THE SHEPHERDS

BY Andre A. A. Lederer

©1999, 2000,2001, 2002

 

   

 

 

 

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NOTE:

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Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
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Other plays of this type can be found at www.christmasplays.com

 

Scene 1  The Announcement of the Messiah's Birth

 

Setting:  Late in the evening on a hillside just outside of Bethlehem , shepherds are sitting around a fire.  (To simulate a fire, videotape an actual outside fire with a video camera and using a video projector, project it on to brown just in front of the shepherds).

 

Father:                        My, aren't those stars beautiful tonight!

 

Grandfather:               Yes, and just to think that God has named them all!

 

Rachael:                      You know, He's also numbered all the hairs on our heads.

 

Father:                        Well, for some of us that's not such not a difficult task.

 

Grandfather:               But seriously now, do you know what that simple statement tells us?

 

Father:                        What, Father?

 

Grandfather:               It tells us that if God is so interested in such seemingly trivial things as numbering the hairs on our heads, then how much more interested is He in everything else about us!

 

Ruth enters carrying a tray of biscuits.

 

Ruth:                           Here you are!

 

Grandfather:  Hello Ruth…what brings you here so late at night?

 

Ruth:                           It's so cool out tonight. I thought I'd make you a little something to warm you up.

 

Father:                        Oh my wife, what a blessing you are to us!

 

Rachael:                     Yes, and your cooking is second to none!

 

Ruth passes the tray to Grandfather but he signals that he does not want any.

 

Ruth:                           Grandfather, aren't you going to have some?

 

Grandfather:               Are you kidding? Look, (Grandfather holds his stomach) I'm the Mountain of Olives!

 

Ruth:                           Oh come on now, you're a reed…have one!

 

Grandfather:               All right, but just one...(Ruth moves on) hey, where are you going with that tray.

 

Ruth:                            (Looking around for her young son) Papa, where's our little Benjamin?

 

Father:                        (Hesitating) Oh, uh…he's out… looking after the sheep.

 

Ruth:                           Out!  But it so late…is he safe?

 

Rachael:                     Oh sure, he’s out with his uncle Omar

 

Father:                        Shhh [he tries to signal for him to keep his mouth shut]

 

Ruth:                           Ah! You know I don't like it when he's out alone with uncle Omar. He's always filling the boy's head with notions about how the Messiah will come and destroy the Romans and things like that. You know, [she says sternly but hushed] those kinds of ideas will just get him into trouble some day!

 

Father:                        Mama, don't worry so much. The boy's got a pretty good head about him. Besides, it is true that one day the Messiah will rule from Jerusalem on the throne of King David. So please don't worry about Benjamin, I'm sure that Omar's beliefs won't influence our child's behavior.

 

Ruth nod’s with some reassurance.

 

Rachael:                     Look, I think it’s them coming now.

 

Omar and Benjamin run through the audience onto the stage. Benjamin is pretending to be an Israeli soldier and Omar a Roman Soldier.  Benjamin is chasing Omar with a pretend sword made out of sticks.  Both are yelling as they come on stage. 

 

 

Benjamin:                    (Shouting) Stop you Roman dog! Turn around and fight!

 

Omar:              Who are you and what do you want with me?

 

Benjamin:                    I come in the name of the Lord who sits on the throne of Israel and I demand the life of any oppressor who stands in the way of peace for His people.

 

(Benjamin takes the pretend sword and thrusts it into the side of Omar who catches it between his arm and chest and falls to the ground. Benjamin stands over him with his arms folded in pride! There are a few seconds of silence then Ruth looks over at father...)

                              

Ruth:                           Now what was that you were saying about Omar not influencing our child? (Father shrugs his shoulders and is speechless).

 

Omar:                          Oh Ruth, [he says getting to his feet] I was just telling the child about the glory that will surround the Messiah when he comes. What a day of rejoicing it will be when he is born! I can see it now, music, singing, dancing in the streets. Oh what glory! Let me tell you…

 

Grandfather:               Omar, Perhaps you are mistaken.

 

Omar:                          Mistaken?  Mistaken about what the Messiah coming?

 

Grandfather:               No, not about his coming, but how he will come. Come here my son, let me explain.

 

Omar backs away rejecting Grandfather’s offer but still listens.

 

Benjamin:                    Please tell me Grandfather, what do you believe?

 

Grandfather:              You see, I've been thinking about this very thing. I've been thinking about how our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has revealed himself through His people in the past. Do you remember the story of Moses?

 

Benjamin:                    Of course! He was the Israel 's greatest leader.

 

Grandfather:               Yes, but look at his beginning. He was just a little baby of an ordinary Israelite family... and do you know what the scriptures say about him?

 

Benjamin:                   What?

 

Grandfather:              They say that Moses was a humble man, the most humble man on the face of the earth. And God took that humble man and made him a great leader. [pause] And Benjamin, who was the greatest king that Israel has ever seen?

 

Benjamin:                    Why, that would be King David.

 

Grandfather:               That’s right, and David was the youngest of his siblings, he was considered the least in his family!

 

Father:                        Yes, I see. God took that which was weak, that little boy David, and through him slew the giant Goliath.

 

Grandfather:              Yes, now you’ve got it.

 

Benjamin:                    But what does this have to do with the Messiah, Grandfather?

 

Grandfather:               Well, it means that maybe just maybe, the Messiah's coming will not be in glory, but humility.

 

Sound of wind, quietly at first, then growing louder.

 

Ruth:                           Where did that wind come from?

 

Thunder rumbles and grows in intensity.

