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NEWS REEL 03: TRUSTING – written by Tanis Harms
TOPIC:        dealing with challenges
SCRIPTURE:    Ezra 4:1-6:22
Style:        satire/conversation:  news reporter
.             hunts down the latest on the rebuilding
.             of Israel after 70 years of captivity
Cast:         REPORTER 1-3, SHALLMIAH,
.             CROWD MEMBERS 1-5 (whatever amount)
Set & Props:  3 microphones, reports/lists
.             OPTIONAL:  table, 2 chairs for “station”

SCRIPT:

(REPORTER 1-2 are ready at their station.)

REPORTER 1    Good morning, and welcome to News Reel,
.             where the real news is reported to you
.             as it happens!

REPORTER 2    In world news, a letter was sent
.             to King Darius of Persia.
.             This letter came from his leaders
.             in his own kingdom, who falsely accused
.             the Israelites - in attempts to stop
.             the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

REPORTER 1    The same thing also happened years ago,
.             when the leaders sent a similar letter
.             to King Artaxerxes of Persia.
.             That letter falsely accused the Israelites
.             of being evil and rebellious.
.             And fearing the potential power of Israel,
.             and that they could somehow dishonor
.             and cost the Persian kingdom money,
.             King Artaxerxes had put a temporary stop
.             to the rebuilding.

REPORTER 2    Since then, other Persian kings have
.             come and gone.  And now, because a few
.             of our prophets have encouraged us to
.             continue with building, our enemies
.             have reminded King Darius that
.             the Israelites should not be doing this.

REPORTER      This new letter, sent to King Darius,     2
.             requested that he investigate
.             the situation and make a decision
.             as to what should be done.
.             His leaders wait impatiently, hoping
.             that they are given the go ahead
.             to cripple and stop the Israelite people.

REOPRTER 1    Which brings us to our local news!

REPORTER 2    The people of Judah had decided a while ago
.             to keep rebuilding the city of Jerusalem,
.             based on the original decree given
.             by King Cyrus of Persia.

REPORTER 1    But progress has been slow-going,
.             as our nation’s enemies look for ways
.             to sabotage our efforts.
.             So the question remains:
.             will we ever finish rebuilding our city?

REPORTER 2    With hopes of answering that question,
.             we take you now to our field reporter,
.             Zeebah, who has SHALLMIAH with him.
.             Are you there, Zeebah?

(REPORTER 3 steps out in another location with a mic
while holding a hand to his ear to hear REPORTER 2.  
SHALLMIAH stands next to him, waiting.
CROWD is standing behind them, listening in.
ONE of them can wave real quickly, then hold still.)

REPORTER 3    Yes, I am here, and ready.
.             (takes hand away from ear)  Hi,
.             I’m Zeebah, on location here in Jerusalem.
.             With me is Shallmiah – someone who has
.             firsthand knowledge of all the events
.             as they have unfolded over the years.

(REPORTER 3 puts mic toward SHALLMIAH anytime he speaks.)

REPORTER 3    Shallmiah, could you start at
.             the beginning, somewhere?

SHALLMIAH     Of course.  You remember that King Cyrus
.             had given a decree that we SHOULD
.             rebuild our city and temple.
.                                                       3
REPORTER 3    Yes, in fact, I remember reporting on that
.             just a while ago.  King Cyrus not only
.             helped supply our building materials,
.             but also returned our holy vessels
.             which had been taken from our temple
.             when the Babylonians came to
.             destroy our city 70 years ago.

SHALLMIAH     Good memory.  Then you should remember
.             how we began rebuilding-

REPORTER 3    Yes, I also covered the celebrations
.             after the temple foundation had been laid.

SHALLMIAH     Well, it was after this point,
.             that our neighboring countries
.             came and offered to help us build.

REPORTER 3    Was that not neighborly nice of them?

SHALLMIAH     We saw through their tricks, and knew
.             they were lying when they said
.             that they served our God.  So we then
.             realized that they were really our enemies,
.             and were just trying to find a way
.             to sabotage our building project.
.             So we told them, “No thank you,
.             we will rebuild this ourselves,
.             just as King Cyrus told us to do.”

REPORTER 3    Was this the only attempt made
.             to delay our efforts?

SHALLMIAH     Unfortunately it was not.  They tried
.             to discourage us however they could.
.             Like spreading false rumors about people
.             to make us not trust each other,
.             or to make us angry with each other.
.             They also took us to court for
.             all sorts of false accusations.
.             This delayed our efforts for years.
.             By now, Artaxerxes was king of Persia.
.             The leaders from the neighboring countries
.             sent a letter to king Artaxerxes,
.             with more false accusations against us.

