Reader’s Theater "Can Anybody Really Hear Me?" by Arley K. Fadness.
Synopsis: Mary Delight is a young lady representing Generation X
who is bewildered about her future. Mary goes to trusted
individuals for a caring ear but is not listened to and gets
frustrated. Finally she blurts out her dilemma to a little child,
and the child seems to hear and care.
This chancel drama is a setup for preaching to the theme of "The
Need To Be Listened To And Heard."
Can Anybody Really Hear Me?
Text: Luke 8:8b
Theme: The Need To Be Listened To And Heard
Pastor Lovet, wearing clerical collar
Sam, Mary's employer at the Deli, wearing apron
Mr. Harpie, band teacher
Scooter, little child
Tone: Thoughtful, humorous
Setting/Props: All characters on stage are frozen until spoken
to. When each character finishes his dialogue with Mary, he or
she then resumes the frozen position.
Approximate time: 5-6 minutes
Narrator: Once upon a time there was this young lady, Mary
Delight, who came to that juncture in her road of life when she
wondered, "Should she, Mary Delight, marry Harry, or should she
seek knowledge and go to college, or might she at nineteen pierce
her ears and work for Sears?"
Mary was in that common quandary so many who are called
Generation X find themselves in. You know what a quandary is? A
quandary is a puzzling predicament requiring a decision and a
focus. Let's ponder with Mary Delight and see how it is going.
Mary D: (Dressed in a brightly flowered outfit, Mary sings, hums,
whistles a happy, carefree song. She appears on stage with high
energy, doing cartwheels, or rollerblading, or some youthful,
active action. She picks a flower and gives it to a person in the
audience, flits here and there, and then suddenly sits down and
becomes pensive, and ponders) It's been a blast. Cool. That's for
sure. (Thoughtfully) But now I'm in a real bind. Tomorrow is my
twentieth birthday -- I'm getting old! (Laughs) Not really old
old. (Seriously) But I do need to make up my mind.
Should I marry Harry? He says he loves me and I love him,
too, but ...
Or should I get some more knowledge and go to college? Folks
want me to. They said they'd help me anyway they could. Dollars
Or should I take that job at Sears? You know it would be
interesting. Oh, what shall I do? (Wrings her hands, twirls her
I know, I'll talk to our new pastor -- The Rev. Dr. Emmet J.
Lovet. (To Pastor Lovet) Hi, Pastor Lovet.
Pastor Lovet: Hello, Mary.
Mary D: Pastor, I know you haven't been at our parish very long,
but I do have a personal question to ask you ...
Pastor Lovet: Personal?
Mary D: (Laughs) Personal about me, not you!
Pastor Lovet: Oh. Go ahead.
Mary D: I'll be twenty tomorrow.
Pastor Lovet: So?
Mary D: (Set back by his abrupt, insensitive demeanor) Well, I
must make some decisions for my future.
Pastor Lovet: Fine. Go on. I'm listening. (Reads a book)
Mary D: What I mean is, should I marry Harry, or go to college
and get some knowledge, or pierce my ears and work for Sears?
Pastor Lovet: (In stained-glass voice, insensitively) That's a
real dilemma, Mary. When I was your age I already knew what I
planned to do. Why, when I was twelve years old, I managed the
neighborhood paper route, went on to college, majored in English
and Hebrew, all the while working, working my way through
college, and then seminary ... And furthermore ...
Mary D: ... but I feel ...
Pastor Lovet: No matter what you feel, Miss Mary, here's what I
think ... The Bible says ... (Pastor Lovet freezes)
Mary D: (Turns away, disappointed) No help there. Wish Pastor
Truett was around. He seemed to know exactly how I felt and never
"preached" at me. Maybe I'll talk to my old boss at the Deli.
Sam: Hi, Mary. (Jokingly) You're late or very, very early for
Mary D: Hi, Sam. (Laughs) No, I'm just stopping by to say "Hi"
Sam: Good to see you, Mary. (Continues to work at baking a
Mary D: ... and I just need to talk to someone who will listen to
Sam: (Interrupts) Thanks for staying over the noon hour
yesterday. We sure were rushed and with Nancy gone and all.
