martin luther by 8i756ty



                         A Skit for 8 persons
                         Time: 20:00 minutes

                          By Joan W. Peery

    CAST OF CHARACTERS:                                  STAGE SETTING:

             Luther                             Backdrop (monastery interior)
           4 students                              Table with tapestry cover
             Tetzel                                        5 chairs
            Emperor                           (On table: books, candle, quill pen)
          Kate Luther                               Optional: Luther Rose
Townspeople dressed in costume for             Optional: "Wittenberg" town sign
       Tetzel parade, etc.
         Banner carrier

                           Written for presentation at
                            REFORMATION FEST
                               October 29, 1995
                            Hope Lutheran Church
                               Fresno, California
SKIT PREPARATION for Reformation Sunday.

When meeting with Junior highs, ask them what questions they would like to ask Dr.
Martin Luther if they had that opportunity.

Prior to asking the above question, you might want to give a brief history rundown of the
Reformation, by asking questions like:

         What do you know about the Reformation movement in the 16 th Century?
         What were the names of some of the reformers?
         What do you know about Martin Luther?

I have discovered that students know or remember very little about this period of history,
and often confuse Martin Luther with Dr. Martin Luther King. Be prepared to offer an
informal sketch of Luther, prodding them with questions as you do so, to help students
feel that they are helping you "write" the skit.

After that introduction, let them think of questions they might ask Luther today. Be sure
to write ALL questions down (some of them you may not use, but all students' questions
should be taken seriously). If the well runs dry, you might prod them by asking, "what
do you think the people of Martin Luther's day thought about him and his reforms?"
"How did you encourage others to read the Bible so they could understand its message
in the way you did?" Etc., etc. The junior highs I worked with were very responsive,
although they did not always know correct answers, we were able to talk it through.
Here are the questions they asked that I wrote into the skit:

   1. Aren’t you about the same vintage as that other dude, Christopher Columbus?
   2. Why did you become a monk?
   3. What did you discover in the Bible that was different from what the church was
   4. Didn't others read the Bible? Why didn't the people know this?
   5. Why did you write the small catechism?
   6. What did YOU teach about the way to salvation?
   7. Why did the church need to be reformed?
   8. How did the Pope react (when you said he was not infallible)?
   9. They say you had to go on a diet. What was that for? Did you really have to eat
   10. You were condemned as an outlaw to be hunted down. How come you weren't
       burned at the stake like other martyrs?
   11. What did your contemporaries say about you?
   12. What did you say about yourself?
   13. Dr. Luther, did you really marry a nun?

(At 9:55 a.m., TETZEL enters the courtyard along with entourage of trumpets, drums, banner carrier, and
surrounded by several costumed townspeople. As soon as Tetzel enters courtyard, TRUMPET fanfare
announces his presence; drummer follows along, beating drum, stopping when Tetzel speaks.)

TETZEL          (walking around courtyard, calls out:)

        HURRY, HURRY! Step right up…
        Come and hear about these special merits that can be yours!
        Indulgences for sale here, signed by the Pope himself!
        Save yourself and your loved ones from purgatory!

(May stop to negotiate a sale or two, but continues on to the entrance to Community Center by 10:00.)
Trumpet fanfare should be played as he enters Community Center.

As he mounts the stage, TETZEL addresses the crowd:

TETZEL:     Listen now! God and St. Peter call you! Consider the salvation of your
     souls and those of your loved ones departed. You! Noble! You! Merchant!
     You! Youth! You! Old man! Listen to the voices of your dead relatives and
     friends, beseeching you and saying, "Pity us, pity us. We are in dire torment
     from which you can redeem us for a mere pittance!" Remember that you are
     able to save them, because
            "as soon as the coin in the coffer rings
             the soul from purgatory springs!"
     I have indulgences here for two years, five years, and for a price, for ETERNITY!

TOWNSPERSON: Did you bring some relics with you?

