The Best First Day of the Week: A Zoom Easter Pageant

Based on:  Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-7;  Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10

Characters:       
 Narrator
Mary Magdalene
Mary the mother of James
Joanna (wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward)
Salome
Caleb: 10 year old son of Salome
Dinah & David:  eight year old twin children of Salome
Peter
John
Cleopas

This pageant would work for children, or with an intergenerational cast.

Props:             
Some baskets for Salome and Caleb
a bucket for David 
Headgear for actors to reflect their character. 
Signs: “The Best First Day of the Week”  Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, Act 4

Instructions: 

  1. This pageant works best if you record your zoom call, and then play it at your Easter service. It’s a lot less stressful that way. If you really want to do it live, explain to audience that it is essential that everyone who is watching the pageant has their microphone muted and their camera off, and their zoom settings set on Speaker View.
  2. The actors keep their microphones on throughout the pageant, but they have to be told to be very quiet when they are not speaking. Don’t even try to do the play with actors turning their microphones on and off because you know they won’t remember and they will say their lines and you won’t hear them.
  3. If you have a technologically savvy person, they can edit the recording to take out gaps and pauses.
  4. Actors must speak loudly so the microphone picks them up and Zoom automatically makes them the speaker. As you practice, make sure people don’t rustle their script papers by the microphone of their computer, or it will cause interference.
  5. It can be helpful if you have the actors rename themselves on zoom, so their character’s name shows up when they speak. Having different hats or scarves can help the audience keep the characters apart (eg. if John has a red scarf on).

Act 1

 

Narrator:          Welcome to our Easter pageant, [holding up sign] “The Best First Day of the Week.”  Our story looks in on the friends of Jesus on the days after his death.  Let me introduce our characters. We have the women who will go to the tomb: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Salome.  The story begin at Salome’s house, and we meet three of her children, Caleb, who is 10, and the 8 year old twins Dinah and David.  Then we have three of Jesus’ male followers, Peter, John and Cleopas.  Act 1 [holding up sign] begins on Saturday, the day after the crucifixion, at sunset, just as the sabbath is ending. What’s happening at Salome’s house? Salome’s children will let us know.

Dinah:              Caleb, this has been the worst sabbath ever. 

Caleb:               Why are you complaining Dinah? 

Dinah:              I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact.  This has been the worst sabbath ever. Mother and Father’s friends are filling the whole house, but not in a good way. 

David:               She’s right…  It’s not like other times when they’ve visited… Today they’re either crying or they’re arguing.

Dinah:              And no one has made any food!

Caleb:               I’m not sure they’re arguing, but, yes, they are upset.  You can’t blame them…our rabbi Jesus was executed just yesterday.  It is a very somber sabbath.

Dinah:              I feel bad about Jesus …  but I’m still hungry.  When I asked mother when we were eating, she just said, Later,” and told me to go outside.

Caleb:               It’s especially hard for mother, and her friends, because they were witnesses to Jesus’ death.

David:               I heard John talking… he was there on that hill when Jesus died too.  I heard him tell the story five times, each time a new person came to our house. I think almost all of Jesus’ disciples are here.  

Caleb:               Well, not all of them.  Judas isn’t here…mother says he is dead too.  I asked her what happened but she would not tell me.  But all of them are talking about him.  Something about money and a deal and betraying Jesus.

David:               When they’re not sitting staring at the wall, they are all talking at once.  They seem mad and sad.

Dinah:              It’s getting late and no one seems to be leaving.  When do you think we can go inside again?  I’m getting tired sitting out here. And I’m hungry …it’s the worst sabbath ever.  It’s getting dark. Oh… here comes mother.

Salome:            Caleb, Dinah, David, where are you?

Caleb:               Here we are mother, can we help you with anything?  What’s that you’re carrying?

Salome:            Caleb, I need your help,…go to my cousin’s house and tell her I need spices for burial, tell her to give me as much as she has.  Take these empty baskets with you. [she holds the baskets right up to the camera filling the whole screen, and then down so they aren’t visible anymore.]

Caleb:               [Meanwhile Caleb has held up baskets to his camera, filling the screen…]  Yes, mother, I am happy to help [as he pulls the baskets towards himself…  Make sure he starts talking before he moves the baskets, or people will not see him receive the baskets.]

Dinah:              Empty baskets….Speaking of empty, it’s been a while since we ate and my stomach is pretty empty…just like these baskets.

Salome:            There might be some leftover bread from Thursday…. I’m sorry I didn’t do my baking yesterday, we were at Golgotha….  oh…. (she wipes her eyes)

Caleb:               Dear Mother, I feel sorry for you, that you had to see Jesus die.  It must have been horrible. 

Salome:             It was horrible, but I chose to be there.  We wanted to be with Jesus till the end.

David:               Mother, you should sit down….here is some water for you.  It’s the last in the bucket. [He moves the bucket toward his camera, filling the screen.]

