Yes I know it is nowhere near Christmas. But here is a dramatic sermon from last Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve Drama (3 roles)
Premise: 3 residents of Bethlehem are discussing the strange events that have taken place over the last couple of days. One (Samuel) is the owner of the stable/cave where Mary and Joseph eventually found refuge. One (Miriam) is a local midwife who was called to help Mary give birth. The third (Eli) is a leading towns-person who is frankly disgusted with all the fuss and mess.
The scene opens with Eli running into Samuel on the street.
E: Samuel! What was all that fuss over at your stable last night? I mean shepherds running around, people yelling, singing. Woke me from a dead sleep it did.
S: Sorry ‘bout that m’lord. But really I haven’t quite figured it out myself. All I know is that I let some wandering couple use the stable to sleep in. Then everything went crazy. Ah, here comes the midwife, maybe she heard something.
M: (enters pointing accusingly at Samuel) You! How dare you push a poor pregnant woman out like that?!? Going into labour and you make her sleep with cattle! Have you no shame?!?
S: Well...I…uh…I had no choice. There was no room I could give them.
M: But they were family! Descendants of David just like you! You couldn’t even find room for family in trouble??? (turns to Eli) And you! You with your great big house, how many travellers have you taken in these last few days.
E: Descendants of David, please. Half of the people in Judea claim to be descended from David. If I were to try and help all of them I would beggar myself. Besides, these travellers are dirty and unkempt. I mean some of them have even come from Galilee! Almost as bad as coming from Samaria if you ask me.
S: Exactly. I tell you, my inn was full! I even had people sleeping on the floor in the common room. It’s this blasted census I tell you. You want to blame someone? Blame the Romans!
M: That’s no excuse. If you paid attention to the Scriptures you would know that you are supposed to look out for those who have nothing. Imagine, making a woman give birth in a cold smelly cave surrounded by horses and cattle. Terrible I tell you, terrible.
E: I’ll thank you to keep your place Miriam. No woman is going to instruct me in the Scriptures. Wait, did you say give birth?
M: That’s right I did. In the middle of the night a boy came to my door saying that there was a woman in labour who needed my assistance and could I come right away. So of course I did. Unlike some people I have no qualms about helping strangers in trouble.
S: Seriously, I had no rooms left, unless I was supposed to give up my own bed… (Miriam just glares at him)…well okay I guess I could have done that. But how was I to know the woman was going to give birth last night? For all I knew she was pretending to be pregnant to get sympathy!
M: (disdainfully) You keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.
E: Hey, was this the couple with the donkey I ordered out of my front yard earlier? Yeah, I wondered where they ended up. So she did have the baby.
M: She sure did, no thanks to either of you. But it was a strange birth if I do say so.
E: Strange? What do you mean?
M: Well, you know I have helped many children come into the world. And a lot of the time the parents thank God for the child. But this one was different. As the baby was born they kept calling him the Child of God, over and over again. And they were both so peaceful. Even in the worst of the labour Mary was so peaceful.
S: Yeah, when they were asking if I had room they said something about this baby being special. But hey, everyone says that. And I really had no room left. I thought I was doing pretty good by letting them use the stable. You know I had four men offer me gold to let their horse stay there? And those two stayed there for free.
M: (sarcastically) oh yes you are a real saint.
E: Well then this birth is what all the fuss was about. But why? I mean it’s not like they are the first people to have a baby. Not even the first to have a baby in less than ideal circumstances. Why did this baby mean that I woke up to find shepherds running through my property shouting and singing at the top of their lungs?
S: I heard something about angels, something about the birth of a Messiah. I think that they were praising God for the gift of a Saviour.
M: That is what they said to me. They talked about angels appearing to them while they sat and talked on the hills. Said that the angels had told them this baby was the Messiah.
E: ANGELS??? God sent messengers to SHEPHERDS???? What had they been drinking? Surely God’s Messiah wouldn’t be born in a stable. And surely the announcement would have been made in the temple in Jerusalem, not to a bunch of filthy smelly shepherds on a hillside.
S: I am sure you are right Eli. And the priests would have been there. But I know these shepherds. They may get drunk and rowdy at times but never when they are out in the fields. They take seriously their duty to care for the flocks.
E: They better! Those were my sheep they were watching!
M: No, they weren’t drunk. They didn’t really appear clear headed either but the certainly weren’t drunk.
S: Miriam, you saw the baby. You saw the parents. You heard what the shepherds said. What do you think? Could it be the Messiah?
E: Why would she know? You have to ask the proper authorities. They are the ones qualified to understand the Scriptures and what God is doing.
M: You mean the priests and the temple.
E: That’s right. They are the ones who work near the Holy of Holies. They are the ones who are clean and worthy. No offence Miriam. I know you are a good midwife. But you have to admit that you are not qualified to be making statements about religion.
Miriam just sputters in rage, there are no words…
S: Actually Eli I am not so sure. As I remember the stories, God often chose some most unlikely people. Even our great ancestor David was an odd choice. And then the prophets like Amos or Hosea. Maybe God could choose to use shepherds…
M: Exactly Samuel. Even David was nothing more than a shepherd boy at one point. And God uses women too Eli. Remember Ruth, and Esther, and Deborah? It is more relevant to ask why God would even think to use someone as arrogant as you or your friends as messengers. You high and mighty types think that you have all the answers. But I saw that child. I talked to his mother. There are things you people will never understand.
E: Miriam! How dare you talk to me that way?
M: How dare I? I dare because last night I met God face to face. I dare because in watching that baby I understood that God wants us to care for each other. That’s right, to care for people even if they are strangers from Galilee or poor, rowdy, unclean shepherd from the hillsides.
S: So Miriam, you do believe what the shepherds said? You think this child is God’s Chosen One? Can it really be true?
E: Don’t believe her Samuel. When the Messiah comes he will be a mighty king, ready to drive out the Romans. Do you really think small baby born to a ragged couple from Galilee could be a mighty king? Please be realistic.
S: I wish I could be as sure as you are Eli. But I talked to those shepherds last night. They all saw something out there. And look at Miriam’s eyes. Something special happened in that stable last night.
E: Nonsense. I tell you the shepherds were likely drinking, and Miriam is overtired, she is raving. No good can come from all this talk about Messiahs and kings I tell you. It was just another baby born. That’s all. (he storms off)
M: Samuel, yes I do believe. In some ways Eli is right, it makes no sense. But still I believe. This baby I helped bring into the world last night is the Promised One.
S: Take me to them Miriam. Let me see for myself and see what there is to see. Oh, and I believe that I may have room for them to stay tonight.
M: That would be a good thing Samuel. See, already the baby Messiah is making a difference in the world – he has softened your heart and you have yet to see him.
S: He has, through you Miriam. Your words about him have made me hope. Now, let us go and bring them back to my lodging. (they leave).