Christmas Eve Instant Pageant: “A Very Special Night”
Below is a short (5 to 7 minute) INSTANT PAGEANT for Christmas Eve. What is an instant pageant? It is a story read by a narrator or narrators where the other characters are selected “instantly” before the story is ready by willing individuals/groups. For example, the famed Bethlehem star could be a “character” and every time it is mentioned in the story, those who volunteered to be the star could make a twinkling sound (whatever that sounds like!). It is possible for everyone in the congregation to have at least one part. Simple, fun, multi-generational way to tell a story and get everyone involved.
“A Very Special Night”
Parts and Sounds:
Innkeeper: “Outside! Outside!”
Stars: “Twinkle” (wiggle fingers in the air!)
Bethlehem: “City of David”
Mary: “I’m bursting with joy”
Joseph: “I will do it!”
It had been a long journey. The emperor had ordered that all people in the Roman Empire were to be counted. This meant that MARY and JOSEPH, who were engaged to be married, had to travel from Nazareth to BETHLEHEM. It was more than 100 miles so JOSEPH said to himself: “We cannot walk the whole way! MARY is pregnant and it is so far. We must find some DONKEYS to ride.
Luckily, the couple had a friend who had two DONKEYS to spare and she agreed to loan them to MARY and JOSEPH. Soon, after packing and preparing, the couple was on their way. As I said before, it was a long journey. And while it was hard, the two DONKEYS used the time to talk and to laugh and to tell stories. You see, the DONKEYS had only recently met and knew nothing about one another. Quickly though they exchanged names.
“I am Haybale,” said the chubby DONKEY.
“And I am Myway,” said the stubborn DONKEY. Well…it didn’t take long after exchanging names for the two to become friends. In the days it took them to travel to BETHLEHEM they talked, and laughed, and carried on…you know…as DONKEYS do. As much fun as they were having though, Haybale and Myway, couldn’t help but wonder where they were going and why they were going there.
“Why,” they asked one another, “would a pregnant woman undertake such a long journey. And why,” they wondered even more, “would they go to backwater BETHLEHEM of all places.” Well, for all of their wondering they could not figure it out. MARY and JOSEPH weren’t sharing anything with them. The strangers they came across knew nothing. Certainly the SHEEP they met along the way didn’t know. (But then again SHEEP never seemed to know anything).
Finally, after some days of hard journeying, MARY and JOSEPH and the DONKEYS arrived in BETHLEHEM. Weary, pregnant, and road worn as they were…they were to find no soft beds. They tried all of the inns but none had any room (at least not for them!!). So there they were, MARY and JOSEPH and the DONKEYS in BETHLEHEM…with no place to go, no roof above their heads and only the twinkling STARS to keep them company.
Then, it happened. An INNKEEPER came upon the weary band who had plopped in front of his Inn. “Oh, good evening,” said the INNKEEPER. “I hate to trouble,” you he continued, “but this is not a good place for you to stop. You see, I have customers and it doesn’t look good to have, well, people, loitering. You can understand, I’m sure.” His words though fell upon exhausted ears.
JOSEPH just frowned…MARY just groaned…and the DONKEYS brayed defiantly.
“Oh dear,” thought the INNKEEPER. “This will never do.” And so he pondered for a moment about what to do as the STARS shined overhead and MARY groaned ever louder. Suddenly the INNKEEPER shouted, “ah! I have an idea. It’s not ideal, I know that, but it is a roof over your heads and a safe place to go. I give you my stable for the night. No charge. But you must be quick!”
Well the INNKEEPER was right about their need to be quick…and not just because the weary band was bad for business. You see, MARY’S time had come. She was going to have a baby! And so quickly, JOSEPH took MARY by the hand and together they led the DONKEYS into the stable.
It was there that much happened rapidly. Soon MARY’S labor intensified. JOSEPH did what he could with what he had but mostly he just paced around nervously. The SHEEP bleated…and of course, the STARS hung high in the sky over all that was happening. It wasn’t easy of course…MARY labored long into the night…but finally, it happened…the tiny baby JESUS was born into the world. And after a time, MARY wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger.
Oh…you might think this is the end of the story, but it’s not. For do you remember the DONKEYS? Do you remember all their wondering about where they were headed and why they were headed there? And so…as MARY and JOSEPH stared lovingly at their new baby JESUS, Haybale and Myway tried to make sense of it all.
“Ok,” began Haybale trying to piece things together,” so you’ve got this emperor who wants all the people counted. You’ve got a young pregnant couple and a 100 mile journey. Then you’ve got a worried INNKEEPER, STARS in the sky, and finally this baby JESUS. It all seems unusual to me. I don’t know…it just seems special somehow.” And with that word SPECIAL something clicked for Myway.
“Yes, that’s it!” Myway shouted, “this isn’t just another couple…this isn’t just another journey…this isn’t just another night…and this isn’t just another baby. This is special! Believe it or not, Haybale, you and I are part of something very special indeed.”
Well…Haybale and Myway didn’t realize it at the time of course, but they were more right than they knew. For this one night in BETHLEHEM was so very special. And so very special not just for them, not just for MARY and JOSEPH, but for everyone…and for you and for me.
You see…it was many years later, when Haybale and Myway were very old, that it became clear to them just how very special that night in BETHLEHEM was. JESUS was grown now. He was making a name for himself. He was healing and feeding and teaching and many people were excited about him. He was saying things no one had said before and people were wondering what he was going to do next. And then one day, word came to Haybale and Myway in Nazareth. It seems one of their friends down in Jerusalem had given a ride to JESUS. Apparently, JESUS had come into Jerusalem…riding like a triumphant King while the people sang “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Some were calling him the Messiah. Some were saying he had come to save all. Some were calling him God. And it seemed that he was changing everything for everybody.
It had taken many years for it all to make sense. But when Haybale and Myway heard this exciting news about who JESUS had turned out to be, they looked at one another and said: “I guess we were right. That night so long ago in BETHLEHEM was like no other. It was a VERY SPECIAL NIGHT.”
© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2013