TETZEL:     Ach, ja! Here is a piece of the very cross on which our Savior died; for a
     small price you can touch it. And if you buy an indulgence, I'll show you one of
     the actual coins given to that traitor Judas, who betrayed our Lord…

LUTHER:         (interrupting…strides angrily toward the stage carrying a Bible to confront Tetzel):
               Fraud! You are cheating these poor people into thinking they can buy
        their way into the Kingdom of God! Relics indeed! I suppose you even have a
        piece of the burning bush that Moses saw!…or maybe even a feather from the
        angel, Gabriel!
        (TETZEL cowers and begins to back off stage, while LUTHER continues):

        Be gone, monk! You are not welcome in Saxony! (As TETZEL retreats into crowd off
        stage)…I tell you that "he who gives to the poor or tends to the needy does better
        than if he buys indulgences!" Lieber Gott! To think if you prayed before every
        ancient relic you could get time off from purgatory! (Glaring at the retreating TETZEL):
        I'll know a hole in his drum! "If the Pope can free suffering souls from purgatory,
        why not, for the sake of love, empty out purgatory altogether?
(Luther addresses crowd):

       Let me introduce myself. They call me BROTHER MARTIN. I don't suppose any
       of you would remember my last name?

(STUDENTS shout out "LUTHER" and two voices call out "KING")

LUTHER: King? No, no…that was one of your modern day heroes in America (his
     mother must have named him after me). My roots go back 500 years ago, to
     Germany. (Hold up Bible) As a priest and student of the Bible, I became aware
     of how much the church had departed from God's Word. What angered me most
     was this selling of indulgences, and using the money from these poor peasants
     pay for the building of St. Peter's in Rome. In fact, it was exactly on October 31
     in 1517 that I drew up a list of 95 theses, points for debate about the church, and
     nailed it on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

(Addresses students near stage)

       But here are some students. You read your Bible, Ja?


LUTHER:    And your catechism? Ja? Tell me, how many parts does the Apostle's
     Creed have?


LUTHER:        And what do these parts deal with?

STUDENT 1: With the Father as creator,

STUDENT 2: the Son as Redeemer

STUDENT 3: and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier.

LUTHER:    Very good! You four, come up and join me at my table. You probably
     have some questions to ask me!

(Students come up on stage; lead student (male) greets Dr. Luther with a high five, and

STUDENT 4: Yo! Martin!

LUTHER:    (to audience) Hmmm…your 20th century students have an odd way of
     showing respect.
STUDENT 5: Dr. Luther, aren't you about the same vintage as that other dude,
    Christopher Columbus?

LUTHER:      Columbus? I didn't know much about him or his adventures. News didn't
     travel very fast in my day. But much later I learned that he set sail for America
     when I was nine years old. Back then, I was far more interested in man's
     relationship with God than with our relationships in the New World.

STUDENT 4: Is that wny you became a monk?

LUTHER: (chuckles to himself)
     Well, I was certainly interested in MY relationship to God. You know, I started
     out to be a lawyer, because that's what my father wanted. But one day when I
     was returning to the University from home, I got caught in terrible storm. The
     lightning terrified me, and I made a vow to St. Anne, that if my life was spared, I
     would become a monk! Well, here I am! But it wasn't without much struggle! I
     was as terrified of God and what I thought was his "righteous anger" as I was of
     the lightning storm! Hard as I tried, I did not feel I could please a God so perfect!

STUDENT 6: What did you do?

LUTHER:      Not what I did, but what God did for me as I studied the Scriptures! One
     night I was reading Psalm 71, and the words leaped right out at me:
     There it was! The righteousness of God DELIVERS not DESTROYS!
     And then Isaiah 45 says:
     Righteousness saves!

STUDENT 7: What else did you discover in the Bible that was different from what the
    Church was teaching?

LUTHER:      It was the words of Romans 1:17:
      We can't earn God's forgiveness. We simply have to ACCEPT it! By our faith we
      receive that wonderful gift FREE!

      And from my beloved Galatians, chapter 5: (reads from Bible)
              "Now it is evident that no main is justified before God by the LAW; for 'He
              who through FAITH is righteous shall live.'"
      These verses were the turning point in my life! We are "justified" by our faith in

STUDENT 5: Didn't others read the Bible? Why didn't the people know this?
LUTHER:     No one but priests had access to the Bible in my day. And, if they did it
     was only written in Latin, which was a language the common people could not
     read or understand. Perhaps my greatest contribution to the church was to
     translate the Bible from Latin into the German language so that all could read it.
     Of course, not everyone could READ in those days, and I insisted that children,
     both boys AND girls, be educated and learn to read.

STUDENT 6: Why did you write the Small Catechism?

