St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Easter Sunday

Gretchen, Corby, and Kevin would have acted out this play Easter Sunday if we were actually meeting.  Parts in brackets are likely Gretchen’s thoughts or prompts as the play progresses; maybe some of it she would have actually said.


The Gardener written by Pastor Edward F. Markquart, a retired Lutheran pastor from Seattle.  Based on John 20:1-18

A one-act play involving the gardener who took care of the gardens in which the body of Jesus was buried and the voice of God.


His voice rings throughout the sanctuary.  The mood of God’s voice is cheerful, elated.  God is immensely pleased with what he did earlier in the day. 

The mood of the gardener is happily excited because of seeing the empty tomb, the grave clothes, and the faith of the disciples.  He has been convinced of the resurrection. He is carrying a shovel (symbolic of the gravedigger/gardener) that he leans on until the very end of the play.

(The author suggests a shovel.  When I first read the play, I kept envisioning the gardener with a rake or a hoe.  How about using a tool of your choice?)


Gardener -- O God, what a surprise!  What a wonderful joke!  Did you blow them away or what?!

God -- You liked what I did?

Gardener -- Like it?  I loved it!  It was mind boggling!  They didn’t know what to think!

God -- My truth is surprising.  What I prepare is so good and so wonderful that no mind can comprehend it.

Gardener -- I loved it!

God [with a smile in his voice] -- So did I!

Gardener -- I had the best seat in the house, front and center.  I mean, being the gardener and caretaker of the cemetery and all.  Digging out the graves from the limestone wall right over there.  Planting the flower beds.  Raking the grounds.  I got to see everything, the whole show!

God -- You had a special view.

Gardener – [When you get to “carrying the body of Jesus up the hill, you’ll see why I envision the gardener standing up the step near the organ.  Or else up by the altar rail]

You better believe it. . . .  It started on Friday, late Friday afternoon, about five or six o’clock to be specific.  I saw Joseph of Arimathea, Mr. Megabucks from the Jerusalem bank – and Nicodemus, Mr. Senator from the Sanhedrin; they, of all people, were carrying the body of Jesus up the hill from Golgotha to my cemetery.  I couldn’t believe it!  The two of them, of all people. . . . We put the body into that grave right over there, the grave that I had dug out last week.  It was a big vault, big enough for two bodies.  Five or six mourners could stand inside of it at one time to grieve.  They placed the body there, on that niche to the right.  And then they stood there silently for a moment, and then bowed, as if before a king.

God – Jesus, my Son, is a king.  King over life and king over death.  No grave shall contain him!

[The gardener responds positively to God’s voice, nodding, agreeing, because the gardener “knows.”]

[still God speaking] –

          For I am God of life and living,

          I am the God of eternal thanksgiving, and

          I raised my Son from the dead.

[the gardener listens very carefully to this poem.  As God repeats it in later speeches, the gardener will be learning it.]


Gardener -- I know.  I know. I know that you did.  After what I saw today, I know it. . . .  Very early this morning I heard sounds at daybreak, at the first hint of dawn.  As you know, God, I live in the little cottage here at the cemetery.  I’m a light sleeper. I looked out, and it was the women I had seen here on Friday.  They had been watching as we put the body into the vault.  I watched one lady as she approached the grave.  She shrieked: ‘Who rolled the gravestone away!!?’  I was shocked!  She was right!  The gravestone had been rolled away during the night.  What happened?  [Is the gardener asking what happened?  Is the woman?  Is it a rhetorical question? Does it fit here?  Do you want to use it?]  I watched her as she went into the grave vault.  She was there only for a short while, and when she came out, her face as shining as the sun.  She shouted at the top of her lungs: ‘He is not here!!’  And off she and the other women ran down the hill towards the city wall of Jerusalem

God -- To tell the disciples the good news . . . the message of my angels.

Gardener [almost whispering] Yesss

God --

          That I am the God of life and living

          I am the God of eternal thanksgiving and

          I raised my Son from the dead.

