This is a script from the play we are presenting Sunday morning, December 18th.
The Scandal of Christmas
It is that incredible time 2,000 years ago when the scandal was first begun. Listen as those who were there tell you what really happened! (Yes, the truth finally comes out…)
Please understand, I am a business man. This “Inn” was our family home for over 2 generations. I came from a big family, so we needed lots of rooms. But after everyone grew up, and my father passed, the home became my responsibility. My wife, Tamara, loves to cook and care for others, so it seemed fitting to turn this into an inn for travelers.
Then came Caesar Augustus’s census making everyone return to the town of their family lineage to be counted and taxed. Talk about good for business. We had all our rooms filled, but they kept coming. So we asked people to share some space, which, surprisingly, they were willing to do. We had wall to wall people, and I had to start turning people away.
It was after supper, while I was getting all the guests settled for the night, when there is a knock at the door. I yell, “No Room”, and go back to work, but there is a knock again. “No Room”, I shouted out the window as I passed by. Then again, with the knocking. I go to the door, ready to shout in their face, when I see them. A burly man, with strong arms and big hands, standing near the door, greets me with a simple, “Please sir, my name is Joseph and my wife Mary needs a place to rest”. By this time, my wife had come to the door and looked past the man to see a young woman on a donkey, very pregnant! I started to tell them we had no place, but Tamara, being pregnant herself, squeezed my arm and said we need to find a place.
So I took them to the stable out back. It wasn’t much, but at least they would be out of the cool night air and find warmth in the hay. I put down some fresh hay, and they were thankful.
Later that night, the sky glowed with a bright star, and I could hear the cries of a woman giving birth. I turned to wake Tamara, but she was already gone…out to help Mary. Then I hear the soft, gentle cry of a baby. I walked out and saw the young family, my heart racing. There was something different about them.
Then, about an hour later, I hear voices out by the stable. I go out to see what is going on, and find the place filled with shepherds. And they shared the story of how they had heard about this baby, the Messiah! What?!? The Messiah….born in my stable? Why would God choose my place to bring His Son into the world? Would Mary and Joseph ever forgive me for putting them there?
You could see the starlight dancing in the clear night skies for miles. This was probably the best part of being a shepherd. Yes, you had to watch out for the animals that might try to attack, and keep track of those silly lambs that would run off by themselves. But tonight, they all seemed exceptionally quiet and calm. This was going to make our job so easy…just kick back, relax and enjoy the beauty of God’s handy work.
Then a new star appeared. It seemed brighter than all the others and seemed to be shining over the town of Bethlehem.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to us from out of nowhere. We were terrified, hiding our faces and trembling in fear. Then he spoke to us saying, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior is born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord! This will be a sign to you. You will find the baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in the manger.” Then, he was joined by a great company of angels, praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men with whom He is pleased.”
The wonderful sound of this choir and music caused us to lift up our faces and hands towards heaven and praise God ourselves. It filled our hearts with joy and peace, tears streaming down our faces.
We knew we could not delay, but we also could not ignore our responsibilities. So we left a couple of our number behind, and went in search of the baby Messiah! And sure enough, in a stable behind an inn at the edge of town, we found him, just as the angel had said. The new mother just sat there with her new baby as if she were soaking up every detail of this blessed event. I will never forget the look in her eyes or the expression on her face.
We left to go back to our flocks, praising God and giving Him glory, thanking him for choosing humble shepherds like us to be the first to see the Christ child.
Ever since I saw her in the marketplace when she passed by my family’s carpenter shop, I knew that she was the one for me. She was all I could think about. I wanted to know her name, which of the 12 tribes she was from, how many brothers and sisters she had. The last one would help me estimate the money I would have to pay to her father for permission to marry her.
I quickly discovered that her name was Mary, she was of the tribe of Judah, like me and that she was first in line to be married. Since she did not have any brothers, according to our law, she would have to marry a man from the tribe of Judah! Later that would prove to be important, as the King of Israel would have to come from the Tribe of Judah, and a descendant of King David…but that’s a whole other story for another time.
