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Summary: A senior devil & junior devil devise a plan to ensure the real message of Christmas is kept hidden from the masses. Obvious nod to CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Keywords: Christmas, Screwtape, devils, deception, "reason for the season".
Style: lighthearted.  Duration: 12min
Actors: 3M, 1F, 1M/F

Characters
Devil
Toadpipe (Baldrick meets Gollum)
Bob (think Trigger of ‘Only Fools & Horses’)
Elaine
James


Script

(Devilish lighting fades up. Devil enters & sits at ‘organ’. Plays Bach’s Toccata. Gets up – music continues. Gestures – music off)
Devil: (shouting off stage left) Toadpipe! Toadpipe! Where are you, you grotty little sniveller?
Toadpipe: (has entered stage right, standing behind Devil) You called, your great evilness.
Devil: Don’t sneak up on me like that. You almost gave me a heart attack.
Toadpipe: You have to have a heart before you can have a heart attack.
Devil: Very droll, Toadpipe. Anyway, where have you been, you insignificant worm?
Toadpipe: O father of lies, I have been collecting all that information you wanted.
Devil: So, what have you to report?
Toadpipe: Bad news, o master of darkness.
Devil: Excellent. How I enjoy bad news – I’m responsible for most of it.
Toadpipe: No. I mean this is bad bad news – bad for us bad news.
Devil: What do you mean bad bad news?
Toadpipe: I mean that throughout the world today over 10,000 people were born again into the kingdom of light, over 8000 were baptised in the Holy Spirit, and there were over 100,000 prayer meetings.
Devil: Curses and blessings! This is too bad to be true.
Toadpipe: (cautiously – fearing reaction) and that’s not all, sir.
Devil: Oh, for badness sake, Toadpipe – what else?
Toadpipe: Some of our minions annoyed those Christians in Perth again, so you can expect to have your head bruised any time now.
Devil: This is insufferable, Toadpipe. The kingdom of God is forcefully advancing.
Toadpipe: Well, it’s no great surprise, is it your wickedness? Jesus did say that the gates of this place would not prevail against His Church.
Devil: Thank you, Toadpipe. I am well aware of what He has said. The fortunate thing for us is that most of the Christians prefer to listen to my terminological inexactitudes rather than His living Word.
Toadpipe: Listen to your termy whats?
Devil: Terminological inexactitudes. Lies, Toadpipe, lies.
Toadpipe: Even so, your malicious magnificence, many of the believers are now actually, well, er, believing – they are learning how to mix the Word with faith and put it into practice.
Devil: Must you remind me of all this disastrous good news? What we must do is counter-attack. I need a plan… a strategy. An all-out assault by my legions would only cause the Church to awake from its slumber and fight back – which we need to avoid at all costs.
Toadpipe: I have a cunning plan.
Devil: Toadpipe, the last time you had a cunning plan, revival broke out in Argentina.
(Toadpipe looks downcast)
Devil: Oh, very well then, let’s hear it.
Toadpipe: I thought we could set up a long-term strategy which will distract millions from the truth.
Devil: No, I have a better idea. We will set up a long-term strategy which will distract millions from the truth. Come, Toadpipe, there is much work to do.
(Devil & Toadpipe exit stage right. Lights fade up. Enter Bob stage left, dressed as santa)
Bob: (sounding bored) Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, I’m so bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. How can December be so boring? There’s just nothing to do.
(Elaine enters, looking morose & sounding depressed)
Elaine: Hello, Bob. How are you?
Bob: Bored. How ‘bout you?
Elaine: Depressed. All these people rushing about, preparing for Christmas. The shops are mobbed.
Bob: Christmas! Don’t talk to me about Christmas. I hate Christmas. Spending money you don’t have to by presents they don’t want for people you don’t even like.
Elaine: What’s the point? I mean, whoever invented Christmas should be shot.
Bob: Too quick & painless. They should be strung up.
Elaine: Or nailed to a tree…
(Silence. Pause. Then enter James)
James: Hi guys, how ya doin’?
Bob: Bored.
Elaine: Depressed.
James: Sorry I asked. What’s the problem?
Bob: I’ll tell you what the problem is – Christmas.
Elaine: Yeah! Christmas is a right pain in the…
(Bob nudges her)
Elaine: … neck. What a hassle. I mean, look at all the shopping that has to be done, and all the presents to be wrapped.
(Devil & Toadpipe enter to watch the proceedings, ‘invisible’ to the others)
Bob: Not to mention the tree to be put up and decorated. My carpet’s still full of pine needles from last Christmas.
Elaine: Then there are the cards to be sent to all the people you haven’t heard from since… since last Christmas.
Bob: And what about preparing the turkey & trimmings fro Christmas Day?
Elaine: Oh, I know – when all your relatives come round, scoff the lot, and leave you to do the dishes while they all sleep in the living room.
