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!

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

Faith and Freedom ~ Veterans Day

Photo of Corporal Clarence Bonney in uniform

Corporal Clarence Bonney at Camp Crowder, Missouri, before deployment to Burma

My father, Clarence Bonney, served his country for four years during World War II, much of it at a jungle airfield in Burma. As the man in charge of maintaining the field’s electric generators, he worked under dangerous circumstances to support airplanes “flying the hump” to deliver supplies to our troops in China.
Today I want to thank Dad and all the other veterans of our armed forces, who sacrificed their time, their health, and in some cases their lives, that others might live in freedom.

Faith and Freedom

As a Lay Speaker/Servant in the United Methodist Church, I had the opportunity to lead Sunday worship services this morning at my home church and our sister church a few miles away. Preparing for my Veterans Day message, I was struck by the parallel between the service men and women who put their lives on the line so the rest of us can live in freedom, and Jesus Christ, who gave up his own life so that we might live eternally in freedom from sin. Workers in Christian missionary service, as well as those in the military service, can be called into harm’s way, even to death.

To make that point more personal, in place of the traditional Gospel reading and sermon I chose to portray the Apostle John speaking as a traveling preacher in the year 44 A.D., eleven years after the crucifixion of Jesus. In this dramatic monologue, John reflects on the recent execution of his brother James, the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred, and on what James’s death meant to their family’s faith.

Continue reading