A Journey of Imagination and Hope.
by Fred Passmore copyight 2006
At last! A Christmas play with no lines to memorize! One that all ages can be a part of: children, teens, adults and even seniors. You'll have an easier time recruiting cast members when they hear there are no lines to learn. The play is 40 minutes long, the length of the soundtrack CD.
Note: This play is intended to be performed to the pre-recorded soundtrack. Permission to perform this particular script is given only if you are using the soundtrack. It was written to go with the narration, background music and multiple mixed sound effects, and performing it without that would be a mis-use that results in a lessened impact.
Synopsis: In a script that is performed without actor lines, only narration supplied on the soundtrack CD, a young crippled boy in a children's home spends Christmas Eve listening to the Nativity Story on the radio. As his imagination pictures the scene, the audience sees it acted out while the story is told. Woven in between the radio segments are dramatic encounters that lead to the boy finding that family is not always limited to flesh and blood kin. A simple but moving story that is easy to learn and do.
Setting: The stage is divided between the orphanage activity room that is decorated for Christmas, and the stable where Jesus is born. A Christmas tree is needed, with a table where a radio and a miniature creche is set up. On the stable side, it can be as realistic or as simple as you desire. At least, have some hay and a manger for the baby to lay in. IDEA: painted backdrops can add a lot to a stage set without building much. Here is a page from another site that offers some ideas and tips on using this proven theatrical device.
Characters: Daniel, the main character, is a ten year old boy in a wheelchair. At the very end of the play, an adult is needed to portray the grown-up Daniel. Grandpa, who is not seen, only heard on the radio. Miss Dickenson is an older adult, a senior in her late 50's or early 60's, or even older. Dr. Spencer, in an adult. The janitor/gardener Mr. Clements is in his 60's. The Shepherds, of which there may be five or six, can be played by teens and older. Mary and Joseph. Mary can be played by a teen, Joseph can be a few years older, an adult. The Innkeeper is an adult. The Children at the orphanage, of which there can be as many as you'd like, are all different ages, younger than 10. There is a brief appearance at the end of the now-grown Daniel, aged about 30, his young daughter and younger son, and his wife Fran, also about 30.
Extras: You may cast as many extras as you wish for the orphanage scenes and Nativity scenes. You are only limited by how many interested people you have! The more extras you have as townspeople in Bethlehem, or children and helpers at the orphanage, the better.
CASTING NOTES: Please, cast age-appropriate actors for the roles, where at all possible. Seeing children play Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, etc., in church Christmas plays may be cute, but it's not right for this one. Use children for the children's roles, and teens or adults for the shepherds, and adults for the grown-up parts. Otherwise, what is a serious drama will look extremely silly. You can get by with a teen playing an adult or an adult playing a senior; but you can't get by with a 6 year old trying to play anything other than a kid. Don't even think about it with this play. Seriously.
Special Costumes: Robes for all the Biblical characters. A Santa Suit for Mr. Clements as he plays "Santa's helper." Dr. Spencer is dressed in a suit, as Doctors usually are. He wears glasses.
Props: A wheelchair. Table top radio. (The older or more antique it looks the better.) A tabletop manger scene. A pocket New Testament. Wrapped boxes representing Christmas presents for the children. Candles or an oil lamp. (Here is a site that sells authentic-looking oil lamps.) Hint: For a quick and cheap solution, you could simply cut out an oil lamp-shape from a piece of cardboard, paint it brown, and tape a battery-operated flicker bulb to the back, to fake it for a few moments. Use the page link given to get an idea of the shape.
Promotional Material: Here is a large graphic of the play artwork that you can download and use for your ads or bulletins announcements. Once it opens, right-click on the image and select "save picture as" to the directory of your choice.
Performance time: 40 minutes, the length of the soundtrack CD.
Soundtrack: This script is completely dependant on the recorded soundtrack. This pre-recorded CD is professionally done, with all of the narration, music and sound effects already mixed. Make it easy on yourself: get the CD! Every single line that you read in the script below (except for the stage directions, of course) is on the soundtrack, performed by professional voice artists, mixed with movie-quality background music and sound effects. All you will need to do is act along with the CD.
NOTE: This particular soundtrack CD has the narration mixed with the music and effects. It does not have the separate effects and music tracks for your own narration, as some of the other CDs do. This is due to the length of the play and large amount of background music and sound effects mixed in with it. The play is intended to be done using the CD to make it easier, which is the whole point of the narrated format. It could never be narrated live and stay in sync with the large amount of music and effects.
Idea: Order extra copies of the CD at just $5 each to hand out to your main players to take home and get familiar with between rehearsals! You will find the option for this when ordering.
The soundtrack to this script is on the Soundtrack CD #11: The Christmas Family." The price is $20 plus shipping. You can order it on the Soundtracks Page or add it to your cart by clicking here: Add To Cart When you order a physical CD, you get the download for free to use till the CD arrives, if you wish.
OR: Buy JUST the MP3 files for digital download for $15. (The physical CD does not come with this option.) Click to Add to Cart and get the instant download, then burn an audio CD from it!
NEW! Click here to listen to a new feature: an 11 and-a-half minute Windows Media preview of the entire soundtrack CD, with clips from each track!
There are no "featured" songs on this play soundtrack, with lyrics sung; all of the music is instrumental that plays in the background. If one of my narrated soundtracks features portions of a song with lyrics, the audio preview will always let you know this and plays some of it.
Call me if you have any questions about this play or the soundtrack that this page does not answer, call me at the number given on the Contact Page.
