What Name Is Given in Bethlehem?

A Christmas Drama

Participants

  • Two Readers
  • Six Choral Readers (three “First Choral Readers” and three “Second Choral Readers”)
  • Soloist
  • Four Umbrella People
  • Mary
  • Seeker
  • Accuser
  • Sick woman

Props

  • Five umbrellas:

    • red—the blood of Christ (salvation)
    • green—green pastures (protection)
    • blue—the heavens/the height of God’s love
    • yellow—the glory of God
    • black—evil (the black umbrella needs a hooked handle)
  • easel
  • posterboard with the word “Jesus” written in large letters
  • cross, 7 to 8 feet tall (approx. 2.5 meters)
  • stool

Set

  • Reader 1 and First Choral Readers, stage left
  • Reader 2 and Second Choral Readers, stage right
  • Stool, stage left
  • The Umbrella People, each holding one of the colored umbrellas, form a line on stage in
  • This order: red, green, blue, yellow. They maintain that order throughout the drama when they are on stage. When Reader 1 reads “shelter” they lift their open umbrellas just above their heads.

Reader 1: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Ps. 91:1)

[As the next section is read, the Umbrella People raise their umbrellas as high as they can and lift their other arms in praise.]

Reader 2: Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. (Ps. 29:2a)

Reader 1: Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

Reader 2: Past. Present. Future.

Reader 1: In all times and in all places, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. (Ps. 29:2a)

Reader 2: He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 22:13)

[The choral readers speak jubilantly.]

First Choral Readers: The Alpha.

Second Choral Readers: The Omega.

First Choral Readers: The First.

Second Choral Readers: The Last.

First Choral Readers: The Beginning.

Second Choral Readers: The End.

[Mary, carrying an imaginary baby, comes on stage. The Umbrella People gather around her, two to each side, holding their umbrellas around her just below waist level.]

Reader 1: The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End was born in Bethlehem.

Reader 2: Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7)

Solo: “That Boy-Child of Mary” PH 55, PsH 352, WR 211 (refrain, then stanza 1)

[Seeker comes on stage and cautiously approaches the Umbrella People and Mary, who don’t acknowledge him/her. He/she peers at the imaginary baby, slowly walks around the group, then sits on the stool and continues to watch the group.]

Reader 1: What name is given in Bethlehem to the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End?

[As the soloist sings the next stanza, the Umbrella People kneel in a circle around Mary.]

Solo: “That Boy-Child of Mary” (refrain, then stanza 2)

[The Choral Readers speak jubilantly.]

First Choral Readers: Jesu.

Second Choral Readers: God ever with us.

First Choral Readers: God given for us.

Second Choral Readers: In Bethlehem.

[As the next section is sung and read, the Umbrella People stand and hold their umbrellas above Mary. In a slow procession, they exit the stage. Seeker, looking perplexed, walks to center stage and watches them leave.]

Solo: “That Boy-Child of Mary” (refrain, then stanza 3)

[The Choral Readers speak jubilantly.]

First Choral Readers: He came to save us.

Second Choral Readers: He came to help us.

First Choral Readers: Born here among us.

Second Choral Readers: In Bethlehem.

Reader 1: Why did Jesus come to save us? Why did he come to help us?

[As the next section is read, Accuser, carrying a closed black umbrella, walks arrogantly on stage. Seeker spots Accuser and rushes back to the stool. Accuser doesn’t acknowledge Seeker.]

Reader 2: In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lies. They didn’t want to ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. They didn’t want to dwell in the shelter of the Most High or rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Reader 1: Instead, they wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to dwell in the shelter of their own proud schemes and rest in the shadow of their own initiatives.

Reader 2: And all people are like them.

Reader 1: They made names for themselves. And we make names for ourselves. But they aren’t beautiful names.

[As the next section is read, Accuser repeatedly stabs the black umbrella at the audience, walking agitatedly across the stage. Seeker cowers. The choral readers speak accusingly.]

First Choral Readers: Liar.

Second Choral Readers: Liar.

