.          all rights belong to Tanis Harms, © 2015
.             refer to
www.church-skits.com

LOVE COMES DOWN – written by Tanis Harms

PREMISE:   Jesus is born and King Herod feels
.          that his power and position is being
.          threatened.  While he plots against Jesus,
.          God has certain events take place
.          to protect the promised Messiah.
STYLE:     drama, can be followed by Love Shines Through
TOPIC:     Jesus’ ministry
SCRIPTURE: Matthew, Luke
NOTES:     
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SCRIPT:           CENTER STAGE (town square)

(PEOPLE go about business, some carrying tray
of wares to sell.  MARY enters carrying a basket,
led by her MOTHER, who examines items for sale.  
JOSEPH enters, and WOMAN 1 steps out to greet him.)

WOMAN 1    Joseph!  Joseph, how have you been doing?

JOSEPH     Well, good, thank you.  How is your family?

WOMAN 1    Enough about me!  I have a recommendation
.          for you.

JOSEPH     A recommendation?

WOMAN 1    For you!  You need a wife!  
.          You have been going too long without one.
.          Soon - you will be too old-

JOSEPH     Thank you - for your concern.
.          But I have been biding my time,
.          waiting for the right woman-

WOMAN 1    And that is why I bring you a recommendation.

JOSEPH     I have met every woman in town-

WOMAN 1    Not Mary!  And it just so happens            2
.          that she  is right here in the square.
.          You see?   (points out MARY)
.          She is a young woman, who-

JOSEPH     She is very young.

WOMAN 1    Although very recently, she is now a woman-

JOSEPH     I see, but-

WOMAN 1    No buts!

JOSEPH     But the woman I am looking for-

WOMAN 1    Is righteous, obedient and faithful to God,
.          and someone who will bring honor
.          to the family name!  Yes-yes-yes–
.          Mary is just such a woman.

JOSEPH     I have heard this said before about others.
.          I remain skeptical.

WOMAN 1    Yes, you will remain skeptical –
.          until you get to know her and
.          her fine character - THEN you will love!
.          I will arrange for you to meet her.  Yes?
.          (Joseph is caught looking at Mary)  
.          Yes, Joseph?

JOSEPH     Yes-sure-that – would be agreeable –
.          to consider.

.          STAGE RIGHT (temple section for women)

(WOMEN gather in this part of the temple to pray.  
WOMAN 3 pats the pregnant belly of WOMAN 2.
ELIZABETH enters in time to witness this.)

WOMAN 3    Congratulations.  You must be so happy
.          that God has answered your prayers
.          and blessed you with a little one.

WOMAN 2    Now I am praying that it will be a son.

WOMAN 3    There’s always hope for that; but more is the
.          hope that one’s son will be the PROMISED ONE.
.                                                      3
WOMAN 2    I cannot imagine if I were the one
.          to be blessed enough to be giving birth
.          to the Messiah!  It would be so exciting.

WOMAN 3    (seeing ELIZ)  Sorry, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH  Sorry for what?  That God has never blessed
.          Zacharias and myself with any children at all?
.          Or that people assume God has deemed us
.          unrighteous and unworthy to have children,
.          and thus, we are being punished?

WOMAN 3    I suppose you have given up all hope.
.          Sorry, I am just looking at this practically.
.          Why would you even bother praying for a baby?
.          Sorry.  I suppose God can perform miracles.
.          Like with Sarah and Abraham, so even though
.          you are old enough to be my grandmother –
.          Sorry again-

WOMAN 2    (to WOMAN 3)  You will be less sorry
.          if you just stop talking now.

WOMAN 3    (recomposing)  I heard that your husband
.          was chosen this year in the lotto
.          to be the priest who lights the incense.

WOMAN 2    Such an honor.  Out of 18,000 priests!
.          And for Zacharias to be chosen!  
.          That’s like a once in a lifetime thing.

ELIZABETH  It is indeed.  He will be only a few feet away
.          from the veil separating him -
.          from the Holy of Holies.

WOMAN 2    That must mean his prayers will be heard,
.          for sure.  Don’t you think?

WOMAN 3    And because both Zacharias and you are such
.          upright followers of God – you never know –
.          God could perform a miracle for you.
.          (catches herself in a little snicker)
.          But truly, why God has not yet blessed
.          Zacharias and you with a child –
.          I do not understand.  
.          If anyone deserves a child, it would be you.
.                                                      4
WOMAN 2    You are even worthy enough to give birth
.          to the Messiah - Himself.

ELIZABETH  Well, enough chatter.  For now,
.          let us devote ourselves to prayer.

.                  CENTER STAGE (temple)

(ZACHARIAS, ANNAS and PRIESTS 1-2, enter as a group
when HEROD enters with GUARDS 1-2 flanking him.  
GUARD 1 points out ZACHARIAS, and HEROD approaches.  
ZACHARIAS bows low to him.)

HEROD      Zacharias!  Priest from the Abijahs.

ZACHARIAS  I am Zacharias.

HEROD      I hear that your name was chosen this year.

ZACHARIAS  (carefully)  It is an honor.
.          What might I do for you, Herod the Great?

HEROD      I have heard that you are a righteous man.

ZACHARIAS  I am humbled that you would-

HEROD      I only care as far as my kingdom is concerned.
.          Since it is time for the customary burning
.          of the incense, I want to make sure
.          you put in a good word for me.

ZACHARIAS  I always petition our Lord God for our-

HEROD      Yes-yes – I do not care about the details.
.          Just as long as I cover all bases,
.          and pay homage to all possible gods-

ZACHARIAS  There is only one God-

HEROD      As I said, I do not care.

ZACHARIAS  But to only honor the one true God-

ANNAS      (slightly aside)  Zacharias,
.          do not argue with the king.

HEROD      (to ANNAS)  Such a wise young priest,       5
.          we have here.  What is your name, please?

(HEROD circles ANNAS while talking and studying him.)

ANNAS      Annas, sire.

HEROD      Annas, I am sure one day you will
.          find honor and position among men.
.          In fact, come with me today.
.          I will recommend you to the High Priest.
.          There are those times I seek out council
.          from the likes of you.

ANNAS      (smiles slightly)  I would be most honored.

ZACHARIAS  Men honoring men is one thing, but we must
.          dedicate ourselves to honoring the Lord God-

ANNAS      Far be it from me to wonder how God
.          will work these details out.
.          If I am called – should I not go?

HEROD      And when was the last time we heard
.          from this God?

(HEROD stares at ZACHARIAS waiting for an answer.)

ZACHARIAS  It – has been over 300 years.

HEROD      300 years of silence.  Not even a message
.          sent to us by one of those so-called angels.
.          So excuse my skepticism of God’s very existence.

ZACHARIAS  One can see the God of the Universe through -
.          creation - and the scriptures-

HEROD      Do not lecture me.  Just – do what you do -
.          along with my request of homage.  I am sure
.          your sincerity will count for something.

(GUARDS follow as HEROD motions for ANNAS to join him.
PRIEST 2 turns to ZECHARIAS.)

PRIEST 2   The king is correct in saying –
.          there has not been one sign from God for
.          so many years, perhaps He has forsaken us.
.                                                     6
ZACHARIAS  It is us – the Israelites –
.          who have forsaken God!

PRIEST 2   You have remained obedient and faithful
.          to God, as well as your wife, Elizabeth,
.          who is from the daughters of Aaron.
.          And yet God has not even honored you
.          with one child.  And now, you both are
.          well beyond those years.  Where is our God?

ZACHARIAS  I trust that God has a purpose to carry out –
.          in His timing.  Although Elizabeth and I
.          would love to have children, there are
.          more important things to life.  God’s word.
.          Prophecy will be fulfilled.  Our true King,
.          the Messiah, will one day come to save us.