Author's Comments: This play is written to make it easy to present a Christmas program without having to learn lines. It is designed to be acted out as the Soundtrack CD plays the entire time. Having the narrative include the Christmas Story is a way of presenting it in a different manner than it is usually done each year. And the framing elements provide a small contemporary story that brings it into today. The truth of the Bible story, and the warmth of a modern-day Christmas celebration, are combined to bring together the best elements of the season. (If you do not use the CD, but plan to have live people deliver their own lines, and read the parts of the Narrator and Grandpa, the play will be considerably longer than 40 minutes, and people will start fidgeting. Also you will need to gather and mix the music and sound effects yourself and then mix them in as the play is done live. There are many sound effects, and a LOT of music behind the narration, playing almost constantly. For this reason, it is suggested that you use the professionally-produced CD and then you need only be concerned about the live performance. You will save yourself money and headaches if you just use the CD. If you try to get by "on the cheap" you will always wish you hadn't.)
NOTE: Although the Wise Men are traditionally shown at the manger along with the shepherds, this play does not show them, only talks about them. If they were included, the time would increase by another 10 minutes or more, you would need more actors, more (better) costumes for them, another set needed for Herod's palace and the house Jesus is living in, etc. Since they were not at the manger, this script is more accurate scripturally, and explains why. Adding them in to appear at the manger would be unscriptural and complicate things. (The star would have had to appear a year before Jesus was born for this to happen.) So, they are included in the narration but not seen on stage. No-one was ever hurt by hearing a Bible truth that corrects an inaccurate belief based on traditions, and the script does it in such a way to include them and educate the audience at the same time. The actual visit by the shepherds is the focus of the play. To fudge and have the Wise Men there anyway belies the statement that Grandpa makes that this is "the true story of Christmas." However, if you really want to include the Magi, have them come in at the very beginning of the part that talks about them, and give their presents to the Child, brought onstage by Mary. The child should be approaching two years old. But the play script is not written to really present them visually, only through the narration.
PERFORMANCE NOTES: All of the action takes place with very little audible sound from the players. They semi-mime everything, talking, laughing, anything that is done, all nearly silently, as the Narrator tells the story. It's like watching a film with the sound turned down low, as a voice-over narrator tells what is happening. All of the sound and dialog comes from the CD. The CD also includes the background music and sound effects.
Now, you can make some natural sounds as you perform; the kids can express excitement, background talking between the extras can go on; but all at a very LOW volume. It should compliment the CD playing, not distract from it or override it.
In every case, the "Actions" description is given in the script just before the narration that describes it. But you DO the actions AS the narrator tells it, in synchronization. You act out the motions described, as he is telling it. This takes knowing your moves, and rehearsing with the CD; so that you are doing it in-synch with it as it is told, not lagging behind it and reacting to it.
There are some small actions mentioned in the narrative that are not laid out in the "actions" parts; just do what it being described however it is revealed. Use your acting ability to come up with little additional things to fill in... and hit the points as they come. Be creative! Since you don't have to learn dialog, you can concentrate on your acting through what you are doing visually, as the narrative provides the dialog. Don't let the action onstage come to a complete standstill during the narration; if nothing is particularly directed for you to do through the narration or script, invent some little bits of business to do that are in keeping with the narrative events. Then when it's time to do what the narrative is saying, you can easily move into it.
When the narrator is telling of dialog that your character is saying, you do not have to lip-sync it. Just act as if talking at the same time he is telling in general what was said. After all, the audience is hearing the narrator tell the story, and they are only seeing you as part of a flashback, in their imaginations. So, silently and naturally mouth the words that approximate what the narrator relates that your character is saying. You want it to look natural and mostly match what they know you are saying.
REHEARSAL NOTE: Until your actors get used to what they are supposed to be doing, you should have a person reading the narration lines, and the director telling the actors what to do. Once they know, then you can progress to playing the CD as they rehearse. If you try to do it to the CD too early, you'll just have to stop it every few moments.
copyright Fred Passmore 2006
|(Begin Track #1: "The Play Begins" Christmas music opens the play and the Narrator comes on the CD soundtrack shortly. CD NOTE: there is no need to begin each track after starting the CD; it will play through to each track. The track divisions are for convenience in jumping to certain points when rehearsing.)|
(Fade the lights up on the Orphanage side of the stage slowly.)
Narrator: The imagination is a wonderful thing, a gift from God. It's not only for children, although they use it the most. With it, we can see things we have only heard about, but never actually seen with our eyes. It is through our imagination, or eyes of faith, that we see the things we read about in the Bible; both in the past, and in the future. I hope that as I tell my story, that your imagination will help you to see it as I did all those years ago. Let's go back in time now... and let the scene come alive as you picture in your mind's eye the memories I am relating.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: After the following narration gets under way, a group of young children comes into the room, followed by the staff caretaker, Miss Dickenson. She pushes in the boy, Daniel, in a wheelchair, and stops him by the tree. Miss Dickenson then brings out a box of decorations, and presents it, almost like opening a treasure, to the children. As they gather around and look at them, she tells them to take some and add them to the tree. Each one begins to add some to the tree as the narration tells the story.)
My name is Daniel. My story begins nearly 20 years ago, on a wintery Christmas Eve at the Midvale Children's Home orphanage in our small country town. I was approaching my 10th birthday, having been at the orphanage most of my young life. I had contracted a disease three years before, while in one of the homes, that had crippled me, and the Doctor's weren't sure if I would ever walk again. I had been in and out of foster homes for the past few years, but the strain of caring for a sick, wheelchair-bound child was too much for most families in our poor county, and I always ended back up here for some reason. I had almost given up on the hope of ever having a real family of my own. The joy of Christmas that I had known as a younger child was fading away, and this year I was not really looking forward to it, for the first time I could remember.
