Act 5 - Resurrection

The Cheltenham Passion Play
Good Friday 2000

Act 5 - Resurrection
At 7-15 on the morning of Easter Sunday a group of six gardeners, with spades and forks and a couple of wheel barrows start work on the gardens of the Imperial Gardens.  They have strict instructions to look as if they working ... but not to touch anything!!  They are wearing bright yellow jackets.  They start in the far corner nearest St Andrew’s Church and work their way round so that as the play starts they have reached the flower beds immediately opposite the gate into the walled Garden.
The cast meet in St Andrew’s Church at 7-30 ready to walk across to the walled garden at 8-00.
The stage blocks are arranged in front of the gate into the walled garden.  It is now open ... the tomb is empty.  The acting area is immediately in front of the Walled Garden.
The crowd gathers  in front of the tomb.  When the cast arrives all those who will tell the story using the Baker’s Poem gather in a  big semi circle - reaching out in both directions from the gate to the walled garden.  The women take up positions in pairs in the crowd so that they are effectively standing behind each other - there is a set of women in pairs reaching from the front of the crowd through the crowd to the garden where the gardeners are.
As soon as the action begins, Christ who has been waiting in a car overlooking the Imperial Gardens saunters across the gardens.  He joins the group of Gardeners, one of whom takes off his jacket and gives it to Christ.  Christ puts on the jacket and stands at the rear of the crowd.
Characters from the Passion Play now reprise the story of Good Friday  using The Baker by Nick Page..  The characters are standing in the semi circle.  The blocks are at the ‘centre’ of what would be the circle - as each character says his or her lines they stand on one of the centre blocks.
Narrator                      Friday seems a long while ago.  It seems a long time since we gathered in Sandford Park and shared those Hot Cross Buns.  Churches Together. Friends Together.  It’s good to be together again.  Since then we have made a journey - a journey that’s 2000 years old already ... it’s a journey that’s still going on.  A journey for today.[1]
John                             He entered the city on Sunday,
and all the people gathered to see.
For they heard that He baked the best bread in the world
and He gave it to people for free.[2]

Woman of Samaria      He didn’t look much like a baker,
there was something unreal in his eyes,
and the people who wanted to see him
went quiet as he passed them by.

Annas                          “He comes from a northerly village,” they said,
“and I’ve heard tell,
that his father was not his real father
and his mother was not a good girl.”

Zebedee’s wife            On Monday he went to the temple
to offer his bread to the scribes.
He said, “Take eat,
for mine is the bread that saves lives.”

Caiaphas                      The scribes said,  “No thank you,
we’re sure there are others more hungry,
the lepers, the sick and the poor.”

Judas                           So on Tuesday the baker went walking,
and gave out his bread to the poor.
He offered his bread to the taxman,
he offered his bread to the whore.

Woman of Samaria      “My bread is baked by my father,
and those who taste it will see,
that the bread baked in this world is stale,
only my bread can set someone free.”

Caiaphas                      On Wednesday the rest of the bakers
watched the people flock to him in droves.
Their leader said, “We must do something,
no one is buying our loaves.”

Judas                           “I think I know someone who’s willing
to hand this man over to me,
I’ll see if he’s open to offers,
thirty pieces I think is his fee.”

Centurion                     They arrested the baker on Thursday
and charged him with all that they could.
They turned all the people against him
and claimed that his bread was no good.

Pilate                           They took him before the chief of police
who couldn’t quite understand,
the need for this sudden trial
of this curious baker man.

Herod                          For the scribes and breadmen were united.
On two things they both could agree.
That people could not live forever
and you shouldn’t give bread out for free.

Pilate                           The policeman looked up at the baker
and said, “I’m just doing my job.”
Then he washed his hands in a basin
and handed him out to the mob.

Centurion                     The baker was taken and beaten,
and for his clothing the soldiers drew lots.
Then at 9 o’clock in the morning
they nailed him upon a cross.

Joseph of Arimathea     His friends took him down six hours later.
He had died and the light had grown dim.
They folded his body like paper
and wiped all the blood from his skin.