PRIEST 1   Indeed. With the Romans controlling our land,
.          we all hope the Messiah will come
.          in order to get rid of these invaders.

PRIEST 2   At least King Herod holds them at bay-

PRIEST 1   King Herod is not our rightful king.
.          He is not even fully Israelite.
.          He is in reality Edomite,
.          and works alongside the Romans.

ZACHARIAS  This discussion will not change anything.
.          Let us continue with our service, and pray.

PRIEST 2   Agreed.  I’m just curious what your
.          focus of prayer will be when you are
.          so near the veil.

PRIEST 1   His wife probably convinced him to still
.          pray for a child.  If God is truly just,
.          He would have given you a child already.

ZACHARIAS  God is holy, and I am but an imperfect man.
.          His ways are just, and have purpose –
.          whatever that means for us.
.          Now, let us begin the ceremony.

(ZACHARIAS solemnly braces himself, then exits,
while PRIESTS 1-2 kneel in prayer.)
.                                                    7
.                 STAGE LEFT (Mary’s home)

(MOTHER and MARY meet with WOMAN 1.)

WOMAN 1    Well, Mary!  I hear that Joseph has learned
.          enough about you to know that you are truly
.          an upstanding young woman, who is obedient
.          to God’s laws.  And you have all
.          the fine qualities that go along with that.

MOTHER     (laughing)  You make her sound perfect.
.          Why, just last week, she-

MARY       Mom! (to WOMAN 1) Of course, I’m not perfect.
.          And I hope Joseph realizes this.
.          I would not want his expectations
.          to be too high.  Although, I try –
.          God’s standards are impossible to live up to-

WOAMN 1    Ah, see, evidence of a humble heart.
.          Now, what do you think of Joseph?

MARY       He is a very godly man.

MOTHER     Although, he is only a carpenter.

MARY       Mother, I do not need to be rich
.          in order to be happy.  

WOMAN 1    You could not find a nicer man.
.          Strong but gentle.  Very reasonable,
.          and- well, I could go on and on.
.          I’m just so happy to hear that he wishes
.          to become engaged to you.  Trust me when
.          I say you could not find a nicer husband.

MOTHER     It certainly helps that we know from
.          which family he comes.

WOMAN 1    Oh!  And he is from King David’s line,
.          as are you, Mary.  Such a match!
.          Just think, any son that you might have
.          could technically be in line to be -

MOTHER     Patience. You are getting ahead of yourself.
.          They need to be married first.
.                                                    8
.           STAGE RIGHT (temple section for women)

(ELIZABETH kneels in prayer.)

ELIZABETH  Lord, you know my constant request.
.          And I ask that You prompt my husband’s heart
.          not to forget this petition.
.          Forgive my persistence, or my lack of faith.
.          I pray that You give me the contentment
.          with the path that You have set us on-
.          whatever that means.  Whatever Your will is.
.          And as always, we pray that You
.          send our Messiah soon.  We long to see You-
.          and Your salvation that has been promised.

.                   CENTER STAGE (temple)

(As PRIESTS 1-2 kneel in prayer, PRIEST 1 keeps glancing
over at PRIEST 2 and finally breaks the silence.)

PRIEST 1   What is taking Zacharias so long?

PRIEST 2   Do you think God struck him dead?

PRIEST 1   Zacharias? – he’s a man above reproach.

PRIEST 2   But – still...  It has happened...

(ZACHARIAS enters, as if he had just been through
something very intense.)

PRIEST 1   What happened?

(ZACHARIAS seems like he cannot hear anything and
puts a hand to his ear.)

PRIEST 2   What’s wrong with you?

(ZACHARIAS tries to speak but cannot, then motions
to his mouth and shakes his head, then motions up,
and then spreads his arms out.)

PRIEST 2   I believe he cannot hear or speak.

PRIEST 1   God took your voice?

(ZACHARIAS points up, then spreads arms out again.)  9

PRIEST 1   I think he has just seen a vision.

(ZACHARIAS now motions out a pregnant belly
and tries to make a sign of joy.  
PRIESTS 1-2 shake their heads, not understanding.)

PRIEST 2   He is not making any sense.

PRIEST 1   Come.  Somehow we must finish this ceremony.

(PRIESTS 1-2 usher a perplexed ZACHARIAS off stage.)

.                    STAGE LEFT (Mary’s room)

(LIGHTS come up dimly on MARY, who is asleep on a mat.
WHITE LIGHT flashes big and bright for a brief moment,
waking MARY with a start and a gasp, going back to dim.
While MARY sits there trying to control her breathing,
a YELLOW LIGHT begins to glow brighter from off stage.
Seeing this, MARY puts a frightened hand to her mouth.
ANGEL’S VOICE is heard.  This can be pre-recorded
with audio effects and reverb.)

ANGEL      Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.
.          Do not be afraid, Mary;
.          for you have found favor with God.
.          And behold, you will conceive in your womb
.          and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
.          He will be great and will be called
.          the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God
.          will give Him the throne of His father David;
.          and He will reign over the house of Jacob
.          forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

MARY       H-How can this be, since I’m a virgin?

ANGEL      The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
.          and the power of the Most High
.          will overshadow you; and for that reason
.          the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
.          And behold, even your relative Elizabeth
.          has also conceived a son in her old age;
.          and she who was called barren
.          is now in her sixth month.
.          For nothing will be impossible with God.
.                                                   10
(Unsure, MARY speaks meekly, although obediently.)

MARY       Behold, the bondslave of the Lord;
.          may it be done to me according to your word.

(The LIGHT dims and a stunned MARY is left alone.  
MARY slowly touches her stomach – still not sure
what to think or feel.  LIGHTS dim.)

.                 CENTER STAGE (town square)

(A few PEOPLE enter and mill about the town square
of Nazareth with baskets and wares doing business,
when PRIEST 3 enters, followed by MAN 1 and MAN 2
dragging in WOMAN 4 and MAN 3.  An angry CROWD gathers.
MARY enters to the side and watches timidly.)

MAN 1      I caught my wife and this man together.

PERSON 1   Disgraceful.

PRIEST 3   (to MAN 3)  Is this so?

(MAN 3 nods.  WOMAN 4 begins to cry and beg for mercy.)

WOMAN 4    No, please, I tried to stop him.
.          Please! Mercy! Is there no forgiveness?

PRIEST 3   Are you now lying to save your life?
.          Under the law, you’ll both be stoned to death.

(Most of the CROWD helps to drag WOMAN 4 and MAN 3 off.
MARY cautiously puts her hand to her stomach.
FRIEND sees MARY and calls out to her.)

FRIEND     Mary!  Hello.  I’m in such a hurry,
.          so before I forget, let me just say,
.          please send my regards to your mother.
.          Now - how are you?

MARY       (quickly putting her hand down)
.          Ah, I–I have been –

FRIEND     Oh yes, of course!  Congratulations!
.          You will be married soon?

MARY       Yes – soon.                                11

FRIEND     Well, Joseph is a fine choice-
.          his family line comes from King David’s-
.          as does yours, which could mean,
.          your future son could be-
.          Of course, it has been 14 generations
.          since we have had a rightful king
.          on the throne.  Everything has changed,
.          and yet nothing has changed.

MARY       Yes.

FRIEND     Ah, Mary... you’re usually a quiet young lady,
.          but you are quieter than usual.

MARY       Yes.  I – I apologize.  I have... I am...
.          (FRIEND leans forward waiting, until an idea)
.          preparing to visit some – relatives.

FRIEND     Oh!  Your mother said nothing of this to me
.          when I met with her yesterday.

