’Tis the Season~Lots of Seasons

Thanksgiving

Family photo and verse 1 of ThankfulThis is a special time of gratitude for blessings past, present, and sure to come. Thank you, dear family, friends, and fans for being the tremendous blessings you are! Thank you, Lord, for making all blessings possible!

This family photo was taken at my parents’ 25th anniversary party. My sister, Marie, passed away less than two months later. We’ve since lost Ma, Dad, and Aunt Annette too. But they all loved to have a good time with family, so lots of love and laughter echo through the years.

Words for a new song I titled “Thankful” were rolling through my head as I woke up this morning. That’s verse 1 in the picture. If you feel like singing, you can listen to the tune at hymnary.org. (HE LEADETH ME)

Harvest season on our farm is coming to a close. If the weather, equipment, and husband hold out, all the corn should be combined within a week or so.

Deer hunting season is on. Mostly that means I don’t go out walking around on our fields, even in my neon pink vest. You never know when some yobbo might have an attack of buck fever (or Bud fever) and decide to bag that purty pink deer for his girlfriend!

The Christmas season has been in full swing for a while now—at least, the shopping and schmaltzy-Christmas-music-playing part of it. The “real” part is almost upon us, too. Advent, the season of spiritual preparation for the arrival of Jesus, begins this coming Sunday, November 29, 2015.

Then there’s the gift-giving season of Lent.

Wait a minute! Lent? Gifts?? In November?!

Well, sort of.

Giving It Up for Lent by Linda Bonney OlinMy latest holiday gift-giving binge starts Thanksgiving Day and runs through Monday, November 30, 2015. The featured giveaway is the Kindle edition of Giving It Up for Lent~Leader Guide: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion. Grab a book for yourself and gift one to your pastor or small group leader, while the price is as right as it’s ever going to get. It’s available on Amazon.com.

Before I get busy peeling a pile of potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner, let me also thank all the folks who downloaded free copies of my single-script Transformed Resurrection Drama ebooks during the giveaway that just ended. Stay tuned, because I’m still in a gift-giving mood! At least one more book is already scheduled to be offered free in early December. Check back soon for details.

Speaking of thanks … You may have seen my plan to send thank-you books to the folks who took the time to post reviews of my books during the holiday season. Sad to say, I had to cancel that idea. Word is out that Amazon is penalizing authors who “compensate” reviewers in any form, even for an honest, voluntary review. Sorry! As far as I know, though, verbal expressions of appreciation haven’t been outlawed yet, so THANK YOU, reviewers!

Blessings of the season (all of them!) to you and yours.

Linda

 

 

James the Brother of Jesus ~ Transformed Again

unbeliefJesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Mark 6:1–6 (NLT)

As I prepared my sermon, songs, and prayers to go along with Mark 6:1–6, James the brother of Jesus struck me as the ideal “poster boy” for that Sunday’s topic of belief/unbelief. Not only was James mentioned by name in this scripture passage, but verses scattered throughout the New Testament reveal his transformation from unbelieving brother to ardent believer.

When I fill in for the pastor, I like to bring new music or a bit of drama (the good kind!) to the worship service. Why not a guest appearance by “James”? I’d already written a play in which James tells his faith story on a cutthroat TV talk show. But that was an edgy, half-hour musical comedy. To fit into a worship service, “James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed” needed a major transformation of its own.

Goodbye, comic characters! So long, songs! See ya later, subplot!

Trimming the dialogue to a straightforward, ten-minute interview perfectly suited my “Late to Faith” message.

Book cover, James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed by Linda Bonney OlinIn fact, the interview format is so versatile that I went the extra mile and added this version of the script to my books James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed and Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas. The updated editions are now “live” on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.com (my paperback printer). For information about the Transformed series, click here.

FREE bonus resources!

