(not including music)  all rights belong to Tanis Harms –
.              refer to
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CHRISTMAS TABLEAU - written by Tanis Harms
TOPIC:       the story and purpose of Jesus’ birth
SCRIPTURE:   Matthew 1:18-2:18; Luke 2:1-20
STYLE:       a Christmas program with songs and
.            dramatic soliloquies: each character
.            delivers a soliloquy, then poses around
.            the manger in the nativity tableau.
.            I have recommended songs to be sung
.            either by the characters or a choir.
Cast:        MARY, JOSEPH, INN KEEPER'S WIFE,
.            SHEPHERD/S, MAGI & extras, ANGEL, PERSON
Set & Props: manger, stool


SCRIPT:

SONG: "OUR DAY OF JOY IS HERE AGAIN"
.    - lyrics & music by Andrew L. Skoog

.      (verse 1)
.      
"Our day...
.      With love.
..
.      Come, let.
..
.      With voices.
.."

.      (chorus)
.      
"Glory to...
.      Glory to.
..
.      Peace, goodwill.
..
.      This holy.
.."

.      (verse 2)
.      
"When darkness...
.      A glorious.
..
.      God sent.
..
.      And showed.
.."

.      (chorus)
.      
"Glory to...
.      Glory to.
..
.      Peace, goodwill.
..
.      This holy.
.."
.                                                       2
.      (verse 3)
.      
"Now to...
.      To worship.
..
.      The tender.
..
.      Our Savior.
.."

.      (chorus)
.      
"Glory to...
.      Glory to.
..
.      Peace, goodwill.
..
.      This holy.
.."

.      (verse 4)
.      
"How wonderful...
.      Should so.
..
.      He thrust.
..
.      And gave.
.."

.      (chorus)
.      
"Glory to...
.      Glory to.
..
.      Peace, goodwill.
..
.      This holy.
.."


(MARY enters.)

MARY   Favored one?  That is how the angel addressed me.
.      Although, I always try my best to be obedient,
.      I am certainly NOT perfect.  So why me?
.      I remember Father talking about our family tree.
.      We ARE some of King David’s descendants.
.      But – so many others are, too.  Yet - THIS –
.      is happening to me.  So now more than ever,
.      I will need to lean on God's strength.
.      What the angel told me was - very - incredible.
.      NOT be afraid?  I am carrying God's Son!  It is
.      difficult to grasp this.  I am still a virgin.
.      Yet, I know, all things are possible with God.
.      (touches her stomach)  Strange.  I seem to feel
.      His presence already... But, I am to give
.      birth – to God’s Son – who will be King.
.      And I - am to raise His Son – His HOLY Son?

(MARY shakes her head at the thought.)                 3

MARY   How could I ever be a worthy mother – to raise
.      and nurture a Holy Being – when I myself
.      make so many mistakes?  HE will be teaching ME!

(MARY pretends to cradle a baby in her arms and
smiles tenderly down at the thought.)

MARY   What will it be like to hold God in my very arms?
.      To look down into the face of the King of Kings?
.      (quickly looks up with realization.)
.      I am just a girl - engaged to be married!
.      To Joseph!  And soon - he will find out that
.      I am with child.  How will he react?  He could
.      think that I had an affair, and have me put
.      to death.  Will Joseph believe me when
.      I explain this?  Who will believe this?
.      WHO will EVER believe this?  Well...
.      (calmer)  I’m sure God has everything planned,
.      and will work everything out to His glory.  Yes!
.      As the angel said, nothing will be impossible
.      with God...  And - I am God's bondslave.
.      I am willing to do as God wills.  So I must
.      have faith that God will work everything out.

(MARY goes to the nativity tableau and sits on the stool
right behind the manger, and freezes.)


SONG: "WHAT CHILD IS THIS?"
.    - lyrics by William C. Dix
.      music is traditional English melody, 16th C.

