It is not exactly a work of art, but the creative direction of Karen Fallan, the artistic genius of Jenni Jennings, the gentle coordinating power of Barbara DiLucca, and the extraordinary musical and acting gifts of so many willing participants took this script and created a magical gift of Christmas beauty and joy. It really was:

The Greatest Gift

December 2018 by Karen Fallan and Christopher Page

Introduction scene:

Star Gazing Scene

A: Wow, we can see so many stars tonight

B: I see the big dipper

C: What’s that?

A: A group of 7 bright stars, it looks like a soup ladle. Do you see it?

C: I see it!

B: I just saw a shooting star!

C: Cool!

D: I don’t see shooting stars or the big ….. Whatever it’s called.  I just see stars. Lots of stars.

A: Isn’t it magical?

B: I could just stare at them all for hours

C: Me too.  I think there must be a million up there.

A: My teacher told me that’s impossible. Even if it’s really dark out, and someone has really good eyesight they could see up to 2000 stars, but that’s rare.

D: That’s still a lot of stars!

B: Did you know that every star is actually bigger and brighter than the sun?

C: Really? But they seem so small compared to the sun

A: I heard the stars don’t actually twinkle like the song says they do.

D: Ha.  My little sister makes me sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” ALL the time.

A: I wonder how many songs have been written about stars….

B: hmmmmm.  I feel like I hear songs about stars all the time on the radio

C: At my church at Christmas we always sing the song that goes like….“A star a star shining in the night with a tail as big as a kite, with a tail as big as a kite”

D: My mom’s favourite song is How Great Thou Art because she says the first verse reminds her how God’s love can be found everywhere, even in the stars.

A: I know that song.  It goes…“I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder Thy power throughout the universe displayed”

D: Yes, that’s the part!

B: What’s the song that the wise men sing?

C: You mean… “Star of wonder star of light, star with royal beauty bright”

D: What does that even mean?

Linnea comes from back of church

Linnea: Girls (call it out slowly), where are you?

A: Over here

Linnea: My mom told me to tell you to come now because it’s time for the Christmas Pageant.

B: Ok, just a minute, we’re coming

Linnea: Hurry, my Grandpa always says you never want to be late for the Christmas pageant!

All kids mutter different comments like “ok”, “coming”, “yea yea”

Girls run to back of church.  The mics are given to the wisemen.

Melchior

Balthazar   

Gaspar  

[empty stage. no music. organ plays intro to “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. Lyrics appear on overhead. Two Magi begin to process down aisle. Beginning second verse third Magi comes running down side aisle shouting]

M – NO NO STOP… STOP… WAIT… HOLD IT

[organ trails off, other two Magi have made it onto the stage, M arrives running]

M – You’ve got it all wrong. This is not how it begins…. We come at the end of the story, not the beginning. Can’t you guys get anything right? [turns to audience]

M – You see, they really want to tell the story their way, because they don’t like the way it really happened. They don’t like the fact that it was my idea from the beginning.

B&G [together] – Oh yes…his idea.

M – Those clowns are Balthazar and Gaspar. I’m Melchior. We travelled together; but it was my idea to make the journey.

B – We had all been watching the heavens for a long time. That’s what Magi do.

G – We watch and wait and wonder about things other people might ignore.

B – But I was the first one to see that star.

M – It was a pretty bright star.

G – So bright.

B – And in a part of the heavens where we had never before seen such a star.

G – And it was moving!

M&B – It’s true. It was a moving star. [child walks across stage carrying star on stick]

SONG

M – So, what do you do when you see a moving star?

B – If you’re smart you probably give your head a shake and go back to bed.

G – But I felt it was a sign. It was trying to tell us something, something incredibly important.

M – So, I said, “If this star is on the move, we should follow it.” [child again walks across stage carrying star on stick] And that is how our journey began. It was my idea.

G – It seems the whole thing actually got started long before we saw that star. It started with a priest named Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth had no children.

[Zechariah and Elizabeth come on stage]

B – Such a shameful thing to be childless.

M – Zechariah was on duty to go into the temple. [Zechariah moves aside from Elizabeth and kneels in prayer]

B – That’s what priests do you know. They hang out in temples. I don’t know what they do there, probably nothing very useful.

M – Whatever they do, I don’t think they see angels very often, [Gabriel appears on stage speaking to Zechariah] or hear voices…

G – … especially voices telling them that their ancient wife is going to have a baby boy and his name is going to be John.

B – Crazy!

M – But that is what happened. Elizabeth got pregnant.

G – It was a miracle!

M – And while Elizabeth was waiting for her baby to be born [Zechariah exits, Mary enters] her cousin Mary came to visit.

B – And they had this big emotional thing together because something happened inside Elizabeth. When Mary said “Hi” Elizabeth felt like her baby heard Mary’s voice and got all excited.

G – It was a sign. God was moving and touching their lives and preparing the people for something amazing.

[SONG – Elizabeth and Mary exit]

M – Then there was this creepy guy named Augustus. [Emperor enters]

B – He was the emperor. He wanted everyone to return to the town where they had been born so they could all be counted and Augusts would know how many people he ruled over.

G – Why would he do that?

B – probably so he could figure out how much money he could squeeze out of everyone to pay for the armies he needed to keep all the people he ruled under control.

M – It was a restless time in Galilee…. And there was this young guy named Joseph [enter with hammer and saw]…. he was a carpenter. He built things…

B – That’s what carpenters do. But, in those days, carpenters didn’t get paid much. So Joseph was pretty poor.

G – But Joseph was happy because he was going to get married to Mary [enter] and he really liked her. Isn’t this a nice story.