 

Father:                        Did I hear thunder?

 

Grandfather:               What, on a clear night?

 

All lights in the building should go out at this time as well as the videotaped fire.  (Camera flashes could flash repeatedly to simulate lightning. Then a very bright spot light shines on the shepherds.  The light represents the angel. The shepherds act very frightened and crowd into a corner staring at the angel with their hands shielding their faces.

 

Angel:                          Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and laying in a manger.

 

Angel voices:              (a group of students off stage or prerecorded on tape played through the sound system) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (repeat)

 

The angel disappears and the lights return to normal

Shepherds (looking at each other in shock at what had taken place)

 

Rachael:                     Did you see what I saw? This is not a dream is it?

 

Grandfather:               No, this is from God. Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about!

Shepherds begin to run but Ruth stops for a brief second.

 

Ruth:                           But what about the sheep?

 

Father:                        (excited) Who cares about the sheep?!!! God will look after sheep!

 

All of the shepherds run off through the audience, except for Omar.

 

Omar                           (reflectively at center stage): The Messiah, dressed in rags, ... lying in a manger…in rages?

 

Omar then remembers what Grandfather's said earlier.  Grandfather voice echoing (use reverb on an amplifier): ... maybe, just maybe, the Messiah's coming will not be in glory, but humility.

 

Omar:                          [looks up and softly at first says]… I understand, (then louder) yes. I understand now! Grandfather, everyone, wait for me! (Omar runs off).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 2   The Manger

 

 

 

In this type of play it is best if animal characters are not used.  You may want to use some bundles of wheat and straw strewn about to give the scene a more realistic feel.

 

Mary is lying down beside the manger (feeding trough) and Joseph is sitting up.

 

Mary:                                     Joseph

 

Joseph:                        Yes Mary

 

Mary:                          How’s Jesus?

 

Joseph:                        He’s fine; He’s fine, I just checked on him.  This manger seems to have made a pretty good bed.

 

Mary:                          huh…

 

Joseph:                         Now Mary, you should try to get some rest.

 

A few moments of silence passes.

 

Mary:                          Joseph

 

Joseph:                        Yes Mary.

 

Mary:                          Do you remember when I told you how the angel of the Lord appeared to me and said that I would conceive and bring forth a Son and that his name was to be Jesus?

 

Joseph:                        Yes, I remember.

 

Mary:                          And then the angel said that this child shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

 

Joseph:                        Yes, yes I remember, and he also said that he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 

Mary:                          But then why, why have we ended up here in this smelly place and our son, Jesus, wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.

 

Joseph:                        Oh Mary, I understand how you feel but we must place our trust in the Lord.  I’m sure he knows our situation and that He will cause even this to work out for good.

 

Mary:                          I know Joseph, I know.

 

Mary:                          (startled and scared): Joseph, someone is here!

 

Joseph, startled, gets up quickly

 

Joseph:                         (stumbling over his words, and moving towards the visitors) What do you... can I help you?  My wife... shes just had a baby.

 

Father:                        (Very excited) Yes, yes, praise God that's why we came.

 

Joseph:                        What, what do you mean?

 

Father:                        That is why we are here!  An angel of the Lord appeared to us and said that the Christ is born and that we would find him wrapped in rags and lying in a manger!  [Father turns to the others] look everyone it is true, it’s just as it was told to us!

 

Joseph:                        (pausing at first) Then please, dear brothers, come and see.

 

The shepherds gather around the manger to see the child. After a few moments Omar enters the manger scene, running and out of breath. He observes his family gathered around the child and moves right up to see. 

 

Omar:                          Look at these rags, (he picks up a piece of cloth) these beautiful rags and… in a manger and…[raising his hands towards heaven and shouts] Praise God the Messiah is born!

 

Omar falls to his knees in worship with his head bowed low to the ground. The other shepherds look at Omar and also bow down to worship. During this time Mary and Joseph are watching the shepherds and turn to look at each other in amazement. The lights grow very dim.  All actors freeze for a few seconds to signal that the drama is over. 

 

Benjamin steps forward out of character to address the audience. A spot light shines on him.

 

Benjamin:                    What Grandfather said really is true. Through the years God has worked in mighty ways through men and women who were humble, poor in spirit you might say. So it is only fitting that when God sent his Son it would be in keeping with how God had worked in the past.

 

Father steps forward to address the audience out of character. The spotlight moves to him.

 

Father:                        Before Jesus came into this world, he was with His Father in heaven and was clothed in glory and power and surrounded by praise and adoration. But the bible tells us, that Christ left all the glory of heaven and humbled himself and became a man.

 

Omar steps forward to address the audience. The spotlight moves to him.

 

Omar:                          My dream about the Messiah’s coming in glory and power is not far fetched at all, but is found in the scriptures. What I didn't know was that the first time the Messiah would come it would be in humility, as the Lamb of God. The next time Jesus comes He will not come in humility but in glory and power.  The bible tells us that he will be revealed from heaven in flames of fire with thousands upon thousands of angels accompanying Him. At that time He will judge the living and the dead and to sift those who have faith in Him from those who do not.

 

Joseph steps forward to address the audience. The spotlight moves to him.

 

Joseph:                        In the same way Jesus came to us, we must also come to him, in humility.  Jesus said ‘truly I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that who ever believes in Him will not perish but shall have eternal life.  Will you not receive Jesus into you life tonight and experience first hand what Christmas is really about?           

 

On behalf of our Sunday School class, we hope that each one of you will have a wonderful and meaningful Christmas.  God Bless You!