I was older than most of the other kids at the orphanage, and had few friends. Who wanted to be friends with someone that couldn't run and play with you?
I can still see the orphanage that had been my home for so long. I can picture the excitement on the faces of the other kids, as they all got ready for the annual Christmas party. Although the tree had been partly decorated earlier in the month, the final decorations were saved for us to put on that night. Miss Dickenson, our home's activity director and stand-in mother, said that when she was a little girl, they didn't put up the tree until Christmas Eve. She wanted us to know a little of the joy of decorating on that special night, so this was her compromise.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The boy pushes himself up to the tree and adds a couple of decorations, then backs off and watches the other children finish. Miss Dickenson stands beside him, with her arm on his shoulders, and together they watch as the children finish decorating.)
Narrator: Now, you wouldn't think that such surroundings would lend themselves to wonderful Christmas memories. But it happens occasionally, that the best memories of our lives can be born out of the most bleak and unpromising of circumstances. And there, in the midst of loneliness and despair, I found hope, and love, and acceptance... all wrapped up in... a Christmas family.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Miss Dickenson gets the attention of the children and motions for quiet. She mimes telling them about the surprise coming.)
Narrator: Miss Dickenson gathered the children together, got them to quiet down, which was no small feat considering their excitement; and she told us of a surprise visitor... a special guest that was coming a little later. Of course, we all knew who is was... old Saint Nick... and most of the kids also knew who was behind the white beard... Mr. Clements, the gardener and janitor of the institution. But since they loved them both, it was all the same, and they knew he came bearing gifts. I was aware that the gifts were donated to the home by churches and kind people. But knowing that none of the gifts were bought just for me stole the happiness a little.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Miss Dickenson again settles down the kids from their excitement over learning about the coming guest, and begins handing out song books to each one of them. After they all have one, she points out certain pages in it to them, and gives them some directions about their singing.
Narrator: Miss Dickenson really believed in traditions, and passing them along to what she considered "her" children. So each year as the sun set on Christmas Eve, we would bundle up and go out into the surrounding neighborhood of our little town, singing carols. The people in the homes looked forward to it, knowing who we were and where we came from, and made special effort to greet us, to listen, and invite us in for cookies and hot apple cider. I had always enjoyed it when smaller, and in better health... but now I had to stay behind. The snow was too deep for my wheelchair, and I was easy to get sick.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mrs. Dickenson, having finished the final instructions to the children, points them to the other room to go get dressed. They form a single-file line and proceed out of the door. Mrs. Dickenson goes over to Daniel and pushes him to be next to the radio on the table. Tuning the radio, she finds a station playing music.)
As the other children left to get their coats and boots, Miss Dickenson wheeled me over to the radio, turning it on for me. She knew of my love for music, and wanted to make sure I would be entertained while they were gone. And really, the music of Christmas was about the only thing that could lift my spirits. Next to the radio on the table was an antique manger scene Miss Dickenson had set up for the children.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mrs. Dickenson bends over toward Daniel, her hands on her knees, and speaks to him before leaving. Before she heads out of the door she squeezes his shoulder in an affectionate gesture.)
She told me that they would all be back soon, and that then I'd have a wonderful surprise for Christmas.
A little wistfully I responded that I was too old for Santa to bring me presents.
"You're never too old for a gift from those that love you, or to be surprised," she said with a meaningful smile.
Then, with an affectionate parting squeeze of my shoulder, she left to lead the other kids on the caroling trip. I settled in to listen to the sounds of the season, as my eyes focused on the miniature manger scene laid out before me.
(Track #2: "Grandpa's Story Begins: The Angel Tell The Shepherds")
Radio Announcer: You are listening to an evening of special Christmas Eve programming here on WWOR radio. We hope you are enjoying it, and that it adds to your holiday celebration. Coming up next we have a special broadcast of Grandpa's Storytime program, a Christmas Eve tradition here on our station. Grandpa's Storytime is sponsored by Ovaltine. Warm, chocolaty, rich Ovaltine! Have some tonight as you listen. And now, here's Grandpa with this week's Bible story.
(Old fashioned music leads into the program.)
Narrator: Now, I had heard Grandpa's program before, and I had heard the Christmas story told from the Bible before, when Miss Dickenson read it to us. But there was something different about this time. Either the loneliness I was feeling, or the quietness of the night, or maybe... I was being spoken to directly. That night, as Grandpa related the events of the nativity, it came alive in my imagination. I was no longer in a wheelchair in a dark room... but I was there, in Bethlehem... on that silent night... when the Promised One came upon a midnight clear.
(The music comes up, and Daniel leans his head on his hand, listening. SLOWLY fade the lights down on the Orphanage side of the stage, and then bring them up on the Stable side of the stage when the story tells about it.)
Grandpa: Hello, everyone, your favorite Grandpa here, broadcasting from in front of a warm, crackling fireplace on this cold, snowy Christmas Eve. (sips) Uuum, boy, that Ovaltine sure hits the spot! Thanks for joining me as I tell a true story from the Bible. This week we'll continue with the Story of Christmas.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mary and Joseph enter the scene by way of the back of the room, coming slowly up through one of the side aisles where the audience is sitting. Mary is having some difficulty as she is obviously very pregnant.Along the way they encounter a couple of extras dressed in robes as they are. They mime inquiring about a place to stay from each, but find no help or room. This can happen several times to show the difficulty of finding shelter. This also gives the audience something to watch during the opening radio lines, rather than just looking at Daniel listening to the radio.)
