This article is from Issue 65 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.
CHARACTERS AT CHRISTMAS by Pat Baker
This is not a script as such, but a collection of imaginary reflections by people mentioned in the Christmas stories as told by Matthew and Luke. The speeches (all or any of them) could be used in a play or tableau, or simply as part of a service of worship.
SHEPHERD We were watching our flocks up in the hills.
The night was mild and the sky was bright with stars. I remember we were talking about the census and the crowd of strangers
it had brought to town.
Suddenly there was a blaze of light — like nothing we had ever seen before. Then we saw the angel standing in the midst of it! I thought the end had come and God would judge me for my sins.
The angel spoke in a voice of gentleness and power: “Don’t be afraid!
I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Saviour was born — Christ the Lord!”
There was more — things I didn’t understand — about strips of cloth
and a baby in a manger. And there was music. Not the thin sound of a shepherd’s flute but the glorious thunder of a heavenly choir as a great army of heaven’s angels sang praises to God:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased!”
As suddenly as the first angel had appeared the great choir was gone
and we were alone with the sheep and the twinkling stars. We looked at one another in wonder.
Had it all been a dream? Or was this truly the night of our salvation?
“Let’s go to Bethlehem” I said at last.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand what has happened to me during these past months. Young and carefree, I was, looking forward to marriage with Mary, my betrothed. And then she told me she was pregnant! My world came tumbling around my ears for the shame of it
and the bitter disappointment. She had some crazy tale about the Holy Spirit! Did she think I was born yesterday?
Better she had told the truth… But I am an honourable man,
not wanting to disgrace her publicly. While I was thinking, wondering what to do an angel came to me in a dream and assured me that Mary
spoke the truth!
The son she would bear would be named Jesus and he would save his people from their sins. So we were married and awaited the birth
with eagerness and awe…
The time was close when the census was called. Bethlehem was the place
of my ancestors, and there we must go. I prayed that the baby would wait until we reached the town… and then, until we found a place…
“No room” was the answer wherever we went — no room — and time running out. And then a stable a humble place but warm and dry, the child’s first cries waking the birds in the eaves.
You can’t blame me — though many have. Times were hard and the census seemed heaven-sent: a chance to recoup losses and lay something by
for the future.
Sure I felt sorry for them — an anxious Galilean and his child-bride
heavily pregnant. But what could I do? The inn was full; guests who had paid were not about to give up their rooms to the likes of them.
I did what I could. There was the stable take it or leave it. They took it grateful even for a patch of straw. How was I to know that history would be made in that unlikely outhouse?
My heart praises the Lord.
My soul is glad because God has remembered me, his lowly servant!
It was strange how I had no doubts after the angel’s visit.
God had chosen me to bear his son.
Poor Joseph! Angry at first then puzzled then sharing my wonder
if not my confidence…
I remember little of the journey to Bethlehem. Just as well — what I do remember is painful with the jolting of each slow step on the dusty road. I remember Joseph’s desperation as he went from door to door
and always the same answer: “No room! Don’t you know there’s a census?”
The warmth of the stable welcomed us, offered rest at last.
Thus Jesus was born and I looked in wonder at God’s own son feeding at my breast…
A shadow fell across the doorway and shepherds came to gaze in awe
and tell their story of angel songs. Having grown used to angels
I did not doubt them. They left, singing praise to God for all they had heard and seen.
And I remembered everything and pondered deeply…