MARY       No, the decision was quite sudden.
.          We just heard news that –
.          Elizabeth is to have a baby.

FRIEND     (completely shocked)  Elizabeth!?
.          Elizabeth?  Why, well, so very –
.          surprising – given her age and all.

MARY       Yes, so I must go and attend to her.

FRIEND     What will Joseph say?
.          You are to be married soon.

MARY       He – he’ll be very understanding.

FRIEND     Well, then, have a safe journey,
.          and send Elizabeth my congratulations.

.                 STAGE LEFT (Mary’s Home)

(MOTHER sweeps the floor with a vengeance
when there is a “knock” at the door.)

MOTHER     Please come in.
.                                                  12
(MOTHER stops sweeping as JOSEPH enters.)

MOTHER     Oh, Joseph.  What a surprise-

JOSEPH     I have come to discuss the marriage plans-

MOTHER     Ah, yes!  Oh, now?  Of course, now.
.          But- ah, Mary is- she went- out, I suppose.

JOSEPH     You suppose?  I suppose I can wait-

MARY       Mother, I’m back-

(MARY rushes in and is startled at the sight of JOSEPH.)

MOTHER     (aside to MARY)  Where have you been?!

MARY       I needed to get some fresh air.
.          I just - needed to think-

MOTHER     You could not think here?  What is
.          wrong with you?  Well?  I’m waiting?

(JOSEPH studies MARY intently and becomes concerned
as MARY tries to speak but finds herself close to tears.)

JOSEPH     What is upsetting you, Mary?
.          Are you now regretting the marriage contract?

MARY       No.  No, but I am afraid that you might –
.          after – after you hear- it is too- it is so-

JOSEPH     Hear what?  What are you trying to say?
.          The engagement is a binding agreement which-

MOTHER     Mary!  Stop this nonsense at once.

MARY       I may be pregnant.  I mean, I am – pregnant.

(MOTHER suddenly glares at JOSEPH and thwacks his arm.)

JOSEPH     I have not touched her.  (realizing)
.          Mary! What are you saying?!

MARY       (puts a hand to her forehead, thinking)
.          No one has touched me!
.                                                     13
(Both MOTHER and JOSEPH do not move, perplexed, waiting.)

MARY       Ah, an angel appeared to me last night.
.          Ugh, I know this all sounds outrageous.
.          The angel gave me a message that
.          I will be pregnant- by the Holy Spirit –and –
.          I can see that you do not believe me.

(MOTHER swings her attention over to JOSEPH,
now frantic to know what to think or do.
JOSEPH paces the floor trying to gather his thoughts.)

JOSEPH     Unbelievable.  Even if this – were true –
.          no one would or could believe this.
.          They will have you stoned, for sure.

MARY       You will have me stoned?

JOSEPH     No.  I – I could not do that.  I do love -
.          and care for your already.  I – need to think.
.          And pray.  I need to do a lot of praying.
.          And thinking.

MOTHER     (to MARY)  Child!  What am I to do with you?!

MARY       (thinks of something to help the situation)
.          The angel also told me that
.          Elizabeth is to have a child.

MOTHER     Elizabeth!  Is older than I am!
.          Are they adopting?

MARY       She is already pregnant.  The angel said
.          that - nothing - is - impossible with God.

MOTHER     They were always waiting to have children-

MARY       I think maybe I should travel to see her.
.          I could- go there to help Elizabeth-
.          and- be away from here-

JOSEPH     This is a good idea.
.          While you are there, I will pray,
.          and figure out what I should do.
.          I could just have you move away from here-
.          permanently- so as not to disgrace you.
.                                                     14
MOTHER     Or – you mean – disgrace yourself.

JOSEPH     What else would you have me do?

MOTHER     (quickly in agreement with JOSEPH’S plan)
.          You need to think and pray.

MARY       I will go collect my things.

(MARY sadly exits while speaking.  JOSEPH storms out.
MOTHER puts hands to face with exasperation.)

.               STAGE RIGHT (Zacharias’ Home)

(ZACHARIAS sits at the table reading scripture.
ELIZABETH, around 6 months pregnant, enters joyfully
to place a plate of bread and olives onto a table.)

ELIZABETH  (calling)  Zacharias!  Time to eat.
.          Sorry, I keep forgetting.

(ELIZABETH taps ZACHARIAS and motions to the food.  
ZACHARIAS touches ELIZABETH lovingly on the cheek,
then her pregnant stomach and smiles knowingly.)

ELIZABETH  My wonderful dear.  How many husbands
.          would only wish that this silent spell
.          would fall to their wives?  And how many
.          would be envious that you cannot hear me
.          go on and on as I sometimes do?

(ZACHARIAS just smiles and nods, then motions
to the other chair.  ELIZABETH is about to sit
when MARY knocks and calls from offstage.)

MARY       Elizabeth!  It is I, Mary - your niece-

ELIZABETH  Mary?!  Ah!
.          Enter my sweet child, enter!
.          (seeing MARY is alone carrying a bundle)
.          Your mother did not accompany you?

MARY       You are indeed pregnant!

ELIZABETH  Now, how could you possibly know?

MARY       An angel told me.  And – well –            15
.          I have come to spend time with you-

(ELIZABETH rushes over to hug MARY, then gasps
and holds her stomach.)

ELIZABETH  Hah!  (touches MARY’S stomach knowingly)
.          Blessed are YOU among women,
.          and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

MARY       H-how did you know?

(ELIZABETH speaks as if being enlightened.)

ELIZABETH  And how has it happened to me, that
.          the mother of my Lord would come to me?
.          When you spoke - the baby in my womb
.          leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who believed
.          that there would be a fulfillment
.          of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.
.          How is it with you, my dear?
.          (MARY smiles weakly, ELIZ realizes)
.          Why, we all keep thinking
.          it would be such an honor
.          to be carrying the Christ-child,
.          none of us would think about
.          how overwhelming it must all be.

MARY       Uncle Zacharias.

(ZACHARIAS takes MARY’S hand and
puts the back of it to his forehead,
then brings it down to pat gently.)

ELIZABETH  Ah, Zacharias had the honor of lighting
.          the incense at the temple this year,
.          and came out – unable to hear or speak.

MARY       Interesting.  Everything’s so –
.          interesting.

ELIZABETH  (realizing)  Oh, I beg your pardon,
.          please, sit and rest a while,
.          you have been traveling.  You must be hungry
.          and tired, as well as overwhelmed.

(MARY’s energy is renewed, and God speaks through her.)
.                                                    16
MARY       My- soul exalts the Lord, And
.          my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
.          For He has had regard for the humble state
.          of His bondslave;  from this time on
.          all generations will count me blessed.
.          For the Mighty One has done great things
.          for me;  And holy is His name.
.          AND HIS MERCY IS UPON GENERATION AFTER
.          GENERATION TOWARD THOSE WHO FEAR HIM.
.          He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
.          He has scattered those who were proud
.          in the thoughts of their heart.
.          He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
.          And has exalted those who were humble.
.          HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS;
.          And sent away the rich empty-handed.
.          He has given help to Israel His servant,
.          In remembrance of His mercy,
.          as He spoke to our fathers,
.          to Abraham and his descendants forever.

ELIZABETH  Amen! Truly words from God spoken through you.

(As MARY sinks into a chair, ZACHARIAS nods with a smile,
as if he realizes what might be going on.)

.                STAGE LEFT (Joseph’s Home)

(JOSEPH tosses and turns on his mat as he tries to sleep.
A YELLOW LIGHT begins to glow brighter from off stage.
ANGEL’S VOICE is heard.  This can be pre-recorded
with audio effects and reverb.)

