This article is from Issue 69 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.
The scene is the inn. Noises are heard off-stage of laughter and talking and cups clinking. There is no one on stage.
Soldier: (Off-stage) Innkeeper! More wine!
Innkeeper: (Rushes from one side of the stage to the other with a bottle of wine.) Those Roman soldiers think I’ve nothing else to do!
Mrs Inkeeper: (Enters) We can’t take any more people. There’s no room — the inn is full.
Innkeeper: (Returns) Full? It’s bursting at the seams! How the Romans expect so many people to stay in Bethlehem beats me.
Guest 1: (Enters) Innkeeper! It’s too noisy! My children can’t get to sleep.
Innkeeper: I understand, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s the Roman soldiers and they won’t leave.
Guest 1: (Sniffs) Romans, huh! If it wasn’t for their census we’d all be comfortable at home in our own beds.
Innkeeper: (Dreamily) And I’d be in my bed asleep.
(Knock at the door. Mrs Innkeeper opens it to find Joseph and Mary there.)
Joseph: Have you a room, please? We’ve been travelling for days and are very tired.
Mrs Inkeeper: I’m sorry, but the inn is full!
Mary: (Wearily) But surely you have a corner somewhere. We can pay.
Innkeeper: (Coming over, interested.) You can?
Joseph: (Hesistates, embarrassed.) Er well, we can’t pay very much — we’re poor folk. But we won’t be any trouble.
Innkeeper: (Losing interest.) That’s what they all say. Sorry, there’s no room in here. You’ll have to go somewhere else.
Mary: (Desperately) But there’s nowhere else to go. You are our only hope.
(Innkeeper shrugs. Several guests enter to watch and listen curiously from behind.)
Joseph: We need shelter. My wife is going to have a baby soon. We can’t stay in the street.
Mrs Inkeeper: (Concerned) A baby! You poor thing. There must be something we can do.
Innkeeper: (Turning to the guests.) Maybe one of the other guests will give up their room?
Guest 1: I’d like to help but I’ve got my own family to think of. Sorry. Hurries away.)
Guest 2: Don’t look at me. They should have been here earlier. (Hurries away.)
Guest 3: Are you joking? It’s bad enough with these Roman soldiers without having a baby crying the place down too.(Leaves)
Mrs Inkeeper: (Looks at her husband.) There’s always our room.
Innkeeper: (Brightening) I know! The stable out the back! (Hesitates) It’s full of animals so it won’t smell very nice…
Mrs Innkeeper: (Disgusted) It stinks! What about our…
Innkeeper: (Glaring at her to be silent. Then turns to Mary and Joseph.) Well that’s it. Take it or leave it.
Joseph(Glances at Mary.) We’ll take it
Mary: (Nods wearily.) Thank you for your kindness.
(They are directed around the back of the inn.)
Mrs Innkeeper: (Shutting the door furiously.) You offer them the stable and they thank you for your kindness!
Innkeeper: What else could I do? Silly woman. Fancy having a baby now. It’s her own fault
Mrs Innkeeper: (Very angry) It’s the Romans’ fault, not hers! She shouldn’t be tramping around the country in her condition and you know it! You should have given them our room.
Innkeeper: (Shaking his head.) Oh no. I’m nearly dead on my feet. No one’s getting my bed— no one!
(Knock at the door)
Innkeeper: (Shouts) We’re full!
Mrs Innkeeper: They’ve come back. Probably discovered how bad that stable is. (Opens door.) Er, hello. (A richly dressed man and woman stand at the door)
Man: We’re after a room. Do you have one?
Mrs Innkeeper: (Sharply) No we don’t We’re full.
Woman: We do realise that rooms are scarce in Bethlehem at the moment, but we ARE prepared to pay.
Innkeeper: (Warily) You’ll pay?
Man: (Holds up two bags of coins.) Handsomely. Two bags of gold coins for a room. Two bags of gold coins!
Mrs Innkeeper: That’s very generous, but it doesn’t change the situation… (She is pushed out of the way by the Innkeeper)
Innkeeper: (Coughs and smiles) As a matter of fact we do have ONE room left — a… er… cancellation.
Man: That’s very kind. (Gives him the bags.)
(Mrs Innkeeper stares open mouthed.)
Man: We do appreciate it
Woman: Oh. by the way, our horse is outside. Do you have somewhere suitable for an animal to spend the night? It’s such a faithful beast
Innkeeper: I’ll take it round to the stable now. Just leave it to me. Your room is up the stairs and first on the right. Mrs Inkeeper: (Exclaims loudly.) What!?
Man: Thank you. (They move into the inn.)
Mrs Innkeeper: (Explodes) First on the right up the stairs is OUR room! What are you doing? Where are we going to sleep
Innkeeper: (Grinning) Who cares?
Mrs Innkeeper: Only a minute ago you said no one would have your bed.
Innkeeper: Jangling the bags in front of her.) With two bags of gold coins I can sleep standing up. We’re rich!
Mrs Innkeeper: Why didn’t you offer our room to that other couple? They needed it But they couldn’t pay, could they?
Innkeeper: (Hugs the bags and grins.) Two bags of gold coins!
Mrs Innkeeper: That’s not fair!
Innkeeper: That’s the way of the world, my dear. If you’ve got money you can have anything you want
Mrs Innkeeper: (Angrily) And you’ve made a poor woman have her baby in a stable! It’s outrageous!
Innkeeper: (Calmly patting her shoulder.) Don’t worry yourself over them, my dear They’re only peasants. No one will ever know!
(This script may be copied for use in a local church program.)