Writings and Christian Artwork
by
Ray and Gail Keffer

 

Come Worship Him

by Gail Keffer

Preface

Many years ago, common people like you and like me gathered at a manger in Bethlehem. Their lives were changed forever. The miracle they witnessed has given us a gift that we could never buy. We see love, generosity, and faith in faces around us today--the love that those people saw is ours today. We have a knowledge that God's will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven if we only accept what happened on that wonderful night so many years ago. Won't you revisit those people with us and receive that gift again tonight? 

If desired the appropriate Scripture for each group can be inserted in a program or read by a narrator before each group's presentation.  The play consists of several monologues and then small groups as they interact with the story of Christ's birth. There are actually seven scenes.  The Scripture references for the various groups are given at the end of the play.  Suggested carols and other Christmas songs are also given for use by the director as desired. 

Cast

  • The Angles - 3 older angels, one teen and two children
  • The Animals - Donkey, Dove, Sheep, and one identified [maybe dependent on costume(s)  available, this could be divided into several smaller parts.]
  • The Shepherds - 4 Shepherds
  • Mary - a young woman perhaps even an older teenager
  • Joseph - A hard-working slightly matured young man
  • The Innkeeeper - an older brow beaten gentleman
  • The Magi - 3 gentlemen

 

"I Wonder as I Wander"

THE ANGELS

Angel 1: The angels are a very real part of the Christmas story. Why, sometimes, when so much seemed to be going our way, we almost thought we were in charge on that beautiful night so long ago.

The months preceding the birth of our Savior included much work for the angels. They were organized, and at the same time frantic. It was the busiest time the heavenly hosts had ever been through. There were angels everywhere and all of us were so eager to have been given this great story to tell.

Angel 2: As angels we were simply messengers, bearers of the Word of God; and many messages are given to us, but none as spectacular as this one. Our songs are constantly being sung, if you only listen.

We had made many visits to earth in the past. We had pleasant tasks and unpleasant tasks. The visit to Lot was not exciting, but it had to be done.

Angel, Child: The visit to Jacob when we appeared to him was very exciting. There were thousands of us.

Angel, Child: David spoke of us many times in the Psalms. Some of us had spoken to Moses, and appeared as flame in a burning bush.

Angel 1: Some of us were with God when he spoke to Sarah and told her that her seed would multiply exceedingly, and that she would bear Isaac.  And as time went on after that eventful night so many years ago, we would again get to spread the good tidings, even to this very night.

Angel 3: After John had baptized our Lord, he was tempted of Satan and the angels were allowed to minister unto him. And when the servant of the high priest struck a man and smote off his ear, our Lord told him that He would be given more than twelve legions of angels to help Him.

Teen Angel: When our Lord was crucified and buried, and then arose; we were there, We were privileged to give the good news to the women that came to the empty sepulcher.  So, despite all the problems of this world, we do sing every day about love, but never a message as sweet as we sang so many years ago on that Christmas Eve as we told the entire world of "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward all men"

Angel 1: The shepherds listened, and they knew that Christ the Lord would indeed be born, just as we had said.

Angel 2: Today, we still sing the message, just as you do. We have not lost any of the joy, the enthusiasm, or the excitement of that wonderful night so many years ago outside the little town of Bethlehem.

"O Holy Night" 

THE ANIMALS

Animal 1: Every manger scene has some of us there. That is not just for color. We were there. We were a real part not only of the scene at the manger, but in the daily lives of all people. We are a part of God's creation, just as you are.

Donkey: I had the unique privilege of carrying the mother and Child to Bethlehem. I never stumbled through the long trip because I knew the weight I bore was priceless and wondrously delicate.  The man who walked beside Mary was named Joseph. His hand was light and his expressions were soft. He walked with patience, adoration, dignity, and love. 

I was merely an inexpensive method of travel to this destination, but I felt their difficulty. I heard them speak and plan and meditate. I knew of the dreams the angel conveyed. 

The burdens of other donkeys are many and huge. My brothers plod long miles in the heat with massive packs and jugs of wine on their backs. The men who drive them blaspheme and yank and whip them.  But the load I carried rode light as a feather just like the gentle hand that guided me. My master, Joseph, who walked by my side was quiet and considerate. He knew the journey was rugged and long.

Animal 1: There were many of us present at the Nativity. The donkey probably had the best task, but others were important also. There were the ox and the ass kneeling at the stable in reverence.

Dove: As my part in this eventful night, I was chosen to coo the baby to sleep. The dove was important many times, just as the donkey, the ox, and the ass. We were all humble creatures, but we are a part of God's Kingdom. 