Let’s go an extra two miles! For a limited time, buyers of either book can receive a copy of my Mark 6:16 worship plan and resources:

  • Bulletin (modified)
  • Hymn selections for congregational singing
  • Call to worship, drawn from my song lyrics “Faith Isn’t Just a State of Mind” (I’ll throw in the sheet music for good measure)
  • Unison prayer
  • Scripture readings
  • Musical meditation for soloist, “Peering into Faith’s Foggy Window” (sheet music & mp3 accompaniment file of the tune PICARDY) You can play the mp3 accompaniment file to help you learn the song; or burn it onto a CD if you don’t have a live accompanist. Note that the sheet music is in F; the mp3 is in G flat to accommodate a lower vocal range.
  • Youth message
  • Sermon
  • Benediction

To request your free bonus bundle, forward your purchase confirmation email from Amazon or CreateSpace to Linda@LindaBonneyOlin(dot)com, and ask for “Unbelief Resources” in the body of your email.

Book cover, Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas by Linda Bonney OlinNow, my Holy Ghostwriter and I could use your help getting the word out to churches, small groups, and individuals who might enjoy using the Transformed Bible-based dramas for performance, reading, and/or discussion. Please mention my books to your pastor or worship leader. Better yet, order them a gift copy. Christmas is just around the corner!

And, as always, your prayer supported is greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much!
Linda

P.S. 11/19/2015 All five of the single script ebooks in the Transformed series, including James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed, will be on KDP FREE DAYS promotion starting Friday, November 20 through Tuesday, November 24. Details and more giveaways on my post Tis the Season for Gift-Giving.

 

After the Cross: James the Brother of Jesus

White cross on dark blue backgroundJames “the Lord’s brother” was missing from the scene of the cross while Jesus suffered and died. Wouldn’t you expect such a close family member to be there, supporting Jesus and Mary in those desperate hours? But then, this particular James had been absent from Jesus’ ministry all along.

In my musical dramatic comedy “James the Brother of Jesus, Transformed,” James appears on a fictional (obviously!) Christian television show to share his personal story of faith in Jesus Christ. But he’s barely settled into a chair on stage when his identity as the brother of Jesus throws the other two guests into a rambunctious argument. Was Mary a virgin all her life? In that case, one guest insists, James must be Joseph’s son from a previous marriage, or a cousin of Jesus, or even a random believer. Or are James and the other brothers and sisters mentioned in the Bible literally Jesus’ younger siblings born of Mary and Joseph, as the other guest argues?

No matter where you stand on this real-life controversy, you can appreciate the obstacles a “brother” of Jesus would have experienced on the road to faith.

JAMES:  I had no part in Jesus’ ministry at all, for the simple reason that I didn’t believe he was the Messiah, or the Son of God, or a prophet, or any of that. None of his brothers believed in him.

INTERVIEWER:  I don’t understand. You said you and Jesus were very close.

JAMES:  That was the problem. I knew who Jesus was and where he came from, and it wasn’t heaven. He was a regular kid like the rest of us.

GUEST #1:  Come on! How “regular” could the Son of God be? Continue reading

After the Cross: Mary the Mother of Jesus

White cross on dark blue backgroundApril 8, 2014

I certainly didn’t intend a five-week gap between posts in my series about how people close to Jesus were transformed by his resurrection. But a few hours after I posted the meditation about the Apostle John, way back on Ash Wednesday, my mother was unexpectedly hospitalized. I hit the road to my parents’ home in Maine the next day. A month of turmoil later, I’m sitting in their kitchen, alone with my laptop and my thoughts about recent evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness—the same faithfulness Mary trusted through thick and thin.

Mary, as far as I can see, never doubted that the Lord God would fulfill all his amazing promises. She pondered and praised and treasured and obeyed, but never doubted. When she asked the angel Gabriel how she, a virgin, could birth the Savior, I hear surprised curiosity rather than skepticism in her question. Even at the cross, her faith did not falter. Of all Jesus’ family, friends, and followers, Mary alone watched her son suffer and die without losing confidence in the Lord God’s word that Jesus was the promised savior. She simply waited to see how—not if—the promise would be fulfilled.

In Mary the Mother of Jesus, Transformed, Mary strengthens John after the crucifixion by revealing her knowledge of God’s plans for Jesus. Even Jesus’ death, painful as it had been, couldn’t quench her faith.

MARY:  It’s not necessary for servants to understand their master’s plans, John. A faithful servant obeys his master and trusts his promises.

JOHN:  Are you suggesting that Jesus’ death is part of the Lord’s kingdom promise? (He shakes his head.) How could such a thing be?

MARY:  Do you remember the angel Gabriel’s answer to that question?