ANGEL      Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid
.          to take Mary as your wife;
.          for the Child who has been conceived in her
.          is of the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a Son;
.          and you shall call His name Jesus,
.          for He will save His people from their sins.
.          All this takes place to fulfill what was
.          spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
.          "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD
.          AND SHALL BEAR A SON,
.          AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,"
.          which means, "GOD WITH US."

(YELLOW LIGHT dims.  JOSEPH sits up, realizing     17
what he must do.  Standing up, JOSEPH begins to pace.)

JOSEPH     Why did I not believe her?  I was going
.          to send her away.  I – I must send for her.

.               STAGE RIGHT (Zacharias’ Home)

(MARY scrubs the table down, when ELIZABETH,
who is now over 8 months pregnant, enters urgently.)

ELIZABETH  Mary!?  Oh, there you are.

MARY       Did you need something?

ELIZABETH  What a blessing these past few months have
.          been.  What a blessing you have been to us.

MARY       I have been blessed through you, and
.          Zacharias, even though he still cannot speak.
.          You both have such a way that gives me
.          comfort and hope...  (realizing)
.          So what is it that you need me to do?

ELIZABETH  Oh, no-no, I am fine.
.          We have just received
.          a message - sent from Joseph.
.          (MARY spins around, suddenly concerned)
.          It seems to be good news.  The word is
.          that you are to return home quickly
.          so the two of you might be married.
.          (MARY sighs with a smile)
.          This is in good timing.
.          You will start to show, very soon now.

(MARY sighs again, a little concerned.  
ELIZABETH approaches MARY and
puts a comforting arm around her.)

ELIZABETH  Do not worry.  We do know that somehow
.          God will work things out.

MARY       I can only count on God.
.          Otherwise- well-
.          I feel so small and unworthy-
.          You know I am only human-

ELIZABETH  Of course, aren’t we all?                 18
.          But your desire is to please God.
.          THAT - is what counts.  God looks
.          at our hearts and recognizes those
.          who love Him.  As you told me,
.          remember what the angel said to you –
.          “All things are possible through God.”
.          Right?  I mean, look at me!  I am pregnant!

MARY       I know there is a bigger purpose.
.          And when I try to imagine it,
.          it becomes – very overwhelming –
.          and - scary.

ELIZABETH  Hm.  Well, do not look at that purpose –
.          for it is not yours.  It is God’s.  It all
.          rests with the One whom you are carrying.

MARY       And I am to be Mother to the Lord Most High.
.          I can barely take care of myself.

(ELIZABETH laughs to lighten the mood.)

ELIZABETH  Mary, you’ll do fine.  I hear that
.          all new mothers worry about such things.
.          And as for that bigger purpose, AGAIN,
.          keep trusting in God, as I know you do.
.          When God has a purpose – He sees to it
.          that the purpose is accomplished.

(MARY and ELIZABETH hug.  
The LIGHTS dim as MARY exits.)

.                   CENTER STAGE (palace)

(ANNAS approaches GUARD 1.)

ANNAS      The king has called for me?

GUARD 1    I am to pass along this message to you
.          on behalf of King Herod the Great
.          and his administration.

ANNAS      Am I in trouble?

GUARD 1    As it serves your own interests,
.          you will serve the king-
.                                                19
ANNAS      I serve God, and adhere to the laws
.          found in the holy scriptures.

GUARD 1    The king would expect nothing less, of course.
.          You will find a way to respect the king,
.          and he will find a way not to impede
.          your progress towards one day being High Priest.
.          (hinting to keeping silent)  Of course,
.          nothing of this was ever discussed-

ANNAS      (agreeing)  As - I – never met with the king.

(GUARD 1 nods and exits, leaving ANNAS to ponder.)

.                 STAGE RIGHT (town square)

(A CROWD gathers in the town square.
ZACHARIAS and ELIZABETH carry their 8 day old BABY
out to the square where there is a CROWD gathered.  
The CROWD is exited and congratulates them.
PRIEST 1 approaches the couple and takes the BABY.)

PRIEST 1   There they are!  Congratulates Zacharias
.          and Elizabeth.  Now, before we can begin
.          the circumcision, what is your son’s name?

PERSON 2   He should be called Zacharias,
.          after his father.

WOMAN 3    That only seems right.

ELIZABETH  No indeed;  he will be called John.

WOMAN 3    But there is no one among your relatives
.          who is called by that name.

PERSON 2   (to ZACHARIAS to lip read)
.          Name?  What is your son’s name to be?

(ZACHARIAS gives a motions if to write something down.
PERSON 2 quickly brings a slate and chalk to him.
ZACHARIAS writes something down.  PRIEST 1 reads it.)

PRIEST 1   (reading)  His name is John!
.          (to ZACHARIAS)  Really?  Why name him John?

ZACHARIAS  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!      20

PERSON 2   He speaks!  He can finally speak!

ELIZABETH  Why could you not speak, Zacharias, dear?

ZACHARIAS  It was because of my disbelief.
.          While I was praying and lighting the incense,
.          an angel appeared, and delivered the news
.          that we - were to have a child.
.          I asked for a sign.  And because I doubted,
.          the angel told me that I would be
.          unable to speak until the child had been born.

PRIEST 1   So you really did have a vision.  A message
.          that came to you?  God has broken His silence!
.          What else did the angel say?

ZACHARIAS  This was the message to me - to all of us.
.          Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
.          for He has visited us and
.          accomplished redemption for His people,
.          and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
.          in the house of David His servant—

(TOWNSPEOPLE cheer.)

PRIEST 1   So, your child is to be the Messiah?

ZACHARIAS  No.  I was told to name our child, John.
.          Our child will be called the prophet
.          of the Most High.  Our child will go on
.          BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS,
.          so as to make ready a people -
.          prepared for the Lord.

(WOMAN 3 looks at the BABY.)

WOMAN 3    What sort of person will THIS child
.          turn out to be?

PRIEST 1   The hand of the Lord is certainly with him -
.          to be one of God’s prophets-

WOMAN 3    A prophet of the Messiah?

(ZACHARIAS nods.)
.                                                     21
PRIEST 1   That is such an honor in itself.

WOMAN 3    So then, our Messiah will be coming soon?!

PERSON 2   How soon?  Where is the Messiah, then?

.                   CENTER STAGE (palace)

(With GUARDS standing at attention nearby,
HEROD stands attending to business with a few SCRIBES.
MESSENGER rushes up and is stopped by GUARD 1.
MESSENGER bows to the ground and holds up a scroll.)

GUARD 1    You may not near the king without
.          proper authority.

MESSENGER  (still with his head bowed)
.          Message for King Herod the Great
.          from Caesar Augustus.

HEROD      (overhears this and speaks dryly)
.          Caesar Augustus has the proper authority.
.          (to MESSENGER)  You may deliver your message.

(MESSENGER stands and GUARD 1 reaches for the scroll.)

MESSENGER  I am to put this in the hands
.          of King Herod the Great, himself.

(GUARD 1 allows MESSENGER to approach HEROD but
keeps a sharp eye on him.  HEROD takes the scroll and
breaks the seal to read the message.  MESSENGER stands by
to see if there is any message to bring back to Caesar.)

HEROD      Most interesting.

MESSENGER  If it please the king, is there a message
.          that I should return to Caesar?

HEROD      That will not be necessary.
.          This is a decree from Caesar Augustus, that
.          a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
.          The procedure will be that everyone returns
.          to their own city and be registered there.
.          (dryly)  No doubt for bragging rights.

(HEROD turns to MESSENGER)                        22

HEROD      Gather more men and prepare to deliver
.          messages to every city within my kingdom.
.          Meanwhile, I will have my scribes
.          quickly make copies of this edict.