.      (verse 1)
.      
"What Child is this, who laid to rest,
.      On Mary's lap is sleeping?
.      Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
.      While shepherds watch are keeping?
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"This, this is Christ the King,
.      Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
.      Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
.      The Babe, the Son of Mary.
"
.                                                       4
.      (verse 2)
.      
"Why lies He in such mean estate
.      Where ox and ass are feeding?
.      Good Christian, fear; for sinners here
.      The silent Word is pleading.
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"This, this is Christ the King,
.      Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
.      Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
.      The Babe, the Son of Mary.
"

.      (verse 3)
.      
"So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
.      Come, peasant, king, to own Him;
.      The King of kings salvation brings,
.      Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"This, this is Christ the King,
.      Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
.      Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
.      The Babe, the Son of Mary.
"


(JOSEPH enters.)

JOSEPH  When I first heard that Mary was pregnant,
.       I was angered - beyond words.  Of course,
.       I never wanted to hurt her.  That is why I was
.       going to put her away secretly.  Even if Mary
.       HAD been unfaithful, I would not have wanted
.       to see her put to death.  I just wanted to
.       SPARE her the public disgrace...  And – spare
.       myself, as well.  I mean, who in their
.       right mind would ever BELIEVE such a thing?
.       God had to send an angel to – convince ME...
.       But still, I have questions... and concerns.
.       It's usually the father's job to protect his
.       family.  But, if this Child is to one day
.       grow up – and save people from their sins –
.       who am I to protect HIM? HE will be saving ME.

(JOSEPH pauses, daunted by the thought.)
.                                                      5
JOSEPH  And, how am I, a humble carpenter, supposed
.       to raise God’s Son!?  Again, a father
.       wants to provide only the BEST for his family.
.       (chuckling)  I suppose God knows that better
.       than I do, Him being our Heavenly Father.
.       But what?  Will I teach Him how to build
.       with His hands, the One who has created
.       the universe with just His word? I am not
.       worthy for this.  I have nothing to offer Him.

(JOSEPH tries to think what he could give God,
then realizes.)

JOSEPH  I can only offer Him what God provides us.
.       Hm, so I know there will be love.
.       And wisdom.  Is that enough?  What is
.       to come?  What does this future LOOK like?
.       We could be in danger as soon as Mary starts
.       to show, which will be very soon now.
.       (sighing)  Of course, God is all-knowing,
.       all-powerful, and all-sufficient...
.       I must trust that He will guide, protect,
.       and provide for us.

(JOSEPH goes to stand beside MARY and puts a hand
on her shoulder, then freezes.)


SONG: "FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN"
.    - lyrics by Joseph Mohr,
.      translated by John F. Young
.      music by Franz Gruber

.      
"For unto us a Child is born,
.      unto us, a Son is given,
.      unto us, a Son is given:
.      and His name shall be called:
.      Wonderful, Counselor,
.      The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father,
.      The Prince of Peace,
.      The Everlasting Father,
.      The Prince of Peace.
"


(INNKEEPER'S WIFE enters.)                             6

WIFE   Oh, when I heard about the decree that there
.      was going to be a census taking, I thought,
.      now here's a chance to make a bit of money.
.      You know, people were going to be travelling
.      this way, and would need a place to eat and
.      stay the night.  I never imagined in my
.      wildest dreams that it would get this crazy.
.      I had entire families squeezed into every
.      little corner we owned.  And then some!
.      I found myself working 'round the clock,
.      but I wasn't going to complain.  Right?
.      How many chances come along like THAT
.      in your lifetime?  (changing her tone)
.      But then this one couple came along...
.      The poor little thing was sitting
.      on the back of a donkey, probably
.      gritting her teeth from the pain.  She was
.      looking about ready to deliver any minute.
.      I know! I've had a few of my own.  My heart
.      just went out to them.  But what could I do?
.      Even if they HAD money, we were completely
.      out of room.  Well, I just couldn't send them
.      out into the cold, damp night like that.
.      You know, something told me to do whatever
.      I could.  Then it hit me, they could use
.      the stable.  Sure, it was dirty and smelly,
.      but the animals being there helped to heat up
.      the place a little.  They made do.  I made
.      certain of that.  I check in on them whenever
.      I have the chance...  It's strange though,
.      usually it's the mother needing to comfort
.      the baby, but - THIS baby seems to bring comfort
.      to all those around Him.  Very curious.
.      Newborn babies are always so precious, but
.      there is something very different with this One.
.      He seems to touch my heart in a way...
.      that I can't describe.  For years I have
.      cluttered up my heart with unnecessary things.
.      Well, this whole experience is making me
.      search my heart, and question –
.      with what should I fill my heart?

