This is the play that I wrote for our Christmas program this year at Church. It was performed on Sunday, December 18, 2005. Everyone did a great job in remembering their lines and actions; our Pastor said it was well done and delivered a good message that we all need to hear.
The background was very simple. The stage was divided into two “sets,” one for the kitchen/family scene and the other for the “flashback” scenes. Only the first verse from each song was played, with the exception of “O Holy Night,” which was complete and accompanied by a church member doing ASL (sign language). Joy to the World was accompanied by a church member on the piano. The entire play lasted about 30 minutes.
The sign language and piano accompaniments were great additions – if we had more time for practice, I would have done that for all of the songs.
The roles were:
Family members: Dad, Mom, Julie, Kiersten
Others: Angel, Jesus (baby and adult), John the Apostle, Joseph, Mary, Rich Man, various townspeople.
TITLE: JESUS, OUR WONDROUS GIFT
Begin with song: George Strait’s Christmas Cookies
Mom puts ornaments on table and goes to stove to prepare hot chocolate.
Dad walks over to Julie.
Kiersten gets mugs for hot chocolate and puts them on a tray next to the stove.
Dad: Decorating the tree sure is fun this year. Julie, you should be helping us. What are you doing?
Julie: I’m finishing my homework, Dad. It’s due tomorrow.
Dad: Oh, is that the assignment you’ve been trying to figure out whom to write about?
Julie: It’s not writing about someone. It’s writing a letter as if I am someone from history.
Dad, chuckling: So who are you pretending to be?
Julie: Mary. I’m writing a letter from Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.
Dad, looking puzzled: Who? (picks up Bible). You mean from this? This is just a storybook. It doesn’t mean anything.
Julie, sadly: Oh, Dad, the Bible is God’s word to us. Everything in there is true.
Mom: Mary, Elizabeth, the Bible? I don’t get it, ever since you and your sister have been attending that church down the street, all you ever talk about is Jesus, as if He’s real or something.
Mom pours hot chocolate into mugs, puts them on the tray, passes a mug to each person.
Kiersten, defiantly: He IS real! It says so in His book!
Dad: Okay, whatever. But when Julie’s teacher doesn’t accept that assignment as “real people,” she’ll get a failing grade.
Julie: That doesn’t matter to me because I know the truth.
Dad puts mug down and heads out of the kitchen carrying some ornaments. Kiersten lingers at the stove. Mom starts to leave, but pauses.
Mom: Julie, I’m curious. I thought you were writing a letter from a Pilgrim. What changed your mind?
Julie, excitedly: Jesus did. It suddenly came to me how I should write this. I am writing as if I’m Mary in her early 50s, and Elizabeth is probably close to 70 now. Mary is looking back on her life as Jesus’ mother and writing a long, heartfelt letter to Elizabeth.
Mom puts mug down and looks at what Julie typed. Mom gets a thoughtful look on her face as she reads the paper.
Mom: So you really believe all this stuff is true? That it’s not just made up?
Julie: Absolutely. I stake my life, and eternity, on it.
Dad comes back in the kitchen and sits down; puts ornaments on the table. Looks a bit frustrated because no one is helping decorate the tree.
Mary enters the scene at the other end of stage holding a jug of water. The light will NOT be on her until the next scene, but she should get in place now.
Dad (whining): Isn’t anyone going to help decorate the tree? What’s so interesting in here anyway?
Mom and Kiersten are looking at Julie’s paper.
Kiersten: Dad, we’re reading Julie’s paper. This is good stuff, you know. Hey, Jule, can I read it your letter out loud?
Julie starts to answer, but Mom interrupts:
“wait.” She looks around thoughtfully. I think I’ll read it out loud, but you can all listen.
Dad looks very oddly at Mom. Kiersten smiles broadly like she’s harboring a big secret. Kiersten either sits down or drinks hot chocolate (maybe both).
Mom picks up paper, paces back and forth while looking at it.
Julie continues to type and print her paper; Kiersten & Dad are watching Mom.
Mom: Well, okay, I guess I’ll just start at the top. (reads from paper) “Dear Elizabeth, I have wanted to write this letter to you for so long now. I have kept so many things to myself, but the time has come to reveal them to you. It all started when I was 16, and I was visited by an angel ........”
While Mom is talking, dim the lights on the family. Mom’s voice fades and the spotlight shines on Mary only. When the angel walks up the stairs and speaks to Mary, the spotlight should include both of them.
