The Nativity Story
What you need to playact the Story:
Direct Quote: "This nativity needs no rehearsal and only a small amount of preparation. This can be advertised for everyone to come along dressed as any character from the story, and it doesn't matter how many of each character you have (although at least one of each is helpful!): Angel, Mary, Joseph, Star, Shepherd, Wise man, Donkey, other animals (optional) ...and a King Herod (probably only one, and it's worth priming someone, as it's not the most obvious choice for nativity dressing-up)." - See original >>Here<<
The Story that is at the Centre of our Time and Lives.
The story of the nativity – think you know it?
If I asked you to tell it, you’d probably blow it.
A detail wrong here, a part missed out there,
the Bible’s writers would tear out their hair!
Because no detail in this story goes to waste,
everything carefully included in this tale of grace.
But Sunday school when we were young,
school Christmas plays ad infinitum,
didn’t necessarily get things spot on,
and – now please don’t get me wrong –
I’m usually in favour of creative licence,
but this story is a special instance,
so I might add bits, but I won’t change anything,
because this story is about the birth of the King of kings.
And everyone needs to take part in this,
so when I say, “Christmas!” please reply – “It’s about Jesus!”
Christmas! It’s about Jesus!
Where shall we start? There are so many beginnings
in this story, if we include all the trimmings!
But starting when God created the earth
is probably too far back to get to the birth
of Jesus before the end of the day,
so we’ll start with a visit an angel paid
to a teenager called Mary, so all the Marys,
come and stand in the aisle, if you please,
and look like you’re busy, sweeping the floor,
baking bread, or cleaning the door.
That’s great, and everyone else, don’t relax,
because we are nearly at Christmas – It’s about Jesus!
So all our Marys are busy with everyday jobs,
not expecting a visit from a heavenly bod,
but if our angels can come now to the centre,
and each pick a Mary – you’re going to scare her!
So after three, all the angels say “boo”
and all the Marys will freeze and say “who are you?”
Ready? 1, 2, 3, “boo!” “who are you?”
[Angels & Marys stay standing in pair]
The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “don’t be afraid,
God says that you’re a brilliant maid,
and, though you’re no-one’s wife just now,
in 9 months’ time, or thereabouts
you’ll have a baby boy, God’s son.”
But, said Mary, “I’m not married to anyone”.
“Don’t worry about that”, the angel said,
God can do miracles, and you will be wed
to that Joseph, the builder you’re engaged to.
God will sort it all out, don’t get in a stew.
For years to come people celebrate
your baby, so don’t get in a state
because they’ll remember all this
at Christmas – It’s about Jesus!
So Mary agreed to do what God wanted,
and shook the angel’s hand before they parted.
[Angels & Marys shake hands]
So Marys and angels can go back to your chairs [They go]
and we’ll all stand to sing a carol when you’re there.
O come, all ye faithful
So Mary began to get bigger and bigger,
while local people talked and sniggered,
and Joseph wondered how to react
knowing the baby wasn’t his, as a fact.
So let’s have the Josephs up to the front [They come up]
as he thinks what to do about his engagement.
And just to make sure the rest aren’t rebellious,
remember it’s nearly Christmas – It’s about Jesus!
Very good, I’m glad that you’re still awake.
Now, Josephs – here’s some faces to make.
First Joseph didn’t believe the rumour [Disbelieving looks]
that he heard from the local butcher;
he shook his head and said - after me - “no way “no way”
I’m believing what you’ve said today!”
“I’m believing what you’ve said today!”
Then, when he started to believe his eyes,
Joseph looked very very surprised. [Surprised looks]
Then, when he realised he wasn’t the dad,
his face showed everyone that he was mad. [Furious looks]
But, Joseph really loved Mary –
can you all make a love-y face for us to see? - [Romantic looks]
And he decided to break it off quietly
and not to go ahead and marry Mary.