M – But, because Joseph had been born in Bethlehem, before he could get married he had to make a journey home to be counted by Augustus like all the other people.

G – But what to do with Mary? That was the problem. Because you see things got kind of messed up before Joseph could make his trip. [Joseph exits] back to Bethlehem.

M – It was that angel guy again, the one who told Zechariah [Zechariah returns on stage, waves and leaves]…. about Elizabeth [runs on stage carrying child and leaves] having a baby boy [Gabriel enters stands before Mary] And the angel told Mary crazy stuff.

G –  He said Mary was going to get pregnant…

M – ….BEFORE she got married to Joseph [Joseph appears briefly on stage with gesture of shock, then leaves]

B – And that is a real problem.

M – Mary thought the angel was nuts, but finally she said, “Well ok if that’s what God really wants, who am I to complain?”

B – And the angel said this baby was going to be a gift from God and his name would be Jesus.

G – Which means “God saves us”.

M – [Joseph returns on stage] Somehow Joseph got wind of all this. He heard that the girl he was supposed to be getting married to was already pregnant!

G – oooppps!

B – I guess Mary must have told him [Joseph and Mary in conversation]

M – Boy that must have been an awkward conversation.

B – But Joseph was a good guy and he didn’t want Mary to get in really bad trouble, so he decided he wouldn’t tell anyone that she was pregnant and that he wasn’t the baby’s dad… Instead, Joseph decided to let Mary go, so she could marry the baby’s father and not get into really bad trouble.

G – But somehow everything got all turned around and Joseph didn’t dump Mary. And Mary didn’t go off with the father of the baby.

M – It was that angel guy again [angel enter]. He showed up and had a chat with Joseph.

B – Apparently, he told Joseph everything would be ok, because the baby was from God. So Joseph should take Mary to be his wife even though she was pregnant…. seriously, how crazy is that?

G – It’s beautiful… and that’s what happened. [Mary and Joseph meet on stage and embrace]…  Joseph took Mary along with him to Bethlehem [Mary and Joseph journeying]

G – Joseph was a pretty good guy.

[SONG]

M – But when they finally got to Bethlehem, it was crazy time.

B – People had come from all over the place because of Augustus making everyone go to their home town to be counted.

M – And Bethlehem was a pretty small town. All the hotels were full; there was not an empty bed in the whole place.

G – And Mary was pregnant and really tired and she was feeling like maybe the baby was coming and maybe it was time to find a bed.

B – [to audience] Have you ever tried having a baby in the street surrounded by crowds?

M – Joseph was getting pretty panicky running around knocking on doors trying to find a place for Mary to lie down. [Joseph running around stage knocking on imaginary doors being turned away]

M – Finally an inn keeper said they could sleep in the shed behind his inn.

G – In the straw

M – With the animals

G – Yuck, imagine that… gross

M – But it was the best they could do. So, Joseph and Mary settled for the night in their lovely accommodation [Mary and Joseph settling down stage left]

SONG

M – Now the story gets really weird. There were some shepherds out in the fields looking after their sheep [shepherds and sheep enter stage right]

B – Why would you bring shepherds into the story?

G – Because they were there.

B – But everyone knows shepherds are pretty sketchy characters. They move around a lot and it seems that wherever they show up things mysteriously disappear.  And shepherds don’t go to the temple because they have to look after their sheep, and they are not all that clean either. They really don’t help the story at all.

G – But they were there… and that angel guy showed up again.

M – with a bunch of buddies [Gabriel enter stage right with angel choir]

SONG

B – Man too many angels in this story.

M – And the shepherds were pretty freaked out.

G – The angel told the shepherds a baby was being born that day in Bethlehem.

B – That’s no big news. Babies are born every day.

G – But the angel said this was a special baby who would bring peace to all people.

B – I’m pretty sure any real shepherds would have thought this whole thing was nuts.

M – Maybe they did.

G – Or maybe they didn’t because they got their sheep all organized into an enclosure [shepherds gather sheep in corner] and set off to Bethlehem to see what was going on.

SONG

[shepherds walk to Mary and Joseph, angels move to back of stage but remain on stage]

M – And when the shepherds got to where Mary and Joseph were…

G – Sure enough. There was a baby!

B – Who would have thought?

M – And the shepherds told Mary and Joseph about the angels they had seen out in the fields.

B – By now Joseph, who was usually a pretty sensible guy, was ready to believe just about anything.

G – And Mary just accepted that what the shepherds said was obviously true and she trusted that this whole thing was from God and that some great miracle was happening.

M – Then the shepherds went back to their sheep [shepherds rejoin sheep stage right, but remain on stage]

G – Now we’re getting to the really good part of the story.

M – You remember… we Magi had seen this star [child carrying star crosses stage] and had set out to follow that star because we believed it was showing us something special.

B – I know… crazy isn’t it? and they call us “wise men”!

[“We three kings of orient are” organ music starts – Magi leave stage, go to back and process down centre aisle, lyrics appear on screen, Magi enter stage left and kneel before Mary, Joseph, and baby]

G – And when we got there and saw that baby and his mother with Joseph…

B – I know, I know, even I have to admit, there was something there.

M – It was strangely peaceful.

G – And gentle.

M – There was a mysterious presence in that place.

G – Everyone was touched by it.

M – No one who saw it was ever quite the same after.

B – It’s true. I felt that there was something inside me that opened up that day. I really wanted to trust it… all that beauty; it felt so strong. And I try now to stay close to that feeling inside me, but then it goes away again.

G – Balthazzar that feeling has a name you know.

B – I know, you always call it “love”.

G – Because that’s what it is.

M – And that baby grew up into a man who showed the world that love is the strongest force in all of life.

G – And that is the greatest gift of all.

[SONG]

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