Dramatic retelling brings Bible stories to life

Table with plate of desserts and centerpiece highlighting Messenger and Brethren Press books
Table at the Brethren Press/Messenger dinner. Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman

By Frank Ramirez

“We have been telling each other Bible Stories for hundreds of years,” said Jennifer Keeney Scarr, a member of the pastoral staff at the Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. “We return again and again to the story of God.”

At the July 6 Brethren Press/Messenger dinner Scarr retold three less well known Bible stories to help those assembled to see the Good Book anew.

“These stories have always been a part of us,” she said. “Even if we can’t tell them word for word we still remember them.” Scarr said she picked these lesser known stories because “some might miss a small pearl in a field,” and “because in the face of power, clever and peaceful resistance and the truth spoken in love” can ultimately triumph.

She first retold the story of Shiphrah and Puah, two Egyptian midwives tasked by Pharaoh with killing male Hebrew babies as soon as they were born. They not only resisted these orders, they lied about their actions.

 Her second story, taken from 2 Samuel 21, retold the brutal deaths of seven relatives of former king Saul, approved by King David. The mother of two of the victims, Rizpah, bravely resisted, protecting the bodies from predatory animals until King David relented. David eventually saw to their proper burial, with the remains of Saul and Jonathan, after which God allowed rain to return to the land.

Finally Scarr retold the story of Nabal the grouch, from 1 Samuel 25. His good wife Abigail prevented David’s planned revenge on Nabal’s household and lands by treating the future king and his army with hospitality. When the arrogant Nabal heard about his close call, he was stricken to the heart and soon passed away, leading to Abigail’s strategic marriage to David and the preservation of the homestead and all the household.

Scarr, a graduate of the theater arts program at the University of La Verne, has preached at National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), appeared with Ted Studebaker at National Youth Conference and NOAC, and last year co-authored and acted in a series of short plays based on Brethren history.

Earlier in the evening, Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and executive director of communications, highlighted publishing work of the past year and thanked writers of three new books, various other Brethren Press resources, and Messenger magazine.