JOHN:  “The Lord God is able to bring it about. Nothing is impossible with God.” But—

MARY:  I know. Jesus’ death doesn’t make any sense, not to us. But his conception and birth didn’t make any sense either.

JOHN (wryly):  That’s true enough.

MARY:  Besides, look how generously our master in heaven has favored you and me with personal glimpses of his plans for the future. Shall we repay such extraordinary gifts with anything less than our complete trust?

 

August 11, 2014

Yes, it’s been four months since I started to write this post. When I began, I was sitting alone in my parents’ kitchen for the first time ever because, by the grace of God, I had been able to settle them into an assisted living facility in record time after Ma’s latest discharge from the hospital. I expected to do a little cleanup at the house, chauffeur her to another medical appointment or two, then drive home on the weekend to get my farm bookkeeping caught up before driving back to Maine for her next round of tests and procedures. But, Friday afternoon I arrived at an office too late to transact a piece of business for my parents, and I had to postpone my trip home. So I was still in town when the call came Saturday morning. My mother was in an ambulance en route to the emergency room.

She was barely responsive when I arrived. I didn’t know what to think, what to expect, what to do. Least of all, what to say. I asked if she’d like me to pray her rosary for her. She nodded, or at least I thought she did. Somehow the words bubbled up from my memory and out of my mouth. Fifty Hail Mary’s, ten at a time. Five Our Father’s and Glory Be’s. I probably missed something, but I don’t suppose the Lord held it against me.

The priest came in to give Ma the Anointing of the Sick. Doctors spoke to me, each grimmer than the last. It finally sank in. Ma wasn’t going to pull through this time.

I prayed to Jesus, as one child to another, asking him to deal as lovingly with my mother as he had dealt with his own. Hadn’t he put aside his agony on the cross to place his dear mother into John’s care? Now I placed my dear Ma into Jesus’ care. If not to heal her, at least to ease her journey to heaven.

A very short time later, she slipped away from this life, her hand clasped in mine.

I imagine Jesus, with great big smile, handing his good and faithful servant an Express Pass to Glory, to collect her reward for 84 years of devoted service. I think of the many blessings that fell into place for her and Dad over her last months—evidence of the heavenly master’s generous favor. Yes, my prayers were answered, long before they were uttered.

There’s so much more to tell, but I haven’t had the heart to write about it. Finishing this post is a start.

For more about my mother, Theresa Bonney:
Faith of Our Mothers

For more about Mary the mother of Jesus:
Luke

For more on Mary the Mother of Jesus, Transformed:
Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas

Please post a comment to commiserate, console, or converse. I’d love to hear from you.
—Linda

 

After the Cross: The Apostle John

White cross on dark blue backgroundI recalled the strange look on his face when he told James and me that, yes, we would drink from the same cup he drinks from. Now I knew. It was his cup of suffering we were destined to share.

I tasted a tiny drop from that cup there in the garden …

Sipped a bit more while Jesus was questioned and mocked …

Drank deeper when he was scourged …

Choked down a big gulp when he was crucified …

And drained it, down to the last bitter dregs, as I watched him … cry out … and die …

—John the Apostle, Transformed

John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” stood faithfully at the cross with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus. Like the two women, John suffered a crushing personal loss when Jesus died.

But John lost something more than a beloved friend and teacher that day. Into the tomb with Jesus’ dead body went the corpse of John’s ambitions for kingdom glory.

The kingdom promise

As a member of a devout Jewish family, John had been taught from childhood that the Lord God of Israel had promised to send his people a redeemer, one who would establish a righteous kingdom and rule in glory. John, his brother, James, and their mother, Salome, firmly believed that Jesus was the Promised One. Someday soon, Jesus would free the Jews from their Roman oppressors and seize control of the government. The three of them had even begged Jesus to give John and James the places of honor at his side when that day came.

Now it never would.

So John grieved for Jesus and also for his lost kingdom dream. The day after the crucifixion, while John did his best to comfort Jesus’ mother and the other mourners, his head must have buzzed with confusion and disillusionment.

