Summary: A humorous take on the Christmas story, done through the eyes of a TV reporter.
Style: Light-hearted.  Duration: 15min
Actors: 8M, 4F, 4M/F, 1VO

Characters:    Reporter
            Barry Scott
            Shepherd 1
            Shepherd 2
            Wise Man 1
            Wise Man 2


(Reporter enters SR with microphone & clipboard, wearing overcoat)

Reporter: Good evening and welcome to the Channel 6 News, coming to you live from downtown Bethlehem. With the forthcoming census, the population is in a state of  unrest, and we are here to gauge the mood of the people at this historic time.
 The government’s enforced policy of requiring this census is proving to be hugely unpopular. Chaos has been compounded with confusion with the command that  each family be registered in their home town.

(Quirinius enters SL, standing to left & behind Reporter)

 We have with us Quirinius, governor of Syria, who is responsible for this policy.  Governor, how do you justify this policy which is causing such upset?

Quirinius: How good it is to be here and have this opportunity to send all your viewers seasons’  greetings.

Reporter: Enough smarm. Just answer the question

Quirinius: As you know, the census is not my idea. I’m simply administering the decree of  Caesar Augustus

Reporter: But Governor, the fact is that the requirement for people to register in their home  town is causing chaos on the roads and at the airports

Quirinius: The failures of the previous government to invest in our transport infrastructure are  highlighted by this present predicament. If their transport policies had been more  forward looking, this would never have happened.

Reporter: And isn’t it true that people are exploiting the situation at this season of goodwill?  We have verified reports that accommodation is fully booked, and innkeepers have  doubled the usual price for a room.

Quirinius: That is the benefit of living in a free market economy. Economic growth can only be  sustained by allowing enterprising initiatives …

Reporter: (trying to shut him up) Thank you Governor…

Quirinius: (ignoring him) … we must allow profitability to flourish …

Reporter: (interrupting) We must leave it there, Governor, and thank you for joining us.

(Quirinius looks disgruntled & exits SL)

Reporter: (aside) Politicians! And he only gets one mention in the original story! (to camera) With more news, views and reactions this Yuletide, join Katie Dare-him  and the Channel 6 news team after this break.

(Reporter exits SR. Headache enters SL, feigning headache)

Voiceover: Headache? Tense, nervous headache?

(Headache holds head & nods)

Voiceover: Stressed out with all the seasonal shopping?

Headache: Battling for presents, fighting through the crowds, so many things to remember. My  head feels like it’s about to explode. I must take some Anadin.

Voiceover: Stop! This isn’t an advert for Anadin.

Headache: It’s not?

Voiceover You’re looking for fast, effective relief from this pain, right?

Headache: I sure am.

Voiceover: Then let’s pray.

Headache: Pray?

Voiceover: All right then.

(Headache looks confused, shrugs shoulders & bows head)

Voiceover: Father, we cast all these cares on you and ask for relief in Jesus’ name.

Headache: It’s gone. My headache’s gone.

Voiceover: For fast, effective pain relief, take prayer.

(Headache exits SL. Barry Scott enters SL.)

Barry Scott: Hello. I’m Barry Scott. Why am I shouting? I have no idea. Problems with stubborn  stains? Unable to remove grime and dirt? I’m not talking about stains in your  kitchen. I’m talking about the stains in your heart – the things that bother your  conscience, things you’ve done that are sinful – these are stains that not even Cillit  Bang could remove. But there is a remedy. Repent of your sin. Put your trust in Christ  and what He has done on the cross – bang, and the dirt is gone.

(Barry Scott exits SR. Katie enters SL & Shepherds SR. Shepherds sit at side watching Katie on TV)

Katie: Welcome back to the Channel 6 news. I’m Katie Dare-him; and we are in downtown  Bethlehem to gauge the mood of the people, and their reactions to this senseless  census.

(Mary & Joseph enter SL, walking slowly across stage)

Katie: Here come a young couple. Let’s ask them what they think of this government  policy. Hello. I’m Katie Dare-him from the Channel 6 news.