Last week, as you'll recall, we heard about the angel's visit to a young Jewish girl named Mary. We learned how he told her she would be with child of the Holy Ghost, and that child would be named Jesus... and that he would save his people from their sins. The angel told Joseph also in a dream, because he was worried about what to do. He knew he wasn't the baby's father, but he was determined to take care of him, and raise him as if he was his very own. And he did. Nine months had passed since that time and Mary was close to giving birth... when the word came that they had to take a journey. Stay by your radio, and we'll journey with them as we discover the true story of Christmas.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mary and Joseph finally find a innkeeper who, although he shakes his head and tells them he has no room. Joseph, motioning to Mary's condition, pleads for some kind of help. The innkeeper takes sympathy on them and begins to lead them to his stable, which is onstage.
Now Jesus was born in a different way than anybody else. All people have a mother and a father. But Jesus' father was God. And we only begin when we come into this world as a baby; but Jesus has always lived, because he was God the Son. Mary was chosen by God to be Jesus' mother, and to bring him into this world as a baby, to be human like us. But he was still God.
The time came for Mary to have her baby; but she and her husband Joseph were required by Roman law to return to Joseph's home town to be counted, so that taxes could be collected. It was a hard journey, but they made it.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The innkeeper leads Mary and Joseph to his stable, slowly, as Joseph helps Mary walk. The innkeeper motions to the stable entrance, and seems apologetic that this is all he can offer them. He pulls back the burlap curtain that keeps the cold wind out, hooking it to one side, and they go inside. After lighting an oil lamp (or candle) for them, Joseph thanks him, and he leaves. Mary is tired, but she smiles as Joseph helps her to lie down in the hay. He piles the hay behind her in an attempt to help her sit up a little.)
Grandpa: When they got to town, though, all the inns were full of other travelers there for the same reason. Finally one innkeeper said they could stay in his little barn behind the inn, so they did. He led them around to the back of the inn, showing them where they could stay, a little apart from the place where the animals were. Joseph tried to make Mary as comfortable as he could, there among the hay and the animal stalls. And it was that night that she was to give birth to Jesus.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Finally Joseph stands, and draws the rough burlap curtain over the scene as the narrative concludes. The LIGHTS FADE on that part of the stage. As this happens, the shepherds begin to walk slowly down the aisles, converging in the middle, in front of the stage. They are carrying staffs and are watching the "sheep" that we hear but do not see.)
Now, at the same time as all this, there were some shepherds not too far away, watching over their flock of sheep. Now, the shepherd life was looked upon a a lowly occupation back then. Nobody would have thought to invite them to anything important or having to do with the higher classes in the land. But God is different. I guess he loves the common man, the little feller, since he made so many of us. And here he proves it by invitin' some of the lowest, poorest members of society to welcome the new King. I can picture 'em, standing around, everything reeeeeal quite and dark. Just like every night. (dropping to almost a whisper.) Probably nothin making any sound, cept the few sheep still awake, and the crickets, and maybe the wind. But SUDDENLY! There was a blinding light shinin down from the sky, brighter 'en the noonday sun!
(Actions during the next part of narrative: A spotlight shines on the shepherds. They jump and stare upwards through shaded eyes at the bright light shining down on them! They are facing the audience as they shield their eyes from the bright light. As this happens, we do not see the angel when he appears, but they do, looking upward into the light. We hear him speaking, however, in the narration.)
Then, lo and behold, a big shining angel appears right in front of them! The Bible says they were "sore afraid."
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The shepherd fall down in fear, quaking and trembling, covering their faces.)
That means they was sceered plumb to death! They was more scared than I was the last time I let Gramma drive the Buick. And that's plenty sceered, cause they thought they was going to die, just like I did. But the angel says, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
(Actions during the next part of narrative: the shepherds are flat on the ground hiding their faces, but they begin to look up when this is heard.)
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
Them if that weren't enough, suddenly the sky was filled with brilliant angels, till it looked like clouds of radiant beings in white clothes! Then the clouds of angels began to say, all at one time, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!" Now, I bet the booming voices of thousands of angels sounded like thunder rolling over the plains. And then they all faded away as they went back up into heaven. What a sight that must have been.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The spotlight fades off. The shepherds are back up, looking up at the fading light in amazement.)
And this small band of shepherds, after they got over their fear, was mighty excited. They was shouting to each other, hugging each other, pounding each other on the back, and jumping for joy. The Messiah was born, and THEY were invited to come see him, before anyone else! Not King Herod; Not the High Priest; not even the scribes and Pharisees. What an honor.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The shepherds run off and out a side door.)
The could hardly believe it, but they did believe it, and they all agreed they should hurry off to Bethlehem to see this great thing that they Lord has shown them. And that they did, as fast as their feet would carry them, and I imagine that the sheep was right behind them, following their herders wherever they went, as they always did.
I reckon that up til then, they all thought that their life was pretty plain and unexciting. They never thought they were special, and they never dreamed they'd get an announcement and an invitation from heaven to come see the savior. I spect we've all felt that way a lot of the time. But somewhere, most of the time when we least expect it, we get a heavenly invitation to come and meet the savior. Let's listen to one of my favorite carols of the season.