When I came to her house, her parents knew why I had come. After sitting around the table, and me telling why, as a man of 25, I would be a good husband for Mary, a bride price was agreed upon, but Mary had the final say. And she said yes! No man in the world was happier than I was in that moment. She was going to be my wife.
But that feeling would not last long. A short time later she came to me and explained that she was pregnant. She had been visited by the angel Gabriel and he told her that she was blessed above all women, for she had been chosen to be the mother of God’s Son, the Messiah. He told her that the child would be supernaturally conceived and destined to be the King of Israel. It was hard for me to believe. I was devastated by what she told me. Anger and confusion were swirling in my mind. I didn’t know what I was going to do, so she left to visit her Aunt Elizabeth. While she was away, the angel of the Lord appeared to me in a dream, assuring me that her story was true and I was to marry her. So when she returned, we got married and I moved her into the house I had built for us. And I promised that I would raise this child as my own.
Then the decree came for the census…right when she was due to have the Child. We had to pack up and go to Bethlehem, where all the descendants of King David had to register. 70 miles we traveled…her riding on a small donkey, and me walking beside. It was a slow journey, but I tried to make her as comfortable as possible.
By the time we got there, there was not a room to be found. I went to the Inn on the edge of town and I think we got a place to stay only because his wife was pregnant, and she had compassion on us. He put us out here, in the stable. We made Mary a bed of straw. As she went into labor, I helped her as best I could. She was amazing. I had labored as a carpenter since I was 12, but nothing compared to the labor of love she went through. And when He was born, He was perfect. I was in awe of this little Child. And I wondered…Why had God chosen me to raise His Son?
I never dreamed my life would turn out this way. I was a young teenage girl from Nazareth. I thought it would be a while before I got married. Even though I was the oldest in my family, I knew that I would be the first to get married in my family. And since it usually took young Jewish men time to get established and be able to prove that they could provide for a family, I knew my future husband would be10 -12 years older than me. I had seen Joseph at his family’s shop where he was building some furniture. He smiled and kept looking my way as I waited for my mother to finish her purchase. So when he came to visit my family, they knew what his intent was…to negotiate a ‘bride price’ with my father…but I still had the choice to agree or disagree with the arrangements. But there was something in his eyes that told me he was a good man, and I agreed. So the betrothal, or waiting period, began…but something would happen that would alter our timetable.
An angel, who called himself Gabriel, visited me and he said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you.” I was speechless and very afraid. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”
“How can this be since I am a virgin?” I asked. The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant, “ I said. “May it be to me as you have said.” And then he left.
When I told Joseph about my condition, he was very heartbroken. He thought it would be best if we broke off the engagement quietly and we could go our separate ways. But the angel came to him in a dream and told him that everything was just as I had told him, and it was alright for him to remain with me. So we moved up the wedding day and he moved me into the house he had prepared for us.
The next few months flew by, and the time of his birth was at hand. But the Roman governor decided to conduct a census, requiring every family to return to the city of their ancestors to be counted. For Joseph and me, that would mean traveling to Bethlehem, because we were both of the tribe of Judah and the house of David. Can you imagine being nine months pregnant and riding a donkey for almost 70 miles? I was exhausted. And by the time we arrived, every inn was filled to beyond capacity…there was no room. But Joseph found a place on the edge of town where the innkeeper and his wife took pity and let us stay in the stable. We made a bed of straw, and there I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy…He was perfect. And wrapping him in the soft cloths I had, I lay him in the manger. He simply took my breath away!
A few parting thoughts…
Well, that is how it came about. He was born under the strangest of circumstances, but it should not have surprised anyone. God had been telling people about this through his prophets for hundreds of years!
And then this baby grew and for three years he told people himself about why he was here and what God wanted to happen. Many came to him – some to listen, some to be healed, and many to be born again by believing him. I can’t imagine what it was like for the people in this script who saw angels. Who saw the prophecies continue to be fulfilled. Ah, but to actually sit at his feet and experience his teachings in person… Oh my…
Let Christ take your breath away this Christmas!
On December 24th we will have a Candlelight Service and on December 25th a short celebration. Please feel welcome to join us.