Ron B. De Boer is a teacher and writer in Kitchener, Ontario. He wrote this play for the children’s Christmas program at Community Christian Reformed Church in Kitchener.
Setting and Props
You’ll need a crèche setting for scenes 1 and 3: Mary and Joseph, a baby (or doll), and some shepherds and animals. (Note that these are not speaking parts.) Use a few props and simple costumes (towels for headgear, robes, and so on) to suggest the nativity scene. The rest of the play takes place in a contemporary urban setting. For Scene 3 you’ll need a few individuals with props to show something of what they are doing on Christmas Day: a boy with presents; someone hanging Christmas lights; someone cooking dinner; someone buying gifts; children with a sled. You’ll also need two signs: “December 25, a.d. 1” and “December 25, 1999” (or whatever year you are performing the drama).
Demetrius: both a first-century shepherd and a contemporary homeless man.
Hannah: a young woman or girl in contemporary dress
SCENE 1 : THE STABLE
Song: “Away in a Manger” PsH 348, 349; PH 24, 25; RL 213, 214, SFL 129; TH 204, 205; TWC 147, 149
[During the singing, the characters who take part in the crèche scene come in from the back, process down the aisle, and settle into their places. The “December 25, a.d. 1” sign hangs somewhere onstage. When the scene is set and the song is finished, Demetrius enters from the back, goes on stage, faces the congregation, and marvels at the birth of Jesus.]
Demetrius: Can it be? [Looks closely at manger scene, grows excited.] Is it true? Can what the shepherds say be true? [Looks at congregation.] The baby Jesus is born. It is true. Praise God! This is what the prophet Isaiah prophesied: “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders—and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Pauses.] Good night, Sweet Prince. [Lies down to go to sleep.]
Song: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” PsH 345; PH 31, 32; RL 196; TH 203; TWC 171
[During the singing of the hymn, all the characters in the manger scene (except Demetrius) get up and exit.]
SCENE 2 : KING STREET
Hannah enters, sees the shepherd Demetrius and, thinking he is a homeless man, wakes him up. The “December 25, 1999” sign hangs on the stage now in place of the first sign. Remove any “stable” props.]
Hannah: [Waking up Demetrius.] Excuse me. Are you OK? [Demetrius stirs.] I’ve brought you some nice hot soup to warm your insides. [Demetrius sits up, rubs eyes, looks around; Hannah gives him a blanket.] It’s Christmas, you know. Christmas morning. It snowed so much last night! I was worried someone might be out here in the cold.
Demetrius: [Looks around, startled.] The child? [Jumps to his feet suddenly.] Where’s the child?
Hannah: You’re cold, Mister. Keep the blanket around you.
Demetrius: [Walks to where the crèche was.] He was right here. The child sent by God.
Hannah: Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?
Demetrius: [Walks toward Hannah.] Where am I?
Hannah: You’re on King Street. This is [insert name of your city].
Demetrius: King Street? Is this a holy street? King Jesus’ street?
Hannah: [Smiles.] I guess it is. Why don’t you sit down and we’ll get some warm soup into you?
Demetrius: [Goes back to where he slept.] Was it all a dream? Is there no such person as baby Jesus?
Hannah: [Surprised.] Of course! It’s Christmas morning. This is the day Jesus was born!
Demetrius: [Looks at her sharply.] Then you have seen him?
Hannah: [With a big smile.] Oh, yes.
Demetrius: [Falls down on knees.] Please, I beg you. Tell me where he is. I’ve traveled many miles to see the child. I must tell my father that it is true—the boy Jesus has been born as the prophets told long ago.
Hannah: [Takes out Bible.] That’s only part of the story. The rest is written here—in the Bible. In Luke.
Demetrius: Luke? He is a prophet?
Hannah: [Eagerly, she thinks he’s an unbeliever.] You don’t know the Christmas story in Luke? I’d be happy to read it to you. [She reads Luke 2:8-20, ending with “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”]
Demetrius: [Hangs head.] Yes, yes, I was one of those shepherds. And suddenly, above us, angels appeared. “Glory to God in the highest,” they said. “And on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
[Looks at Hannah sadly.] It’s just a story? There really is no Christ child? [Walks away sadly.]
