The Leeds Minster Nativity Play.
This year’s nativity play has a part for everyone. Including you. Everyone gets to play the people of Bethlehem and the angels. But don’t worry, you don’t have to dress up. Unless you have brought a tea towel or a halo and want to.
N: (sings) A long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy bible says.
N2: well actually it all started in Nazareth.
N: [tries to sing] a long time ago in Na-na-na-zareth. [speaks] Oh that doesn’t sound so good. [carries on speaking] The angel Gabriel visited a teenager called Mary.
All: Greetings. You are highly favoured. God is with you.
Mary: [screams] An angel? What on earth does this mean?
Why is there never a sofa to hide behind when you need one.
All: Don’t be afraid Mary. God is really impressed with you. You are going to have a baby and you must call him Jesus. He will be great and will be known as the Son of God. God will give him King David’s throne and he will reign in Israel for ever.
Mary: How is that even possible? I’m not married. I haven’t even kissed anyone so how can I have a baby?
All: It will be a miracle. The power of the Holy Spirit will make this happen so that the baby can be called the Son of God. Even your old cousin Elizabeth is pregnant.
Mary: What? Elizabeth? Now that really is a miracle. She is ancient!
OK. Tell God that I will do anything that he wants me to do.
N: So Mary went to see Elizabeth. As soon as Elizabeth saw Mary, the Holy Spirit fell on her and she recognised that Mary was going to give birth to the Son of God. Mary was so impressed that she sang a best-selling song about it. The Magnificat.
Mary: no-one ever sent me any royalty cheques though and you sing it every week.
N2: Meanwhile, back in Syria.
Quirinius the governor: Tax them! We need to tax them. And we need to find out how many of them there are so they can PAY UP.
All: Boo! We don’t want to be taxed.
Governor: Tough! You will need to visit your home town.
All: Boo! We definitely don’t want to visit our grumpy relatives.
Governor: Well stay in a hotel then!
N: Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem.
Mary: The baby is coming!
N2: Hold on Mary. Joseph is going to find you somewhere to stay.
N: But Joseph was having problems. He tried the Travelodgeus, the Premiereus Inn and the Bethlehem station hotel.
All: No room here. You should have booked in advance.
N: So then he tried the boutique hotels
N2: He means the little scruffy ones.
All: No room here either.
N: and then he tried the Bethlehem Farm hotel.
At last he found a room there.
All: Oh no he didn’t.
N: Oh yes he did.
All: Oh no he didn’t.
N: Its behind you! In the stable. [points at the crib] Mary gave birth to Jesus there and placed him in the feeding trough.
N2: Meanwhile. There were shepherds living in the fields. Looking after their flocks by night. [shepherds enter]
Chief Shepherd; Its so boring minding sheep. Nothing interesting ever happens here.
All (sing) Glo-ooooooooooooria. In excelsis deo.
Glo-ooooooooooooria. In excelsis deo.
Chief shepherd: What’s going on? Am I dreaming.
All: No.We’re angels and this is real.
Chief shepherd: I’m not Robbie Williams. I don’t believe in angels.
All: You do now. Don’t be afraid. We’ve got good news. God has sent someone to save you and he’s just been born in Bethlehem. You’ll find him wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding trough.
Chief shepherd: Not in a cradle in a house then?
All: No. In a manger.
Chief shepherd: Come on shepherds. We’ve got to go and see this!
Wow! Its just like they said it was going to be. That baby is so amazing. He’s got a brilliant smile.
N: Meanwhile far far away in the East some very clever people were watching the skies. They had seen a star which showed that a new King of the Jews had been born.
N2: Being very clever. They realised that kings were usually born in palaces. So went to see Herod All: Boo! in his palace.
N1: You can tell by the booing that Herod All: Boo! was not a popular king.
Herod: Hi I'm king Herod, All: Boo! I’m THE king of the Jews. Some people say I'm not very nice. Just because I killed my brother-in-law, and executed two of my sons. But I'm a magnificent ruler and a great builder. I've built a temple, the biggest most beautiful temple ever in Jerusalem. Plus I've built a palace. I called it Herodian - after my favourite person - ME!!
N2: Just then, the travellers arrived, a servant announced that they had been following a star.
Herod: A STAR? Hahaha! What have they been doing that? I must meet these loopy people and see for myself.
King: Greetings your royal highness. We’re looking for the new born kind of the Jews. Where is he?
Herod: (angrily) King of the Jews? I’M the king of the Jews. There isn’t anyone else!
King: We’re looking for a new born baby. The star in the sky tells us that he has been born and we want to worship him. Have you just had a baby?
Herod: BABY? BABY!!! There is no baby here. What is this about? I know I’ll call my priests and ask them. They’re very clever. They must know.
N: So Herod (All: BOO!) asked his priests. They told him that the Messiah (the holy king) would be born in Bethlehem. That he was going to be a ruler to save the people. That he was going to look after them like a good shepherd.
Herod: Are you saying I’m NOT a good shepherd?
[All cough and splutter]
N: There must be germs around. The royal court seems to have had a coughing fit.
Herod: Now, you three. When did you first see this star in the sky?
King: A few months ago.
Herod: Well go to Bethlehem and find this child for me. And when you’ve got him come and tell me so I can go and worship him.
N2: We all know what sort of worship he means. One with a big pointy sword. (All: BOO!)
N1: Once the kings had set off for Bethlehem and were pointing in the right direction they saw the star again. They followed it all the way to where Baby Jesus was. Then they worshipped him and gave him presents.
N2: The first king gave him gold.
N1&All (sing): Money money, money. Must be funny. In a rich mans world.
N2: Baby kings need lots of gold to build things.
Herod: Like my brilliant temple and palace.
N2: and also pay their servants.
Herod: Haha! Pay my servants? That’s a new one.
N1: The second traveller gave him incense. It smells great. And when you set light to it the smoke rises to Heaven looking like our prayers rising to God. [All cough]
Herod: You didn’t have to light QUITE that much. It sets off my asthma. What weird presents? Why didn’t they just give him a rattle?
N1: Incense is used by priests and like a priest Jesus will help us get close to God.
King: I brought him myrrh. Its a kind of medicine which is good for healing wounds. Jesus will heal people too, just like a prophet. Also I have a strange feeling that he might need it for his own wounds one day.
N2: The wise travellers didn’t go back and see Herod though.
Herod: Where ARE those weird strangers? They didn’t come back! Bah! I know - I’ll kill ALL the babies in Bethlehem. I’m not having any other king getting in the way.
N1: Good job an angel appeared in a dream.
Angel (All): Mary! Joseph! Run away from here. Go to Egypt where you will be safe.
N2: The angel warned the three kings too.
Angel (All): Go home by a different route.
N1: But they were very glad to meet the baby King who was going to save not just the Jewish people, not just the Romans. But the whole world including people like them, and people like us, from nations very far away. THE END.
All: Or is it only the beginning?