Jesus pops his head around a heavy oak door. “Hello?” He has a very cockney accent.
“Wha...This is a private room! Who gave you the authority to-“
“Authority!? Private!? Who do you think you are? The son of God?” Jesus winks at John, and smiles cheesily. His teeth glisten in the midday sun, a sparkle of realisation alights John’s eyes.
“Call me Jesus,” he vigorously shakes the Archbishop’s hand, “and I’ll call you... What’s your name?”
“My Lord, I am your humble servant, the Archbishop of-“
“Archbishop? What’s an Archbishop?”
“The highest authority in the Church of Engla-“
“Again with the authority! Come on, didn’t you hear my Golden Rule? You’re all equal, the lot of you, you can’t be an authority!”
John stammers. “I-I-I have spent years studying the Christian texts, it’s important that-“
“Christian texts!? Christian texts!!?” Jesus lights a cigarette and half-sits on the arm of the Archbishop’s chair. “Look, it’s simple, I only said a few things. Love your neighbour, the thing about the rich man and the camel and the needle, uh...and some other things. But those two are the most important. See? Easy peasy.”
The Archbishop is visibly taken aback. “My Lord, perhaps you’d like to come back to my Palace for-“
“Your WHAT!?” Jesus drops his cigarette, and it lands pathetically on the oak floor. A heavy silence fills the room. “You have a Palace!? Fucking hell... I mean, I knew you humans were a bit thick, but... were you awake when you were reading the New Testament? It is easier for a needle to pass through the eye of camel – wait, no, that’s not it. Whatever, rich is bad, don’t be rich, Ok?”
“My Lord, I am not rich myself, I am merely lent this Palace until-“
“Oh, fuck off! You live in a Palace for fuck’s sake! If that’s not wealth then I don’t know what is! Do you know how many homeless people there are in York, Mr ‘Highest Authority in the Church of England’?”
“No, my Lord.” John stares at his feet. Jesus sighs disappointedly.
“Oh, come on! That’s precisely the sort of thing you should know! Helping the poor, that’s what I’m all about. Are you sure you read my book at all?”
The Archbishop, awkward now, artfully changes the subject. “My Lord, can I ask you a question? We are trying to decide whether to ordain women as bishops, do you think it-”
“What year is it?”
“2012, my Lord.”
“2012! My, how time flies! Why it seems just yesterday I was giving a sermon on a mountain, and – oh, you probably know that story. 2012, eh? So nearly...100 years since women first got the vote here, I make it?”
“Possibly, my Lord.”
“100 years. One hundred fucking years! My God! One hundred years, and you still don’t have women bishops!?”
“My Lord, you only had male disciples, we assumed-“
“Well of course I bloody did, it was 2000 years ago! Can you imagine what would’ve happened if I’d had female disciples? Chaos! No-one would’ve listened to me! But you ask me that question now!? For fuck’s sake: TREAT YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. Can I make it any simpler!? You’re a bishop, women are your neighbours, so...”
“...They should...be able to be bishops too?”
“Yes! Halle-fucking-lujah!” Jesus looks quizzically at his nearly-finished cigarette. “I should be off. Things to do, people to see. It’s a tough life being the Messiah, you know.”
“My Lord, I-“
“Oh, and here’s an idea. Sell your Palace to a homelessness charity, live in poverty, and stop the whole ‘authority’ thing. Ok? And maybe read my book again, I don’t think you understood it properly the first time.”
Jesus winks, smiles cheesily, the hurries out of the oak door onto his waiting motorbike.
“And one more thing,” he turns back, smiling, to the stunned Archbishop. “Lose the silly hats.”