Joseph: Never heard of you. I’m more of a CNN kind of guy…

Mary: Be nice to Miss Dare-him, Joseph.

Katie: That’s Ms Dare-him, if you don’t mind .

Joseph: Well, actually I do ….

Mary: Joseph …

Joseph: … don’t mind at all. How can we help?

Katie: Can I ask you some open, honest questions?

Joseph: If you don’t mind hearing some open, honest answers.

Katie: That’s the spirit. It’s what live news broadcasting is all about.

Mary: Live news broadcasting?

Joseph: You mean we’re on the telly?

Katie: Live on the Channel 6 news.

Mary:  Oh dear. (Trying to tidy themselves up, combing hair, etc)

Katie: Firstly, tell us who you are and where you’re from.

Joseph: I’m Joseph, and this is my wife, Mary. We’re from Nazareth.

Katie: So you’re in Bethlehem to register for the census?

Mary: That’s right. Joseph’s family traces back to King David.

Katie: So we have royalty with us.

Joseph: (patting Mary’s tummy) In more ways than one.

Katie: And how did you find the motorway up from Galilee? Were there many traffic jams?

Mary: Actually, we came by donkey.

Joseph: Not an easy journey in her condition.

Katie: Indeed not. What are you hoping for, boy or girl?

Mary: We already know it’s a boy.

Katie: Did that show up in an ultrasound scan?

Mary: No. Actually, an angel of the Lord told us – and his name is to be Jesus.

Katie: (Flustered) Yes, well, er, that’s very – em – interesting. Thanks for talking to us.

(Mary & Joseph exit SR)

Katie: (Aside) How come I always get the nutballs?  (To camera) Now it’s back to the studio for the rest of today’s headlines.

(Katie exits SL)

Shepherd 1: Turn the telly off .

(Shepherds rise & move to centre stage)

Shepherd 2: Have you been out to check the sheep yet?

Shepherd 1: Yes, but every time I try to count them, I fall asleep.

Shepherd 2: Funny that.

Shepherd 1: Not really. It was an old joke.

Shepherd 2: No, not that – them folks from Nazareth.

Shepherd 1: What, that story about an angel of the Lord? Don’t be daft. There’s no such thing as  angels.

(Angel appears SL. Shepherds fall to the ground in fear)

Angel: Fear not!

Shepherd 2: (nervously) That’s easy for you to say.

Angel: (to Shepherd 1) What were you saying about not believing in angels?

Shepherd 1: I never said that (pointing to Shepherd 2) It was him!

Shepherd 2: Don’t try to pin the blame on me. You liar.

Shepherd 1: Don’t you call me a liar –

Shepherd 2: Well it was you who fibbed.

Shepherd 1: Was not.

Shepherd 2: Was so, too.

Angel: SHUT UP!! For lo, I bring glad tidings of great joy.

Shepherd 2: (Sarcastically) That’s great. I could do with some glad tidings.

Angel: If you don’t mind. As I was saying, glad tidings of great joy. For unto you is born this  day in the City of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.

Shepherd 1: (Jaw dropping Long pause) Wow! That’s fantastic.

Shepherd 2: You’re not wrong. Best glad tidings I’ve ever heard. But how will we find the Saviour?

Angel: Hold your horses. I was getting to that bit. (Clears throat) And ye shall find the babe  wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

Shepherd 1: What are we waiting for? Let’s go to Bethlehem. (moving off SR)

Shepherd 2: (Following) I bet it’s got something to do with that Mary and Joseph on the news.

(Shepherds & Angel exit SR. Herod enters SR, Wise men enter SL)

Wise Man 1: Excuse me. Are you King Herod?

Herod: (Suspiciously) Who wants to know?

Wise Men: (singing) We three kings of orient are …

Herod: But there are only two of you.

Wise Man 2: We had to downsize, because of the economic climate.

Herod: Kings of the Orient, eh? So how long did it take to get here?