(Track #3: "The Doctor Visits Daniel")
(The song begins playing softly as the Narrator begins again. The LIGHTS FADE UP on the part of the stage where Daniel is sitting.)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel slowly comes out of his reverie and smiles. He reaches out and takes down the baby Jesus figure from the manger scene on the table, and looks at it intently for a few long moments, then reverently places it back where it belongs.)
Narrator: Well, the scene faded from my sight as I came back to my reality. I could understand how the shepherds felt, because it seemed as if I had been there with them. But as the glow I'd felt when visualizing the story faded, I began to feel as if it was somehow more than just being caught up in a story... it seemed as if the invitation to come see the Baby had been given to me, personally. I felt a desire to see Him, that must have been as strong as that felt by the shepherds once they'd heard about Him. Somehow I knew that the answers to the questions I'd begun to have could only be found in the one that came on that night, the most wonderful night in the history of the world.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel's head comes up as he feels he is being watched. He looks all around, until he sees a dark shape partially hidden just outside the door.)
But suddenly I became aware that I was being watched... I wasn't alone any more. Someone was standing in the shadows outside the door, observing me. A tingle of fright danced down my spine. My mind entertained the thought that perhaps it was the Ghost of Christmas Future come to visit, dark and bleak.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel turns his chair toward the door and fearfully peers into the shadows with an apprehensive expression. It turns to relief as Dr. Spencer, an older man, steps more fully into the room and comes over to him.)
As I wheeled around to see more clearly, they stepped into the dim light. I breathed a sigh of relief when I realised it was only Dr. Spencer, the staff physician and psychologist. He was a fatherly man, and I liked him a great deal, for he really seemed to care about me and the other children.
Calling me by his nickname for me, "Danny-boy," he asked how I was feeling.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: as they talk, Dr. Spencer kneels beside Danny and moves his legs, examing his knees and flexing his ankles a little.)
I told him I was fine, but I wished I was stronger. As he knelt beside my chair and examined my legs, he asked how I had been doing there at the home. I guess he was concerned about my emotional health also. I said I was happy enough, but I wished I could have a real family, ones that took care of me because they loved me, not because they were paid to. I admitted that sometimes I felt like I was worthless and had no hope.
At this, Dr. Spencer took me by both of my shoulders, and said some words I have never forgotten to this day.
"Danny-boy," he said firmly, "don't you dare think like that. You are a priceless gem, infinitely special to our Heavenly Father. He has a plan for you that will lead you down the paths of greatness. We all go through tough times, but we can look to God and trust Him to bring us through. And He WILL bring you through, if you open your heart to Him and let Him give you his strength."
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Dr. Spencer takes a small pocket New Testament from his coat pocket and hands it to Daniel.)
It might be a little surprising for some to hear a Doctor talk like that, but he believed in the power of prayer and faith more than he trusted pills and psychology. He took a small New Testament out of his pocket, and opened it up to the flyleaf, where he had written my name with a message.
I read the scripture he had quoted, Jeremiah 29:11, that said, "I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." This was followed by a line that said "Don't forget us when you are blessed."
I didn't understand it at the time, but as he stood he told me, "Sometimes, a blessing can be lurking right around the corner, waiting for us. The trick is holding on until you get to it."
He shook my hand warmly and left, wishing me a Merry Christmas and a very, very Happy New Year. As I thought on that, the Christmas song was ending and Grandpa came back on, with more of the story. I anxiously drew closer to the radio again, eager to join the shepherds on their quest.
(Track #4: "The Shepherds Find The Manger")
(The Christmas carol comes to an end, as the LIGHTS FADE OUT on the Orphanage side. The lights FADE UP on the Stable side as the shepherds draw near it.)
Grandpa: I sure do love that old Christmas carol. In case you are just joining us, I'm the storyteller, Grandpa, and we're learning about the birth of Jesus. Well, the shepherds had heard the announcement of the birth of the King right from the angels of heaven. They sure didn't mess around and put it off, either... they ran right then to find Him. Now, if Jesus had come into this world in a fine mansion, the shepherds would have never been allowed in to see him. But nobody paid any attention to them as they went from one cattle stall to the next, looking for Jesus.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The shepherds have come up from the back of the audience, looking at one area and the next as they work their way toward the front. You can have them encounter several extras, whom they ask questions, but no-one knows anything. Finally they come upon the innkeeper from before, and he directs them toward the direction of the stable where Mary and Joseph are.)
Now, no-one would have believed it, if you had told them, that the creator of the universe would choose to come into this world in a dirty, smelly old animal stable, and be laid where they eat the hay from. But Jesus was born in humble surroundings to show his kinship and sympathy for poor people everywhere. And even the greatest men must humble themselves to come to him and acknowledge Him as their savior and King.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The shepherds find the stable area, and one gingerly peeks through the curtain. He then excitedly motions the others over, and they run to him, beginning to crowd in the opening to see. Joseph does as described in the following paragraph.)
Well, they looked til they found it, and there they saw Joseph kneeling beside Mary, who had given birth only a short time before. Joseph must have been a little concerned at first when they approached; I think he might have thought this band of shepherds was looking for a place to stay too, and the small stable didn't have enough room for all of them and their sheep. So he herded them quickly back outside the entrance to find out what they wanted, and to protect the privacy of the resting Mary and the baby. I can just hear him saying in a hushed voice, "Wait just a minute! What do you want here? I have my wife and a newborn baby in here, you can't come in!"
