The Upper Room – A drama for Easter Sunday 2017

On Easter Sunday 2017 about 150 of us crowded into St Mary’s Easton for our Family Communion Service.  Brilliantly, the Band led by David Parker, Oliver Denniss, Vernon Tottle, Tilly Lock, Jessica Cragg and Jonathan Cragg came to our rescue when we found that we did not have an organist to play.  Christopher Burness and Claudia Cox read the lessons, Beccy and Paddy Clark read the prayers.

And we had a brief drama called ‘The Upper Room’ in which Jonathan Cragg played the role of Thomas, Francesca Wheatley -Mary Magdalene, George Turner – Peter, Henry Turner – John and Andy Tan – Jesus.  Sonia Cragg kindly helped with the direction and then organised an Easter Egg Hunt.

Thank you all so much for taking part and making our Easter celebration such good fun and interesting!

The script for the play was as follows:

‘The Upper Room’

Scene: The scene is a locked upper room in Jerusalem 30AD

In the morning

The disciples are terrified waiting for the religious police to come round at any moment to arrest them for being disciples of Jesus, crucified three days before.

 Furious knocking at the door

 Thomas (very frightened):  ‘Who is that?’

Mary:  ‘Its me let me in!’

 Mary enters

Mary: ‘I’ve seen the Lord’

Thomas: What on earth do you mean – have you been to the tomb – how could you get passed the guards, how could you move the stone covering the entrance?

Mary: ‘I tell you I have seen Him…`he’s alive – I have spoken to him, he spoke to me…..

Thomas:  ‘But Mary this cannot be….we all saw him crucified.  He was most definitely dead.  No-one survives crucifixion and in any event the Romans would not have let him down from the Cross if he were still alive.  The Romans know how to kill people, that’s for sure’….and in any case when that soldier put that spear in his side – we saw the blood and the water separate – that only happens when someone is dead….

Mary: ‘I SAW him and SPOKE to him….he is ALIVE.

Thomas:  This is silly nonsense. It’s just not possible.   No-one who is dead comes back to life.  Mary we know how much you loved him – we all loved him – but he is dead.  Its over.  And in any case – why would the Lord have appeared first to a woman, this is the first century after all…..even in court you need two women to confirm that anything has happened, of course if a man had seen him….

Mary:  But..I SAW him…and even touched him

Thomas: OK So tell me what happened.

Mary: I went to the tomb as early as I could this morning….I was wondering how I would be able to anoint him because of the stone over the entrance and because of the soldiers guarding the tomb.  But when I arrived the soldiers guarding it had gone and the stone had been rolled away.

When I looked inside the tomb there were two incredible people dressed in white where Jesus body had been laid.

They asked me why I was crying and I said ‘someone has taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him’.

Then I turned around and saw………Him.

I didn’t know it was Him when I first looked, I assumed it was the gardener and asked him if he had carried the Lord’s body away.

Then He said to me ‘Mary’ in that way he always did….and then I knew it was Him.

Of course I wanted to hug him but he told me not to touch him because he had not yet ascended to the Father.  He told me to come and tell you.

Thomas: So are you sure it was Him – if you couldn’t recognize him straightaway then perhaps you………….mistook him

Mary: It was HIM

Knock knock knock

 Peter and John enter the room

Thomas: Have you heard what Mary says she has seen?

Peter: ‘We went to the tomb as soon as Mary told us that His body was missing

Thomas:  ‘What did you see?’

Peter ‘Well I went in immediately and saw that the grave cloths were just lying exactly in the place that they would have been if the body had been there….but the body was missing.  It was all very tidy, not at all what you would see if the body had been stolen………..I don’t know what to make of it at all.

John:  I think Mary is right – I think he has risen from the dead.

Thomas: ‘Well its going to take more than that to convince me…unless I am able to touch the places where the nails were in his hands and where the spear pierced him in his side.  .I am not going to believe anything

Jesus enters

Jesus: ‘Peace be with you.  Thomas see my hands and my side.  Yes it really is me.  I have overcome the power of death.

Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God’

Jesus: Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  Just as my Father sent me – Now I am sending you out to tell the good news ..receive the Holy Spirit

Peter:  Now we have seen you, everything is different – nothing is going to frighten us ever again – we have seen the Lord, risen from the dead and nothing, not the religious police, not the Romans, nothing can possibly stop us now……..even if we have to go to our deaths, nothing will stop us speaking in your name and telling the whole world the good news of  what we have seen.

The Upper Room – Commentary

How do we know if the Resurrection actually happened? We hear from the BBC that 25% of Christians don’t believe in the Resurrection, which is after all the central fact of Christianity. There are serious questions about that figure (for example is this 25% of people who say ‘I’m a Christian’ in the way that one might say ‘I’m English’ or does it mean 25% of people who attend church and do things because they are Christians?)

But, in any event, this is an up to date controversy. But like all questions of what happened in the past in fact, ALL HISTORY, depends on the account of witnesses; What people saw and, like a jury in a court, we have to come to a view on the available evidence….

Our little drama, which has concertinaed together several passages in scripture, has tried to show some of the reasons why we can be confident that the resurrection actually historically happened how the evidence stacks up, as the eye witnesses in the gospels tell us.

Thomas represents all the disciples terrified, disheartened, locked in an upper room.  Jesus has been crucified; the disciples have lost their leader; Peter has denied Jesus; the disciples are frightened; that the authorities will come for them next…

They are waiting for the gestapo; the secret police, who know who they are and probably where they live.  Can you imagine what that must be like? The fear of impending death, perhaps of torture in a cause which has turned out to be false; because their Messiah, the disciples leader, has been killed.

Then ‘bang bang bang’ on the door! Who is it – is it the police with their weapons?

Then Mary comes in saying that she has seen Jesus.

Thomas does not think it probable at all because: people don’t come back from the dead. And he mentions one very significant point that proves that Jesus was definitely dead before he was buried: the water and blood that had come from his side; the separated clot and serum which is (as I understand it) conclusive medical proof of death. So this disproves the idea that he did not actually die on the cross and was revived in the cool of the tomb.

But Mary tells Thomas that she has been to the tomb, that the guards had gone, the stone rolled away and that she saw and tried to touch him.

But Thomas is still sceptical.

There is no doubt that it is odd, in the context of the Ancient World that the responsibility for the most important witness statement of all time – of Jesus rising from the dead- is given to a woman whose evidence, if given in court at the time wouldn’t have been accepted unless confirmed by another woman or a man!

Outrageous of course to our way of thinking, but true to the times…but this also lends authenticity to the story, if it were not true in the context of the times why would you make it up?

Why would you pretend that a woman was the first to see Jesus unless she had?

Then Peter comes in.  He has also been to the tomb, at this stage he has not seen Jesus, but has seen the grave clothes lying tidily in the grave.

But if the body had been stolen, which is another theory, then the grave clothes would not have been left tidily.  Anyone who has been burgled will tell you, that robbers are not know for their tidiness!

And if the disciples had stolen the body then the authorities could just have found it and produced it.  As murderers have found over the centuries getting rid of bodies is not easy, even in those days, because they start to smell within 36 hours.

But Thomas is not convinced until Jesus himself comes into the room.

But then having actually seen Jesus, the disciples’ fear evaporates. And perhaps this is the most convincing proof of all – that the disciples are turned between Good Friday
and Pentecost from terror struck defeated people hiding in an upper room.

To those who are willing to go to the ends of the earth indeed to go to their deaths proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

Surely its not too much for us to do the same….

Amen

There are more commentaries on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on this website – please go to:

https://itchenvalleychurches.org.uk/2016/05/25/what-evidence-is-there-for-our-faith-by-revd-amanda-denniss-evening-one-of-the-how-do-i-reply-when-people-ask-me-why-course/

https://itchenvalleychurches.org.uk/2014/05/17/easter-sermon-2013-the-evidence-for-the-resurrection-by-alex-pease/

More commentary on the evidence for the Resurrection is here:

Evidence for the Resurrection

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