Wise Man 1: It didn’t take as long as you might imagine. We came by express.

Wise Man 2: Yeh – the Orient Express!

Herod: Wise guys.

Wise Man 1: How did you know?

Herod: If you’re so wise, what are you doing in Israel in the middle of a census?

Wise Man 1: We followed a star.

Wise Man 2: And we don’t mean Cliff Richard.

Wise Man 1: We’re looking for the King.

Wise Man 2: And we don’t mean Elvis. We’re looking for the king.

Herod: Well, you found him.

Wise Man 2: No – not you. The King of the Jews.

Herod: (angry) What! Another king? What treachery is this?

Wise Man 1: (to Wise Man 2) I don’t think he’s very happy about this news.

Herod: Some young upstart wanting my throne. Guards!

(Herod storms off SR)

Wise Man 2: Let’s get out of here – we’ll just keep following the star.

(Wise Men exit SR. Mary, Joseph enter SL; Elder enters SR, stands at far right)

Mary: (as they enter) It’s no use, Joseph. Everywhere’s fully booked. Where are we going to  stay?

Joseph: Look, there’s a church. They’ll help us (They approach Elder)  Excuse me. I wonder if you can help us?

Elder: Of course I can. I’m a church elder, you know.

Joseph: Great. My name’s Joseph (shaking elder’s hand) and this is my wife Mary.

Elder: (drops Joseph’s hand) Oh yes. You’re the couple that were on the news tonight.

Mary: (excited) That’s right!

Elder: Stories of angels and the Messiah – ridiculous.

Joseph: It’s not ridiculous. It’s the truth.

Elder: Nonsense. This church has known and preached the truth for over 200 years, and  God doesn’t do those sort of things anymore. Certainly not at this church.

Joseph: (to Mary) I’m not surprised – it’s obviously dead in its traditions.

Elder: What was that?

Joseph: I said it’s dead traditional.

Elder: (proudly) Oh, thanks very much.

Mary: We’re looking for accommodation. Can you help?

Elder: We’re too busy getting ready for our watchnight service. Anyway, this is a church,  not ‘Help the Homeless’.

Joseph: (to Mary) So much for love your neighbour.

Mary: (to Joseph) Shoosh! (to elder) Thanks anyway. Goodbye.

(Elder exits SR)

Joseph: What now?

Mary: (doubling over in pain; breathing heavily) I hate to tell you, but I think it’s time.

Joseph: Time for what?

Mary: Time for the baby to be born.

Joseph: (panicking – running around stage frantically) Oh no! What are we going to do? Look –  there’s a garage. You’ll have to go in there. (Pushing Mary offstage left) Don’t forget what we learned at ante-natal classes. Remember the Merv Milne  method: don’t focus on the pain. Focus on Jesus. Push through the pain.

(Shepherds enter SR)

Shepherd 1: (to Joseph) ‘Scuse me. Is this the right place?

Joseph: Sorry. Bit preoccupied at the moment. Right place for what?

Shepherd 2: We’re looking for the Messiah.

Joseph: The Messiah? But how do you know that He’s coming?

Shepherds 1 & 2: An angel of the Lord appeared.

(Wise Men enter SR)

Joseph: (to Shepherds) So who are these guys?

Wise Men: We three kings of Orient are …

Joseph & Shepherds: But there are only two of you.

Wise Man 1: Don’t start that again.

Wise Man 2: There are more important issues here. We’re looking for him that is born King of the  Jews.

Joseph: And how do you know about Him? Don’t tell me – an angel of the Lord appeared.

Wise Man 1: Actually we followed a star.

Shepherd 1: What? You mean like Cliff Richard.

Wise Man 2: No – we mean like that one (pointing to star right above them)

Shepherd 2: Cor – look at that. Where did that come from?

(Elder enters SR)

Elder: What’s all this noise about? We’re trying to have a watchnight service, you know.

Shepherd 1: We’re here to celebrate the birth of the Saviour.