Well, they really got them excited. They began to tell Joseph about it all at once, and he had to calm them down and be quieter, and get one of them to explain. So he described to Joseph what they had seen and heard. Joseph was amazed, and seeing as how the angel had not only confirmed what they knew, but told the shepherds to come, he could only let them in.
The shepherds were humbled and filled with wonder as they neared the manger where Jesus was laying. Mary, tired though she was, graciously leaned forward and pulled back the swaddling clothes a little so they could see his face more clearly, as Joseph held up the oil lamp. On their knees, they gathered around the manger and beheld the face of the promised one. Oh, what a sweet sight it was. This wasn't just another cute baby. Here was the King of all creation, God in the flesh, saviour of the world, right before their wondering eyes. And that's what made Him so beautiful. There wasn't anything about his physically that would clue you in that here was God incarnate. He looked like a regular baby. But they had been told who He was. They believed. And they saw Him through eyes of faith.
It kinda makes sense that shepherds would be the first to come greet him, because he would be the Good Shepherd, who would lay down His life for his sheep.
When you come into the presence of Jesus, the most natural thing in the world is to worship Him. And that's just what these poor shepherds did. Of course they had been to worship God in the temple; every year they took a lamb from their flock and went to the temple with it on the Passover, where it would be sacrificed for their sins. But here, here was the very Lamb of God, who would be slain for their sins once and for all. The one that was represented by the lambs offered, the sinless and spotless lamb. Now they were looking into His face, and worshipping Him according to spirit and truth, not merely to fulfill a requirement of the law.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: After worshiping him, some praying with clasped hands before them, some on their faces, some with lifted hands, they slowly begin to collect themselves and gather at the front to talk together about it. They are hugging one another in joy as they weep at the glory of it.)
Nobody expected he would come in such a humble way. So the only people present to welcome him into the world were some humble shepherds who were invited by angels to the first Christmas celebration. By faith they accepted the invitation, and as a result, they saw the savior and believed on him.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: As the shepherds leave, Joseph looks around to see if anyone else is coming, then lowers the curtain again as he goes inside.)
Well, the shepherds finally left the manger, returning to their hills and flocks, telling everybody they saw about what had happened, and Mary and the baby got to sleep some as old reliable Joseph watched over them. Now, you may be saying, "where are the wisemen? They came to the manger too!" We'll talk about that in just a moment, after this song.
(Music fades up.)
(Track #5: "Santa Surprises Daniel")
(The lights FADE OUT on the stable scene and FADE UP on the other side, on Daniel.)
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel begins to stir, wiping his face as if clearing his eyes of tears. He swivels his chair to better see the top of the Christmas tree, where he gazes on the star on the top of the tree. Then, when he hears something as described below, he turns down the radio and looks toward the other door.)
Narrator: As the music began to play, and the images in my mind gave way to the lights of the Christmas tree my eyes had been trained on, I understood for the first time that Christmas was truly a time for celebration... not just because of the gifts, or the parties, but because eternity, heaven, God Himself had broken in on the world. A miracle, that had really happened, that showed that there was more to life than just living, working, and dying. I came to realize that there was more to my life than what I had seen so far. And although I had no earthly family, that maybe it was possible to belong to a bigger family, one that included even someone like me.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel's head pops up as he hears a noise outside the other door. As it becomes louder, he rolls his chair over toward the door.)
Now, sitting there quietly, with such deep thoughts occupying my mind, I was in no way prepared for what happened next. I thought I heard... something coming from the emergency exit that led to the back of the building. Turning down the radio, I cocked my head to listen. When outside the door there arose such a clatter, that I rolled my chair over to see what was the matter.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. Clements somewhat clumsily enters with a large box of wrapped gifts. He is startled to see Daniel there.)
When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a man dressed as Santa, who worked here all year!
It was Mr. Clements, the old janitor and groundskeeper, dressed up as St. Nick, as he did every year. I guess he wasn't expecting to see me there, because as he brought in an boxload of presents, he nearly dropped them when he spied me. Then he got into character and tried to cover it up.
"Well, what have we here?" he said in a booming put-on Santa voice. "A boy who's not where he should be!"
"I couldn't go out caroling with the others this year," I told him with a grin. He was the skinniest Santa you ever did see, and a bit flustered at being caught.
"Ho, ho, ho" he said. "Santa is just bringing the presents for all you kids here at the children's home."
"I know it's you, Mr. Clements," I said. "No need to be Santa when it's just me here." This took him aback, and he said, "You know?"
"For the last three years," I said as I nodded. "I think most of the kids know."
He seemed a little deflated by this, so I quickly added, "But they all love you for being Santa's helper."
This picked him back up some, so he smiled and placed the boxes under the tree as I watched. He picked up one and help it up, saying," This one's for you... I wonder what it is?"
"I doubt you could fit a home in that little box, Mr. Clements," I said with a touch of the returning sadness.
Mr. Clements put down the box, and came over to kneel beside me. "Aw, now son, don't you worry none about that. Your time will come. One day you'll look back on this, and you'll think, "I kinda miss all them people there at the children's home now that I'm out of there." Cause although we might not be blood kin, we're still family. We all love you, and love takin' care of you, until someone else comes along to raise you as their own, or you grow up and don't need us any more."
I'm embarrassed to say that I got a little choked up at that. It's true, he was just a gardener and janitor, but at that moment he was a lot more to me. He misted up a little too, and patted me on the shoulder. If I looked upon Dr. Spencer as a father-figure, Mr. Clements was the kindly old Grandfather-figure.