Hannah: But the Christ child was born. This is why we have Christmas every year. To remember that Jesus was born. [Demetrius continues walking away.] Where are you going?
Demetrius: To find Jesus. I saw him. I really saw him last night. And it wasn’t just a story either. I heard him crying in the stable. [Walks down one side of the stage. Hannah also leaves.]
SCENE 3: IT'S CHRISTMAS!
Song: “The First Noel” PH 56, RL 223, TWC 162
[During the singing, the stage fills up with individuals with props showing something of what they are doing for Christmas Day, see notes in “Setting and Props.” At the end of the song Demetrius comes forward; he stands facing congregation at center stage. Hannah also reenters, carrying more food or another blanket.]
Demetrius: I have never seen such sights in Bethlehem. These lights are like so many stars in the sky. And all these trees. Everyone brings a tree into their place of dwelling! This man with the white beard everyone talks about. He looks like a prophet, but he only laughs and laughs. And everyone is talking about toys. Toys, toys, toys. And the food. Everyone eating big fat birds that would make the kings of Egypt jealous. [Pauses.] Everyone here has a palace. [Thinks for a moment.] But where is Jesus? I must find Jesus and fall on my knees before him so that I know he is real. So I know he is here.
Song: “Silent Night” PsH 344, PH 60, RL 216, TH 210, TWC 164
[This song is hummed as Demetrius walks from one person to the next. He asks them if they’ve seen Jesus and each of them says no. He gestures by rocking an imaginary baby and pointing to the sky at the star. As the song ends, characters enacting the contemporary Christmas exit. Demetrius goes to center stage. Hannah approaches.]
Hannah: There you are. I’ve been looking all over town for you
Demetrius: And I have been looking all over town for Jesus. [Sadly.] But I have not found him. It was a dream. The whole thing was a story from a book and I dreamed it was true.
Hannah: You really don’t know the story of Jesus, do you? [Demetrius looks at her helplessly.] A lot of people I help—people on the street, I mean—well, they kid me around a lot. They tell me they don’t know Jesus, but deep down I know they do.
Demetrius: You help people who know Jesus? They have talked to Jesus?
Hannah: Yep. Because I told them about him. Says right here [indicates Bible] that’s the reason we’re here—to tell people about Jesus, to be like Jesus.
Demetrius: [Surprised.] I must be like a baby?
Hannah: [Laughs.] Sort of. Jesus was a baby long ago, but he didn’t stay that way. He grew up into a man and performed many wonderful miracles. He healed sick people; he told people to love each other and to help each other. Lots of people followed him everywhere. It’s all written right here.
Demetrius: [Takes Bible from Hannah’s hand.] I must get one of these.
Hannah: But then there’s a sad part. There were some people who didn’t love Jesus and who wanted to kill him.
Demetrius: Jesus is dead?
Hannah: [Lights up.] No. Jesus is alive! The Bible says God sent Jesus to the earth at Christmas so he could grow up and die for us. It was all part of God’s plan.
Jesus did die. But then he rose from the dead and went to heaven.
Demetrius: This is too much news in one day. [Holds heart.]
Hannah: But the best news of all is that he promised he would come back and bring us all to heaven. It’s written right here.
Demetrius: Jesus is not here then. [Slumps shoulders.]
Hannah: Oh yes he is! But in a different way. After God raised him from the dead he went back to heaven to be with his Father. But he sent his Spirit to live in our hearts. So he’s really here, in my heart. And I think he is telling you that he’d like to be in your heart too. We have a song that tells the whole story. Why not sing it with us?
Song: “Once in Royal David’s City” PsH 346, PH 49, RL 201, TH 225, TWC 161
[As the congregation sings, the characters from the crèche at the beginning of the play return to take their places onstage. Smiling, Hannah indicates the crèche to Demetrius during the first two stanzas. Then they all join the congregation in singing stanzas 3-5.]