Gardener – I didn’t know what to do.  Before I knew what happened, I heard footsteps, running.  Two of his disciples came running up the hill from the city.  First, a younger man . . . a dark beard . . . he came puffing up real fast.  He approached the grave here, but he didn’t dare go in.  He was afraid.  Shaking in his sandals he was.  A moment later, the second disciple arrived.  A big, burly man . . . gray beard . . . he looked like an old fisherman.  He came right up to the grave and boldly walked right in.  No fear in his old heart.  The young man quickly followed.  They were in there for what seemed like an eternity.   And then . . . when they came out . . . their faces were shining like they had seen the sun.  They were laughing, smiling, and slapping each other’s back.  It was like they were hilariously drunk on some new kind of wine.  And off they ran down that hill, back to Jerusalem.

God – To tell the world the good news, the message of my angels. . .

[The Gardener repeats the words of God’s rhyme with God, in a joyful whisper.]

          That I am the God of life and living,

          I am the God of eternal thanksgiving, and

          I raised my Son from the dead!

Gardener – But before you knew it, the Jewish guards cam running from over there.  They had been sleeping nearby, camping out.  And then all hell broke loose. They were squabbling with each other, swearing at each other.  ‘What happened?  Who rolled the stone away?  Where’s the body?  O my God, the linens and napkin are here.  The disciples must have come and stolen the body.  We’ll get killed for this.  Who will tell the chief priest?  Not me!  You do it.’ . . . In a moment the Jewish priests cam puffing up the hill from Golgotha, dressed in black, looking like a flock of crows, squawking at each other.  ‘You soldiers will die for allowing them to steal the body!’

God – Those poor blind Jewish leaders . . . . Blind to eternity.  Blind to immortality.  Blind to eternal spring.  I, the Lord God, turn brown seeds into beautiful flowers.

Gardener – Yes! 

God – Cocoons into butterflies.

Gardener –Yes!

God – And dead bodies into eternal glory.

Gardener – Yes!  It has been a madhouse here all day, God. Everybody has come to the cemetery.  Would you imagine?  The scholars from the uppity University of Jerusalem arrived.  Scientists.  Astronomers. Well-educated men.  They came to examine the evidence.  They carefully touched the walls to make sure that there was no other route of escape.  They made me come in, to prove that there was no escape door.  Then they took the linen cloth and carefully stretched it out and closely examined the blood stains.  Their minds were perplexed.  They were really puzzled, and they finally concluded, ‘Either somebody has stolen the body, or something very strange has happened here today.’

God – What human mind can fathom the intelligence of God?  What human mind can comprehend the universe?  What human mind can understand life itself?  And I, God, who created all of life, can raise one man from the dead – if I so choose.

Gardener –God, I know you created life itself, and I know that you raised Jesus from the dead.  But . . . but . . . but how about me?  a poor Jewish gardener?  My husband?  My family?  The bodies here in my cemetery?  Will we live again?

[Husband can be changed to wife, mother, brother etc. as you choose.]

God –What did you see today, Gardener?

Gardener – What I saw was gloriously wonderful!  I saw the empty tomb.  The grave clothes folded neatly in the grave.  The faith and faces of the disciples . . .  And I also saw the daffodils blooming in my garden.  And a cluster of butterflies flutter past me.   They were beautiful.  Today I felt the deep hope of eternity spring forth within me, like a flower blossoming forth into full bloom.

God – My friend, you will never die.  Your eyes are open and you have seen eternal spring.  Your heart is open and you know eternal love.  Your ears are open and you have heard my eternal song.

Gardener – O God, how I love your song.  Sing it to me again.

God – I want the whole world to know that  [the Gardener repeats the words with elation as God speaks]

          I am the God of life and living.

          I am the God of eternal thanksgiving, and

          I raised my Son from the dead!

Gardener – I will tell -- I will tell the whole world.  I will run to tell the whole world.

[Playwright has Gardener run from the chancel to the rear of the sanctuary, stopping and shouting to the congregation and the world]

He is risen!  Your Son is risen indeed!

For ours is a God of life and living,

Ours is a God of eternal thanksgiving.

And he raised his Son from the dead.


(I know the Nicene creed is to follow the sermon, but wouldn’t a rousing triumphant Easter hymn go well here?)



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