(MESSENGER bows and quickly exits.  
HEROD holds out the scroll to the SCRIBES,
who then take it, with a bow, then exit quickly.)

.                   STAGE LEFT (Mary’s Home)

(JOSEPH and MARY enter and MOTHER rushes up to them.
JOSEPH has been carrying MARY’S bundle and puts it down.)

MOTHER     Mary, you came back?  Joseph?

JOSEPH     I sent for her.  We will be married.

MOTHER     So you are not pregnant?

MARY       I am-

MOTHER     Mary, what am I to tell people?

JOSEPH     An angel came to me one night with
.          instructions from the Lord Most High.
.          We are to be married.  The Son that
.          she is carrying is of the Holy Spirit.
.          This is to fulfill prophecy.

MOTHER     (still thinking)  All right, I think I am
.          starting to believe this could be true.  But-

JOSEPH     We will get married, but we will
.          remain virgins until the baby is born.
.          I will obey the instructions from God.

MOTHER     Still, what are we to tell people?

JOSEPH     Tell them... (thinks)

MARY       We do not know yet, Mother.

JOSEPH     (shaking head)  But God will work this out.
.          I am sure of that-
.                                                      23
FRIEND     (calling out as she enters)
.          Yoo-hoooooo, it is me -
.          (seeing JOSEPH and MARY)  Oh, hello, you two.
.          Joseph, I hope you are not
.          dragging your feet in marrying this one.
.          I have not yet said congratulations to you.
.          But well, I hope your marriage celebrations
.          will not be ruined with the latest edict.

JOSEPH     What are you talking about?

FRIEND     Oh, you have not heard?  A decree
.          went out from Caesar Augustus himself.
.          A census is to be taken – of everyone!
.          He fancies that he will get a headcount
.          of everyone in the whole wide world.
.          So we must all go to our own city
.          and register.

(MARY looks at JOSEPH with hope.)

MOTHER     You are both from the line of King David.

MARY       That would mean we had to go to-
.          the city of David in Judea.

JOSEPH     We must go to Bethlehem.  We will
.          quickly get married and go to Bethlehem!

FRIEND     Well, that is no way to start a marriage.
.          You will not know one person there.

(Both MARY and JOSEPH’S face light up at how everything
was starting to work out.)

JOSEPH     We’ll be fine.  It’ll all work out just fine.

FRIEND     Such a positive attitude.  I cannot say that
.          it will go so well with my husband and I.

.                   CENTER STAGE (field)

(SHEPHERDS 1-4 sit in the field, eating.)

SHEPHERD 1  I am so glad my ancestors never moved
.           anywhere or amounted to anything.
.                                                    24
SHEPHERD 2  Why be glad of that?

SHEPHERD 1  Can you imagine having to pack up
.           and travel for days, weeks –
.           and for some – it’s even several months...
.           with wives and children –
.           just to be counted- like sheep!
.           No thank you!

SHEPHERD 2  I hear the cities are crowded with people.
.           I can truly say, I appreciate the quietness
.           out here, under the stars.

SHEPHERD 3  I’ve never enjoyed going into the city
.           to begin with.  People there
.           are not afraid to let us know
.           how much they hate shepherds.

SHEPHERD 4  I cannot count the times I’ve heard
.           people tell me how much we stink -

SHEPHERD 3  Well - it would not kill you
.           to wash up every now and then.

SHEPHERD 4  Hey, I don’t hear the sheep complaining.

.                    STAGE LEFT (stable)

(Carrying some rags, INNKEEPER’S WIFE leads
a very pregnant MARY and JOSEPH into the stable.
JOSEPH also carries a bundle, and sets it down.)

INN WIFE   I apologize for my husband’s reaction.
.          And I truly apologize that we do not have
.          any more room in our inn.  Everything else
.          in this city is filled to capacity.
.          People have been flooding in for weeks now
.          for this census-thing as well as
.          traveling through to the Holy City
.          for the Feast of Tabernacles.
.          Great for business, but I am so overwhelmed,
.          you cannot imagine.  Well, this is
.          the best that I can do for you.
.          Noticing that you are about to deliver,
.          I have brought some blankets – well – rags,
.          more like it.
.                                                    25
(INN WIFE explains to the unsure JOSEPH apologetically.)

INN WIFE   But you will need something
.          to keep the baby warm once it arrives.
.          Poor sweet things, I cannot imagine
.          how uncomfortable it must have been to
.          travel such a long distance in such a state.
.          I will leave you this lamp.  Please,
.          let me know if you need anything else.

(After INNKEEPER’S WIFE exits, MARY and JOSEPH turn
to each other and giggle nervously.)

JOSEPH     She kind of makes this feel a bit like home.
.          She kind of reminds me of your mother’s friend.

MARY       Oh, you mean, talkative?  (giggling)
.          She really is a dear.

(MARY’S laugh is cut short by gasp from a tiny pain.
JOSEPH becomes serious with concern.)

JOSEPH     Is it time?

MARY       I – I think so.

.                  STAGE RIGHT (temple)

(It is late, and ANNAS intently studies a scroll
when HIGH PRIEST 4 enters and sees him.)

PRIEST 4    Annas, it is pleasing to see you so
.           enthusiastic about knowing the scriptures.

ANNAS       These are the very words of God.  I have
.           not had access to the scrolls until now.

PRIEST 4    I hope you are concentrating on God’s laws,
.           as these are of utmost importance.

ANNAS       Wouldn’t everything be of equal importance,
.           if every word here is from God?

PRIEST 4    An excellent question.  Here then
.           is the most excellent answer:

(PRIEST 4 waits for ANNAS’ full attention.)        26

PRIEST 4    We are to be righteous.
.           To be righteous, we must know
.           and obey God’s laws.  If people
.           did not see the High Priest
.           or the Pharisees obeying the law,
.           they would not respect us,
.           or respect our authority.
.           And we ARE to have the highest authority
.           over the people.  And so –
.           we must be most righteous
.           in order to lead them spiritually.
.           Understand?

.                   CENTER STAGE (field)

(It is night.  SHEPHERDS 1-4 are in the field.  
Some sleep off to side.  A few sit in a tight group,
glancing every so often to where the herds of sheep
might be.  SOUND EFFECTS: SHEEP occasionally bleat.)

SHEPHERD 1  (yawning)  Isn’t it about time
.           for the other shift to take over?

SHEPHERD 2  (nibbles on bread loaf)
.           We just got started.
.           And tonight, you better stay awake.
.           If I catch you falling asleep on me,
.           I’m going to do something that
.           you will never forget.

SHEPHERD 1  No more surprises, please!
.           I promise, I’ll stay awake.
.           I’m surprised I can sleep at all.

SHEPHERD 2  You haven’t seen anything yet.
.           And what helps is –
.           tonight seems extra eerie-

SHEPHERD 3  (lifting head)  Will you guys be quiet?
.           SOME of us ARE trying to sleep.

(BRIGHT YELLOW LIGHT starts to shine brighter
and brighter.)

SHEPHERD 2  Sure thing, boss.
.                                                 27
SHEPHERD 4  And put out that fire, already.  You know
.           it will mess with your night vision-

SHEPHERD 1  What fire?

(SHEPHERD 2 opens up his mouth to take a bite out
of the loaf of bread, but drops the bread and freezes
at the sight of the bright light.  The rest of the
SHEPHERDS sit up in terror and clump together.
ANGEL’S VOICE is heard.  This can be pre-recorded
with audio effects and reverb.)