LUTHER:     To help fathers teach their children. Parents had forgotten that they were
     supposed to teach their children what Christians believe. I wanted to students to
     say, "What does this mean?" when they read their Bibles. So I wrote the Small
     Catechism for fathers to use with their children. And I wrote the LARGE
     CATECHISM as a "refresher course" for pastors to use in their teaching. Too
     many pastors were spending their time going on pilgrimages and engaging in
     worldly pursuits. They became very lazy in their preaching and teaching duties.

STUDENT 4: What did you teach about the say to salvation?

LUTHER:     (with confidence): "Sola scriptura! Sola gratia! Sola fide!" We are saved by
     Scripture alone, by grace alone, and by faith alone!

STUDENT 7: Why did the church need to be reformed?

LUTHER:      The church was corrupt, particularly in the practices of "simony", the
     selling of church positions, and "nepotism", giving jobs to family members.
             And the church was too wealthy. Many bishops also held the title of
     Prince, and church owned 1/3 to 1/2 of all the land in the Empire. I'm sorry to say
     that the church was growing more worldly. There were constant demands for
     money to support papal wars or for building new churches in Rome.
             Also, priests had far too much power. The priesthood was considered
     more worthy than the monarchy! The church had set itself up as the custodian of
     GRACE which it administered through the seven sacraments. Grace isn't
     bestowed by the church: it comes as a FREE GIFT from GOD.

STUDENT 5: What other reforms were needed for the church?

LUTHER:     The sacraments! The church practiced seven, but only TWO have a
     scriptural base: baptism and the eucharist, or Holy Communion. And I insisted
     that the wine should not be reserved for priests but offered to the laity as well.

      And priests. Let them marry if they choose! Nothing in the Bible says they need
      to remain in an unmarried state.

      Also the teaching that the pope was infallible was wrong; the pope is not above,
      but under the Word of God.
STUDENT 6: How did the pope react?

LUTHER:    He was furious! He issued a Papal Bull (that's an order) of
     excommunication; called me "a wild boar that had invaded his vineyard!"
     (chuckle) He gave me 60 days to recant or suffer excommunication.

STUDENT 4: They say you had to go on a diet. What was that for? Did you really have
    to eat WORMS?

LUTHER: (Chuckling again) Actually, I had to go TO a Diet. That's what they called a
     "congress" or an official meeting with the Emperor, which was held in the
     German city of Worms.

STUDENT 7: What happened?

LUTHER:       I remember it well…

STUDENT 2: (Student offstage, walks across stage quickl,y carrying sign that reads
    "FLASHBACK" as Luther walks to center stage in front of table.)

EMPEROR CHARLES V: (in loud, commanding voice):
    Dr. Luther, we ask you two questions:
    Did you indeed write these books before us today? And secondly, do you deny
    everything that you have written in these books?

LUTHER:     Your imperial Majesty and members of the Diet: When I was ordained I
     was commissioned to use the Scriptures as the norm and faith of life. And I was
     called upon to give a faithful witness to the Grace of God in the world. For some
     time now, the faithful witness to the grace of God has been buried under
     manmade traditions and laws. When the Word of God and the traditions and
     teachings of men stand opposed to each other, we must always come down on
     the side of the Word of God.

       It appears to me that not only have the bishops and princes of the empire
       forgotten this, but also the Emperor and the Pope. You have asked me to recant
       on the basis of an imperial command and the traditions of the papacy. Until I am
       convinced by Scripture alone that I am wrong, I cannot and will not recant.
       HERE I STAND! God help me! Amen.

(EMPEROR CHARLES shakes his head sadly and walks off stage; LUTHER returns to table)

STUDENT 5: You were condemned as an outlaw, to be hunted down. How come you
    weren't burned at the stake like other martyrs?

LUTHER: Duke Frederick, the elector of Saxony, was my good friend and protector. He
     arranged to have me kidnapped after the Diet of Worms, and gave me safe
        passage to the Wartburg Castle where I lived in hiding for a year. My life was
        truly in danger. I disguised myself as "Junker Georg" and let my hair grow long.
        But I had to keep busy, so while I was there, I began to translate the New
        Testament into German.

        Eventually, I was able to return to Wittenberg to lead the Reformation movement.

STUDENT 6: What did your contemporaries say about you?