Angel: Greetings, Mary, for you are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
Mary is carrying a water vase and is startled by the appearance of the angel:
I am troubled by your visit and greeting. To what do I owe this honor?
Angel: Do not be frightened, for you are highly favored by the Most High. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
Mary, surprised: How can this be, since I am a virgin?
Angel: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Nothing is impossible with God.
Mary, bowing: I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be as you say. Oh, Lord, how can it be that I have been chosen to bear your Son to this world? But I do not question You, rather I welcome You and praise You, for all glory and honor are due to You and You alone. (Mary exclaims suddenly): Oh, Lord, how will I tell Joseph that I am to have a child?
Voice of angel in distance: Do not be afraid, Mary. An angel of the Lord will appear to Joseph.
Mary bows her head.
Light is back on kitchen as focal point.
Mom: Well, that’s creative. Your teacher should give you high ranks for fiction.
Kiersten: Mom, it’s not fiction! Some of those words are actually from the Bible and were spoken by real people. Luke, who lived at the time of Jesus, interviewed people to get their account. (to Dad) Dad, you’re an attorney, you know how important it is to have a witness to something.
Dad: Yes, a truthful witness, (Emphatically says the next three words as if he’s talking to a small child who doesn’t understand; each word is pronounced slowly and clearly), telling the truth. That’s what is important.
Julie: Exactly, Dad! And that’s what happened here! Actual people SAW these events, so we know they are right. In fact, in the first chapter of Luke (Opens Bible and reads), he says: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.”
Dad: Yeah, well, anybody can write anything, just like a witness can ‘say’ anything. But I must say this is interesting, at the very least. What else does it say?
Mom continues: “Elizabeth, as you know, the prophesies were fulfilled with the birth of Jesus. I remember that Joseph was angry when I told him about the Christ child. He did not speak to me for two whole days. Then he came to visit.
Spotlight on Mary and Joseph only.
Joseph walks to Mary silently. He then takes her hands and speaks softly to her.
“Oh, Mary, I was so wrong to be angry. I had a visit from an angel last night. He told me that this child you are carrying is indeed God in human form. Emmanuel, he said. Emmanuel, our savior is with us! Mary, can you ever forgive me?
Mary: Joseph, there was never anything to forgive. I am so humbled that God has chosen me from among all women to be the mother of Jesus. I need you to help me stay strong and be a good mother. Joseph, I want to understand Scripture better. Will you help me?
Joseph: Of course. We will read daily and I will help you understand what is strange to you. [pause] But you said you want to visit your cousin Elizabeth. Is that safe in your condition?
Mary: Oh, Joseph, women have been having babies since Adam and Eve. The only difference is that I KNOW this baby will be safe. I will visit for a few months and then return home.
Joseph: Very well. It is spring now, but remember that when the winter rains begin, we must travel to Bethlehem for the census. I will prepare the donkey for your journey to visit Elizabeth.
Mary: Thank you, Joseph.
Joseph walks off toward the stable. Mary offers a silent prayer to God.
Spotlight returns to kitchen.
Mom: Julie, is all this in the Bible?
Julie: Well, no Mom, it’s like Kiersten said. I had to take some liberty in writing. But the main facts are there. The angel’s visit to both Mary & Joseph, Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, then the travel to Bethlehem for the census. It’s all here in the Bible! [holds up the Bible]
Kiersten: Keep reading, Mom. [to Julie she says] - Hey, this is good stuff. (Teasingly, Kiersten says): I didn’t realize my little sister was so talented!
Mom: Okay. Let’s see, where was I? Oh, yes, here we are.... Do you remember when I came to visit you, Elizabeth? You were with child, and you had kept saying you were too old to be in that condition! Dear Zechariah was unable to speak, I remember you told me all about that. We discussed the fulfillment of prophecies with the birth of Jesus by my traveling to Bethlehem for the census.
Kiersten: Right on, Jule! Mom and Dad, Zechariah was a priest who, according to the Bible, was upright in the sight of God. He and Elizabeth had tried for years to have a child, but couldn’t. Then an angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that Elizabeth would have a child and they were to name him John.
Julie: That’s right - John the Baptist. The Bible calls John a prophet of the Most High, for he went ahead of Jesus and prepared the way by teaching about salvation and forgiveness of sins.
Dad: Salvation? Forgiveness of sins? I guess I just don’t understand all this.
Kiersten: Keep listening, Dad. I think you’ll get it by the time you hear the whole thing. Right, Julie?
Julie: That’s what I pray for.
