Awaiting Orders

By Andy Jackman


Two soldiers watch the final moments of Good Friday.


Commander: Mature and less prone to excitement than:
Corporal: enthusiastic but impatient.
Messenger: Walk on part. Can be v. young but should be jaunty in the style
of all messengers who have been everywhere and seen everything.


The scene opens to reveal the Commander studying one set of orders. Corporal enters with precision and enthusiasm, convinced this is still a game and that he is in the winning team).

Commander: (As Corp enters) Everyone in position?

Corp: (Salutes smartly) Yes commander. All units positioned and waiting for orders. Full battle alert! (draws himself even taller – he is obviously proud to be here).

Commander: (A little distracted) Very good.

Corp: You now have orders?

Commander: As before.

Corp: Wait! What sort of order is that?

Commander: Watch and Wait for orders. Full alert, do nothing until specific orders received. Latest report?

Corp: The King - It’s not good. He's been at it all night, if we wait around too long things may start to get ugly. I say we take them now...

Commander: Watch...

Corp: (interrupting) and wait. I know, but someone anticipates something. I haven't seen this sort of alert since...

Commander: Yes. I know. someone anticipates something serious. Very serious.

Corp: So far we've had (counts off on fingers) a late night meal in complete secret; an even later night prayer meeting; a betrayal by that villain Judas; two interrogations by the high priests and two beatings. (Boldly) This situation is already out of hand.

Commander: Yes.

Corp: And we stand here talking while he's dragged before Pilate and the entire crowd is screaming for his blood. (peers L.) Why is he washing his hands? (draws sword) that's it, I'm going in!

Commander: (Restraining him) Watch...

Corp: What? Surely the order must have been given?

Commander: The order will come. It must come. Soon.

Corp: (peers L again.) But he can hardly stand, they've got some foreigner dragging a cross for him. Does he really intend to go all the way. He can't.

Commander: No he can't, the order will come.

Corp: (Looking around with a slight shiver) Do you feel it? Like time itself is pressing in, slowing down. Like the whole universe is hanging on this moment, expectant.

Commander: This is not good. I recall another occasion when it seemed that earth and heaven hung suspended in a moment. It was long ago, in the garden.

Corp: Adam?

Commander: Yes, and as he turned his back on God and took that one disobedient bite, he scarred this earth and the entire universe for all time, and it seemed like Time itself faltered. Then, it meant death for all his race. Now, I fear the worst.

Corp: Maybe the orders are lost. Maybe we should use these brains of ours and act!

Commander: No, we cannot. We must not. The King is in control.

Corp: They're nailing his hands! his feet! Come on!

Commander: (Heavily) Watch...

Corp: but look at all that… carrion, dancing around him.

Commander: Wait...

Corp: (pleading) He can hardly see...

Commander: (grasping for any sign that things will be alright) He just looked at that thief.

Corp: (Still trying to persuade the Commander to act) He couldn't give the order if he needed to...

Commander: He's just spoken to his mother.

Corp: He's dying for crying out loud. (pleading) Can God die?

Commander: (He shakes head, very unsure of everything. He reaches inside his pocket for the order which he checks again) It cannot be. (looks around) Twelve legions, fully armed and yet the orders are clear. Watch...

Corp: Wait! he's speaking… (indignant) Forgive them?

Commander: Impossible...

Corp: There! he called...

Commander: No, it was to his Father... (pause) His lips!

Both: (terrified as they realise the truth) Nooooooo!

(they look at each other in complete disbelief)

Corp: He's dead. He just let go of life. He just allowed himself to be killed. (wonderingly) 'receive my spirit'.

Commander: Did we miss something?

Corp: We couldn't have. One word would have been enough, one look, one sigh, I would have sliced through that hoard and carried him to safety. (again despairing) Why didn't he call?

Commander: (distracted) They're taking him down. Those are good men.

Corp: (looking, sniffs) Hardly a fit tomb for a King. And not even a proper burial. Just a big stone door to keep him in and the wolves out. Should we retreat?

Commander: No, we watch, and wait.

Corp: What’s the point? What’s the point of lining up the entire armies of Heaven – placing 12 legions of them on the front line - In expectation of the greatest moment of history – the revealing of God’s own Son to mankind – the proof of His power, the full majesty of His glory – the annihilation of his enemies and then allowing some, some… arbitrary squad of Roman riff-raff
to nail him to a cross. And if that wasn’t bad enough, to then hang there willingly and then allow himself to die? What’s the point? Didn’t you see it - when He called out – God himself had turned his face away! Something went badly wrong. (looks L.) And now?

Commander: Hush, here comes Mary, she's early.

(Enter messenger with 2nd set of orders)

Messenger: (Without a care in the world) Orders! (Gives them to Corp who has his hand out eagerly. Messenger exits. Corp hurriedly starts to tear them open)

Commander: (Clearing throat to reminding Corp of who the orders are for) er-hmm.

Corp: Sorry! (hands orders over, but hovers impatiently)

(Commander opens them slowly. Reads them and pauses, very puzzled)

Corp: Well! why are you just standing there? What do they say?

Commander: Just one word... 'Celebrate!'

Corp: (peers skywards, incredulous) Celebrate? Celebrate what? (Suddenly they both look L. as though they hear a sound offstage. Corp gasps, grabs the Commander’s arm and points L.) Why is that stone moving?

Copyright 2001 A. Jackman, email
May be used under the church copyright licence scheme (CCL) for non-profit production.