According to Mark, Luke, and John the Holy Spirit appeared to descend like a dove on the head of Christ when he was baptized by John the Baptist, and a voice from Heaven said "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." This was a wonderful time, a time to rejoice because then everyone knew that this was indeed the Son of God.

Donkey: Later on in Christ's ministry, he sent the disciples to get a donkey so he could ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He didn't ask for a horse or a camel, but a lowly donkey.

Sheep: Oh, if we could all fulfill the expectation of Jesus when he talked about sheep. Jesus said " I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of them." What better shepherd could we have? Why wouldn't we want to be a part of this? We weren't afraid. We knew that we had a wonderful, loving, caring shepherd that would never leave us alone.

Animal 1: Yes, we were important. You can think of a smelly stable if you want, but we think of the honor we had, the joy of being there at the most marvelous time in history, even if we were just the lowly beasts. We are a part of God's creation. We couldn't ask for anything more. 

"The Friendly Beasts" song by a young choir.

THE SHEPHERDS

Shepherd 1: Many have praised and preached about the shepherds on that eventful night so many years ago. Some say we represent the common folk, the ordinary person-in-the-street, someone just like you.

Shepherd 2: Some say the sheep we watched were special and used for the holy sacrifices in the temple. Some say we were wrong to leave the sheep on that Holy Night after they had been terrorized by the angels' singing.

Shepherd 3: Some have said we were outcasts, disreputable scoundrels, maybe, even crooks. Yes, we were sinners, not as adverse as some want to think, but we were in need of a Savior, just as the world is today. We needed to be at the cradle of our Lord, just as sinners do today.

Shepherd 1: We were common citizens, part of God's creation, just like you. But, we were selected by God to see this magnificent sight, and we were chosen by God to hear the angels sing. What a wonderful privilege. Can you hear the angels singing? Later on after Jesus began His ministry, He referred to Himself as a shepherd, and today He is the shepherd to us. He cares for us all the time, just as a good shepherd.

Shepherd 4: What do you know about us? You don't know who we were, or why we were out there with our flocks in the middle of the night--when some think sensible and responsible shepherds would surely have had their sheep safely tucked into the fold--and would never have left them-- especially after such a terrifying experience. But we were chosen, and Luke tells you the beautiful story of that special night that forever changed our lives, and yours. It was never described as terrifying by us. We saw it as a time of honor, glory, and majesty. We knew our sheep were in good hands.

Shepherd 2: We beheld the angels of the Lord and hearkened to their voices. So what's so great about that? The Bible says:

"And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen."

We have a God whose cradle led him to a cross and then to an empty, shattered, finally defeated tomb.

Shepherd 3: We have a God whose love will never let us go. He will search us out, come join us, and walk with us down all the daily paths of life even unto death. We are God's children. We have been strengthened and redeemed. We are a part of God's eternal kingdom. We need not fear.

Shepherd 1: Yes, we glorified and praised God for all we had heard and seen. We will never be the same again.

Shepherd 4: This is the word of Christmas, the strength which we invite you to join with us--just as we did so long ago. You too can return glorifying and praising God for all that we have seen.

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Choir

MARY

"Blessed are you among women." That was the angel's message and yet at times I had wondered.

I know now that I was blessed, but can you imagine the feelings I was hiding when no one else knew what was happening. Oh, the angel was so gentle, so understanding, so assured that I was the right one. The angel said that I had found favour with God. I wish I could have felt that same self assurance at the time.

I questioned "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" And the angel said the Holy Ghost would come over me and the Lord would overshadow me, and that the child would be called Jesus, the Son of God, and of His kingdom there would be no end. All I knew to say was "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." She told me about Elisabeth, my cousin, who had conceived a son in her old age. I realized that with God, all things are possible. The angel departed. Yet, it was real, and a feeling that I had never experienced before, and I certainly have never experienced it since that eventful day.

I had grown up in a home where the scriptures were studied. We had been told that a Messiah would come, but we expected a King arriving in majesty, not through the womb of a peasant girl like me. I didn't know what to do. I went to visit my cousin Elisabeth in the hill country. Elisabeth said the child she was carrying leaped in her womb when I told her my news and she was filled with the Holy Ghost. I realized that God had chosen me for a wonderful task. His name was indeed Holy.

I wondered about Joseph. How was he to believe me? I was innocent of any wrongdoing. And this was a wonderful blessing for the Jews, my people. Our race had gone through generations of banishment, subjugation, homelessness, injustice, and prejudice. Now I had been chosen, but how were people to know, especially Joseph. But God would take care of that. I didn't need to worry.

I wondered why this couldn't have taken place in Nazareth. Why the long journey to the little town of Bethlehem, Joseph's ancestral town. But the birth of the Messiah needed to be in the City of David.

