Paul in Chains: Ephesians
My aim is to transport the congregation back in time to AD 62.
I want them to imagine themselves as members of the Ephesian church crowded together in the lecture hall of Tyrannus eagerly listening to Tychicus who has just arrived from Rome. He is reading the letter he has brought with him. In their minds it is as if Paul himself has returned in person to preach once again. He actually begins to interact with them, instructing them, blessing them, touching them.
Because every word is from the Bible, this presentation would be appropriate for churches of all denominations and any theological tradition. The only interpretations are those conveyed through voice , gesture and symbolic props. I use the New International Version as my text.
The presentation takes about 60 minutes (followed by a time for reflections, questions and answers, if appropriate).
Perhaps the best way for you to grasp what my dramatization of Ephesians is like would be to read these two reviews written by personal friends of mine who graciously invited me to their churches in 2010.
One presentation was in a large, bright, modern sanctuary during Sunday morning service. The other was experienced by candle light in a typical, older church basement that same evening.
Yesterday, as I listened to the assigned text from Ephesians at church, I was transported back to your recitation. I found myself envisioning that armor of God in a totally different way -- thanks to you! The book of Ephesians will never be just one of the letters from Paul any more. You made it real, with meaning and understanding of the culture in which it took place. I'll remember the visual of Paul talking to us for a long time.
Department of Ordered Ministry
Evangelical Covenant Church
A REVIEW of “Paul in Chains: Ephesians”
by Pastor John Fickett
New Vision Church
I have known Duffy for forty years, so I expected it to be good. It wasn’t.
It was GREAT! Wow!
I expected something like a dramatic recitation but had no idea how powerfully the carefully-thought-out images, symbolic actions etc. would grab me with the meaning of Ephesians.
I am a big advocate of reading large chunks of scripture at once so that we can follow the train of thought. This was one step better than that—a walk through the book with gripping emotion and meaning right out of the life of Paul!
People in our church can’t say enough about what the presentation meant to them. Those who were there will probably never think the same about the armor of God, the Jewish-Gentile unity, or a host of other important ideas from Ephesians. There weren’t many dry eyes in the place by the time we got to the end.
What Duffy accomplished (what God accomplished?) with the words of Ephesians and a handful of props was amazing.
As a pastor I say: Use this presentation! (No, I’m not getting paid for this!) This is tremendous content for a Sunday morning service, a special gathering, or almost any occasion where Christians could benefit from a super-interesting, edifying, thoughtfully-put-together event.
-- John Fickett
P.S. Since I called this a “review,” I suppose I should tell you the negatives. Hmmm. Hmmmm. Well, in our service there was a crazy concatenation of little glitches: Duffy got stuck to duct tape covering a cord, his apron knot wouldn’t come undone, we had a computer snafoo, and one of Duffy’s shackles broke. The recitation was so immersive and so well done that hardly anyone noticed any of those things.
A REVIEW of "Paul in Chains: Ephesians"
by Pastor Mike DeLong
Milwaukee Evangelical Covenant Church
A sparsely appointed room. A table with an oil lamp, the flame flickering gently. A shelve unit, some clay jars, a jug or two; another oil lamp.
A couple of stools. A fabric table.
As the dust swirled in the light, he entered the room – Paul, once called Saul…
And suddenly, beyond expectations, the audience was transported from our lowly church basement to a solitary prison cell in ancient Rome.
Darkness was pushed back, not by the oil lamps struggling in the dusty air; but by the very Light of God’s Word delivered in context, every pregnant phrase coming alive with clearer meaning. Passionately delivered, insightfully unwrapped, startlingly personal – God’s Word through Paul to the Ephesians. To us.
Pastor Duffy Roberts doesn’t act like the apostle Paul – he becomes him. Every action, every prop piece – Duffy has lived with this Ephesian text and in so doing, has brought it alive to us. His delivery is intimate, as if we were sitting right there in the cell with him (honestly, the small room, close seating and lower lights really made it so!)
Duffy has mastered the text and his stage – allowing the Word to draw his listeners in without drawing them away with stagecraft. His occasional use of the Hebrew language in prayer and song, the costume pieces, and the masterful inclusion of Paul’s hand labors in tent-making all contribute to a powerful event that ends way too soon!
As an actor and director, I’ve seen lots of people attempt to use the Scriptures on stage. Usually these attempts are less than powerful. But I’ve never seen anything like this…Duffy didn’t use the Scriptures, the Scriptures used Duffy (a willing and humble servant) to proclaim God.
As a pastor, I entreat you to invite Duffy to your church and your community! Not only will Pastor Duffy show up, but so will the Apostle Paul, and most importantly, so will God!
-- Mike DeLong