Tonight this dialogue was used at our Ascension Service
Mary: (waving to James and Peter in the distance) Come on you two the supper is nearly ready, where are the others?
James and Peter approach Mary and Joanna.
Joanna: (speaking to Mary) Jesus is probably taking some quiet time to pray with the rest of them again, it is stew it will be okay.
Mary: (speaking to Joanna) Maybe, but Peter and John are usually the ones he takes away with him when he goes to pray and here they are.
John and Peter should arrive
John: The others are coming but Jesus is gone.
Joanna and Mary look at each other.
Mary: Gone, what do you mean gone, has he disappeared again!
Joanna: He will be back, I am getting used to him suddenly appearing. Don’t forget there is food, one of Mary’s stews, he will be back soon.
Peter: He isn’t coming back this time Joanna, he has gone. We watched him disappear into heaven in a cloud, after telling me that I was to be a shepherd from now on.
Mary: (laughing) You a shepherd, you make a good fisherman but I can’t imagine you being able to control a flock of unruly sheep. Are you sure he wants you to spend the rest of your life with smelly sheep?
John: Not that kind of shepherd Mary. Joanna: I remember he told a story about a lost sheep. (to herself) Now how did it go? Ah yes. (During this story Mary wonders off away from the others) Suppose you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
Peter: Yes, I think that is the kind of shepherd he wants me to be Joanna. He told me to feed and look after lambs, I think he meant those of our number that are new to all we have witnessed and those who don’t yet know all he has done for us.
Joanna: Why call them lambs and does that mean you are leaving us too?
Mary: (turning round suddenly) Can we stop talking about sheep for a minute. Did you really see Jesus go up to heaven, are you sure he is never coming back this time?
John: I don’t think so Mary, it was like the stories about Elijah, one moment he was talking to us the next he went up into heaven.
Joanna: That is one of my favourite stories: Elisha thought that if he was always with Elijah, Elijah would never be taken from him. Then one day, they were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it all and shouted, “My father, my father! You—the chariot and cavalry of Israel!”
Peter: A bit like that yes, but there was no chariot.
John: We didn’t shout either, we were dumb struck.
Mary: We thought he had gone before when he died, but he came back.
Peter: It was different this time Mary.
Joanna: How was it different?
Peter: When Joseph buried him we thought it was the end, we were all full of fear and didn’t know what to do. We hadn’t said goodbye ..
Mary: (interrupting) I still haven’t said goodbye.
Peter: It was strange Mary, we didn’t say the words goodbye either, but the peace of that place made us realise he wasn’t coming back this time, but it was going to be alright. Somehow we wont ever need to say goodbye. Last time, on that dreadful Saturday, it felt like it was all over, this time it doesn’t.
Joanna: Well it might not feel like it is over for you but it does for us, we didn’t see what you saw and we don’t want to lose Jesus again. Isn’t that right Mary. (Mary nods)
John: I don’t think we have lost him, we just won’t see him again.
Mary: Sounds like we’ve lost him, if we aren’t going to see him.
Peter: Mary remember when Jesus told us about preparing rooms, how none of us understood it, I think it is now beginning to make sense to me.
Joanna: I remember that, he said: You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. Then he went on to say: If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.
Mary: Who is this other Friend? I don’t want another friends I want Jesus back!
John: (To Peter) Tell her about the angels.
Peter: The angels appeared while we were still staring into heaven like idiots expecting him to fall back down again. They told us to go back to Jerusalem, Jesus wasn’t coming back.
Mary: Poppycock! Jesus told us that he would be with us always, so he can’t have gone. And anyway Joanna just reminded us he said he would go and prepare a place and then come back, so he will be back when he is hungry if not before.
Peter: Mary I don’t think he will this time. We are to go back to Jerusalem to wait for this Friend, the Holy Spirit, who would be our comforter and guide from now on.
Mary: (shaking her head) I don’t believe you. You know the Torah teaches that only Kings and Prophets are anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Joanna: Mary remember when Thomas wasn’t with us in that room and Jesus appeared, he didn’t believe Jesus was alive again, but it was true. Jesus said: Blessed are those who believe even if they haven’t seen for themselves. Maybe this is another of those times.
Mary: (close to tears) But why would he leave us again Joanna, it just doesn’t make sense.
John: He told us to trust him, a lot of what he did and said didn’t make sense at the time but over these past 40 days all sorts of things are now.
Joanna: (laughing) Apart from Peter being a shepherd.
Peter: I think he wants me to prove I wont fail him again like I did before and I wont. Even me being a shepherd makes sense.
John: None of us will fail him again Peter.
Mary: (looking up, still fighting off tears) I want to believe you wont ever leave us, help me in my unbelief.
Joanna: (putting her arm around Mary) Come and help me with the supper, I can see the others coming down the mountain now too, we need to eat before heading back to Jerusalem. I am sure things will be clearer once this Friend Jesus is sending arrives.
Mary and Joanna walk off.
Mary: (as she walks away) I hope so Joanna, I’m scared again.
Peter: (looking up) Can I really do this without you.
John: (coming over beside Peter) Yes you can Simon Peter, remember Jesus said you would be the rock. Joanna is right this Friend Jesus is sending will help us and remember, despite everything we have done and not done, Jesus has never let us down, and I believe he never will. Come and eat.
Peter and John walk off.
Peter: (as he walks away) I wonder how long it will take for this Friend to arrive.