And as the child began to grow, I knew a blessing that no one else would ever know, a blessing that would wipe out any fear, and leave me with an eternal joy.

This King would be born in a stable with cows, and ox, and ass. Our journey would be rough on the back of a donkey. Shouldn't a King arrive on a beautiful best of burden in style? But, what made me think I should have everything my way if I truly wanted to serve Our Lord.

The streets were crowded with travelers, beggars, thieves, and soldiers. With the census, there was no place for us to stay. We were young, and very poor. There wasn't any sweet lullaby except the mellow tones of the animals. The streets were noisy with the shuffle of sandals as other people hurried to find some kind of shelter, and yet others hurried to see if they could make some money from the new tourist trade that was so desperate for lodging.

And now you know, that I should not have doubted. God would take His love and give it to us. So kneel with me, my friend, and worship this babe, this Savior, this King, and receive the love that I received so many years ago.

JOSEPH

I often thought "Why me, Lord." There are many other men out there who are much more qualified for this job. I don't bother anyone. I'm just a simple man living a quiet life in Nazareth. I worked as a carpenter and loved doing a good job. I enjoyed the smells, the fresh scents. and the sounds of woodworking--the hammers and chisels, planes and saws.

On that afternoon that I will never forget, I was building furniture for the home of Mary my espoused wife and myself. Suddenly, Mary appeared at the door. I stopped, stretched my arms back and reveled in the beauty of my future wife. I told her that I hoped she had not been standing there long. Many times, I didn't hear people coming in the shop because I was concentrating on the job I was doing. Mary said she enjoyed watching me work, but I noticed there was a look in her eye that I had never seen before. She was still very beautiful, but she looked as though she was carrying a burden, and her thoughts seemed to be far off. I asked her if she thought the new furniture would be suitable for our home. I could tell that she was troubled.

Then, she told me that she was with child. The words struck like a sharp knife into my heart. I dropped her hands as if they were filled with leprosy. I had pledged my love to her in front of witnesses, and I felt this made a travesty of our betrothal.

I commanded her to tell me who the father was, because I knew that I was not. She said an angel had appeared to her and said: "Thou salt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS." I wouldn't believe it--an angel, the Spirit of God, a baby as our Messianic King.

I turned my back on her and she ran out of the shop crying. What was I to do? Should I take her before the Sanhedrin and divulge her shame and condemn her to be stoned. I loved her so much. She was so kind and beautiful. Her laughter filled a room with warmth and my heart with love.

As I stood and pondered these various choices, a bright light shone and I heard a voice say "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Then just as quickly, the light faded. I was alone once again.

Now I had another problem. Who would believe us, two common people in the little town of Nazareth? Nothing important ever happened here. I went to the temple to pray and seek some answers. I heard the Rabbi read "Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign, Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."

I realized then that Mary was telling the truth. I should never had doubted her. I knew that we had been chosen to carry out His word on this earth.

I ran to Mary's home and told her my experiences. We prayed together in thanksgiving.

Little did we know what lay ahead, but we knew that we would face it together with the grace of God. It wasn't easy. Sure people talked. Mary was afraid to be seen. I too, felt the burning of eyes as we talked and were seen in the streets of that small town.

Armed with His courage, we set out to do what we were told, and follow the path He had prepared for us. We had been blessed in a way that no other human being has ever been blessed. We had been given a wonderful privilege to fulfill the Word of God when he told how a babe would be born, and He would be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

"Away in the Manger" sung by a children's choir.

THE INNKEEPER

Oh, there was room in the inn, of course, there is always room for one who has enough to pay for that special room that is set aside, just in case someone of importance wants an accommodation. But, these two were not important in my eyes. They were only part of the poor that had come as decreed to pay their taxes. After all, perhaps one of the Sanhedrin would come, or even King Herod himself. I did not want to be caught and risk my reputation as a good host.

Yes, there was room. But who was going to take in a young thing in her condition. I had no idea this so-called miracle was going to happen. No one had told me to be prepared. I ran a very reputable inn. I had experienced this type in the past. I had fine furnishings and white imported linen sheets. I had heard the cries and groans of these young women, too young to be having children. I had very important people that night, people of stature in the community. And, there was the subject of liability. After all, I carry no insurance for this type of event.

She was pretty though--for a country lass. The husband seemed a sullen and earnest type. These local men can be risky though, you realize. I didn't actually leave them out in the cold. I sent them along to the lower quarter of town. There were plenty of midwives down there who were accustomed to this type of situation. They had all the needed instruments and swaddling stuff. These young things are always having children, many times they don't even know how to care for them. I was sure she would be better down there with her own kind.

But I want you to remember this. There was room--for a respectable paying guest. I would never want anyone to think otherwise. Business is business, and I had a reputation to keep.