Elder: Birth of the … So, what makes you believe his story? (Pointing to Joseph)

Shepherd 2: And lo! An angel of the Lord appeared.

Elder: (to shepherd 1) You don’t believe in angels as well do you?

Shepherd 1: Not until tonight, I didn’t.

Elder: (to Wise Men) And what about you two? You’ve not been seeing angels too?

Wise Man 2: Actually, we followed that star. (pointing up)

Elder: I’ve never seen that one before.

Joseph: (to Elder) So now do you believe us?

Elder: Well, I suppose you can’t all be wrong. But about this angel …

(Angel enters dramatically)

Angel: You called.

(Elder, Wise Men, Shepherds & Joseph all fall to the ground)

Angel: (to audience) Why do I always have this effect on people?
 (to cast) Fear not!

Elder, Wise Men, Shepherds & Joseph: That’s easy for you to say.

Angel: Now listen up, guys. Mary has just given birth to Jesus, the Messiah. It’s the most  important event in the history of the world.

Wise Man 1: That’s worth celebrating.

Wise Man 2: And it’s worth telling people about.

(Katie Dare-him enters SL)

Shepherd 2: Here’s the very person to tell it to.

Katie: Tell what?

Angel: Glad tidings of great joy!

Katie: (to angel) And who might you be?.

Everyone: He’s an angel.

(Katie falls to the ground)

Angel: Fear not!

Everyone: You always say that.

Angel:  Sorry.

Katie: What glad tidings are these?

Elder: The Messiah is born.

Shepherd 1: And His name is Jesus.

Wise Man 2: He’s going to save His people from their sins.

Shepherd 2: So we have to tell everyone.

Wise Man 1: And we have to celebrate.

(During this conversation Mary, Jesus, Joseph & Angel all cross behind & exit SL)

Katie: If we’re having a celebration, what are we going to call it?

Wise Man 2: Well, the Latin for celebration is mass.

Wise Man 1: And we’re celebrating the birth of the Messiah.

Wise Man 2: So let’s call it Messiahmas!

Shepherd 1: That just sounds silly. Any other ideas?

Wise Man 1: The Greek for Messiah is Christ. How about Christ-mas?

Shepherd 2: Christmas! That’s catchy. What a great idea.

Elder: Christmas. I like it. What do you think, Joseph? Joseph? Where’s Joseph?

Katie: So, how are we going to celebrate?

Shepherd 2: You’ve got to have a special feast for a celebration like this.

Wise Man 1: Roast turkey sounds good to me.

Wise Man 2: I could make a special dessert – Christmas pudding.

Elder: Sounds great – washed down with a nice bottle of vino, of course.

Katie: If Jesus is God’s gift to us, surely we should all buy gifts for one another.

Shepherd 1: Brilliant idea! But to do all the shopping, we’ll need to start in November. We could  wrap all the presents up in bright paper.

Shepherd 2: That will make it more exciting for the children. Hey – we could decorate our houses too.

Wise Man 1: This is a great way of telling everyone the message of Christmas.

Elder: Everyone’s going to love Christmas.

Katie: The people are going to be so excited about celebrating these glad tidings.

Shepherd 1: Oh yes – the glad tidings. With all the talk of celebrating, I’d forgotten about those.  What were they, again?

Shepherd 2: I’m sure we’ll remember during the Christmas celebrations.

Wise Man 1: Well, I’d better be off – lots of preparations and Christmas shopping to do.

Wise Man 2: Hold on. I’ll come with you. We can spread the glad tidings later.

(Wise Men exit SR)

Shepherd 1: I think a fir tree would look good in the living room for Christmas.

Shepherd 2: We could put coloured lights on it – like those ones I saw at B&Q. Let’s go!

(Shepherds exit SR)

Elder: I’m going to organise a great big party. (To Katie) Would you like to come?

Katie: Oh, I’d love to. (Elder & Katie move towards SR) You know, I can’t help but think I’ve  missed something about this whole Christmas story.

(Elder & Katie exit SR.)

© Barry Brannen.
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