this is something i was thinking of for an event, but we’re going with a different idea. i haven’t quite got it right – i’m not good at writing character stuff – and i can’t spend more time on it. but i really like the idea, so i’ll put it up here.
the basic concept is everyone is sitting around the table [on which there’s bread and wine – cleanskins with the above labels attached], and there are a few planted story tellers… judas, mary magdalene, peter, thomas, john. at different points they stand and tell their stories…
This is proof that you can sit at a table surrounded by friends and be the loneliest you have ever been.
Everyone seems to think this is what Jesus has been on about all this time:
that if everyone’s welcome and everyone’s home, that’s enough.
They think that it can go on forever just like this,
that this table is enough to change the world,
but it’s not.
And Jesus knows that too.
human love has a limit
and we need to know what lies beyond that limit.
They love me tonight
but they’re fickle.
When they look back through the annals of history
they’ll say Jesus paid the ultimate price
and that i got what i deserved.
They’ll say i sold my soul for 30 pieces of silver
but no amount of money goes close to making up for the thousands of years
of abuse i’ll now be dealt
from those who never even bothered to get to know me,
or find out why i’m doing this,
or thought about how much this story needs me
so it doesn’t simply become idealised politics or a religious cliche.
For everyone else, sitting round this table tonight
all concepts of welcoming the unloveable
and forgiving the impossible
are still purely theoretical
and therefore gospel truth.
Tonight no one questions my place here.
Tomorrow theylll just wish I was dead.
Mary of Bethany
[standing against a wall]
They sit over there and talk about how the world has changed
how radical all this is.
They’ve never felt like this before.
They never knew this was possible.
i can hear them talking amongst themselves
remembering things he’s said:
the last shall be first… blessed are the poor… come to me all you who labour…
They’re telling stories of the woman at the well
of Zaccheus coming down the tree
and even of me, just the other day, rubbing oil into Jesus’ hair
remember her, i hear them saying.
I know they think i should be grateful i’m even in the room.
that it wouldn’t have been the case
we know you want more, i hear them say. give us time, we’ll get there.
But let’s be honest, if i gave them 2000 years i’d still be waiting.
If this is the only way i can be here
i’m not sure here is where i’m meant to be.
Because I’ve tasted it now.
i know what it’s like to have a place at the table
to have my place at the table.
i’ve sat with jesus.
i’ve eaten that bread and drunk that wine.
i owe it to myself – and jesus – to not go back.
i look around at all this:
it’s too good to be true
too impossible, too fragile.
It can’t last. It’s got to end sometime.
Part of me longs to lose myself in it,
to embrace it all,
to be as sure as all of them,
but i just don’t have that bit inside me that will let me let go.
Thomas, they say to me. Stop doubting.
What they don’t get is, if i give into it completely, and it all ends tomorrow
it would break me.
I don’t think i could recover.
i don’t have their faith in miracles
and that’s what it would take.
Sometimes i almost tip over into their life
where a brave new world is possible
and i am part of it.
I get it, just for a moment.
but then it’s gone.
Faith’s a gift you know, and it’s not mine.
I got here early so i could sit next to Jesus
but then i turned my head for a minute
and someone else took the space.
They know i’m his closest friend.
i’m not being selfish. He needs me there.
it’s been such a strange week
and he needs someone who will keep his glass full
who will take the weight off his shoulders for a while
who will just stop people bugging him
and expecting more from him.
And i need to know he’s ok.
It’s all changing,
and i want it to be how it was before
when right was right
when up was up
when we all knew where we belonged
and what could be expected.
I wanted to sit next to him
to get just a moment of that back.
i’m his best friend
i’ve shared him with the world for the last three years
is it too much to have him next to me?
just for tonight?
I’ve been part of this meal every year of my life
but it was always a pale imitation of this.
i get it now, i really think i do.
though you won’t believe that.
it’s hard to imagine how anyone could get things more wrong than me
even three years on.
I so don’t deserve to be here.
i’m not worthy of all this.
i want to understand
but none of it makes sense.
the rules are all different in this game and every answer i’ve been taught
no longer fits.
Nothing prepared me for this.
i just look stupid.
But, every time, just when i think i need to give the whole thing away
because i’ll never get it
something so remarkable and incomprehensible
that i know i can’t leave.
It feels like the earth is shifting
and we’re just beginning
everything’s just opening up
it’s all possible.
look how far we can go with this
look how much more we can do
Who wouldn’t want to be part of this?
I can’t believe I am.
The first time this story was told
they gathered around a table
a ragged collection of people –
The first time this story was told,
Jesus promised that it was for all time
that whenever the bread was broken
and the wine was poured,
wherever the story was told around the table
he would be there.
Today we tell the story
as its been told a thousand times over;
we break the bread,
and we pour the wine;
sure, as we do,
that we belong at this table
and that Jesus is here with us.
On the night Jesus was betrayed…