ANGEL       Do not be afraid; for behold,
.           I bring you good news of great joy
.           which will be for all the people;
.           for today in the city of David
.           there has been born for you a Savior,
.           who is Christ the Lord.
.           This will be a sign for you:
.           you will find a baby wrapped in cloths
.           and lying in a manger.

(BRIGHT YELLOW LIGHTS get even brighter.  
Pre-recorded ANGEL VOICES with audio effects
and reverb are heard.)

ANGELS      Glory to God in the highest,
.           And on earth - peace among men
.           with whom He is pleased.

(BRIGHT YELLOW LIGHTS dim.)

SHEPHERD 2  That was amazing.

SHEPHERD 1  Kind of really scared me.

SHEPHERD 3  But don’t you see,
.           God sent us a message
.           from His very own angels.

SHEPHERD 4  We’ve got to go to Bethlehem right now
.           and see this.

SHEPHERD 3  Isn’t this the very message that
.           all of Israel has been waiting for?
.           Our Messiah!  Has just been born!
.                                                   28
.                    STAGE LEFT (stable)

(MARY lays weakly on the ground while holding the baby.
JOSEPH watches vigilantly as MARY makes sure that the
baby is wrapped tightly and kisses the baby’s forehead.)

MARY        I think I need to rest now,
.           even though I would love nothing more
.           than to just keep holding Him.

JOSEPH      Here, give Him to me.  You need to rest
.           so you can regain some strength.
.           (carefully takes the baby from MARY)
.           Once your days of purification is done,
.           and eight days have passed,
.           we will take Him to be circumcised.
.           Then we will make the journey to Jerusalem
.           in order to present Him to the Lord

MARY        You need to rest, too.

(JOSEPH looks around, then kisses baby’s forehead.)

JOSEPH      I will lay Him here, in this feeding trough.
.           He should be quite safe in there.

MARY        (laughs gently)  You are so clever.
.           (stops short)  Did you hear something?

(MARY and JOSEPH look at each other, quietly.)

JOSEPH      I will go see what it is.

MARY        Please be careful.

(JOSEPH exits.  MARY maneuvers closer to the manger
and places her hand on the baby.  JOSEPH soon enters.)

JOSEPH      Mary, we seem to have – some company.

MARY        Company?  I didn’t think anyone knew
.           we were here.

JOSEPH      Apparently, angels appeared to some
.           shepherds and gave them the news.

MARY        How spectacular.                        29

JOSEPH      They have come to see
.           and worship the baby.  Are you–
.           do you feel– strong enough for this?

MARY        Sure, yes, by all means, let them in.

(JOSEPH exits to usher in the SHEPHERDS, who nod politely
to MARY, then their eyes fall adoringly to the baby.  
SHEPHERDS fall to their knees, some wipe their tears
of sheer overwhelming relief and joy to see their Messiah.  
MARY and JOSEPH are moved by the SHEPHERDS’ reactions.)

SHEPHERD 2  We must go tell everyone about this.

.                  STAGE RIGHT (the East)

(It is night.  MAGI 1 studies the sky with a telescope.)

MAGI 1     (gasps)  Deshi!  Deshi!
.          Look!

(MAGI 2 rushes in as MAGI 1 looks around for him
then points into the sky and holds the telescope
out for MAGI 2 to take.)

MAGI 2     I do not need that.  I can see it
.          with just my eyes.

MAGI 1     Do you think - this - is the star?

MAGI 2     The prophecy that has been passed along-
.          is being fulfilled...  “You have ascended
.          on high, You have led captive Your captives;
.          You have received gifts among men,
.          Even among the rebellious also,
.          that the Lord God may dwell there.  Blessed
.         be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
.          The God who is our salvation.  Selah.”

MAGI 1     Selah!  So the King has been born.
.          This star is most certainly His sign.

MAGI 2     We must go!  We must follow this star,
.          and find the King of kings.

MAGI 1     I will go tell the others.              30

MAGI 2     The journey may take several years.

MAGI 1     We will make sure to pack enough.  And-
.          let us take something of our treasures?

MAGI 2     He deserves everything we have.

(As MAGI 1 exits, MAGI 2 studies the star once more.)

.                  CENTER STAGE (temple)

(JOSEPH carries the BABY while he puts a protective arm
around MARY to guide her into the temple.  When they stop,
MARY reaches out to stroke baby’s cheek.  Meanwhile,
SIMEON enters.  Realizing that this was no ordinary baby,
SIMEON rushes toward them with awestruck joy.)

JOSEPH      We are here to present our baby to the Lord.
.           As it is written in the Law of the Lord,
.           "every firstborn male that opens the womb
.           shall be called holy to the Lord."

SIMEON      (overwhelmingly excited)  May I?

(JOSEPH allows SIMEON to take the baby.  
JOSEPH is unsure how to react to SIMEON’s amazement.)

JOSEPH      His name is Jesus.  We had Him
.           circumcised after the eight days.
.           And we have just offered our sacrifice,
.           according to the law of the Lord.

SIMEON      I have been looking for the consolation
.           of Israel;  and the Holy Spirit came upon me,
.           and assured me that I would not see death
.           before I had seen the Lord's Christ.
.           (looks up to God)  Now Lord, You are releasing
.           Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
.           According to Your word; for my eyes HAVE seen
.           Your salvation, which You have prepared
.           in the presence of all peoples,
.           A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
.           and the glory of Your people Israel.

JOSEPH      What - exactly are you saying?
.                                                    31
SIMEON      Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall
.           and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign
.           to be opposed - and a sword will pierce
.           even your own soul — to the end that
.           thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.

MARY        I thought things were going so well.

SIMEON      My dear, do not worry.  Only fear the Lord.
.           Be strong and courageous.  God will not
.           fail us.  Some of us have been fasting
.           and praying for this time to come.
.           For what needs to be accomplished.
.           (SIMEON sees ANNA entering the room)
.           Anna!  (to MARY and JOSEPH, refers to ANNA)
.           Here is such a person, one who has
.           dedicated seven years to fasting and praying.
.           (to ANNA)  Anna!  Come - see our Messiah!

ANNA        (rushes over) Praise to our Lord God on High.
.           Yahweh be praised and glorified.
.           Prophecies have been fulfilled already.
.           More prophecies will be fulfilled
.           in the days to come.  Our salvation is here!
.           The good news for all people.
.           Where our nation has failed,
.           this One will bring all of us redemption.

.                 CENTER STAGE (town square)

(SHEPHERDS 1-2 walk around the town, talking to people
with great excitement.)

SHEPHERD 1  Our Messiah has been born.
.           You must go see Him.

PERSON 3    How do you know he is our Messiah?

SHEPHERD 1  When you see – you will know.
.           But also, at the time of His birth –
.           angels came and delivered a message to us.

PERSON 4    Angels appeared to YOU?  Why would angels
.           bother with you shepherds?

(PEOPLE in the vicinity laugh at this thought.
SHEPHERD 2 puts out a calming hand to SHEPHERD 1.)  32

SHEPHERD 2  Because our Messiah has come to bless
.           all people of all nations- everyone -
.           including the outcasts.

(PERSON 4 becomes interested and stands by intently.)

PERSON 3    Why aren’t you looking after your sheep?

SHEPHERD 1  We are taking turns!

PERSON 3    I think you’re just trying to cause trouble.
.           Right?

(PERSON 3 turns to PERSON 4, who shrugs.)

PERSON 4    I- I think I would like to see for myself
.           before passing judgment.

PERSON 3    It might be a trap.

PERSON 4    It might be the truth.

PERSON 3    If you are hurt or go missing, I will
.           tell your family what a fool you were.

(PERSON 3 walks away, waving off PERSON 4.)

PERSON 4    (to SHEPHERDS)  Will you take me there?