Narrator                      They borrowed a tomb for his burial
and they thought the story complete.
On Saturday nobody smiled much
and nobody wanted to eat.
On Sunday morning some women went to attend to the dead.
But when they arrived at the tomb
all they found
was the smell of new baked bread.[3]

The action for this scene is very much more ‘stylised’ than the action on Good Friday.  Mary starts on the point the Narrator has been standing on.  As their names are mentioned Peter and John take their positions with Mary on the staging blocks - one on each side of Mary.  The remaining members of the cast remain in the big semi-circle.
Mary Magdalene          It was early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark when I came to the tomb.  I saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance.  I ran at once to Peter and to John.  I was out of breath by the time I reached them:  “They’ve taken the Master from the tomb,” was all I could say to begin with.  “I don’t know where they’ve put him.”  Peter and John left immediately for the tomb.[4]
Peter                            We ran, neck and neck.  John got to the tomb first.
John                             I stooped to look in, and saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but I didn’t go in ... I couldn’t.
Peter                            I arrived then, entered the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying there.  Just lying there.  The one they had used to cover his head was not lying with the other cloths.  It was just on its own.  Neatly folded ... all by itself.
John                             I plucked up courage at that point and went in too.  I took one look at the evidence and at that moment I believed.
Peter                            We had no idea,  not even from our reading of the Bible that he was going to rise from the dead.  We just went back home.
Mary                           I stayed.  I was weeping.  I knelt to look into the tomb and through my tears I saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid.  They asked me why I was weeping.  “They’ve taken my Master,” was all I could say.  “They’ve taken my Master and I don’t know where they have put him.”  I turned away from the tomb and there in front of me I could see someone.
Mary moves to one of the side blocks. The 24 disciples and women who have been standing in pairs behind each other in the centre of the crowd now create a gap now create a gap which goes right through the crowd.  They do this simply by turning to look at each other.  This creates a pathway from the garden to the acting area.  Jesus has been standing with the team of gardeners.  He  walks slowly through the middle of the crowd.  He is wearing a bright yellow jacket as if he has been one of the team of gardeners..  He walks through the crowd and then stands at the front of the crowd, back to them directly facing Mary  But Mary is still telling her story to the crowd - she only looks sideways at Jesus - she tells the story vividly to the crowd ... until the moment he steps up on to one of the blocks and calls her by name.   It is at that point that  she faces him and sees him and knows him.
Jesus                            Woman, why do you weep?  Who are you looking for?
Mary                           I thought he was the gardener so I asked him, “If you took him away, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”  And that was when he said it.  I had heard him say it so many times before, but this time ... I’ll never forget it.  He called me by name.
Jesus                            Mary
Mary                           Rabboni!  Teacher
Jesus                            Don’t touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  Go to my brothers and tell them, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”
Mary`                          And so I went.  I had such news to share with the disciples.  “I  have seen the Master.”  I told them everything he’d said to me ... and they didn’t believe a word of it!
The cast who have been standing in a semi-circle come forward - all but Thomas who is just standing in the crowd.  They now  make a circle in front of the tomb.  They completely encircle Christ who squats down on the centre block which is now at the centre of the circle. The cast mime locked doors by putting hands on each others shoulder ... they face inwards  in their circle.  It is a tight, shoulder-to-shoulder circle.   Jesus is completely hidden as he squats at the centre of the circle.  James stands on a block to the front of the acting area and outside the circle.
James                          It was later that same day, we had gathered together, but we were afraid of the authorities.  We made sure all the doors in the house were locked.  That was when he came.  He entered and stood among us ...
The cast break their circle in the middle at the front ... and then they sweep back, creating their semi-circle once more.  Jesus stands on the centre block.  They still have their hands around each other’s shoulders.  Standing in the middle Jesus then speaks ...  Peter and John then get up on to staging blocks on each side of Jesus.
Jesus                            Peace be with you.
John                             He showed us his hands and his side.
Peter                            We could see him with our own eyes - we couldn’t contain ourselves.  He said it again ...
Jesus                            Peace be with you.  Just as the Father sent me, so I send you.
James                          Then he took a deep breath - it felt as if he was breathing into us.
Jesus                            Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive someone’s sins, those sins are gone for good.  If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?
The cast gather together into a circle once more, leaving John outside the circle.   Jesus squats down in the middle of the tight circle in the same was before.  Thomas emerges from the crowd.
John                             But someone was missing.  Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus came.   We told him that we had seen the Master, but he wouldn’t believe it.
Thomas                        I had to see the nail holes in his hands; I had to put my finger in those wounds, and my hand in his side.  I couldn’t believe it.
the disciples and the women take up the starting position they were in a moment before ... a closed circle, Jesus standing to one side..  This time John is the one who takes up the story.
John                             It was eight days later ... we were again in the room.  This time Thomas was with us.  Jesus came through the locked doors.
Again the cast break open the circle and sweep back into a semicircle.  Jesus stands up on the block in the centre of the circle ... Thomas now joins him in the middle of the circle. ... after his first words he then focuses his attention on Thomas -
Jesus                            Peace be with you.
                                    Take your finger and feel my hands.  Take your hand and put it in my side.  Don’t be unbelieving.  Believe.
Thomas                        My Lord and my God!
Jesus                            So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes.  Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.
The cast then remain in their semi-circle - no longer hands on shoulders - as the scene began.  Christ stands just in the semi-circle.  At this point everyone steps out of character as it were - we have been actors telling a story.  The Narrator stands on the same spot as at the beginning.  The centre block.
Narrator                      Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than we have told in our play.  We’ve told our story so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life.[5]
                                    Let’s pray
                                    Praise the risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
                                    Praise the risen Lord and Saviour all the peoples of the world
                                    For great is God’s love towards us all
                                    Making us friends together.
                                    Father God, make us one heart and mind
                                    and through us give the world evidence of your wonderful love.
                                    Risen Lord Jesus Christ
                                    empower us by your Holy Spirit
                                    so to believe in you
                                    that we may follow you
                                    and share your love with all around us
Narrator                      And so let’s shout and sing[7] our Easter faith
James                          Jesus Christ is risen
All                               He is risen indeed!
Peter                            Jesus Christ is risen
All                               He is risen indeed!
John                             Jesus Christ is risen
All                               He is risen indeed
                                    An Easter Hymn - Jesus Christ is risen today
Narrator                      As Churches Together it is good to be friends together - for we are one in the presence of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  Although we have not seen him we believe in him.  Although we do not see him now we love him.  And we rejoice with a glorious and indescribable joy for we are receiving the outcome of our faith.  And so as Churches Together and as friends together let’s greet each other with a sign of the peace.
Everyone shares the peace with each other.       
Narrator                      Let’s join in saying together the prayer he taught us to pray ...
                                    Our Father ...
Narrator                      Let’s greet each other with a sign of the peace.
Narrator                      Our story is over ... but the journey goes on..[8] It began with beautiful Hot Cross Buns.  On that very first Easter Sunday morning Jesus appeared to the disciples again ... and had breakfast with them[9] ... we have freshly baked bread waiting for us all and breakfast at St Andrew’s [10] The baker has been hard at work again ...

