Pentecost - the Day the Church was Born

Pentecost - the Day the Church was Born is presented from the viewpoint of Jannai, a strict Jew and member of the Sanhedrin, Jonathan, a Jew who has travelled from the far north of the Roman Empire, Jason, a proselyte from Rome, and Gaius, a former Roman soldier who has also become a Jewish proselyte. The drama attempts to present some of the confusion of the crowd as some grasped the disciples' talking with great clarity and others understood nothing and assumed too much wine. The "other tongues" are taken respectively from John 3.16 in Latin, Romans 5.8 in German, Acts 2.24 in Italian and Philippians 2.11 in French. This was originally prepared for a parish Family Camp, and there were students present to read these parts with fluency and accuracy. Don't worry if such people are not available - it should be possible with practice to produce fluency without accuracy of pronunciation. In this case it is certainly the effect that matters.

It was the feast of Pentecost again, just seven weeks after Passover. A very popular feast. Visitors came from all over the Roman Empire. Apart from its spiritual significance, it was a great social occasion. Reunions, planned and accidental, were happening all over the city and in the surrounding countryside.
JANNAI:Haven't seen you for a long time, Jonathan! Here again for Pentecost?
JONATHAN:That's right! What a trip it's been this time, too! Bad storms at sea!
JANNAI:Who's that fellow over there?
JONATHAN:Oh, he's O.K.! A Roman by birth, but he's become a true proselyte! Nothing to fear! I must introduce you to my friends. We met up on our travels here. Jason is from Rome. Jason, here's an old friend of mine, Jannai - pretty high up in Sanhedrin circles now, I believe.
JANNAI:Cut it out, Jonathan! Nice to meet you, Jason.
JASON:You too, Jannai.
JONATHAN:And this is Gaius. Used to be here in the Italian Regiment - that's when he became interested in our religion. Left the service of the army five years ago.
GAIUS:Jannai... Hey! Did you hear that? ... like ... thunder...
JASON:It's getting to be a real effort, but I've always been glad of the times I've made it here for Pentecost. You meet up with friends from all over the Empire.
GAIUS:For some of us it's a chance to practise your language! What is it for you, Jannai?
JANNAI:Yes, it's a meeting of old friends and new ones. And meeting you, Gaius, reminds me of the old story that when the Lord spoke the Ten Rules at Mount Sinai his voice was heard in all the lands and languages of the world!
GAIUS:What a story! I don't find it in the Bible. Yet it is true - I had a feeling of right and wrong before our Regiment came to serve here, before I learnt of your wonderful religion.
JONATHAN:Look! there's a bit of a disturbance down there. A crowd of people seems to be gathering. Wonder what it's about?
JASON:Careful! The Roman garrison will be down here soon!
GAIUS:It's safe enough to have a look! When I was here, you always had to be careful of Jewish feast days. You know, other people think you Jews can get a bit touchy! So we'd stay out of that sort of thing as much as we could.
JASON:Back in Rome we heard stories of Pilate and his handling of this Jesus case. Anything more come up about that?
JANNAI:We had Pilate in a dicey position. He didn't have much choice but to cooperate, really. We got Jesus crucified and sincerely hope that's an end of the matter.
JONATHAN:You seem uncertain, Jannai?
JANNAI:Oh, it's just that with a figure like Jesus you can expect rumours and stories to circulate. But it's seven weeks ago now. His disciples were cowards the night our temple guard arrested him. They don't seem like being anything more than that now!
JONATHAN:What a crowd! The activity seems to be in that big house over there. Looks like they're coming out now. Who are they, Jannai?
JANNAI:Well... That big fellow over there looks like Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus. That must be who they all are!
DISCIPLE 1:Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret...
JASON:Did you hear that?
JONATHAN:Yes! they must be drunk or something!
JASON:He was saying that God loves us so much that he gave us his only Son...
JONATHAN:Well, it didn't sound like that to me!
DISCIPLE 2:Darum preiset Gott seine Liebe gegen uns, dass Christus für uns gestorben ist...
JONATHAN:Now that fellow's dead sober. He mentioned God's love and said that Christ died for us!
GAIUS:Come now, Jonathan! You've been having a bit much yourself!
DISCIPLE 3:Il quale Iddio ha suscitato, avendo sciolte le doglie della morte...
GAIUS:I wonder who that was all about!
JANNAI:What do you mean?
GAIUS:As sure as I'm here, that guy was talking about God raising someone from death!
JANNAI:I don't know how you got that, but remember - these are Jesus people.
DISCIPLE 4:Jésus-Christ est Seigneur! Jésus-Christ est Seigneur!
JONATHAN:What was that, Jannai?
JANNAI:Don't ask me! They must be drunk - or raving mad! I can't understand how you fellows thought you heard anything other than a jumble of ravings!
JASON:Yes, they did sound like that - except for the first guy. Hebrew is a treasured language for us, Jannai, but in practical life it's our second language. That first fellow could have been born and bred in Rome. What do you think, Gaius?
GAIUS:I couldn't agree more, Jason. But you know, that third fellow - his phrases, his funny accent - just like the province where I was born!
JONATHAN:That's just the feeling I had when that second bloke spoke - yet he doesn't look like anyone who's been up our way!
JANNAI:Well, you're right and you're wrong! None of them have travelled. They're all locals - well, ah - Galileans, really. They haven't been over your way! But as for them saying anything - your ears must have been playing tricks on you. They must be drunk, the lot of them!
GAIUS:I don't know!
JASON:Shh! That fellow Peter's going to say something. Let's see if he makes sense!
Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd. His words are recorded for us in Acts chapter 2 verses 14 and following.
Reader:Acts 2.14-24,32-36.

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, © Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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