SHEPHERD 2  Of course.  At the time of His birth,
.           we found them staying in a stable,
.           but now, they are staying in a house.

PERSON 4    This all sounds crazy.  How can I trust you?

SHEPHERD 1  Look- (points) if you ever change your mind,
.           it’s the second house at the end on this road,
.           with that bright star shining down upon it

SHEPHERD 2  Peace be with you.

(SHEPHERDS exit in one direction, while PERSON 4 ponders
a moment before moving towards the opposite direction.
Still unsure, PERSON 4 finally follows the SHEPHERDS.)

.                    STAGE LEFT (house)             33

(INNKEEPER’S WIFE knocks on the door and enters,
carrying a loaf of bread wrapped in cloth.
MARY and JOSEPH enter from the other direction.)

JOSEPH      Come in, welcome.

WIFE        I brought you some bread, to help warm up
.           your house.  You cannot know how happy I am
.           that you are going to live here, and
.           were able to find an actual house to live in.
.           I am still rather embarrassed
.           that I had to put you up in the stable.
.           Not great for our reputation.  But –
.           oh, here, I hope you enjoy the bread.

MARY        (MARY takes the bread)  Thank you so much.

WIFE        I won’t stay long.  My poor helpless husband
.           needs to be fed also.  Now, where is that
.           precious child?

MARY        Taking a nap right now.  He seems to be
.           growing so quickly.

WIFE        They tend to do that you know.

(MARY starts to get emotional.)

WIFE        Is something wrong?

(JOSEPH shakes his head and waves his arms a little.
MARY collects herself with a smile and touches
her stomach.)

WIFE        Oh, another one on its way.  Congratulations.
.           I understand.  You must be very tired, too.
.           I will go and let you rest.

(WIFE exits.  Filled with emotion, MARY sniffs again.)

MARY        Sorry.

JOSEPH      For what?  I hear that having babies
.           is not an easy thing.

MARY        (looks up at JOSEPH with a sigh)         34
.           Besides that.  I keep thinking that
.           everything is going too smoothly.
.           Does that sound crazy?

JOSEPH      Not at all.  I keep thinking about
.           the words that the priest told us.

MARY        You mean the part about the sword
.           that will pierce us even to our souls?

JOSEPH      (hugging MARY)  Yes.  But let us rather
.           think about his words of hope and
.           encouragement - “Be strong and courageous.”

(There is knocking, and PERSON 4 can be heard from
just outside.)

PERSON 4    Ah, hello?  Excuse me-  I was told- ah-

JOSEPH      (smiling, calling out)  Another visitor!
.           Those shepherds certainly have been busy.
.           (to PERSON 4)  Yes-yes- please come in.

MARY        We have some bread, if you are hungry.
.           Please, please, you are more than welcome.

(JOSEPH and MARY motion for PERSON 4 to sit.)

.                  CENTER STAGE (palace)

(HEROD turns as GUARD 1 enters with PRIESTS 4-5 & ANNAS.)

GUARD 1     King Herod, as you requested-

PRIEST 4    What business could you possibly have
.           with us now?

HEROD       Apparently, there are some travelers
.           who have come from the east.  They have
.           entered our great city and are asking
.           for the King of the Jews.

PRIEST 4    Is that not what you call yourself?

HEROD       They claim that he has just been born.

(HIGH PRIEST 4 stops short, concerned, confused.)  35

PRIEST 4    I was not aware that you were expecting
.           a child.

HEROD       I have not had any sons born to me recently.

PRIEST 4    Then what do they mean?  What do they know?

(HEROD motions to GUARD 1 to explain.)

GUARD 1     They claim that they saw His star
.           and have come to worship Him.
.           I do believe they are inferring -
.           that the Messiah has been born.

(As HEROD rants, PRIESTS 4-5 and ANNAS think.)

HEROD       I consider this all nonsense, of course!  
.           The Messiah.  Myths and old wives tales.
.           But if this HAS happened, it must be stopped.
.           King of the Jews.  I am king of the Jews.
.           There is no way some unknown child
.           is going to take my throne away from me.
.           But, I would like to know what you think.

ANNAS       You say they have been following a star
.           which has lead them here?

PRIEST 4    This is disconcerting.

HEROD       I want to know if there is anything
.           in the scriptures written about this.
.           For instance, does it say anything
.           about the location?

PRIEST 5    (thinks)  In Bethlehem of Judea; for this
.           is what has been written by the prophet:
.           “AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY
.           NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
.           FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
.           WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.”

HEROD       So we’ll find this baby in Bethlehem?

PRIEST 5    Well, that is what scriptures say, but-

ANNAS       If this HAS happened, we need to know when.
.           The baby could be older now.  And if so,
.           they could have moved to another location.

HEROD       (aside to GUARD 2)  Send me those magi.
.           I would like to speak with them in person –
.           alone.  (turns attention back to PRIESTS)

PRIEST 5    Do you believe the Messiah has been born?

PRIEST 4    Why would God do something so important,
.           and not have us know about it?

ANNAS       Was there something that we missed, perhaps?
.           A sign, of some sort?

PRIEST 4    (to ANNAS)  This is probably someone
.           who wants to undermine our authority.
.           (noticing HEROD’S interest)
.           As well as take the throne away from you
.           by claiming to be the rightful heir.

HEROD       (cleaning his throat grandly)
.           That is why I will see to it
.           that this misunderstanding is cleared up.
.           I thank you for your candor and insights.
.           You may leave now.

(PRIESTS 4-5 and ANNAS exit.  Soon MAGI enter,
carrying in a few small precious gifts.  
They lay these at HEROD’S feet and bow.)

MAGI 1      We come in peace.  We have entered your
.           kingdom, seeking to worship the
.           King of the Jews who has just been born.

HEROD       (glibly)  Thank you for the gifts.

MAGI 2      You have just had a child?

HEROD       (finding it difficult to answer)  No.

MAGI 1      Would you know where we might find Him?

HEROD       I do believe – our scriptures say that
.           He is to be born in Bethlehem.

MAGI 2      We have heard these prophecies.       37
.           When we first saw the star, we knew
.           that the allotted time had arrived.

HEROD       And – just – exactly WHEN was this -
.           when did you first see the star?

MAGI 2      It was one year since the 15th day of Tishri.

HEROD       Really.  How did I not notice?  It just
.           shows you how busy I am ruling this land.
.           But, this is very good to know.  In fact,
.           I myself would very much like to find Him,
.           and- pay homage to Him.

MAGI 1      As you allow us into your kingdom,
.           we will continue seeking until we find Him.

HEROD       Yes, with my permission, please, go
.           to Bethlehem first, and search carefully.
.           When you have found this Child, I ask that you
.           return and report it to me... so that I may
.           go and worship Him, as well.  You may leave!
.           In peace!  And do not forget – return with
.           this information as soon as you are able.

(HEROD looks pleased as MAGI bow & exit, then he angrily
exits in the other direction.  GUARDS carry off gifts.)

.                    STAGE LEFT (house)

(MARY, who is showing about 4 months, plays a hand game
with YOUNG CHILD JESUS.  As MARY holds CHILD’S hands,
she claps them together while saying the poem.)

MARY        One – two – I love you,
.           three – four – more and more –
.           five – six – seven – God in heaven,
.           eight – nine – ten – loves all men-

JOSEPH      (enters, almost bewildered)  Mary!
.           (waits for Mary to look)  We have company.

MARY        More townspeople sent by the shepherds?

JOSEPH      Magi – have come a long way-

MARY        Magi? I, uh... huh, well, send them in.   38

(As JOSEPH ushers in MAGI, MARY comments lightly to CHILD.)