Mary D: Oh, no problem. (Pause)
Sam: You're the best.
Mary D: Why, thank you. (Pause) I've been wanting to talk ...
Sam: (Interrupts) I've had three quit on me this year.
Mary D: Oh ... ah ... I'm sorry to hear that ... ah, Mr. Sam,
I've been struggling with ...
Sam: I'm planning on setting up a new department.
Mary D: Oh ...
Sam: Pharmaceuticals -- customers need drugs. They'd really like
that convenience. Can't help but improve business. I could even
give my clerks a raise. (Laughs)
Mary D: Oh, that'd be great. Ah, Sam, I really ...
Sam: Store across the street is my fiercest competitor ... and
... where are you going, Mary?
Mary D: (Mary turns to leave) I need to go. Thanks for listening.
(Rolls her eyes sarcastically)
Sam: Bye. Wonder what she wanted. Little unusual to stop by like
that on her day off. (Sam freezes)
(Mary sees her old teacher)
Mary D: Mr. Harpie!
Harpie: Hi, Mary Delight. Long time ...
Mary D: no see. (Laughs)
Harpie: Been out two years now?
Mary D: Yep. And I do miss the band.
Harpie: That was a great year. Your clarinet solo was awesome.
Mary D: You really thought so?
Harpie: Sure -- I've got eighteen clarinets this year. We're
going to Chicago and then New Orleans for the National Band
Festival. Want to chaperone?
Mary D: Wow, that's great. No, I don't think so. (Pause) Ah, Mr.
Harpie, I was wondering ...
Harpie: Get your way paid.
Mary D: Oh? (Blurts out) I'm trying to decide to decide, do I
marry Harry, or go to college and get some knowledge, or pierce
my ears and work for Sears?
Harpie: (Obviously not listening) Be gone two weeks. We've got a
superb repertoire. All of Sousa's greats. Carl Orff's works, and
some fun pops stuff.
Mary D: I don't think ...
Harpie: I can just see the Towerville High School Band performing
and me directing. (Directs; becomes oblivious to Mary, then
Mary D: (Disillusioned) Oh, what am I going to do? (Wrings her
hands, then shouts) Can anybody listen for a minute? Hear me out?
Scooter: Hi, Mary.
Mary D: Oh, hi, Scooter. What do you want?
Mary D: Well ... (Waits for Scooter to talk)
Scooter: I miss talking to you, Mary.
Mary D: Oh, I miss talking to ... really?
Scooter: Yep, you're my pal.
Mary D: And I'm your friend. Say ... ah ... I've got a problem.
(Waits to see if she gets interrupted)
Scooter: I'm all ears.
Mary D: (Looks around in bewilderment; smiles and sits down)
Okay, Scooter -- I have been wondering, tomorrow is my birthday
and I've been thinking ... (conversation fades away as concluding
music is brought up)
Reader’s Theater "Can Anybody Really Hear Me?" by Arley K. Fadness.
Synopsis: Mary Delight is a young lady representing Generation X who is bewildered about her future. Mary goes to trusted individuals for a caring ear but is not listened to and gets frustrated. Finally she blurts out her dilemma to a little child, and the child seems to hear and care.
Call to Worship
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your ordinances.
Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statures forever, even until the end.
Let us worship God!
*Hymn of Praise # 421 God Will Take Care of You
Invocation You are our guardian and shield, O God, our protector who keeps us from falling. You surround us with righteousness that wards off evil forces; in Christ is the assurance to withstand ways that may tempt us. You shower us with your mercy that cleanses wrongdoing. You temper your judgment with compassion. We stand in adoration and in praise of your name. (the Lord’s Prayer)
Our Offering to God Come, let us offer our gifts to the Lord, showing that we listen, that we hear, that we respond with love.
