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The First Will Be Last

Written by Esta Felder

This play was performed at Taste of Missions during Conservative Mennonite Conference’s Annual Conference 2017. Esta Felder,* an RMM worker in the Middle East, writes and directs dramas that are performed live as well as filmed and broadcast on the only full-time Christian television station in the Middle East.

Old Woman
The doorkeeper stands center stage. An old woman with a cane slowly makes her way toward the entrance.

Doorkeeper: (To the woman…) Greetings! Welcome to the Kingdom of God!

Woman: Oh, yes! Greetings to you! Thank you, thank you so much!

Robert enters, rushes past her kicking the cane from under her causing her to fall.

Doorkeeper: (Helps the woman to a seat.) Oh!! Are you alright?

Woman: (Shaken) Oh, uh …yes, I think so! I was just coming when that gentleman…

Robert: Oh! Am I responsible for that? So, sorry! I didn’t even notice. My mistake.

Doorkeeper: I see. Well, I think this woman was before you. If you’d like to wait?

Robert: (Clearing up a misunderstanding) Oh, you must not realize who I am. (To woman) You remember me. (To Doorkeeper) I’m Robert. I run the senior citizens free lunch program …among other things.

Doorkeeper: Okay, Robert. What’s in your hand? (One hand is tightly closed in a fist)

Robert: Oh, that just happened over time. I can’t seem to open it. I’m sure that can be fixed once I get inside.

Doorkeeper: You seem pretty sure you’ll get inside.

Robert: Well, …of course. I’ve always worked very hard! Ask anyone, I have a good reputation in my community.

Doorkeeper: Yes, actually that’s what you’re holding onto in your closed fist. And what else?

Robert: What do you mean? I’m holding what in my fist?

Doorkeeper: Your reputation. There’s pain too, other people’s pain. You’ve caused some injury along the way.

Robert: Look, if there’s been offense, it wasn’t my intention! I’ve done my best!

Doorkeeper: The best for you. I’m sorry, but in order to enter this Kingdom both hands must be open …and empty.

Robert: Seriously? (Robert tries to open his hand but it won’t open.) I thought I had control over this, but it’s not opening.

Doorkeeper: Here’s more bad news. Sin, like all disease, spreads. Your sin has spread from your hand to your heart and eyes.

Robert: That can’t be! Ask the people in my church! They would never believe it!

Doorkeeper: You do a lot for the church.

Robert: Yes! Everyone knows my name!

Doorkeeper: Do you know this woman’s name? (Pause. Robert reacts as if to say, “Oh come on.”) I’m sorry, but knowing where the entrance is, is not enough. You can’t come in.

Robert: But there must be something I can do!

Doorkeeper: It would be better for you if you cut off your hand.

Robert: What? You’re kidding? That’s a little extreme! Is it really that important?

Doorkeeper: It’s not an option.

Robert continues trying to open his hand but it won’t open.

Robert: Okay, I’ll cut it off! I don’t want this to keep spreading. Just tell me how!

Doorkeeper: Repent! That is, if you think you need to.

Robert: (Gives up trying to open hand) No, I know you’re right. I felt small and selfish as soon as I got close to the entrance.

Doorkeeper: You really do need to talk to God.

Robert: Yes, I know. I know you’re right. (Confesses with difficulty) Lord God, I confess I do love the attention of being in charge. When people listen to me, I feel powerful. I’m addicted to being needed. The truth is, while pretending to be a servant, I was really only serving myself. This is the opposite of what you taught us by example. (Pause) I am not a savior, Jesus. Only you are. I am so sorry. Please forgive me…

Robert’s hand slowly opens. He shows joy and relief over this. Looks to heaven and exclaims:

Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Father! (Turns to woman…) I’m sorry, what’s your name?

Woman: Miriam.

Robert: Miriam, you were coming in before me. Here, let me help you. (He assists her to stand) Go ahead!

Doorkeeper: But surely she’s not as important as you, Robert! She has the spirit of a child!

Robert: Then she’s better than me! I don’t deserve to go in at all!

Doorkeeper:The Savior is waiting! And He knows you both by name! Welcome to the Kingdom of God!

Miriam takes Robert’s arm and they enter together.

The First will be Last is published with the permission of the author. To learn more about Esta’s work in the Middle East and how you can be a part of RMM’s ministry, read our 2016 year-end letter at yearend.rmmweb.org.

*Name changed for security