It Happened One Night; or DID it?

by John W. Samples


Not your basic warm-and-fuzzy Christmas service. Some key players in the Christmas story reflect back is a service designed for a dinner theatre. Includes a communion service at the end. Its purpose is to challenge Christmas program attendees to walk a little closer with Christ, not just a little faster through the malls. (A variation of Christmas Eve Reflections. Shorter, and with fewer people.)


The Innkeeper & 2 Customers: Mordechi and Joshua. (Dressed in either traditional period costume, or maybe, in a contemporary twist, just normal clothes with cold weather jackets.)


(We see a table center stage complete with candles and whatever decorations are on the audience's tables. Mordechi sits alone, looking at a menu. As the lights come up, the Innkeeper enters and begins silent discussion with Mordechi while Joshua enters stage left and reads, with enthusiasm.)

Joshua: And, it came to pass in these days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world would be counted. This was the first time a census had been taken since Cyrenius had been Governor of Syria.
And all went to be counted, each to his own city.
And Joseph came up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to this city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he is of the house and family of David.
He came to be counted, with Mary, who was engaged to be his wife, and she was with child, by the Holy Spirit.
(The Innkeeper starts to leave, but he notices the speaker just as he is delivering the last line, and he reacts and approaches the microphone to defend himself.)
Now, when they got here, they found that there was no room for them in the inn.

(Joshua exits stage left.)

The Innkeeper: No room for them in the inn. No ROOM for THEM in the inn! How many times have you heard that over the years? NO room in the INN. All sold out. No vacancy. Sorry 'bout your luck!
Well, I am sorry, but there wasn't any room in my inn. All those people in town to be counted so they could be taxed some more, all those Romans in town to count all those people, and they all wanted to stay in MY inn. So, believe it or not, there just wasn't any room for the young couple.
But if I had only known. If I had only known who they really were. If I had only known who that baby to be born was to become. I would have given them everything, if I had only known.
I'm a good man. I pay my taxes, I go to temple on the Sabbath, I even tithe. So why shouldn't the Lord's family come to my place of business. Sure, I gave them the best that I had -- a clean place to sleep, a roof over their heads, and my wife even helped with the delivery -- but, oh my, how I would've treated them if I had only known who they were.
Even so, I still feel like one of the luckiest men around. I mean, after all, that was MY stable they were in, it was MY hot water the wife took to them, and they DID come to MY business. How many folks can say that?
(A reflective pause, almost like he's done and ready to leave.)
How many indeed?!
That baby did grow up to say, "Whenever you have done it to one of the least of these," you have done it unto Him. But still, if I had only known it was Him!
Has that ever happened to you? You know, you have an opportunity that you miss, simply because you didn't realize how important, how significant it was.
If I HAD known who that baby really was, things would have been different, that's for sure!
How I envy you folks here tonight. You DO know who it is that you honor in this season of remembering. Your lives must really be different because you've let Him in.
How fortunate you are to never have to look back and wish you had recognized the Lord in your normal everyday world. How wonderful it must be for you to no longer have to wait for the Messiah to arrive. How good it must feel to serve Him, to put Him first everyday.My, oh, my! If I had only known what YOU know!
(Joshua enters stage right as though coming into the inn, and looking for a table.)
Well, maybe we can talk about this some more later. Right now, as you can see, I've got a customer who needs taking care of. It's not as busy as it was THAT night so many years ago, but business is doing pretty good…

(As Innkeeper seats Joshua at the table, Mordechi gets up and goes center stage to read. He reads with a mixture of melancholy and doubt.)

Mordechi: And there were in the same country, some shepherds, living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and they were very afraid!
... and the angel says to them, "Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger."
And suddenly, there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men!" And then, the angels just went away.
And I haven't seen them since!

(Mordechi returns to the table as the Innkeeper is leaving to begin distributing communion to the tables; Joshua thinks he recognizes Mordechi…)

Joshua: Mordechi? Mordechi? Is that you?

Mordechi: Maybe. Who wants to know?

Joshua: Mordechi! It's me. Joshua!

Mordechi: Joshua? (Not believing, and reacting very reservedly.) By the stars, it IS you! What are you doing in town? Trying to get your old job back, are you? How long has it been... 30 years?

Joshua: It's been 33 years, Mordechi. In fact, 33 years to the very day. 33 years ago on a chilly night just like this one.

Mordechi: "To the day," huh? [laughs] I thought I was the only one who kept track of that exact date. And I was pretty sure I was a little crazy for doing it.

Joshua: You know, I've not been back out there since that night. After we eat, how about we go back up to that hill, just for old times sake?

Mordechi: Nah. Been there, done that. Not much to see anymore. It's all grown up. The sheep don't even go there now. And it's cold. Too cold for this old shepherd!

Joshua: Sounds like you have been there recently.

Mordechi: Yeah, about an hour ago. I went up right after sunset and stayed until long after it got dark. I kept my face and my eyes fixed on the sky, but nothing happened. Didn't see a thing. Didn't hear a thing. But then, why should this year be different.

Joshua: This year?! What are you talking about, Mordechi. You're not making any sense.

Mordechi: You're right, it doesn't make sense. Certainly not tonight, and I guess not for the last 32 chilly nights just like this one. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure what it was that happened; what it was we saw those 33 years ago!

Joshua: Angels, Mordechi. We saw ANGELS. Why do you talk like that? Have you really forgotten what happened that night? What BEGAN that night?