MARY        What are magi?  I suppose we will see
.           soon enough.

(MAGI after MAGI enter and lay down crates and chests
of treasures, while bowing, then go out for more.  
Overwhelmed, MARY freezes as she watches.  
Finally MAGI stay there and bow low to the ground.)

MAGI 1      We will have our servants bring
.           the rest into the back room.

MARY        There’s more?

MAGI 2      We feel that it is not enough.

JOSEPH      This-this is very generous.

MAGI 2      We have come to see and worship
.           the King of the Jews.
.           This Child - the King of kings.

(CHILD can sit on MARY’S lap and just smile.  Or if
the CHILD is cooperative enough, CHILD can go and
tenderly hug each MAGI and sit down in front of them.)

MARY        You have come a long way.

MAGI 1      We have been waiting for a sign
.           for many, many years.  The prophecies have
.           been handed down through many generations,
.           to offer the nations hope –
.           the blessing to all nations.
.           We saw His star and followed it to Jerusalem.

MAGI 2      We stopped there to let the king know
.           why we were traveling through this country.

MAGI 1      There we learned that your scriptures say
.           we should look for Him in the town
.           of Bethlehem.  Once we left the city,
.           we saw the star again, which brought
.           a great joy to our hearts.
.           The star led us right to this house.
.                                                   39
MAGI 2      King Herod also asked us to return to him,
.           in order to tell him the exact location
.           of the Child.

MARY        King Herod wants to come worship Jesus?

MAGI 2      That is what he said.  But in a dream,
.           we have been warned
.           not to return that way.
.           This Child is meant to do great things-
.           and even though Jesus comes down in love-
.           for all nations – we believe
.           there will be many men who hate Him,
.           and will hate those who love Him.

MARY        What shall we do?

JOSEPH      (puts comforting hand on MARY’S shoulder)
.           God will guide and protect us, I am sure.
.           We - shall be strong and courageous.

.                   CENTER STAGE (palace)

(HEROD paces in front of PRIESTS 4-5 and ANNAS.)

HEROD       It has been a while, and those magi
.           have not yet returned to me as requested.
.           I need to know, have any of you seen them?

PRIEST 4    No, no one has seen them as far as I know.

HEROD       Have they sent any message at all?
.           Perhaps to the temple instead
.           of the palace?

PRIEST 4    Are you accusing us of anything?

HEROD       As stated, this could be the Messiah.
.           Matters of scripture.  You will be
.           punished for treason if I hear that
.           this is a way you wish to overtake
.           my throne and gain absolute authority.

PRIEST 4    Trust us when we say, we are just as
.           concerned about this matter-

HEROD       Perhaps you know of someone            40
.           who would want to intercept them.

ANNAS       Perhaps you have been tricked by the magi.
.           (HEROD glares at ANNAS)
.           But if we hear anything,
.           we will let you know immediately.

(While HEROD paces, PRIEST 4-5 and ANNAS speak together.)

PRIEST 4    (aside to ANNAS)  Why would you promise this?
.           Do you want to work alongside a king
.           who is allied with the Romans?

ANNAS       Do we really want blood on our hands?
.           Or do we let King Herod do the deed for us?

(PRIEST 4 thinks about this and nods his agreement.)

HEROD       (suddenly calls out)  Guards!
.           (PRIESTS and ANNAS look up, concerned)
.           You may leave.

(PRIESTS 4-5 and ANNAS nod and exit quickly.  
GUARDS step forward and stand at attention.)

HEROD       Send out my army.  Go to Bethlehem
.           and search the entire village and area.
.           Do not waste any time looking for
.           this Christ-Child.  Simply have the soldiers
.           kill every male baby under the age of two.
.           Go - immediately!

(GUARDS exit.  HEROD heaves a heavy sigh.  
SON enters and rushes up to HEROD.)

HEROD       My son, do not worry.  (looks out)
.           I will do whatever it takes to protect
.           our kingdom.  Whatever it takes.
.           One day, you will be king.

.                     STAGE LEFT (house)

(MARY lies peacefully beside a fitful JOSEPH.
YELLOW LIGHT begins to glow brighter from off stage.
ANGEL’S VOICE is heard.  This can be pre-recorded
with audio effects and reverb.)
.                                                   41
ANGEL       Joseph, get up! Take the Child and His mother
.           and flee to Egypt, and remain there
.           until I tell you;  for Herod is going
.           to search for the Child to destroy Him.

(YELLOW LIGHT dims.  JOSEPH sits up quickly with a gasp.  
Taking a brief moment to gather his wits,
JOSEPH gently shakes MARY.)

JOSEPH      Mary.  Mary, wake up.  I am so sorry
.           to wake you at such an early hour.

MARY        Hm?  What?  What is it?

JOSEPH      A message from an angel -
.           we are to leave for Egypt at once.

MARY        So we are in danger?

JOSEPH      Herod will be searching for us,
.           trying to destroy Jesus.

(MARY gets up hastily and puts on a cloak which
she may have been using as a blanket.)

MARY        I’m awake now!  WHY?  Why is that?
.           I just do not understand!
.           How can there be so much hate –
.           for One who is the very essence of love?

JOSEPH      It is difficult to understand.

MARY        I will get Jesus ready.

JOSEPH      I will pack.

MARY        (stops to comment)  Egypt?!  Is that far?

JOSEPH      It will be a long journey.  Especially
.           with a child, and another on its way.
.           But it must be done.

MARY        But h- how– will we manage?

JOSEPH      Do you forget the treasures from the magi?
.           We will use this to buy us safe passage.
.                                                   42
MARY        Such timely provision.

JOSEPH      We will be fine.  Strong and courageous!

MARY        (gives a resolute nod)  Only fearing God.

JOSEPH      God has kept us safe thus far.

(MARY smiles and they both exit.)

.                STAGE RIGHT (Zacharias’ Home)

(ZACHARIAS leads their two year old JOHN by the hand,
when an anxious ELIZABETH rushes in to hug JOHN,
extremely upset about something.)

ELIZABETH   Oh, there you are.  I just had to hold you.

ZACHARIAS   Something wrong?

ELIZABETH   Word just arrived – Herod’s army
.           just went through the Bethlehem area
.           and killed all boys under the age of two.

ZACHARIAS   This is very tragic.

ELIZABETH   Do you think Mary and Joseph-

ZACHARIAS   They will be fine.  When God gives a promise,
.           God carries out the promise –
.           nothing can stand in the way.

ELIZABETH   I suppose things will only become –
.           more and more - interesting.

ZACHARIAS   The mothers in Bethlehem – are suffering
.           because of the hatred toward the Messiah.
.           But this will certainly not be the last time
.           a mother’s heart will break because of this.

ELIZABETH   (hugging JOHN)  Including my heart?

ZACHARIAS   Our son has been called to do
.           something great - to introduce the Messiah
.           to the nation.  Let us not expect
.           a royal greeting from the government.
.                                                 43
(ZACHARIAS touches ELIZABETH tenderly and they exit.)

NARRATOR    Joseph and Mary, with the Child Jesus,
.           remained in Egypt until the death of Herod.
.           An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
.           to let Joseph know it was safe to return
.           to the land of Israel.  As instructed,
.           they went to live in the city of Nazareth –
.           which was to fulfill the prophecy:
.           "He shall be called a Nazarene."
.           The Child, Jesus, continued to grow,
.           increasing in wisdom and stature,
.           and in favor with God and men.
.           All of this leading up to His ministry,
.           and His death on the cross for our sins,
.           in order to bless the nations.
.           To be our salvation.
.           “For God so loved the world,
.           that He gave His only begotten Son,
.           that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,
.           but have eternal life.”