First Choral Readers: Murderer.

Second Choral Readers: Murderer.

First Choral Readers: Boaster.

Second Choral Readers: Boaster.

First Choral Readers: Thief.

Second Choral Readers: Thief.

First Choral Readers: Adulterer.

Second Choral Readers: Adulterer.

First Choral Readers: Sinner.

Second Choral Readers: Sinner.

[As the next section is read, Accuser exits the stage. Seeker gets up and watches Accuser leave.]

Reader 1: The names apply to us, even though we so rarely understand that. We are, however, good at calling other people names, even if we don’t say them out loud. Name-callers, that’s what we are, judging other people’s sins and failing to see our own.

[As the next section is read, the Umbrella People return to the stage. Two of them carry an easel between them that is holding a posterboard with “Jesus” written on it. The other two each carry two umbrellas. Seeker sees them approaching and scurries back to the stool to watch.]

Reader 2: As name-callers who bear broken names, we needed to be rescued by a greater, perfect Name.

[As the next section is read, the two Umbrella People who are holding the easel set it down at center stage. The Umbrella People use their umbrellas to frame the poster.]

Reader 1: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)

[The Choral Readers speak jubilantly.]

First Choral Readers: Wonderful Counselor.

Second Choral Readers: Mighty God.

First Choral Readers: Everlasting Father.

Second Choral Readers: Prince of Peace.

[The Umbrella People step back and stand by the back wall of the stage, with their heads down. Seeker walks over to the easel and slowly and thoughtfully traces the letters JESUS. When finished, Seeker returns to the stool, deep in thought. As the next scenes transpire, Seeker watches with interest.]

[As the next section is read, Sick Woman comes on stage and walks to the easel where she begins to trace the letters JESUS. At the same time, Accuser comes on stage and approaches her.]

Reader 1: Years later, Jesus began his earthly ministry. Often, large crowds followed him and pressed around him. On one such occasion, a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. (Thus she was ceremonially unclean.)

[As the next section is read, Accuser points accusingly at Sick Woman and she stops tracing the letters. The Choral Readers speak accusingly.]

First Choral Readers: Outsider.

Second Choral Readers: Unclean.

First Choral Readers: Pitiful.

Second Choral Readers: Shunned.

[As the next section is read, Sick Woman resumes tracing the letters. Accuser glares at her.]

Reader 2: She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

[As the next section is read, Accuser points accusingly at Sick Woman and she stops tracing the letters. The Choral Readers speak accusingly.]

First Choral Readers: Afflicted.

Second Choral Readers: Poor.

First Choral Readers: Penniless.

Second Choral Readers: Loser.

[As the next section is read, Sick Woman resumes tracing the letters. Accuser glares at her.]

Reader 1: When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

[As the next section is read, Accuser points accusingly at Sick Woman and she stops tracing the letters. The Choral Readers speak accusingly.]

First Choral Readers: Desperate fool.

Second Choral Readers: Deluded idiot.

[As the next section is read, Sick Woman shows her surprise at being healed.]

Reader 2: Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

Reader 1: “You see the people crowding around you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

Reader 2: But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

[The Umbrella People step forward and point their umbrellas at Accuser. Accuser opens the black umbrella, as if to ward them off. Accuser stumbles backward, then skulks off the stage cowering beneath the black umbrella.]

[The Choral Readers speak jubilantly.]

First Choral Readers: Truth-teller.

Second Choral Readers: Truth-teller.

Reader 1: [Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:24b-34)

[The Choral Readers speak jubilantly.]

First Choral Readers: Believer.

Second Choral Readers: Believer.

First Choral Readers: Beloved daughter.

Second Choral Readers: Beloved daughter.

First Choral Readers: Child of God.

Second Choral Readers: Child of God.

Reader 1: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Ps. 91:1)

[Green Umbrella Person steps forward with Sick Woman and holds the umbrella above her head.]