Prayer of Dedication Gracious God, as we are in ministry with sisters and brothers throughout the world, collectively and individually we seek obediently to answer Christ’s call. Use the gifts that we offer to enhance our work to your glory. Link us as partners to listen, hear and respond to serve you wherever we are. AMEN
*Hymn of Prayer # 437 I Must Tell Jesus
Pastoral Prayer Father, your word tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. // We do not understand our own actions. For we do not do what we want, but the very thing that we hate. // there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But in fact it is no longer us that do it, but sin that dwells with us. // there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. // We can will what is right, but we cannot do it. // there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. // Who will rescue us from the body of death? // You, alone God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. who was submissive to your commandments, he was vulnerable to the needs of others, he stooped to lift the weak out of their depths of despair. We live with hope because of your care. We inherit the promise of new life because of your compassion. / With such a witness of your sustaining before us, help us to show sympathy to others. Equip us to proclaim your word. Give us sharp minds to detect the causes of injustice and oppression. Make us resourceful in devising means to expose and eliminate persecution. Help us to stand in solidarity with the downtrodden. / We pray for the sick and those shut in for whatever reason. Give cheer to our voices as we greet them. May our hearts embrace them with your care.
*Hymn of Praise # 415 There Is a Balm in Gilead
Scripture Reading Luke 8: 4-8
Message "The Need To Be Listened To And Heard."
A mother and her small daughter were discussing the dolls in a department store. "What does it do?" the child would ask about each one. The mother would answer as each doll was examined, "It talks," or "It wets," or "It cries." The dolls were rather expensive, so the mother tried to direct her little girl's interest toward a plainer doll that was more reasonably priced.
"How about this one?" "Does it do anything?" the child asked. "Yes," the mother replied. "It listens." And the little girl quickly and eagerly reached for the doll.1
The Gallup poll, which we are using thematically in this sermon series, identifies the need to be listened to, to be heard and understood as the fourth important spiritual need of modern Americans.
In prior sermons I have dealt with our need for meaning and purpose, our need for a sense of community and deeper relationships, and the need to be appreciated and respected. Now the topic is the need to be listened to and to be heard.
Paul Tillich said the first duty of love is to listen. And psychologists say that deep listening is indistinguishable from love.
Our need to be listened to is critical. Ever feel like you're talking to a wall? Sometimes your spouse seems like a wall. Or your child is a wall. Your coworker is a wall.
We can sympathize with the little boy who needed a minor operation. His ward in the hospital had an intercom system which enabled the floor nurse to talk to her patients. That night, however, her efforts to reach the boy were in vain. "Timmy," she said into the intercom, "I know you're there. Why don't you answer me?" There was a long pause. Then a small, quavering voice asked, "What do you want, Wall?"2
Perceptive doctors report that frequently they will see patients who really have nothing physically wrong with them. They merely need someone to listen to them.
I know of a bartender who claims that although customers are billed for their drinks, they are really paying for someone to listen to them. "Lonely people don't come to a bar just to drink," he says. "They can drink at home and a lot cheaper. They come in to my bar to find someone who will listen to them and usually I'm it."3
Jesus says in our Gospel reading this morning, seven simple words: "Let anyone with ears to hear -- listen."
Have we lost our ears? On Prime Time recently they carried the sad story of children born with no eyes. It's a rare disease. What a tragedy to go through life with no eyes. But I wondered about a greater tragedy: Are we becoming a generation of children and adults with no ears? We neither listen nor are listened to.
And when we're not heard, we feel unimportant and discounted.
"Let any one with ears to hear -- listen." I need to be listened to and heard. Hear my dreams, my frustrations, my joys, my troubles.
You and I can be encouraged this morning to know in the first place that God listens. God is not earless.
In Psalm 66:16-19, it is clear: Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. I cried aloud to him, and he was celebrated with my
tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
And I love that passage in Ezekiel 3:12-15 where the prophet-priest Ezekiel came to the people of Israel in exile by the river Chebar and said, in essence, "I sat where they sat." I lived with them. I felt with them. I wept with them. I sat where they sat. This is a picture of God, a preview of God coming at Christmas in
the incarnation of Jesus. God came to sit where we sit, to feel what we feel, to weep when we weep. ///
A little girl sobbed, "Mother, Susie dropped her doll and broke it."
"Did you help her fix it?" her mother asked.