Would Israel never be free? Was John destined for scorn as the follower of an executed dissident instead of glory as King Jesus’ right-hand man? Had his confidence in God’s kingdom promise been a mistake? Had he somehow misunderstood Jesus’ identity? No, surely not. John had heard the voice of God himself claiming Jesus as his beloved son. (Matthew 17:1–8)

But Jesus’ death was so … final. How could that be part of the Lord God’s kingdom plan?

The promise fulfilled

We know now that the kingdom promise was not canceled at the cross. It was fulfilled in the empty tomb of the risen Christ. But to accept that, John had to grasp the nature of Jesus Christ’s kingdom. Glory was redefined. Eternal, not earthbound. Sacrificial, not self-aggrandizing. Not what John expected. Much, much better!

Do you, like John, feel crushed and confused because something you begged Jesus for hasn’t turned out as you hoped and expected?

Take heart. As John discovered, sometimes the Lord’s promises are fulfilled in ways that are totally unexpected, but even more glorious than you could have dreamed!

As you can tell from the banner picture on the Faith Songs home page, I’m a firm believer in the Lord’s faithfulness in fulfilling his promises. His answers to prayer do take unexpected turns! If you’ve experienced this in your own life, please leave a reply to tell us about it.

You can learn more of John’s story in the Gospels and in Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas, a collection of half-hour one-act plays. John the Apostle, Transformed is a dramatic monologue with humorous touches, portraying John as a visiting preacher in 44 AD. A letter from his mother about the recent execution of James, his brother, prompts John to share reminiscences of their quest for kingdom glory.

Speaking of Transformed, thank you to all who attended the book launch party on Facebook! We had a lot of fun and gave away lots of goodies, and I didn’t get grilled TOO badly in the Q & A sessions. If you missed the party, you still can read our conversations on the Facebook event page.

Blessings,
Linda

P.S. As I write this, it is Ash Wednesday. Here is a fitting promise, from the prophet Isaiah.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

—Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

May that promise be gloriously fulfilled in your life!

 

After the Cross: Mary Magdalene

White cross on dark blue backgroundThe other Mary at the cross

Crucifixion tableaux commonly picture Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, and his mother, Mary, consoling each other at the foot of the cross. But the Bible tells us that another Mary endured the anguish of watching Jesus die. Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ devoted disciple, followed him all the way to Calvary too.

Mark 16:9 calls her a woman from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons. Who else—what else—was Mary Magdalene? A saint? A sinner? A sort of Galilean Yoko Ono, whose influence over Jesus aroused jealous resentment among the other disciples? Jesus’ love match? Wife? Mother of his children? The embodiment of the “sacred feminine,” as suggested in modern speculative fiction?

I don’t know how much truth each of those depictions contains. But one thing seems certain: Mary Magdalene loved Jesus deeply. She loved him as the healer of her body and the savior of her soul. He didn’t merely cast out the seven demons who had subjected her to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse, though that would have been enough. He made her whole again with his encompassing, unconditional, personal love.

How profoundly, then, she must have suffered along with Jesus at the cross! How devastating her loss, when he was snatched away by death!

When John led Mary the mother of Jesus away from the scene, did Mary Magdalene follow the body of Jesus to the newly hewn tomb and watch with a tight heart as it was quickly wrapped in linen and laid to rest? Did she hurry back into the city to buy burial spices before the vendor closed shop at sundown for the Sabbath?

Ah, that Sabbath day!

By the following morning, the protective numbness had surely worn off. Jewish law prohibited most activity on Saturday, so there was little to distract the grieving woman from the ragged pain of once more being … incomplete.

 Excerpt from the dramatic monologue Mary Magdalene, Transformed

(MAGDALENE echoes Jesus in an anguished voice.)
My Lord, my Lord, why have you forsaken me?
(MAGDALENE covers her face with her hands and stands with her head bent down for several moments. She uncovers her face and raises her head before continuing.)
The next day was the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. (bitterly) I found no rest in it. Questions invaded my mind, like demons rushing to take possession.
(MAGDALENE speaks forlornly.)
Where does this leave me?
Why did he leave me?
Who is Mary Magdalene now?
What am I, without Jesus?
Is everything (a beat) finished?

(MAGDALENE mournfully sings O Lord, Whose Touch Once Made Me Whole. Click the title to listen to vocalist Theresa Olin.)