REPORTER 3    Did this have any effect?                 4

SHALLMIAH     Indeed.  King Artaxerxes became afraid
.             of us, and put a stop to our project.
.             With all the discouraging challenges
.             that we had faced, the people had lost hope
.             and had just given up.  Until a few of
.             our prophets came to encourage us,
.             telling us that we should continue
.             to rebuild, just as King Cyrus
.             had originally ordered.
.             When a king gives a decree – it must
.             be carried out.

REPORTER 3    But the other king, king Artaxerxes
.             had put a stop to the building.
.             Was there any legal confusion there?

SHALLMIAH     God allowed us to keep slowly working
.             on our project, until Darius
.             was king of Persia.  Our enemies then
.             sent a letter to king Darius.
.             Besides more false accusations
.             against us, they thought they were
.             being clever by asking the king
.             to investigate the original decree,
.             given by king Cyrus.

REPORTER 3    God could have just kept our enemies away!
.             Why would God allow all of that to happen?  

SHALLMIAH     Well, God has His reasons!
.             King Darius searched the vaults,
.             and found the decree given by
.             King Cyrus – with the reasons behind it.
.             The reasons were to respect and fear God.
.             So now king Darius made a new decree.
.             Not only did the king say we should
.             finish building our temple, but the king
.             told our enemies that they had to give us
.             money from their taxes, as well as
.             any building materials we might need.
.             And whoever did not follow this order -
.             they would be killed.

REPORTER 3    We are all a little curious –
.             does king Darius believe in our God?
.                                                       5
SHALLMIAH     We cannot be certain.  But King Darius
.             definitely respects and fears our God.
.             He has heard the stories from history
.             about our God’s power.  He even asked us
.             to make the proper sacrifices
.             to the God of heaven and pray
.             for himself and his sons.

(CROWD cheers again.)

REPORTER 3    It is truly amazing how God can work
.             and protect us, even when challenges
.             or bad things seem to happen around us.
.             Thank you for your time, Shallmiah.

(SHALLMIAH waves to the cheering CROWD as he exits.
From where they are, REPORTERS 1-3 put hands up to
their ears while speaking to each other.)

REPORTER 1    Zeebah, could you also tell us
.             what the atmosphere is like
.             over there in Jerusalem?

(CROWD cheers as REPORTER 3 looks around at them.)

REPORTER 3    It WAS very serious here for a while,
.             but NOW, after hearing this great news,
.             it is now FULL of excitement!

REPORTER 2    What do the people there say about it?

(REPORTER 3 nods, takes hand away from ear and asks.)

REPORTER 3    We want to know how you all feel.

(REPORTER puts the mic up to PERSON 1.)

PERSON 1      EXCITED!  HAPPY!  FULL OF JOY!

REPORTER 3    They are indeed happy, once again.

(REPORTER 3 puts hand to ear as REPORTER 2 asks...)

REPORTER 2    Zeebah, ask them about the enemies’
.             tactics used against us.
.             How do they feel about THAT?
.                                                       6
(REPORTER 3 nods, takes hand from ear and asks...)

REPORTER 3    Okay, so, after hearing how the enemies
.             tried various way to stop us-
.             how do you feel about that?
.             Disappointed?  Angry?  Sad?  Anyone?

(REPORTER 3 sticks mic out and PERSON 4 leans forward.
As each PERSON speaks, they lean forward to the mic.)

PERSON 2      I am just blown away by how God works.

PERSON 3      Exactly.  We ARE to love our enemies.
.             And for a while, I wondered – why –
.             and how could I do that when they are
.             doing evil things to us.  But –
.             obviously, God is going to take care
.             of those things for us.

PERSON 4      Right!  So we should not worry!
.             And after everything I’ve seen –
.             I know we can trust God
.             to finish rebuilding.  And then-
.             it will be another time to celebrate!

PERSON 5      We can trust God for everything!

(CROWD cheers.  REPORTER 3 nods, then puts a hand back
to ear to speak to REPORTERS 1-2, who do the same.)

REPORTER 3    And there you have it!  

(REPORTER 3 and CROWD exit.  REPORTER 1-2 remove
hand from ear to wrap up...)

REPORTER 2    It is great to know that we can trust God,
.             isn’t it?

REPORTER 1    And, there you have it, folks.
.             That wraps up this morning’s edition of-
.             News Reel.

(This skit stands on its own, or you can choose
to do the
next skit in this Ezra series.)