"No," said the girl. "But I helped her cry."4
We are most blessed when we have a friend, counselor, pastor, or confidante who listens. How lucky to have a friend who listens deeper than the words to feelings and aspirations and the wildest dreams -- what a friend! It's pure bliss to be listened to.
Have you ever have someone who listens to you? You know they are interested. They draw you out. they say, "Tell me more." They ask questions; they probe. They listen. They make you feel worthwhile. You feel like you are somebody. ///
The late Dr. Karl Menninger wrote about the effects of being listened to in his book Love Against Hate: "When we are listened to it creates us, makes us unfold and expand ... it makes people happy and free when they are listened to."
As Christians we are called to the ministry of listening. We are called to listen in two directions: to God and to others. First, we listen to God. Luke 19:47-48 says, "Every day Jesus taught in the temple ... all the people kept listening to him, not wanting to miss a single word."
A golden opportunity to listen to God is at worship. That's why we put such a high priority on worship around here. That's why we emphasize celebrative traditional and contemporary worship. It is at worship that we listen to God with our ears and our hearts. ///
In a time when watches still made a ticking sound a man lost his watch in a pile of sawdust. Workers went through it with rakes, but could not find it. When they left for lunch, a little boy went to the pile and came out a little later with the watch.
"How did you find it?" they asked.
"I just laid down and listened," he answered.5
When you and I lose something - happiness, peace of mind, a sense of forgiveness - we need to wait on God and listen for the ticking in the sawdust.
We are called, in the second place, to listen to others.
Martin Luther insisted that every Christian is a priest. Luther listed among the priestly functions of the laity: to pray for each other, to listen to their sisters' and brothers' confessions of sin and cries of distress, and to speak God's cheering word of forgiveness and consolation.
We are called to listen to each other.
But how is this done? Luke 8:18a says, "Then pay attention to how you listen ..." We listen well when we take the word E A R S as our guide.
Let E stand for eye. We listen best with our eyes. Eye contact is unbeatable. The eye lock is a powerful magnet for connecting with people.
I have a friend who, when she talks to me, is always on the hunt with her eyes for someone more important or more interesting to enter the room. She's distracted. But when one's eyes say, "You are the most important person in my presence at this moment," it's dynamite. We listen best with concentrated, connected eyes.
Let A, the second letter in the word EARS, stand for affection. I listen best when I communicate love for the speaker. My love moves me to empathy, which is "to feel with someone." When I sit where he sits, when I feel what she feels, I listen well. When I say to myself, "God loves this person and I love him/her, too," it makes a big difference. I listen best with
Let R stand for reliable. Good listeners never break confidence. They are trustworthy. They zip the lip.
An inebriated man came stumbling out of a bar and almost knocked down his neighbor, who happened to be walking past.
"Oh,I'm so sorry for you to see me like this," he said.
"Well, I don't know why you should be sorry for me to see you this way, Sam. After all, the Lord sees you now, doesn't he?"
"Yeah," said the drunk, "but he's not such a blabbermouth as you are."
Good listeners keep confidence. They are reliable.
Let S stand for sparing with advice. People seek not curing, as Dick Meyer says in his book One Anothering, but caring. It is more blessed to care than to cure. The good listener is sparing with advice.
The world is to be listened to and heard. The world needs EARS. Poem - Listen to the Children
Take a moment to listen today
To what your children are trying to say.
Listen today, whatever you do,
Or they won't be there to listen to you.
Listen to their problems, listen to their needs.
Praise their smallest triumphs, praise their smallest deeds.
Tolerate their chatter, amplify their laughter;
Find out what's the matter, find out what they're after.
But tell them that you love them,
every single night,
And though you scold them, make sure you hold them,
And tell them everything's all right.
Take a moment to listen today
To what your children are trying to say.
Listen today, whatever you do,
And they will come back to listen to you.6
*Hymn of Response # 411 Happiness Is to Know the Savior
1. Source unknown.
2. Faith at Work, Volume 106, No. 4, Fall 1993, p. 3.
3. William Diehl, "Our Ministry of Listening" from Faith In
Action, p. 14.
4. Michael Guido, Guido Evangelistic Association, "Seeds From the
6. Source unknown.