1. O Lord, whose touch once made me whole, whose love restored my very soul, how can it be that you are gone? Without you, how can I be strong enough to carry on?

2. O Lord, why did you have to leave? Should I be angry? Should I grieve? I was so sure we’d never part. But death has taken you and left me with a hollow heart.

3. O Lord, will I see you again? Does “It is finished” mean the end of everything I thought I knew? Of everything we all believed that you would someday do?

Lost love? Eternal love!

Have you ever experienced the raw pain of abandonment when a person you loved so profoundly—one who completed you—walked out the door, never to return? Perhaps the departure was a deliberate breakup. Perhaps, like Mary Magdalene, you lost your loved one to death, without a chance to brace yourself against the blow. Either way, you might have felt as forsaken as Mary did. And asked the same desperate questions.

But we know something Mary didn’t know on that terrible Saturday. Jesus had not abandoned her. He continued to love her with an all-encompassing, unconditional love. In fact, their love was transformed into an eternal bond!

Be encouraged by the knowledge that the living Christ loves you—yes, you!—with that same eternal, forgiving, redeeming, all-encompassing, personal love. Others may forsake you. He will not!

Learn more of Mary Magdalene’s story in Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas, a collection of one-act plays. Mary Magdalene, Transformed is a dramatic monologue portraying Mary as a visiting speaker/singer who relates her history with Jesus to a not entirely sympathetic audience. Three solo songs provide an optional musical element.

Find more information about the music in Mary Magdalene, Transformed, and listen to my diva daughter’s informal vocal recordings on the Audio page here at Faith Songs.

Edit 3/26/2016: Mary Magdalene, Transformed is now available as a single-script ebook, too.

Edit 2/5/2017: O Lord, Whose Touch Once Made Me Whole (Theresa Olin, a cappella) on YouTube

Blessings,
Linda

P.S. Please leave a comment below. Your two cents is worth a good buck and a half to me! ♥

 

After the Cross: Simon Peter

White cross on dark blue backgroundWhere was Simon Peter on Good Friday?

I have no idea where the “senior statesman” of Jesus Christ’s apostles spent that day. But the Bible gives us a pretty good idea where he wasn’t. Peter isn’t among those mentioned at the foot of the cross, watching Jesus suffer and die. John was there. Some of the women, too. But not Peter.

So, what happened to the man who had assured Jesus, “I will never desert you,” and, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you”?
Matthew 26:33-35 (NRSV)

Mere hours after that brash declaration, Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. Peter’s first impulse when the mob swarmed in was to swing his sword in his master’s defense. His display of bravado totally failed to rescue Jesus. What’s more, Jesus put a stop to it and even healed a fellow whose ear Peter had sliced off. Peter stood helpless as Jesus was bound and dragged away.

Peter followed at a distance. While Jesus was questioned by the authorities, he stood with a group of people warming themselves around a fire outside. I suspect that no amount of heat could have chased away the chill that settled into Peter’s heart.

Then, the betrayal.

One person, then another, and another accused Peter of being a follower of Jesus. Peter vehemently denied them all. Then Peter recalled how Jesus had predicted his betrayal. Jesus had even foreseen that Peter would deny him three times. Peter broke down and ran, weeping with shame, into the anonymous darkness.

Imagine Peter sobbing in his hiding place that night, overwhelmed by guilt, shame, and fear. He must have replayed his cowardly betrayal over and over in his mind. The shame was multiplied by his having crowed to Jesus in front of his fellow apostles that HE wouldn’t fall away, even if all of THEM did!

I wonder if Peter told himself that, wait a minute, he’d had good reason to be afraid! Those soldiers meant business, and the Jewish leaders were out for Jesus’ blood. Jesus knew that. They’d had words over it before. You can’t protect someone who refuses to be protected. Why did Jesus always have to squelch Peter’s efforts to save his neck, and embarrass him with reprimands besides? Why shouldn’t Peter be smarter, and save himself at least?

Imagine fresh guilt sweeping over Peter for even thinking such thoughts.

Did he sink at last into exhausted sleep? Or did his emotional turmoil keep him awake until dawn?

The new day brought Peter’s worst fears into being. Jesus, tortured and mocked. Forced up the road to Golgotha, bleeding and falling. Crucified. Taunted. Pierced with a spear. Taken down from the cross, dead.