Bob: If you ask me, Christmas is just a big con to get you to spend loads of money.
(Bob, Elaine & James continue animated conversation as mime)
Devil: You see, Toadpipe. My strategy is working perfectly. The true meaning of Christmas is totally hidden from their sight.
Toadpipe: Indeed, o great deceiver – you have blinded their minds by focusing them on the way they celebrate, rather than why they celebrate.
Devil: Let us go Toadpipe. I am satisfied my plan is working.
Toadpipe: Can’t I stay and watch sir? Oh please, oh pretty please?
Devil: Very well. Report back to me later.
(devil exits stage right)
James: So that’s what you think Christmas is all about – cards and presents, food & decorations. I’m not surprised you hate it. As for me, I love Christmas.
Elaine: Do you really mean you enjoy all the pressure and hassle?
James: No. That’s not what I mean. I love who Christmas is all about, not what so-called western civilised society has made it.
Bob: I don’t follow you.
James: Let me try to explain. What’s the most important part of Christmas?
Bob: (thinks, pauses) Spending time with the family?
Elaine: Giving presents – season of goodwill and all that.
James: These things are relevant, but the most important part of Christmas is the first six letters
Bob: C-H-R-I-S-T. (Devensive & dubious) Oh, I see.
(Toadpipe is getting irritated & agitated)
Elaine: I get you – baby Jesus, virgin Mary, wise men, all that stuff.
James: Well, that’s the start of the story. Most people forget that He didn’t remain as baby Jesus meek & mild. Don’t you know where Christmas ended up?
Bob: Boxing Day?
James: That’s not what I meant. You see, Jesus grew up and He challenged the traditions of His day as being empty and meaningless.
Elaine: A bit like the traditions surrounding Christmas today?
James: Exactly. He knew that behind all the trappings there was the reality of a relationship with God the Father.
Bob: So He wanted to tell people to forget the distractions and focus on the reality of that relationship.
Elaine: But look at the mess the world is in. Why should God bother about us? How could we ever meet His standards?
James: Fair question. Listen, He is a holy God, and He knew that we could never enjoy knowing Him on our own merits. Yes, the world is in a mess – but God has always had a plan to rectify that. At the centre of that plan is Jesus. Because of the injustice, the unrighteousness, the sin in the world, the Father had every right to punish us. But because of His love for us, and because of His covenant plan, He sent Jesus to bear the punishment that we actually deserved.
Bob: (revelation slowly dawning) So the price for all our wrongdoing has been paid. That’s worth celebrating!
Elaine: I get it. Now I see why you can get excited about the Christmas message.
Toadpipe: No, no, no, no, no. This is not supposed to happen. They’re supposed to be thinking about presents and decorations. What am I going to do? If I don’t act quick, we’ll lose them to the kingdom of light.
(Toadpipe exits stage right)
Bob: This is amazing – talking about Jesus answers so many questions. But there are still some things I don’t understand.
James: Well, I might not have all the answers, but I’d like to talk about some of the issues with you.
Elaine: I feel exactly the same. I know what you are saying is true, and I want to know more about Jesus.
(enter Devil & Toadpipe, stage right)
Devil: Calm down, Toadpipe. All we need to do is distract them with thoughts of things that appeal to their sinful nature.
Toadpipe: Oh, master of deception, what a great idea.
(Toadpipe approaches Bob)
Toadpipe: Remember what’s on television this afternoon.
Bob: Hey! I’ve just remembered – there’s a great film on TV this afternoon.
Elaine: I thought you wanted to find out more about Jesus.
Bob: Oh, I do …. But it’s a film I’ve really wanted to see.
James: Well, it’s up to you. What do you think is more important?
Toadpipe: The film, the film!
Bob: You’re right. This issue about Jesus could change my life.
Toadpipe: Oh, blessings!
Elaine: Why don’t we go back to my house and discuss it there.
James: You two go ahead. I’ll be along in a minute.
(Bob & Elaine exit stage left, in animated discussion; Toadpipe exits stage right, disconsolate. James kneels to pray upstage. Devil steps forward)
Devil: I may have lost this skirmish, but the battle continues. I know that on Christmas Day, most people don’t give a thought for Jesus; and the real message of Christmas remains completely hidden from their sight. They would rather watch the James Bond movie, or play computer games instead of considering the Saviour of the World. Ha, ha, ha…
(Devil notices the audience. Addresses them)
Devil: You’ve all been working very hard. It’s Christmas. Enjoy yourself – go on. After all, you deserve it.
James: (stands to address audience) What about you? This Christmas, are you going to please yourself – or please Jesus Christ. After all, doesn’t He deserve it?
 (lights out)
………………………
© Copyright Barry Brannen, all rights reserved.
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