LUTHER:         (laughing)

        Well some said I was a "maniac", "vulgar", a "windbag"' I've been called "Dr.
        Easychair" by a few.

        But others said, "No, he is the Saxon Hus who had the courage to defy the
        church's tyranny, a dear man of God who brought the Gospel to light when it had
        been utterly lost."

STUDENT 4: What did you say about yourself?

LUTHER:     It troubled me when people talked about forming a "Luther-an" church. I
     did not want to start a new church, but to reform the old! I ask men to call
     themselves CHRISTIANS, not LUTHERANS. And don't give me the credit for
     reforming the church. "God reformed the church while I drank Wittenberg beer!"

STUDENT 7: Dr. Luther, did you really marry a nun?

(KATE walks quickly on stage during this question…)
        I'd like to answer that question!

LUTHER:          (rising from chair to greet Kate…from this point on both Kate and Luther use the stand-up
        mike in front of stage)
        Ah, Kate, m'Lord, come join us.

KATE:           I see you brought students to our dinner table again.
        (addressing the audience):
        But to answer your question…let me tell you how that happened.

        I was sent to convent as a teenager because my parents couldn't afford to keep
        my at home. When we heard about Dr. Luther's teachings about the "Priesthood
        of ALL believers", and "that the Son of God sets free those who have cloistered
        themselves under false vows," we wrote to him to ask him to help us escape the

LUTHER:     Yes, I arranged for the herring merchant to make a night-time delivery to
     your convent on Easter Eve…
KATE:            …and 12 of us used the cover of darkness to hide among the stinking fish
        barrels in the covered wagon which brought us to Wittenberg. Dr. Luther
        arranged to find husbands or positions for everyone except me. Oh, he tried, but
        I finally enlisted the help of another man to offer a proposal to Dr. Luther.

LUTHER:     (to audience) Gott in himmel, she was persistent! I thought I best to stay
     unmarried. After all, my life was in jeopardy, and there was so much work to do!
     But my friends convinced me I needed a wife, so "the angels laughed and the
     devils wept" when we married.

KATE:           We took our vows before the magistrate in June, and two weeks later had
        a religious ceremony and a wedding dinner which even your parents attended!
        We were married for 21 years and had six children.

LUTHER:        In addition to the 11 orphaned nieces and nephews that you raised…

KATE:         And we could always count on at least 12 students lodgers plus an
        endless stream of visitors!

LUTHER:     Ahh, Katie, my rib, you proved such a blessing to me, and you had your
     hands full trying to make this drab, cheerless monastery into a hospitable home.
     (Addressing audience):
     There was never much money, and Katie planted gardens, and even converted a
     space into a brewery which produced an excellent beer. She raised livestock,
     especially pigs, because I love pork, and I often called her my "Lord Kate,
     Mistress of the Pigsty." In spite of all that, she found time to read her Bible. I
     promised 50 gulden if she completed the Bible in its entirety before Easter!

KATE:            We've had our joys as well as our share of trials, especially when our 13
        year old daughter, Magdelena, died. Your health, Dr. Luther, was always my
        biggest concern. These people would probably laugh at some of the home
        remedies I concocted for your headaches, digestive system and other ailments
        (aside to audience) to say nothing about his moodiness!

        But among the happiest moments in our life together was when you would pick
        up your lute after dinner and lead us all in song.

LUTHER:     Ah, yes…next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise!
     There wasn't much singing in church in my day, so I wrote songs, sometimes
     stealing the music from drinking songs and writing in words from the Gospel
     through Music, too! He is our mighty fortress, our ever-present help in trouble! I
     wonder if anyone still sings that song I wrote so long ago?

KATE:          They didn’t' call you the "Nightingale of Wittenberg" for nothing, dear
        doctor! One of your hymns, "God's Word is Our Great Heritage" reminds us that
        the reformation you started 500 years ago continues even today as the light of
         God's Word falls on each generation. Let's leave these good people with this
         song in their hearts.


         God's Word is our great heritage
         And shall be ours forever;
         To spread its light from age to age
         Shall be our chief endeavor.
         Through life it guides our way; In death it is our stay.
         Lord, grant while time shall last
         Your Church may hold it fast
         Throughout all generations.

(At conclusion of song, the cast may bow from the waist toward audience and file off

Submitted by Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA, Fresno, California

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