Scenario Imaginary interview between Simon Peter and two Roman guards to recount the events of the first Pentecost Sunday.
Bible base Acts 2. 1-42; Mark 14. 66-72
Cast Simon Peter; a Roman Centurion; a Roman Soldier
Scene – Jerusalem – The two guards are sitting behind a table.
Centurion: Interview with one Simon known as “The Rock”, at the headquarters of the Jerusalem Garrison, 6pm on the Day of Pentecost, in the seventh year of the Prefecture of Pontius Pilate. (To Peter) You are Simon, known as “the Rock”?
Roman Soldier: Why “the Rock” – are you a wrestler or something?
Peter: It’s a long story – Jesus called me that
Centurion You are from Galilee?
Peter: Fisherman – well ex-fisherman – put “fisher of men”. (Smiles at the Soldier who is still scowling.)
Roman Soldier What do you mean fisher of men? You sailors are all the same …
Centurion Look, let’s get on with it shall we? I’ll just put Fisherman
Roman Soldier: Aren’t you one of those followers of that crazy preacher – Jesus of Nazareth – the one we crucified for calling himself King of the Jews
Roman Soldier: Because we heard that you were denying it – three times in fact
Peter: Well yes that’s true I did deny it – I was frightened and confused
Centurion: But you don’t deny it now
Roman Soldier: Because you are not frightened and confused any more
Roman Soldier: (to the Centurion Doesn’t sound much like a Rock to me
Centurion: OK. So where is his body then? Because we have had a report that it has been stolen
Peter: It’s not been stolen – he rose from the dead
Roman Soldier: (Mockingly) Rose from the dead?
Peter: Yes we have all seen him since he was crucified – he is not dead
Roman Soldier: So you are saying that he is still alive – that we, the Roman Army, botched the job?
Peter: No he was dead, but now he is alive – as much as he ever was – in fact even more so – he seems to be everywhere (Pause, then conspiratorially to the Centurion) – we have even seen him eat, shared bread and wine with him
Roman Soldier: Quite a lot of wine by the sound of it
Centurion: Yes – we’ll get to that in a minute. You see, sir, we’ve had a few complaints about disturbances in the city this morning. I should explain, you’re not under arrest or anything.
Roman Soldier: (Threateningly) Not yet
Centurion: We just wanted to check up on what’s going on. We have had some important foreign visitors in here – good, God-fearing people: Parthians, er – who else was it?.
Roman Soldier: It’s quite a list (Checking his notes, then reading) Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts, Cretans and Arabs, Sir.
Centurion: I’ve never seen so many foreign visitors in the city! It’s like the Olympics are being held here in Jerusalem not in Britannia
Peter: Today of all days! It’s brilliant timing, isn’t it?
Centurion: Is it? Annoying I call it – anyway they seem to be a little bit confused and …
Roman Soldier: Upset
Roman Soldier: Upset
Centurion: (reading notes) “Stunned, excited, amazed, challenged, thrilled”
Roman Soldier: Upset
Centurion: Well, yes. Some of them were upset but not all, it seems. Anyway we’ve had reports about a loud noise …
Roman Soldier: (from his notes) “like the rushing of a mighty wind”
Centurion: And flames
Roman Soldier: “Coming out of people’s heads”
Centurion: And you speaking to them in foreign languages
Roman Soldier: (Menancingly) How exactly do you know Parthian?
Peter: I don’t or at least I didn’t – that must be the work of the Holy Spirit
Centurion: (writing down) “Holy Spirit” Yes we’re coming to that. But first of all do you want to tell us about the wind and the flames and everything
Peter: Well it all started before our teacher, Jesus, was crucified. He said this would happen – that he would send the Holy Spirit to help us when he was gone.
Roman Soldier: Yeah right – “Holy spirit”, methylated spirits is more like it
Centurion: We’re coming to that – so he is gone now, this Jesus?
Peter: Yes – sort of
Roman Soldier: Dead again?
Peter: No, not dead. Here, but not here
Centurion: Now I’m confused
Roman Soldier: They were right – he’s drunk
Peter: No, no, not at all – I’m just filled with the Holy Spirit
Roman Soldier: Exactly
Peter: No – it was only 9 o’clock in the morning that it came – I hadn’t touched a drop
Roman Soldier: You’re a sad case – off your trolley by breakfast and cant admit it – classic case of denial – repeat after me “My name’s Simon Peter and I’m an alcoholic”
Peter: (ignoring him) As I was saying this morning – it’s as we were told in the scriptures in the writing of the prophet Joel.
Have you got a Bible? It’s Joel 2: 28-32 ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Centurion: (continuing reading from a Bible which he has found) Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
Roman Soldier: So are you saying these are the last days? The end of time?
Peter: Well they may well be – strange things are happening – they may well be your last days – the Roman Empire won’t last forever you know
Roman Soldier: I wouldn’t bet on that. I think the Roman Empire will last a lot longer than your Jesus cult!
Centurion: (ignoring the Soldier) So what do we need to do to be saved
Peter: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Roman Soldier: Oh yeah – More of this Holy Sprit
Centurion: Well it is there in the Jewish Bible – foretold!
Roman Soldier: You don’t believe this nonsense?
Centurion: I don’t know – there’s something about this guy. Do you know he baptised 3,000 people today?
Roman Soldier: I’m off– if you ask me you’re wasting your time with this nutter – good luck to you (the Soldier leaves)
Centurion: (turning to Peter) I’m interested in this dead but not dead Jesus character – are you saying he has come back from Hades as some sort of spirit – like a ghost? Tell me more about him
Peter: Do you know what it is to feel truly loved? Utterly known, completely understood and still loved?
Centurion: No, but I think I’d like to
Peter: Have you got any bread and wine – there’s something I need to show you
Centurion: Come with me (They leave together)
Let us pray Almighty God we give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit – for your continuing presence with us here on earth and for your ability to know us, to love us and to change our lives. Amen
Closing Prayer taken form the letters of St Peter
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.
The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire,
and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth
so that you have sincere love for each other,
love one another deeply, from the heart.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable,
through the living and enduring word of God.
For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.