(INNKEEPER'S WIFE kneels beside the manger and freezes.)
.                                                      7

SONG: "THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE"
.    – by Emily E.S. Elliott, Timothy R. Matthews

.      (verse 1)
.      
"Thou didst leave Thy throne
.      And Thy kingly crown
.      When Thou camest to earth for me;
.      But in Bethlehem's home
.      Was there found no room
.      For Thy holy nativity
.      O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
.      There is room in my heart for Thee
"

.      (verse 2)
.      
"Heaven's arches rang
.      When the angels sang
.      Proclaiming Thy royal decree
.      But of lowly birth
.      Didst Thou come to earth,
.      And in great humility
.      O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
.      There is room in heart for Thee!
"

.      (verse 3)
.      
"The foxes found rest,
.      And the birds their next
.      In the shade of the forest tree;
.      But Thy couch was the sod,
.      O Thou Son of God,
.      In the deserts of Galilee
.      O come to my heart, Lord Jesus
.      There is room in my heart for Thee!
"


(SHEPHERD enters.)

SHEPHERD  An amazing thing just happened.  We were
.         in the fields.  Some of us were sleeping,
.         and a few of us were watching the sheep,
.         when - angels appeared!  You know, you
.         usually only hear about these kind of things.
.         So, this was very unexpected.  Shocking,
.         in fact.  First there was only one, but then -
.                                                      8
(SHEPHERD pauses to motion up at the “sky.”)

SHEPHERD  -a WHOLE bunch of them - filled the sky.
.         Now I have to be honest, it was terrifying –
.         at first.  The angel told us not to be afraid
.         because they had good news to share with us.
.         With US – SHEPHERDS!  Can you imagine?  I mean,
.         WE who are considered the lowlifes of the
.         community!  The dregs of society!  Scum of
.         the earth!  Not many parents hope that their
.         daughters wind up marrying a shepherd.  But,
.         God thought we were important enough to hear
.         this great news, that the Christ-child, has
.         just been born.  This Baby, who is called
.         Jesus, is the Lord and Savior for ALL people.
.         This news means great joy and peace for all
.         men.  For everybody!  Including us shepherds.

(SHEPHERD speaks quieter, and very sincerely.)

SHEPHERD  So now - I've come to look for this Baby.
.         I can tell you, if anybody needs saving,
.         it's me.  And I certainly wouldn't mind
.         finding some of that peace and joy.
.         We were told that we could find Him in
.         Bethlehem, in - in the feeding trough of
.         a stable... I suppose if He had been born
.         in a palace, there would not be a hope
.         in the world for me to ever get in those
.         doors and meet this Jesus face to face.
.         But being born in a stable... I kind of feel
.         like - He's going to be able to understand me.

(SHEPHERD can be joined by other SHEPHERDS and
freeze in the pose in the nativity tableau.)