"As he stood, he said, "Well, I'd best get busy, the little 'uns will be back soon, and I've got to have all this ready and then come back in when they do. But remember, Daniel, home is where you find it. We're all related through Adam, and we Christians are related through Jesus. Did you know I spent some years here when I was a little boy, just like you?"
That surprised me! I told him I never knew that.
"Sure did. It was hard back during the Depression. My folks couldn't provide for me and the other younger kids too, and being the oldest, I was sent here. But I didn't let it get me down. And when I got back from the war years later, I came back here and got a job. Been here ever since, in about the only home I ever felt like I belonged in. Only one that's been here as long as me is Miss Dickenson. And she's done more for the kids here than anyone else ever has. 'Course, the good Lord knows she has her reasons, but that's a story for her to tell, if she ever has a mind to."
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Mr. Clements goes back to the tree and puts out the presents under it. When done, he takes the large box with him as he leaves quietly out the side door.)
As he turned to get finish laying the rest of the presents under the tree, I wondered about Miss Dickenson and her past. What had brought her here, to invest her life in ours? I resolved to one day find out. But just then I heard the song ending and I knew the conclusion to the story of Christmas was coming up, and I wasn't about to miss it now, for anything in the world. So, as fast as I could, I rolled myself over to the radio, turned it back up, and settled in to see how it all turned out.
(The lights do not fade out on this part by stay up.)
(Track #6: "The Wise Men/Daniel's Surprise")
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel takes out the New Testament given to him earlier and opens it to read along.) NOTE: IF you desire the Wise Men to be a part of the play, although they are not written in it to appear visually, you may have them enter from the back of the room almost immediately as Grandpa mentions them. Mary and Joseph come out to meet them, not fromthe manger, but from a side door. The Child is nearly two years old. She stands him on the ground, and kneels beside him as she presents him to the Wise Men to receive their adoration and gifts. They do so and then leave as the narration wraps up with the salvation message.)
Grandpa: In case you're just tuning in, I'm Grandpa, and we're learning about the very first Christmas. We've heard about the birth of baby Jesus, and how the shepherds heard the Good News and went to find Him. Now, you may be wondering, "where are the wisemen?" They came to the manger too!" A lot of people think they did, but it happened a little differently than the Christmas nativity scenes show you. When Jesus was born, a special star appeared in the heavens to mark his arrival. A group of wise men in the east saw this, and knowing what the signs in the heavens meant, and knowing the prophecies of the coming King of Israel, who would be the King of Kings, they began a long journey, accompanied by a large caravan of guards and servants. About a year and a half after his birth, they arrived in Jerusalem, and finding out from the Jewish leaders where the Messiah was to be born, they went on to Bethlehem. As the wise men neared the little town, behold, the star guided them to a house, where they found the young child with his mother, no longer a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. And there they worshiped Jesus, and gave him the gifts they had brought; gold, frankincense and myrrh. And so began the tradition of giving presents to our loved ones to mark his coming into the world.
Now, we like to get presents for Christmas, don't we? However, the gifts our loved ones give us will be old, broken and forgotten after a short while, but the gift God gives us will last forever. The gift is eternal life through Christ. The question is, what will you do with this Jesus? Will you accept him, as the Gift of Heaven, or reject him, as did so many of his own people?
Now, there may be someone listening who feels rejected too, but would like to be a part of the family of God. You can be... the Bible says in Galations, Chapter 4, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
If you want to be born into the family of God, adopted as a son, then it's simple: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Call on him to save you right now. If you'd like, you can pray along with me, if you mean it from your heart.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel bows his head and clasps his hands as he prays below.)
Narrator: The words that Grandpa had spoken seemed directed right at me. The scriptures inviting me to come to the Savior, to be adopted into His family, to have God as my Father, all spoke to my young heart strongly. So right there, on Christmas Eve, I bowed my head, and praying along with Grandpa, I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I had heard of Him; I had come to see him, as the shepherds did, and I made room for him in my heart. I couldn't turn him away, who came so far to save me, and suffered so much. I gladly swung wide the door of my heart, and He came in. From that moment on, there was hope and faith I had never known before.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel lifts his head, and turns his chair toward the front of the stage. His face has a peaceful and satisfied expression. The sadness and hopelessness has been replaced with joy and hope.)
I knew that I belonged, that I was loved; that a wonderful future awaited me, and someday Jesus would invite me to come to his house, where I would live forever with the family of God. The joy of Christmas came alive in me, and would shine brightly from that day forward.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The children and Miss Dickenson all come back into the room, and the kids react to the pile of presents under the tree. She announces that it's time for the special Christmas guest, and Mr. Clements as Santa comes into the room with a bagful of presents. The children all gather around him excitedly, and he leads them offstage in a parade line.)
Narrator: Just then, Miss Dickenson and the other kids returned from their caroling trip. They were all so excited about the presents under the tree, but Miss Dickenson said they would get to open those in the morning. But right now, the special Christmas guest she had told them about was here. Mr. Cleme.... I mean, Santa, came in with his bag of presents. The tradition was that they would all go into the main entry foyer, where the biggest tree was, as Santa handed out the gifts he had brought. So off they all went.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: As Daniel follows the line, Miss Dickenson stops him and motions him to come over by the tree. She explains to him what his surprise is.)
As I was beginning to follow, Miss Dickenson stopped me. I wondered for a moment if I really was too big for Santa's presents. But she smiled kindly as she told me to stay behind, that the surprise she has for me couldn't fit in Santa's sack. "Daniel," she explained, "you remember the last couple that you stayed with, who had to let you come back?"