Salome:            [she has held up a bucket covering her camera and then she starts speaking]Thank you David, I do need some water [as she moves the bucket toward herself.]  Caleb, when you see my cousin, ask if they can spare some bread…even just a small loaf. None of the adults are hungry, but you young ones need some food.  Now off you go…  now I need you twins to go and get the big jar and go to the well for some water.  You will need to carry it together.  When there are rivers of tears, we must have water to drink.  Go before it gets totally dark.

Dinah:              Chores in the evening…this IS the worst sabbath ever! 

Act 2

Narrator:          [holding up sign]  This is Act 2, it’s morning at Salome’s house, the first day of the week.  What are the children up to?

Dinah:              Caleb, I’m looking for mother, have you seen her?  I was looking forward to an extra big helping of porridge this morning. After yesterday, I’m starving.

David:              Look, Mother hasn’t even started the fire yet.  Where could she be?

Dinah:               And when do you think we’ll have breakfast?

Caleb:               Mother left as soon as the sun came up to go to Jesus’ tomb.  I heard her going.  All the women went with her…they were carrying those baskets of spices.  You probably didn’t hear them, they weren’t saying a word.  They all looked so sad.

Dinah:              She’s gone to the tombs?  Why wouldn’t she have made me breakfast first!  How long do you think she’ll be?

Caleb:               Well when the women prepared grandfather’s body for burial it took all morning….I am sure she won’t be home for hours.

Dinah:              Hours?  Are you serious?

Caleb:               But WE can get the fire going, and Dinah, you know how Mother makes porridge, you’ve helped her often enough.  Let’s get started.  David, go and get some kindling.  The men will be waking up soon, and we can give them something to eat.

Dinah:              You can get started.  I’m going to sit by the front door and wait for Mother.  

Caleb:               Dinah, you are going to be waiting for a long time.  Now David, are there any coals left from yesterday’s fire?

Dinah:              Caleb, look!  [pointing]  You were wrong, here comes Mother and the other women now.  And she is running home.  She must have remembered she didn’t make me breakfast!  I wonder if she will make it with raisins today.  I love raisins.

Caleb:               Mother is running? Mother never runs anywhere.  I hope there is nothing wrong… [he lifts his hand as if he is trying to see a far distance…]

Dinah:              All the women are running. And that’s funny… they aren’t carrying anything. They have left all their baskets behind.  That’s silly, they will have to go all the way back to fetch them. 

David:               [excitedly]  You can hear them coming … look how fast they run!  [the sound of running feet—someone in the same room as David should make running sounds by slapping their thighs…it has to be someone in David’s room or it will switch the speaker view away from David and you don’t want that].  They are in a big hurry! I think Mother is the fastest!

Peter:               Children, what is all the excitement about, where is your mother Salome?

Caleb:               Good morning Peter.  Mother is  almost here, she is just coming back from the tomb…   But they haven’t been gone long enough to finish their work there. I wonder if they forgot something important so they’ve had to come back. 

John:                What could have happened?  Here they are now!  Salome, Mary, Mary, Joanna, why are you running? What’s the matter?

Mary Magdalene:  [panting, trying to catch her breath]  We went….to the tomb…  got there….early with all our baskets of spices….

Mary, the mother of James:  [out of breath]   the whole way there we were worried…how will we open the tomb…you know how big that stone was…    We didn’t know how we would move it!

Joanna:             [also out of breath]  We took all the spices… we got there, and someone was there before us…. the stone was moved…it was rolled away…the tomb was OPEN!!!

Peter:               [upset]  The tomb was open!  What!  Who could have done that?  Who would have done that?  Why did they do that?  Was it soldiers, was it the Romans?  Did you see anyone?

Salome:            There were no men in the tomb.

Cleopas:           You didn’t see anyone leave?  They must have left before you got there….  Were you able to use the spices that you took to anoint Jesus’ body?

Mary Magdalene:  John…there were no men in the tomb…  Not even Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t there.

Peter:               They’ve taken our Saviour’s body?  The tomb was empty?

Cleopas:            This doesn’t make any sense.  Maybe you were in the wrong tomb.  Are you sure you were in the place where we put Jesus?

Joanna:            We were in the right place.  There were no men, but there was an angel in the tomb…their clothes were shining white.  Right in the same place where we laid Jesus yesterday!

Mary the mother of James:  And the angel said,  ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ 

Joanna:             And the angel said, “Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee.”

John:                Risen?  Did you say, risen?  Our Saviour is risen from the dead!

Mary Magdalene:  But there’s more, the best part!  As we were leaving the tomb [speaking very slowly and with great emphasis], we saw him…we saw Jesuswe spoke with him!!!!!!

Peter:               [surprised]  You saw him?  You saw Jesus himself?   [Then, sounding irritated] You must be imagining this, this is an idle tale.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Risen from the dead?  I don’t believe it. How can it be true?  Maybe you saw someone who looked like Jesus!

Mary Magdalene:  I saw Jesus, I am totally sure, Peter!  We are telling the truth. We saw him!!!   He is not dead!  He is alive!  Friends, you must believe us! 