Mordechi: How could I forget!? But, I was just a boy. A lot has happened since then. I have responsibilities now: a family, I'm on the town council, got a business. So much has changed. No, I haven't forgotten, I guess I'm just not sure I still believe it all anymore, that's all.

Joshua: Mordechi! A lot has changed with me as well. But what does that have to do with what happened that night?! Are you serious about having been out there every single year since that night?

Mordechi: Yeah. Haven't missed a one. I sure don't want to miss another celebration like that! I keep thinking they might try it again.

Joshua: Why? If you don't believe, Why do you keep going back, year after year after year?

Mordechi: I didn't say that I don't WANT to believe. I just said that I'm not sure I DO believe anymore. Every year when the weather starts to change and there's that certain feeling in the air, well, it just reminds me of that night way back then and I get all warm and fuzzy inside and, I guess I just keep going back and hoping, well, maybe hoping it will happen again, that anything will happen to help me ... believe. But, hey! Enough about me. What happened to you after that night. I never really understood why you up and quit your job. Then I lost track of you completely after what happened to your family.

Joshua: Well, after I went home and told Mom & Dad about the angels, they thought you must be putting something in my goat milk and didn't want me hanging around with you anymore, so they sent me to work for my uncle. Then, after my little brother, and all those other little kids were killed by that lousy King Herod, it just seemed like there wasn't anything around here for me anymore. I just kinda hit the road, doing odd jobs here and there. I guess I did that for 8 or 10 years... Then one day, I was in Jerusalem for the Passover and there was this kid on the steps of the temple talking to the priests and rabbis like nobody I ever heard. I listened for a while, then you'll never guess who I saw...

Mordechi: You're probably right, Joshua. I'd never guess.

Joshua: Mordechi. It was Mary and Joseph. (Mordechi shrugs his shoulders unable to place the names.) Mary and Joseph. You remember. That nice couple in the stable 33 years ago. The parents of the baby the angels told us about. You do remember that part, the stable and the baby? Don't you?

Mordechi: Of course I do; I could never forget that. Nothing has ever been so real to me. I felt like we were at the beginning of something truly wonderful.

Joshua: We were Mordechi, we were. That's what I'm trying to tell you! That boy talking to the priests on the steps of the temple? He was the baby in the manger, Mordechi. Listening to him talk there on the temple steps filled me with a joy I had not experienced since that night so long ago.

Mordechi: But that baby was killed a couple of years after we first saw him. With your brother and all those other kids.

Joshua: No, Mordechi. I re-introduced myself to Mary and Joseph and they told me how God warned them in a dream and they moved to Egypt just a few days before the slaughter took place. They stayed there awhile, then moved back to Nazareth when God told them it was safe.

Mordechi: To himself. So, he didn't die? The baby the angels told us about did not die?

Joshua: I walked with them back to Nazareth and stayed for almost 20 years. I got a good job, settled down, and watched this amazing boy grow up among people who had no idea who he was. Then about 3 years ago, He started doing these amazing things... Miracles! Water to wine. Healing the sick. Raising the dead. Giving sight to the blind. And boy could He preach! (Standing and preaching.) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Mordechi: (Recognizing the words.) That was HIM? He's the one that said that!

Joshua: Yes, and lots more. To make a long story short, I've been with him ever since. Mordechi, that baby WAS, no, IS the Messiah.

Mordechi: Just like the angels said he was. It really did happen. Tell me again, what was His name.

Joshua: Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth.

Mordechi: Yes! That name does sound familiar.

Joshua: (Astounded.) Familiar!? You mean you haven't been keep up with Jesus?!?!!?

Mordechi: I told you I've been busy. ( Quietly.) Jesus. Jesus. JESUS! There is something about that name!!!! (Realizing ...) Wait a minute, did you walk all the over here from Nazareth today just to go sit on the hill?

Joshua: Mordechi, He was near here tonight. We were walking with Him on that road that goes by the hill when I realized where we were and what day this is. When He left, I just decided to…………

Mordechi: (Looking around and interrupting) You... you said he's here... ?

Joshua: He was. He and his apostles went on in to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. We're going to join them in a couple of days. Mordechi, I think we're here for a reason, tonight. I think I have been sent to tell you the good news all over again. So what if things have been a little out of balance for you recently, you can change all that tonight.

You've got to know that he really did come for us. That he came for you! It's time to get your eyes out of the sky, and your heart focused on Jesus.

Mordechi: Joshua, (Standing slowly) I remember now. That, that special feeling... The one from that night. It's still here. It Is still here. I, I have it! (Yelling across the stage…) Hey, Innkeeper. Get over here. Have I got something to tell you that you just aren't going to believe!

(The Innkeeper returns to the table with communion items as Joshua returns to center stage to read and lead the communion service.)

Joshua: And he takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
When everyone has taken the bread…
Likewise, he takes the cup, and says:
This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you.

(Following Communion, house lights full as the reading concludes with all three characters.)

Joshua: And He leads them out as far as Bethany, and He lifts up His hands, and blesses them.

Innkeeper: And it comes to pass, while He is blessing them, that He is parted from them, and is carried up into heaven.

Mordechi: And they worship Him, and then return to their homes with great joy. And they continue to praise and worship God.


©1987-2004 John W. Samples, all rights reserved.
This script may be used free of charge. In return, the author would like to be told of any performances. He may be contacted at Further scripts by the same author can be found at