I told her I did, that I had really hoped I could stay with them. I had been sorely dissapointed when they had to leave town.
Miss Dickenson explained that they had been expecting a large inheritance, but it was contested, and a lawsuit was filed against them. But now, the lawsuit has been settled, and they had received the large inheritance. Miss Dickenson beamed as she told me they come back to take me home for good, and the adoption papers had just went through. Dr. Spencer had given me a final examination earlier, and pronounced me well enough to go. They were waiting for me in the administrator's office to take me to my new home.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Miss Dickenson moves beside Daniel and puts her arm around him as she stoops over.)
Narrator: I was so shocked that I hardly reacted at first. Mrs. Dickenson put her arm around my shoulder and told me that although she was happy for me, she would miss me terribly. As the news sunk in, I realised just how much I would miss her as well. There was one last thing I wanted to ask her, and if I didn't do it now I might not be able to. I asked Miss Dickenson why she had come here, and stayed all those years.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Miss Dickenson stands and turns away slightly, her arms wrapped around herself as if cold. She pauses, looking away, then slowly begins to tell him the story.)
After hesitating a moment, and looking off into space as if gazing at a scene that caused her pain, she answered me. She told me that when she was younger, her husband had died in the war, and then a house fire had killed all three of her children. She could have given up in sorrow, but she turned to God for comfort. Being a mother without her children, she was led here, where there were children who were without a mother. They had become her family and her children. Now her family was a large one, and one day when she joined her children in heaven, she would bring many more with her. That answered, there was no putting off the hard goodbye. Miss Dickenson moved first and held me close for a moment.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Miss Dickenson, after embracing Daniel for a moment, bends down and gets his gift from under the tree, and presents it to him. He gratefully takes it, holding it as if it is priceless, and she begins pushing him slowly towards the door. They exit just before the following narration is finished.)
Narrator: As Miss Dickenson wheeled me out of the activity room and down the hall toward the administrators office, I thought how my hopes and dreams had finally come to pass. But as happy as that made me, nothing could surpass the inner joy I already felt from becoming a part of the family of God. And although I have had many happy Christmases since, none can quite touch the memories I made that one special December 24th. I knew then I would never forget where I came from and what I had learned there... that sometimes, family isn't always just flesh-and-blood kin... but those who love us, and whom we love. And that being in the family of God connects us all.
(Track #7: "Present Day")
(Actions during the next part of narrative: A man walks slowly onto the stage. We learn that this is the now-grown Daniel. He looks around fondly as he stands near the tree gazing at everything. He then moves to the tree and closely examines the decorations on it, as if each one is bringing back memories.)
Narrator: All that happened over 20 years ago. And although such a long time has passed, and much has happened, it's amazing just how much of this place I remember, and most surprisingly, how fondly I recall it. Sometimes when we are in a situation, we find only the bad, and miss the good, until we reflect back on it. My new family was able to get the best doctors and specialists to treat me, and by the time I was a teenager I was starting to walk.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: The grown Daniel moves to the table where the miniature manger scene is set up. He picks up several of the figures and examines them individually, as if each is bringing back memories.)
By the time I graduated from school, I was in perfect health. Later, I married one of the interns I had met while attending medical school, and we had a beautiful girl a few years later. We also adopted a little boy from this same home. My foster parents presented the orphanage with a generous gift that enabled them to hire more staff and fix up the place. Shortly after that I became the staff physician here, and my wife Fran is my nurse.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: A woman about the same age as the man enters from the other side of the stage with two children, who run to him and hug him excitedly.)
Narrator: My wife and I love little Tim as much as our natural daughter Danielle. He doesn't remember living here, but he will always remember coming here when we visit, and sympathising with the orphaned children. It's funny, but when I was living here, I would never have believed it had I been told I would one day return to be on the staff. At the time, all I wanted was to be away from it. And now I am able to offer to the new children the same comfort with which I was comforted. And I try to impart the hope that comes from seeing the future through eyes of faith.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Other kids come running into the room, and gather around him with smiles. He greets them warmly and puts his arms around those on either side. His wife has stepped back out of the room, but shortly returns pushing a wheelchair. In it is the much older Miss Dickenson, her legs covered with a blanket.)
Narrator: Our family is richer for coming here often, and it is a holiday tradition now to come and accompany the kids on their annual Christmas Eve caroling walk around the neighborhood. And, of course, it wouldn't be the same without Miss Dickenson. When the time came where she could no longer get around on her own, Fran and I couldn't bear to see her go to a nursing home, as she had no living relatives or children to take care of her. So, we opened our home to her, and she now lives with us. Later, after a visit from a special surprise guest, we'll take her along with us as we all go out caroling.
(Actions during the next part of narrative: Daniel and his large extended family all gather around the Christmas tree, Daniel and his wife sitting in chairs, with Miss Dickenson next to them, and the children sitting on the floor in a circle around them. After everyone settles down, Daniel opens a book, and begins reading to them.)
Narrator: It's funny how things turn out. Grandpa is no longer on the radio, having went home to heaven years ago. So now, it's part of the tradition that I retell the Christmas story to all the children. I hope it's as real to them, in their imagination and hearts, as it became to me back then. And I hope it's a little more real to you, having heard my story tonight. I thank you for listening, as I have enjoyed remembering and sharing it with you. It my hope and prayer that you find the hope, joy and acceptance that I did, and one day join all of us in heaven, at the reunion of God's great family.
(Music swells and ends the play, as the lights go down on the scene.)
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