Pageant created for Crescent Springs Presbyterian Church for the Third Sunday of Advent (Joy Sunday). It is designed for maximum flexibility–you can have multiple kids in the same role; you can incorporate costumes and props or not; you can invite the congregation to shout out the refrain of “that’s wrong” or just narrate it all yourself. However you use this pageant, I pray it resurrects for you the chaos and surprise of that first Christmas!
A long, long time ago, God made a promise to send the people a Savior—someone who would love them and forgive them, and save them from all the bad things they did.
“That’s wrong!” some people said. “People should be punished when they’re bad, not loved.”
But God promised anyway.
Then, a long time ago still, but not as long ago as that first promise, God sent an angel to a girl named Mary. (invite Marys forward) “Hello!” The angel said. “God has chosen you for a special mission. The savior is coming at last, and you are going to be his mom.”
“I don’t understand,” Mary said, “but here I am. I’ll give it my best.”
But some people shook their heads. “That’s wrong!” they said. “Mary’s just an ordinary girl. She isn’t special.”
But Mary was Jesus’ mom anyway.
Mary had a fiancé named Joseph. (invite Josephs forward) His great-great-great and lots more greats-grandpa was a king, but he was just a carpenter. When he heard that Mary was pregnant, he worried about it and even thought they shouldn’t get married anymore. But then Joseph had a dream where an angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Joseph! Mary’s baby is God’s child, and she will need your help to raise him. This baby will be Emmanuel, God right there with you on earth.”
“That’s wrong!” some people said. “You’re just a carpenter. You think you can raise God’s son?”
But Joseph married Mary anyway.
Now, when Mary was pretty pregnant, a politician made a new rule: everybody had to go back to their family town and be registered so they could pay taxes. Mary and Joseph had to go on a long, long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. (make stomping noises)
“That’s wrong!” some people said. “You shouldn’t make a pregnant lady travel all that way.”
But they went to Bethlehem anyway.
And when they got to Bethlehem, there were so many people there that all the rooms were full! There was nowhere for them to stay, even though Mary was about to have her baby! Finally one innkeeper gave them a space in a stable, a place where animals lived. (invite animals forward and make animal noises)
“That’s wrong,” people said, “making a woman give birth where the animals live.”
But you know what? Mary had her baby anyway.
Now while Mary was having her baby, only a few miles away, a group of shepherds were watching their sheep at night, making sure they were safe from wolves. (invite shepherds forward) Suddenly an angel appeared to them, too! The angel said “Don’t be afraid—I’ve got good news! That savior you were waiting for is here, born tonight. You’ll find him in a manger where the animals feed.” And then there was a whole choir of angels, praising God!” (invite angels forward and shout hallelujahs)
“That’s wrong,” people said. “Shepherds are dirty and smelly, especially on the night shift. No way should they get an invitation to see a new baby. No self-respecting angel would waste their time on shepherds.”
But those shepherds? They went off to find the baby anyway. And when they found him, they wanted to tell everyone how great he was.
So there was Mary and Joseph, and the animals and the shepherds. And high above them all shone a star, bright in the night, and it was a special star. A long, long way away some wise people saw it and knew it meant a new king had been born. (invite magi forward) So they set out on a long, long, journey, bringing some strange baby gifts with them—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Once they got lost, because they went to the palace, instead of to where Mary and Joseph and Jesus were. But when they found the baby, they knelt and worshipped him.
“That’s wrong!” some people said. “These people aren’t Jewish. They aren’t even from here. This isn’t their king.”
But the wise ones were filled with joy anyway.
And so, maybe everything about the way Jesus was born was all wrong—ordinary parents, a smelly stable packed with animals, lowly shepherds and foreigners coming to see him—but if you take a peek at that baby’s face, glowing with the love that God has for everyone of us, you might just decide–that everything will be all right.
Jesus is born for us, to set all the wrong things right.