How was I to know? In retrospect, I see my error--my greed, my selfishness.

Christ came to my door and knocked. I turned him away. I can understand the gentleman who laid a festive banquet and waited for the important guests to come. But they didn't come. So, he asked everyone on the street to come. They also had such poor excuses, just as I did. We were always waiting for a better offer, when the Lord, Himself, appeared to us. We failed to answer His call. We are cursed.

"No room," I said on that eventful night so long ago.

"My inn is crowded. I cannot take this lowly couple with child."

And so, I turned aside a King while I waited for a proper paying guest.

"No room," men still cry out today. "Ask me again. I'm busy now."

How can I explain to all my friends who question?

We pass this way but once. I hardened my heart. Don't do the same as I did. Open your heart, and let the Child of Bethlehem in today.

Don't crown your life so full of worldly things that you have no room for Him.

"We Three Kings"

THE MAGI

Magi 1: We had been on many excursions before, but none that seemed as futile as this one at the beginning. We were following a star. We had little knowledge of exactly why we were going or what we were expecting to find. Oh, we knew we were to see a King, but what kind of King. No one charted the course, we just took off and followed a star, as though we were being led by a power far greater than any we had ever known before. And, as the time went on, we realized that we were the only ones that could see the star.

Magi 2: When we arrived, the parents seemed sincere and perplexed by all the notice they were receiving. And I think they were a little fearful too--especially the mother.

The child seemed quite normal. The parents were very loving and protective. And although there was nothing that sent up a red flag, we knew in a quiet way that we were in the presence of something special.

Magi 3: We presented our characteristic gifts: frankincense, myrrh, and even a little gold, just as called for in the original recommendation.

Magi 1: We arrived on the scene weary from a long journey. We had been told about the birth on the way. We had been told that shepherds had heard angels singing, that animals had done strange things, that people in the streets had seen something special in the sky on that special night, and some even had felt the touch of God. But all the sheep and shepherds we saw appeared to be quite normal, and no one was talking about a King.

But our mission was not to see the birth. Our privilege was to protect this King from the men on earth who did not understand that This was the Son of God.

Magi 3: We speak of this Infant in very vague terms. We felt the journey was important, but the sight of the baby was not the end. I guess we expected to see the sky open and the stars rearrange themselves and tell us why we had done this. But nothing happened. We even spoke to King Herod about it on the way hoping to find some answers to our quandary, but he could only speculate that there was some imposter out there trying to take his throne away. His advisers had said a babe would be born in the City of David, in Bethlehem.

Magi 2: Then, as we adored this young child, we realized that God was present, in everything that we had done. After we had seen the young child, we rested before starting on the journey home. Herod had asked us to go by his place again and tell him where the young child was because he wanted to go and worship him also. But God appeared to us in a dream and told us that we should not return to Herod, so we went a different way to our own country.

Magi 3: Many never knew of our journey, or cared. We had seen the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and no other astrologer cared. It was never written up in any scholarly journals. But we knew that we had been in the presence of God. We knew why no one else knew about it, but yet, we wanted the whole world to know. We had been chosen from all the others to take this mission and follow a star that was only visible to us. We were willing to take that journey on faith--are you willing to set out on faith today and follow wherever He may lead you. Oh, what a blessing we received because we had faith, the faith of a child.

Herod didn't take it lightly. When we didn't return, he became indignant and was so upset that he made a proclamation to kill all the young boys less than two years of age, thinking that he would certainly rid the world of this King that threatened him and his power. If he had only known that this King's kingdom was not of this world.

We had joined the select few--the angels, the shepherds, the animals, and those chosen to carry out this wonderful deed so that all men would one day be free of people like Herod.

Magi 1: We followed the young child and King for several years. We had no fear of Herod. We knew that Joseph was warned to take the young King and journey to Egypt until Herod had died, and then take Him back to Nazareth to fulfill the prophecy.

We had completed our mission. We had given our meager gifts and received in return the wonderful gift that would never let us lead the same kind of life again. We had the gift of eternal life. We had no fear. We had followed in faith a star that led us to the Heavenly King. Won't you join us and follow Him today?

"O Come All Ye Faithful" Everyone

Closing Prayer

 

These Scripture verses may be used at the discretion of the director. 

The Angels

"And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people' And suddenly there was 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.'"  Luke 2:9,10,13,14.

The Animals

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." Isaiah 11:6

The Shepherds

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night."  Luke 2:8

The Innkeeper

"And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."  Luke 2:7

Joseph

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David"  Luke 2:4

Mary

"And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!'"  Luke 1:28

The Magi

"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?'" Matthew 2:1-2

 

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Copyright Raymond Irwin and Gail Kennedy Keffer