Mom: Quiet, listen to this. “When Joseph and I arrived in Bethlehem, we were astounded at the crowds of people. We searched and searched, but could find no place to stay, until a kind innkeeper allowed us to stay in the stable. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, we were visited by three shepherds. God had told them to visit us and pay homage to Jesus. They left us many gifts, which we used for trading.
Song: O Holy Night. (Sign language accompaniment.)
Lights dim as family appears to listen to mom as she continues to read. Mom can pace here or stand in one place, but she should look as if she is still reading During song, bring in prop with baby cradle, baby doll, and Mary and Joseph. Joseph should sit in front of the cradle and Mary watches from “doorway” until Joseph speaks.
Mom resumes reading at conclusion of song:
Joseph was so loving and kind. He never said so, but I believe he was overwhelmed by our Savior as a baby. I remember one time watching Joseph with the baby Jesus. I just stood silently at the door and listened.
Spotlight shifts to Joseph with Baby Jesus.
Joseph, looking at the baby in cradle:
Oh my Lord, I am only a simple carpenter. How can it be that I should be the earthly father to my Lord? How can I be a father to the Savior of all? I have neither the wisdom nor the knowledge to do this on my own.
Joseph puts his head down and appears to be overwhelmed.
Mary walks over and touches his shoulder:
Joseph, you yourself told me that God Himself will give us strength and wisdom.
Joseph: But Mary, the Savior of all in our care! Just think of that. I am so unworthy. This baby is the Redeemer, the Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Mary: And He will provide for us. Come, it is bedtime.
Joseph: You go ahead. I want to stay here and pray awhile.
Mary: Very well.
Song: Joseph’s Song. (Joseph may hold the baby here) – A dim spotlight should shine on Joseph during the song.
Spotlight focuses back on kitchen. Remove cradle from other scene; next group can take their places.
Dad seems choked up a bit, but is still skeptical.
Dad: Well, Julie, this is quite good. (Dad quickly adds): for fiction, that is.
Mom looks at him strangely:
Julie is quite a good writer. I’m interested, Julie. All this about Jesus being God and the Savior - I spent a lot of years in church, but I really don’t recall ever learning that. I learned that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and I always heard about Mary and Joseph, but I never thought about them being real people. They were just nice stories that we were supposed to somehow apply to our lives.
Dad: Well, I never had a religious background, so all this just sounds like a major fairy tale to me. Are you sure this isn’t just a Disney movie? All that happy ending stuff and everything – yeah, a fairy tale all right.
Kiersten: Keep reading, Mom! Dad, just listen, okay?
Mom: Julie, why don’t you read for a while?
Julie: Sure! (looks at paper), Ah, here we are.
Elizabeth, Joseph explained that all mankind will see God’s salvation, according to the book of Isaiah. That salvation is Jesus. God’s judgement must be felt by everyone, but those who put their trust in God will be met with compassion. Jesus came to earth for all peoples, Jews as well as Gentiles.
Dad: Jews? Gentiles? Whatever does all that mean?
Kiersten: The terms Jews and Gentiles were ways of designating believers and nonbelievers in those days. God is no respecter of persons. He loves each of us and wants us to accept Jesus into our hearts and lives.
Dad, still skeptical: Yeah, right. Anyone for more hot chocolate?
(Dad goes to the stove and puts the teakettle on, but listens very intently to what is being read. The audience should get the impression that he’s starting to understand and perhaps believe what he’s hearing.)
Julie continues to read: Elizabeth, as I watched Jesus grow, I was astonished at the wisdom and stature He had. As He grew, Jesus talked so often about the kingdom of heaven. He said He spoke in parables because the people could not understand the secrets. He called the disciples blessed because they see, hear, and understand. This talk of eternal life confused me somewhat. I remember one day when …..
SCENE: Jesus and the rich man parable (Matthew 19:16-26)
Rich man: Teacher, what good things must I do to get eternal life?
Jesus: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Rich man: These things I have done. Is there anything I lack?
Jesus: If you want to be perfect, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.
Rich man: What? Sell everything? Are you insane? I won’t do that. (The man turns and haughtily strides away.)
Jesus (turns to the disciples):
See how difficult it is for the rich to enter heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.
(Jesus and disciples walk off – except for John and Mary)
Mary: John, this talk of eternal life. I am not sure I completely understand.
John: Mary, God loves us so much. He sent Jesus here to earth to show us that He is the way to eternal life. Remember that no one knows the Father except through Jesus. We must accept Jesus and follow Him – believe completely in Him to experience that life.