Peter:               How can this be true?   I must go to the tomb myself. [he suddenly leaves the screen as if running away]

John:                [with his hand stretched out as if he is trying to catch up to Peter]   Wait, wait, wait for me, I’m coming too! [also jumps up from his seat and leave the screen]

Act 3

 Narrator:          [holding up the sign] In Act 3 we meet up with the disciples Peter and John outside the tomb.  They have run the whole way here. 

Peter:               [panting, and bobbing his head,  looking like he just ran a long way.]  The tomb is open….[pointing]  look the stone is rolled away.

John:                [also out of breath]  I’m going in.   Peter there is no body here, no angel here…no one here at all.  Come in and see for yourself.   Jesus is gone!  Look, his grave clothes are folded here where we laid him.  Here are all the baskets of spices the women left behind.  Maybe the women were right after all, maybe Jesus has risen from the dead!

Peter:               Jesus is risen?  He is alive?  Not dead?  The women said they saw him here, in this garden….  [calling loudly and looking around]  Jesus, Jesus, where are you?  We are here, show yourself!!

John:                [cupping his hands around his mouth and calling loudly] Jesus, Jesus, are you here?  We

are looking for you!!!  We’re over here by the tomb!!! ….[pause]  Peter, there is no one here, this place is deserted. I believe the women, I believe Jesus is raised from the dead!  But I wonder why he showed himself to the women and not to us? 

Peter:               Alive….alive?  If he is alive, I don’t know if he wants to see me. I denied him three times. Three times, John….   He looked at me , and I know he heard me deny him. That’s why I couldn’t come to see him crucified like you did…how could I, knowing  I had betrayed him?   Betrayed him just as surely as Judas did.  I don’t know if I will ever see Jesus again, to tell him how much I love him.

John:                Remember what the angel said, “Tell my disciples and Peter….”  That’s a message for you too, Peter.  We are supposed to go to Galilee, I am sure we will see him there. We must follow him there. Let’s go immediately!

Act 4

Narrator:          [holding up the sign]  Our final act brings us back to Salome’s house, what’s happening there now?

Dinah:              Mother, what are you doing?  Are you baking something?  Something sweet, with raisins maybe?

Salome:            Yes, my darling daughter, I am baking sweetcakes for us all. Today is such a wonderful day, the day our Saviour Jesus rose from the dead.  We have to celebrate!

David:               Why did everyone leave so quickly, mother?  When Peter and John came back, they packed their bag and left within minutes.  Where did they go? 

Salome:            Well, the disciples and Mary and Joanna, they went up to Galilee, because the angel told us Jesus is going there.  Poor Cleopas and his wife, they dearly wanted to go to Galilee too, to meet Jesus,  but they had to get home to Emmaus, their children will be needing them.

Caleb:               Is it really true, mother, that Jesus rose from the dead?  And did the angels really say that Jesus was going to Galilee to meet the disciples?

Salome:            Yes, truly, that is what the angel said.  I know it’s hard to believe, but I saw the empty tomb with my own eyes!  I heard the angel! 

Caleb:               What did the angel look like, Mother?

Salome:            The angel was radiant, with clothes that shone, but it was their voice that I remember the most. The most beautiful voice telling you the most beautiful news in the world.  And then we met Jesus himself.  He is alive!

Caleb:               What did Jesus look like, he must have been very weak after all he went through on Friday.  You said he was whipped and then crucified.

Salome:            He did not look weak, he looked… he was Jesus, he was himself.  He was calm, he was peaceful, he was radiant too!

David:               My own mother saw an angel and someone who was raised from the dead, wait till I tell my friends!

Salome:             Yes, you can tell your friends about Jesus, who came to share God’s love with us.  And death could not hold him, God has raised him up….things are never going to be the same again….  Dinah, go and look in the oven, I think the sweetcakes must be ready by now.

Dinah:              Sweetcakes!  This is the best first day of the week ever!  We should always have special things to eat on this day, to remember that Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week, don’t you think, Mother?

Salome:            Dinah, that is not a bad idea!  God be praised, alleluia, this is a day to remember!

Narrator:          And here we leave the family to their special breakfast on the best first day of the week.  The disciples are hurrying off to Galilee, but Jesus will surprise everyone by going to Emmaus first, and meeting Cleopas on the road.  This new resurrected Jesus is going to surprise many people, showing up in surprising ways.  And so even centuries later, Christians remember this special first day, Easter day the day of resurrection, with the words, “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!” Let’s sing that song together: 

[the congregation is invited to sing “Christ the Lord is risen today”]

***

If you would like a Word Document of this pageant, please email me at leadinginworship@live.com.

If you decide to perform this, I would really appreciate a $5 donation to help offset costs for this website.  Thanks!  You could send an e-transfer…  leadinginworship@live.com. (If you don't know how to send an e-transfer, no worries, just use it.) 

 

 

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner www.leadinginworship.com” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at carol@leadinginworship.com

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