SONG: "HOW GREAT OUR JOY"
.    - traditional German carol
.      arranged by Hugo Jungst

.      (verse 1)
.      
"While by the sheep we watched at night
.      Glad tidings brought an angel bright
"
.                                                      9
.      (chorus)
.      
"How great our joy, Great our joy!
.      Joy, joy, joy... joy, joy, joy!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
"

.      (verse 2)
.      
"There shall be born, so he did say,
.      In Bethlehem a Child today
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"How great our joy, Great our joy!
.      Joy, joy, joy... joy, joy, joy!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
"

.      (verse 3)
.      
"There shall the Child lie in a stall,
.      This Child who shall redeem us all
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"How great our joy, Great our joy!
.      Joy, joy, joy... joy, joy, joy!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
"

.      (verse 4)
.      
"This gift of God, we'll cherish well
.      That ever joy our hearts shall fill
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"How great our joy, Great our joy!
.      Joy, joy, joy... joy, joy, joy!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
.      Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
"


(MAGI enters.)

MAGI   As soon as I saw that star, I knew it was
.      a sign of something extraordinary.
.      In all of history, there has never been such
.      a star.  It was obvious that this signified
.      the birth of a great King - a King of kings.
.                                                     10
(MAGI goes into storytelling mode.)

MAGI   As we followed the star in our journey,
.      we found ourselves near Jerusalem, Israel's
.      capital.  We stopped there at the city's palace
.      and met with a king - King Herod.  We told him
.      about the star, and that we were there
.      to worship the King of the Jews.  This greatly
.      upset King Herod and all his men.  You could
.      see it in their faces.  Herod left to discuss
.      these matters with his men, and then returned
.      to us for a private meeting.  It was then
.      that he asked us when we first saw the star.
.      It had been about two years ago.  It takes
.      a long time to plan and pack for such a long
.      journey.  And our travels are slow because
.      the costly load we carry is extremely heavy,
.      such cargo as gold, myrrh, and frankincense.
.      And still, I feel this King of kings deserves
.      so much more than our meager gifts.  Well,
.      King Herod wanted us to find the Christ-Child,
.      and then return to him to give a full report.
.      But we were warned in a dream by God - not to
.      return to Herod, so we plan to return
.      to our own country by another way.

(MAGI shakes his head at the thought.)

MAGI   Imagine, the leaders of this country
.      being so upset and threatened by this
.      tiny Baby.  All of these events only confirm
.      that this Child - is very important.

(MAGI speaks cryptically.)

MAGI   This Child - will someday - shake the
.      foundations of this world with a power
.      so mighty.  One can only wonder, and
.      be compelled to learn more about the wisdom
.      and magnitude of His purpose.

(MAGI and EXTRA MAGI can pose approach the manger
with gifts and freeze within the tableau.)

.                                                     11
SONG: "AS WITH GLADNESS MEN OF OLD"
.    - lyrics by William C. Dix
.      music by Conrad Kocher

.      (verse 1)
.      
"As with gladness men of old
.      Did the guiding star behold;
.      As with joy they hailed its light,
.      Leading onward, beaming bright,
.      So, most gracious Lord, may we
.      Evermore be led to Thee
"

.      (verse 2)
.      
"As with joyful steps they sped
.      To the lowly manger bed,
.      There to bend the knee before
.      Him Whom heaven and earth adore,
.      So, may we with willing feet
.      Ever seek the mercy seat
"

.      (verse 3)
.      
"As they offered gifts most rare
.      At that manger rude and bare,
.      So may we with holy joy,
.      Pure and free from sin's alloy
.      All our costliest treasures bring,
.      Christ, to Thee our heavenly King
"

.      (verse 4)
.      
"Holy Jesus, every day
.      Keep us in the narrow way;
.      And when earthly things are past,
.      Bring our ransomed souls at last
.      Where they need no star to guide,
.      Where no clouds Thy glory hide.
"


(ANGEL enters.)

ANGEL  I am a messenger of God.  Many years ago,
.      I made my eternal choice to serve Him...
.      this Holy, Almighty God of love, Who was and is,
.      and is to come.  We honor God, and know Him well,
.      but we do not know of future things.
.                                                     12
(ANGEL’S voice softens.)