Mary & John appear to continue to talk, as next scene beings.
Scene changes back to kitchen. At this point, all actors except those in the kitchen can stand at bottom of steps until the final song (Joy to the World) starts.
Julie, reading: As I look back, I know that Jesus was laying the foundation for salvation. However much I read and questioned, I admit that I was not ready for the death of Jesus. But the grief I felt at His death was erased in an instant early in the morning three days later when Jesus rose from the dead! The stone was moved away from the grave and an angel told me that I should not search for the living among the dead. It was then that I remembered that Jesus said 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.' That was when I truly understood what my Lord has done for me – for everyone! Jesus is such a wondrous gift from God! We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our only hope is giving ourselves to Jesus in humbleness and weakness for the glory of the Father.
Mom interrupts Julie: Julie, do you mean that Jesus came to offer us salvation and eternal life? That is the reason He was born? All we need do is repent of our sins and ask Him to live in our hearts?
Julie: That’s right, Mom. Salvation is found only in Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by whom we must be saved. God came to earth in the body of Jesus Christ, and had to die, be buried, and rise to live again.
Kiersten: Yeah, Mom and Dad, Julie’s right. Jesus alone bore the burden of each of our sins, and He alone offers us salvation through faith and trust in Him.
Mom walks to the window and looks outside. She appears to be in deep thought. Dad paces a bit, then looks at the kids – we can sense the ‘light bulb’ coming on in his understanding.
Dad: It sounds way too simple and easy. Repent? That means completely changing our lifestyle. Live in our hearts? I’m not sure what that really means.
Kiersten walks over to Dad: Dad, repentance is the first step toward seeing Jesus for Who He is. He is the way to the Father, the way to eternal life. Jesus tells us that no one comes to the Father except through Him. God came to this earth in the form of Jesus. He had to come as a baby and live among us for us to understand the road to salvation.
Kiersten & Dad appear to continue to talk, as Mom begins to speak. Dad and Kiersten then begin to listen to Mom speaking.
Mom turns back to Julie and speaks in an emotional voice:
Julie, I have been so wrong about Jesus all these years. He is a real, living person. He is God! How can I accept Him and how can I make up for all my wrongdoings all these years?
Julie: Mom, having your eyes opened to Jesus is the first step. You must be born again, saved, to allow Jesus into your heart. Do you truly want Him?
Mom: Yes, yes, I really want this.
Julie: Do you believe that you are a sinner?
Mom, whispers: Yes. I never realized it before, but now I see that I have been on the wrong path.
Julie: Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and is God in the flesh?
Mom: Yes, now I do believe that.
Julie: Do you believe that Jesus died on a cross for the sins of all the people, including you?
Julie: Are you ready to repent of your sins and ask Jesus into your heart?
Mom sits in chair: Yes. With all my heart, I want Jesus in my life.
Julie: Let’s go pray.
Julie: (leads Mom in prayer) and they continue to pray together.
Dad has been watching intently and emotionally.
He then mumbles: Swell. Everyone is getting all religious around here.
Kiersten: Dad, are you feeling anything right now? Any strange emotions coming over you?
Dad: Well, now that you mention it, I feel as if a freight train is running though my chest. I must be having a heart attack!
Kiersten: A heart attack, yes, by Jesus Christ. He is calling you right now to give your life to Him, to commit to His way of thinking. After all, He is the way, the truth, and the life.
Dad paces several times, looking confused. He suddenly stops and looks at Kiersten.
Dad to Kiersten: Kiersten, I can’t help but think that you are right. I feel strange, yet peaceful. I feel as if now is the time I must repent and ask Jesus into my life. I want to find the freedom in Him and learn to serve Him all my life. Will you pray with me?
Dad & Kiersten bow (or sit at table) in prayer during song following.
Song. . O Come O Come Emmanuel- lights dim on family who all appear to be praying
AT CONCLUSION OF SONG,
Dad speaks to audience: Christmas is a time for celebration, but, more importantly, it is a time to consider our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Mom: God stepped through the expanse of time and space into our world - first as a baby, then as a servant, then to die and rise from the dead so that we could enter into eternal life with Him.
Julie: Eternity is forever; this world is here for just a short while.
Kiersten: If you feel a knocking at the door of your heart, open it and let Jesus in. The doorknob is only on your side - don’t wait - answer now.
Ends with song: Joy to the World – entire cast walks up on stage – should join in singing the song. At conclusion of song, all bow together to the audience.
Verse one from Joy to the World (piano accompaniment).