Did Peter witness those events? Was he too overwhelmed to face any of it? Did he stay holed up for fear of being arrested too, perhaps straining for bits of information from passing conversations, hoping yet fearing to know Jesus’ fate?

What was Simon Peter doing, thinking, and feeling after the cross and before the resurrection?

Meditate on this question. Especially if you’ve ever been overwhelmed by guilt, fear, and shame.

Be encouraged by the one thing we know about Simon Peter’s whereabouts on Friday and Saturday: He did not follow Judas Iscariot down the one-way path of despair after betraying his beloved Lord. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Sunday, Peter was back in the company of Jesus’ family and disciples. Along with them, he experienced the amazement and joy of the Lord’s victory over death. He was forgiven for his failings. He was—transformed!

Learn more of Peter’s story in Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas. The first script in this collection of half-hour one-act plays is Simon Peter, Transformed. Simon Peter’s appearance on a TV news show is comically interrupted by his brother, Andrew, who proceeds to “help” Peter explain to the hard-nosed interviewer how the brash betrayer became a solid rock of faith.

And please join me at the online Book Launch Party for Transformed on Facebook on February 22, 2014. HINT: The previous paragraph of this post might help you win a prize at the party!

Click here and then click the “Join” button to join the event. You can do that ahead of time. Please invite your friends who might like my dramas. Then visit the event page on February 22 to wish me well, answer trivia questions for giveaways, and get info about 50% book discounts.

Now, don’t forget to leave a reply on this page. Comments warm a blogger’s heart. In this weather, I need all the warmth I can get! <3

Blessings,
Linda

 

Who Doesn’t Love Books and Bargains?

Greetings from Faith Songs!

I almost feel as if I should introduce myself, after my two-month absence from Faith Songs. As many of you know, my parents’ health needs take me away from home (and away from my high-speed Internet) for weeks at a time, and that was the case for most of December and part of January. When I got home, my first priority (okay, second—after smooching my husband) was the farm bookkeeping. Besides the usual accounts payable/receivable and payroll, January is prime time for annual business reports, employer reports, tax reports, lender reports, Workers Comp audit reports—you get the idea. Squeezed in writing and submitting a few new hymns and devotions. No time for blogging.

New release: Transformed

Book cover TRANSFORMED: 5 Resurrection Dramas by Linda Bonney OlinWhen the bookkeeping finally hit a lull between deadlines, the Holy Spirit shifted me into high gear to get my latest drama book published. I polished the content, cover, and interior design to a high gloss with the help of my wonderful beta readers. The paperback edition of Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas rolled onto the cyber-shelves at  Amazon and CreateSpace the last week of January, and the Kindle version went up on Amazon shortly afterwards. Stay tuned for information about a Book Launch Party (exclusive giveaways, discounts, fun trivia, and who knows what-all) on Facebook. Hopefully I can get that scheduled before the book and I both curl up and yellow with age.

But, first!

My Holy Ghostwriter poked me to share some thoughts about the Bible characters in Transformed. I say “characters” because that’s what you call people in a play, but these were real people, even though the premises of the dramas are fictional (at least, I’m pretty sure none of the apostles ever appeared on a TV talk show!). In fact, the five lead characters were among Jesus Christ’s closest family and friends: his mother, Mary, and his brother James; the apostles Simon Peter and John; and his devoted disciple Mary Magdalene.

The five dramas portray how they were transformed by Jesus’ resurrection. But what about the soul-wrenching days that led up to it? What was each of those individuals doing, and thinking, and feeling after Jesus died, before news came that he’d risen from the tomb, alive? We tend to treat Holy Saturday like a blank page between Good Friday and Easter. That page deserves to be examined more closely before we turn it. That will be the focus of an upcoming series of posts here at Faith Songs.

Book Resources for Lent

In the meantime, I invite you to check out Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas on Amazon or CreateSpace. It offers drama, comedy, music—and best of all, life-changing truth.

Book cover of Giving It Up for Lent: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion by Linda Bonney OlinAnd don’t forget my other Lent resources: The Sacrifice Support Group: A Dramatic Comedy for Lent and Giving It Up for Lent: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion. ’Tis the season! Ash Wednesday is March 5, 2014.

