I need to retire.
Curate: [in a stage whisper to the congregation] I couldn’t agree more.
Judge Mental: What’s that you say?
Curate: I said err… “come back and ..err see more..of our service and hear what Jesus has to say about judging others. [Judge Mental exits] Phew! Let’s stand and say our opening prayer together after which we are going to sing a couple of songs to praise God.
Opening Prayer & Songs –
[towards the end of the second song Judge Mental re-enters, sits in her judgment chair and promptly falls asleep. She wakes as the congregation sits down again]
Judge Mental: Oh..er! Is that it then? [grumpily] Have you finished all that happy singing stuff?
Curate: For the time being. We are now going to hear some of Jesus’ teaching about how to live our lives, but before that happens I think two of my friends, Harry and Larry, may be in need of some help.
[Doug Horley CD Whoopah Wahey – tracks 6 & 7 with puppets or something similar]
Judge Mental: [Apoplectic/ spitting with rage] What impertinence! How dare they suggest that I’m not competent to point out what’s wrong with other people’s lives.
Curate: Just calm down a moment…[he is cut off by another rant of the judge]
Judge Mental: Those puppets are most definitely guilty. Hang the lot of them, I say! – err…[more reflective] that is if it’s possible to hang a puppet. [ranting again] Otherwise do something to knock the stuffing out of them for such a disgraceful display of unseemly behaviour. Not the sort of thing I expect to see in a church!
Curate: Oh, don’t be so grumpy and you might learn something. You criticise everyone else but you may not perfect yourself, and if you continually criticise others they may want to start criticising you. So let’s hear what Jesus has to say and then Suzanne [or whoever] is going to help us understand it.
Judge Mental: Suzanne? [disapprovingly] Is that a woman?
Curate: [impatiently] Of course she is, now just be quiet, go and sit over there [pointing to the front row] and listen.
Reading: Matthew 7: 1-5
Talk – Suzanne [?finishing with the following conversation with Judge Mental..]
Suzanne: So, Your Honour, that’s why we shouldn’t pass judgment on the way other people worship or live their lives.
Judge Mental: [a little more subdued] Well, when you explain it like that I can see that I have probably been too ready to judge people for things well beyond my own understanding, when I didn’t have all the information needed to make a fair judgment. I suppose I probably come across as a bit of a grumpy old man.
Suzanne: [mouths “Not half” to congregation and then says to Judge Mental] Well, that’s not really for me to judge.
Judge Mental: So what do you suggest I do to make amends.?
Suzanne: We can always start by saying sorry to God for trying to take over his role as the true judge.
Judge Mental: Humph! Suppose so. Alright, let’s do it.
Leading into a time of confession
Curate: So, Your Honour…, oh, I’m sorry I didn’t catch your full name.
Judge Mental: Mental – Judge Mental.
Curate: [aside to the congregation] That figures! [back to judge] So, Your Honour Judge Mental, do you think you understand a little better why we have to be careful not to judge other people? It destroys our sense of oneness in Christ and is disrespectful to Jesus who is the only one who can truly judge us.
Judge Mental: [much more malleable] Yes, it can’t be good for Christian unity if we all judge each other.
Curate No, it isn’t, but we are now going to express our unity as members of the same heavenly family by saying the Peace together.
Judge Mental: Another of those new fangled ideas, isn’t it?
Judge Mental: : Oh yes! Sorry. You go ahead and show me what to do.
[Curate introduces the Peace – all stand]
The Peace: etc… [Curate leads the peace by offering the sign of peace to His Honour Judge Mental]
…then integrate into remainder of service
© Copyright Ian Wallace, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.