Reader 2: The Lord is my shepherd. . . . He makes me lie down in green pastures. (Ps. 23:1a, 2a)

[Green Umbrella Person steps back and Sick Woman remains where she is. Blue Umbrella Person steps forward and holds the umbrella above Sick Woman’s head.]

Reader 1: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:11-12)

[Blue Umbrella Person steps back and Sick Woman remains where she is. Red Umbrella Person steps forward and holds the umbrella above Sick Woman’s head.]

Reader 2: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! (Rev. 1:5b-6)

[Red Umbrella Person steps back and Sick Woman remains where she is. Yellow Umbrella Person steps forward and holds the umbrella above Sick Woman’s head.]

Reader 1: Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. (Ps. 34:3)

[As the solo is sung, the Umbrella People dance around Sick Woman and twirl their umbrellas joyfully.]

Solo: “Beautiful Savior” LUYH 17, PsH 461, WR 105

[The Umbrella People and Sick Woman exit the stage. Three Umrella People prepare to carry the cross up the center aisle when indicated. Seeker gets up from the stool and watches them go. As the next section is read, Seeker walks over to the easel and slowly and thoughtfully once again traces the letters JESUS.]

Reader 2: While Jesus was on earth, many people wondered about his identity. Aware of that, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27b)

Reader 1: They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8:28)

[As the next section is read, Seeker turns to the audience and points at himself/herself, as if to say, “Are you asking me?”]

Reader 2: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:2a)

[As the next line is read, Seeker lifts his/her hands in praise.]

Reader 1: Then one of his disciples, Peter, answered, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29b)

[Seeker steps forward as he/she notices three of the Umbrella People carrying the cross down the center aisle. He/she quickly picks up the easel and carries it back to the stool. The Umbrella People set the cross at center stage. The fourth Umbrella Person carries the black umbrella. He/she opens it and hangs it on the cross as the others watch. As the next section is read, Seeker joins the Umbrella People kneeling by the cross and hanging their heads in shame.]

Reader 1: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

Reader 2: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. (Rom. 3:23-25a)

[Seeker returns to the stool. The Umbrella People exit the stage.]

Solo: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” LUYH 175, PH 100/101, PsH 384, TH 252, WR 261

[Moment of silence.]

[As the next solo is sung, the Umbrella People return to the stage, joyfully dancing and twirling their open umbrellas. One of the Umbrella People takes the open black umbrella off the cross and leans it against the cross. One by one, the Umbrella People place their open umbrellas over the black umbrella. The yellow one is placed on the very top of all the others. Seeker watches them as they raise their hands in praise.]

Solo: “A Shout Rings Out, a Joyful Voice” PsH 392

[The Umbrella People exit the stage.]

Reader 2: What name do you give to the baby in the manger?

Seeker: I came to Bethlehem to see a newborn child,
and saw the Son of God and Son of Man.
Creator of the winds and waves,
Ancient of Days,
once high enthroned, then sleeping babe.
Without the eyes of faith to see,
I’d never have known the Prince before me.
I would have said it could not be.
How could the great I AM wear baby flesh like you and me?
How could the eternal Word be written in earthbound script?

But . . . the Branch of Jesse boundaries shred,
no longer shrouded in my doubts.
The Lamb of God tore limits loose
for our own good, to set us free.
Salvation lay in manger wood
till on the splintered cross he hung,
till “It is finished!” was his cry,
and Easter songs victoriously sung.
Now risen Christ, ascended high,
High Priest enthroned in rightful place,
pours out his love on you and me
with endless prayers and lavish grace.
(This poem originally appeared in Christian Courier, Dec. 2011, and is used here with permission. www.christiancourier.ca)

Reader 2: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Ps. 91:1)

[Seeker exits the stage.]

Solo: “Before the Throne of God Above” LUYH 682

Freelance writer Sonya VanderVeen Feddema (sonyavf55@hotmail.com) is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church, St. Catharines, Ontario. This drama was written after she visited refugee camps in Uganda and Kenya in March 2007 as a member of the Christian Reformed Church World Relief Committee’s refugee learning tour.