Chances are, you’re not one of the few people who shop for church play scripts and Bible study materials for a church group. But my tribe (that’s you!) can pass the message to the people in your church who do buy them—pastors, worship leaders, drama teams, small group leaders, adult Sunday School teachers. Please do whatever you can to help me get the word to those folks. If you’re not a church person yourself, you probably know one or two you can mention it to.

Yes, the post title said “Bargains”

Trumpet fanfare! My Book Launch Party for Transformed will unveil a discount code of 50% on all my Christian drama books and Bible study workbooks. The code will be valid only on paperback editions, only at CreateSpace.com, and only on the Launch Party dates.

Continue reading

Book Launch: Lenten Bible Studies and Drama

Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)

Book cover of Giving It Up for Lent by Linda Bonney OlinThat Bible verse serves as the epigram in the three books exploring Lenten sacrifice I launched this week:

Giving It Up for Lent—Leader Guide: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion

Giving It Up for Lent—Workbook: Bible Study, Drama, Discussion

The Sacrifice Support Group: A Dramatic Comedy for Lent

It might seem strange to talk about Lent in December. After all, Ash Wednesday won’t roll around again until March 5, 2014. But I hope my helpful readers will pass the information about my new books to whoever organizes Bible studies, dramas, and supper programs for their churches. They may be preparing next year’s programs now.

Speaking of preparation, today is the first Sunday of Advent, and Advent and Lent are sister seasons of spiritual preparation.

During the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, Christians around the world remember the time when God’s people waited—not weeks, but centuries!—for the Savior God had promised. We traditionally read Bible passages from Old Testament prophets including Isaiah, Samuel, Jeremiah, and Micah, and gospel accounts, especially Luke, that shed light on that promise and its fulfillment in the coming (“advent”) of Jesus. His arrival as a baby in Bethlehem is a joyful occasion, so Advent meditations carry a hopeful note.

During the forty days of Lent, Christians prepare to mark the final fulfillment of the salvation promise, in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Although Lent ends with a victory celebration on Easter Sunday, the horrific circumstances of Jesus’s suffering and death give Lenten meditations a solemn tone. As we read the Bible accounts, we wonder, how can we make ourselves worthy of Jesus’ willing sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins? We can’t, of course. But we can reflect on it, with gratitude. And try, in our own small way, to emulate his spirit of self-sacrifice for the good of others and the glory of God.

Giving It Up for Lent and The Sacrifice Support Group might just help folks do that. So please, pass the word!

No matter what your faith, may you find peace, renewal, and true joy during this holiday season!

Linda

 

New Indie Author ~ Frank Di Giovanni

Photo of Frank Di Giovanni, author of RIVINGTON STREET, reading from his play

Frank Di Giovanni, author of RIVINGTON STREET, reading from his play

Frank Di Giovanni, a long-time member of the W. B. Ogden Writers Group in Walton, New York, enthralled an audience at W. B. Ogden Library last night with a dramatic reading from his newly released play, Rivington Street.

The three-act drama follows the conflict between retired businessman Sam Israel and his son, Robert, a pushy lawyer. After the death of his beloved wife, Sam leaves their Florida residence and returns to the old neighborhood in New York City—over Robert’s fierce objections. Sam meets up with Dave, the present owner of Sam’s former clothing store, and can’t help but compare Robert’s attitude to the close, respectful relationship Dave enjoys with his adult son, Max. The fat hits the fire when Robert shows up, armed with papers authorizing him to take Sam “home” by force. Yes, Robert is one of those characters you love to hate. Don’t worry, though. “Salvation,” as Frank calls it, comes by the end of the play.

Missed the event at Ogden Library? Click here to listen to Frank Di Giovanni’s reading of Act Two, Scene One of Rivington Street. (The recording runs about 25 minutes. Please forgive the slight gurgle that was left behind when I filtered out a loud ventilation fan.)

Having heard Frank read his work at writers group meetings, I wasn’t surprised by the authentic characterizations he dressed his dialogue in. As audience members remarked during the question and answer session that followed the reading, both Frank’s writing and his animated reading put us right into the scene. Frank says he’s had no acting experience to account for his theatrical flair. He jokingly suggests it came with his Italian heritage.

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