ANGEL  We only learn of this as it unfolds.
.      We have brought many messages to mankind
.      over the years, but none as so joyous as now.
.      We have seen the plight of men.
.      We have witnessed their struggles.
.      Even as they attempt to obey God,
.      they still stumble, they still fall.
.      But through their faith in God, they are
.      allowed to continue in their walk with God.
.      As we bring these messages of good news
.      and glad tidings, we wonder how God
.      will bring about this peace He has promised.
.      (speaking with stronger voice again)
.      We look forward to see how God will
.      answer prayers.  We look forward to see
.      how God will save His people.
.      We rejoice with the righteous.
.      And we are blessed to gaze into the face of God,
.      and to serve the God we adore.
.      We praise His Holy Name on High, and
.      we give glory to the newborn King of kings.

(ANGEL stands over the manger and looks down adoringly.)


SONG: "HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING" by Charles Wesley,
.      Felix Mendelssohn, William H. Cummings

.      (verse 1)
.      
"Hark! the herald angels sing,
.      "Glory to the newborn King;
.      Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
.      God and sinners reconciled!"
.      Joyful all ye nations rise,
.      Join the triumph of the skies,
.      With the angelic host proclaim,
.      
'Christ is born in Bethlehem!'"

.      (chorus)
.      
"Hark! the herald angels sing,
.      
'Glory to the newborn King.'"

.      (verse 2)                                      13
.      
"Christ, by highest heaven adored;
.      Christ, the everlasting Lord!
.      Late in time behold Him come,
.      Offspring of the Virgin's womb:
.      Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
.      Hail the incarnate Deity
.      Pleased as man with men to dwell,
.      Jesus, our Emmanuel.
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"Hark! the herald angels sing,
.      
'Glory to the newborn King.'"

.      (verse 3)
.      
"Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace!
.      Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
.      Light and life to all He brings,
.      Risen with healing in His wings.
.      Mild He lays His glory by,
.      Born that man no more may die,
.      Born to raise the sons of earth,
.      Born to give them second birth.
"

.      (chorus)
.      
"Hark! the herald angels sing,
.      
'Glory to the newborn King.'"


(PERSON enters.)

PERSON  Because of Jesus's birth,
.       His perfect life here on earth,
.       His death on the cross,
.       And His resurrection,
.       we can receive His free gift of
.       forgiveness, new birth and eternal life.
.       Many years ago, people witnessed
.       all of these events.  Now,
.       we have a chance to witness the same:
.       through creation, through God's word,
.       and through the testimonies of believers.

(Pause, then address the congregation more personally.)

PERSON  Have you met Jesus?  Do you believe?          14
.       Are you kneeling before Him at the manger,
.       at the cross... at the throne of God?

(PERSON takes their places kneeling before the manger.)


SONG: "A COMMUNION HYMN FOR CHRISTMAS"
.    - by Margaret Clarkson, Tom Fettke

.      (verse 1)  
"Gathered round...
.      on this.
..
.      Viewing Bethlehem's.
..
.      we rejoice.
..
.      Joy to.
..
.      in Your.
..
.      Weep to.
..
.      in our.
.."

.      (verse 2)  
"Prince of...
.      Heaven ere.
..
.      Now for.
..
.      death as.
..
.      By Your.
..
.      by Your.
..
.      By Your.
..
.      Lord we.
.."

.      (verse 3)  
"Bethlehem's Incarnation,
.      Calvary's bitter.
..
.      Wrought for.
..
.      by Your.
..
.      Now we.
..
.      in this.
..
.      Prostrate we.
..
.      for Your.
.."

.      (verse 5)  
"Christmas Babe...
.      Lamb who.
..
.      How shall.
..
.      praises due.
..
.      Do Your.
..
.      in the.
..
.      in Your.
..
.      reign forever.
.."