Christ                           He had burst from the tomb and had risen
                                    and his smile was like showers of rain.
                                    He said to his friends, “Go tell all the world
                                    the baker is baking again.

                                    “I will be with you forever,
                                    for I have returned from the dead.
                                    I have enough to feed all of the world.
                                    I am the new baked bread.”[11]

[1] This is very similar wording to the narrator’s part at the very beginning of the Passion Play, in Act 2 in the High Street and at the very end of Act 4.  It establishes continuity from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
[2] We retell the story of Holy Week using Nick Page’s poem, The Baker.  This means that any who had been unable to be there on Good Friday will be introduced to the cast and be reminded of the story.  The ‘fresh baked bread’ theme of the poem takes up the running theme of Good Friday and its hot cross buns.
[3] The poem breaks off at this point - there is one final stanza still in store for later on.
[4] This scene is based very closely on John 20.  It is adapted into a dramatic dialogue giving the various narrative parts to different characters.
[5] This is taken from the very end of John 20.  The purpose of our play is nothing less than the stated purpose of John’s Gospel - that people may come to faith.
[6] This prayer is  begins in the same way as the prayer used at the Feeding of the 5000 and at the Last Supper ... it goes on to be the prayer that people may indeed share the faith which is at the heart of the Message of the play.
[7] This is a reference back to the words of Jesus at the Gateway into Jerusalem at the very end of Act 1.
[8] At this point on Easter Sunday 2000 there was an invitation to go to join in Pentecost 2000 in 50 days time.
[9] John 21
[10] Andrew had found the little boy with the hot cross buns at the beginning of Act 1!  Fresh baked rolls make a wonderful way to finish on Easter Sunday.
[11] The last word goes to Christ who completes the Baker poem.