Acts 8:26-40 (Year B, Easter 5)
This might be incorporated into a celebration of baptism or the renewal of baptismal vows.
Actors/readers: Philip, Ethiopian, Storyteller (Narrator), Angel, Spirit
Complete scripts — ready to download and print (2-sided):
Props: 2 stools, 1 large Bible, bowl of water, a Baptism shell (optional)
Start Positions: 2 stools on top level
Philip: sitting on steps.
Angel: standing on side opposite of Philip
Ethiopian: standing, holding Bible
Storyteller/Narrator: at pulpit or lectern
Spirit: beside angel, standing
Narrator: Our reading is taken from The Acts of the Apostles.
The events occur on the road to Gaza. In this story we meet Philip [pause, look at Philip], an angel [pause, look at angel], an important government official from Ethiopia [pause, look at Ethiopian], and the spirit [pause, look at spirit]. Let us hear this story as told in Chapter 8. First we hear the angel, a messenger from God, speaking to Philip.
Angel: Get up and go towards the south* to the road through the wilderness that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. [Angel sits down on first pew.]
Narrator: After hearing the angel, Philip gets up and goes.
Philip: [Stand up, and walk across steps to other side, next to Spirit.]
Narrator: Now there is an Ethiopian, a court official of the Candace, the queen of the Ethiopian people.
Ethiopian: [Walk up, and sit on one of the stools. Open Bible.]
Narrator: The Ethiopian is in charge of the Queen’s treasury.
He has come to Jerusalem to worship. Now he is returning home, seated in his chariot. He is reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit speaks to Philip:
Spirit: Go over to this chariot and listen in.
Narrator: Philip runs up to the chariot.
Philip: [Move quickly near to the Ethiopian on the stool, and, hand to ear, exaggerate that you are listening in.]
Narrator: He hears the Ethiopian reading the prophet Isaiah.
Ethiopian: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter…”
Philip: [Clear throat.]
Ethiopian: [Look up. Look toward Philip, with a questioning look on your face.]
Philip: Do you understand what you are reading?
Ethiopian: How can I, unless someone guides me? Come. Join me in my chariot.
[Gesture to Philip to enter the chariot.] Sit beside me. [Pat the stool for Philip to sit.]
Philip: [Enter the chariot. Sit on stool.]
Ethiopian: I am reading the passage from Isaiah that goes like this:
Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter.
And like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.
About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this? About himself or about someone else?
Narrator: Philip begins to speak.
Philip: Let me tell you about Jesus, and how he was foretold by the prophets.
Narrator: Starting with the scripture, Philip proclaims the Good News to the Ethiopian.
He tells him about Jesus. As they proceed along the road, they come to some water.
Ethiopian: [Look up, and point toward the congregation.]
Look, here is some water! What is to prevent me from being baptized? Stop the chariot!
Narrator: Philip and the Ethiopian go down into the water.
Philip & Ethiopian: [Get up and walk down to front centre.]
Narrator: Philip baptizes the man. [Using shell, act out baptism]
When they come up out of the water, the Spirit of God snatches Philip away.
[Philip and Spirit go off stage.]
Narrator: The Ethiopian does not see Philip again.
Ethiopian: [Return to stool. Big smile. Open Bible again.]
Narrator: The Ethiopian goes on his way rejoicing.
But Philip finds himself at Azotus. As he is passing through the region, he proclaims the good news to all the towns until he comes to Caesarea.
Here ends our reading from the Acts of the Apostles. May God bless us all with understanding.
ALL: Return to seats. Thank you!
This drama relies heavily on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.