But then one night Joseph settled down to sleep [Josephs lie
and had the most amazing dream.
Let’s have the angels back up here [They come up]
and even in dreams, angels say, “do not fear!”
The dream-angels said to our man,
“Don’t worry. Don’t worry. God has a plan!”
Mary hasn’t been seeing someone new,
she’s still very much in love with you.
Go ahead and marry her just like you planned.”
And with that, the dream-angels ran! [They go]
Joseph woke up and did as he was told, [Josephs get up]
bringing Mary back in from the cold.
Let’s get the Marys to pick a Joseph each, [Pairing up]
and maybe give him a peck on the cheek…?! [Maybe?!]
Not long to go now…until Christmas – It’s about Jesus!
It was being announced by loud voices all over town,
that Roman Emperor Caesar said all must go down
to the towns where their family originally came from,
a massive census with all forced to sign on.
Now, in most cases women didn’t need to go,
as their husbands or fathers could sign for them, so
Mary could have stayed at home, feet up
while Joseph travelled and tried his luck
to find a bed in his home town,
but that would have made the prophet Micah frown,
because he had written centuries ago
that the Messiah – Jesus – would be born on the road,
away from their home, in Bethlehem,
which actually means, ‘house of bread’.
Anyway, I’m getting off the story now,
and you’ll all be ready to be loud,
so Marys & Josephs will make their way round
to Bethlehem, as we sing with voices unbound –
And do we have any donkeys with us today?
You know, the Bible doesn’t actually say
that Mary rode on a donkey – more likely
that the donkey carried their bags and she walked.
But if you’ve come along as a donkey,
now’s the time to come and help with their journey!
O little town of Bethlehem
The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem
is quite enough to exhaust anyone;
and even if Mary was at the peak of fitness
it’s an eighty-mile walk, a week at best,
but she was nearly ready to have her babe,
so it probably took them nearer ten days.
and what do you do, when you go back
to your home town, do you pack
everything you possibly need for your stay,
or do you let your folks know you’re on the way?
Joseph would, quite rightly, have expected a bed
for him and Mary, where his family lay their head.
The problem was, all the guest rooms
were full up before the slow-coaches – these two
arrived in the town. What got written as ‘inn’
in many of our Bibles, is a bit misleading,’
and stables aren’t like sheds, out the back,
they’re not a tumbledown old shack,
but the animals lived inside the house:
on the ground floor, there were cows
and donkeys and maybe a goat or two,
[Animals can come up if present]
while the people lived upstairs, away from the zoo.
Hotels didn’t exist in first-century Palestine,
no one ever sent you to room number nine.
Joseph probably went from house to house,
asking if there’s space for two of us
because it’s nearly Christmas – it’s about Jesus!
There was no Holiday Inn or Travelodge there,
Joseph was looking for a relative’s house to share.
Now if we have innkeepers present among us,
please spread yourselves out along between us.
As we sing this song,
please feel free to sing along,
and one at a time, the Josephs can come
to ask an innkeeper if they’re all full up.
And the last one, whoever that may be,
will seal with a handshake when he gets lucky!
Once in Royal David’s city
During which, Josephs ask Innkeepers for room and get a
‘no’ until the
final innkeeper, who shakes his hand
But don’t get too comfortable this time,
As it won’t be so long before my rhyme
Gives way once again to a carol or song,
And remember it’s nearly Christmas – it’s about Jesus!
So let’s have the Marys and Josephs here in the barn [They
for the most important part of our yarn.
Right there, where the animals usually were,
[Herd animals back to seats]
the son of God’s arrival did occur,
among the mess and the mud,
all of the dung and the dust
that accompanies life in this world, with us.
No midwives appear in the Bible story,
but you can bet your bottom dollar it was gory,
just like any other human birth,
on this planet, we call home – the earth.
[Bring a wrapped baby doll to give to a Mary
during the following stanza…]
Being a midwife wasn’t really a job
in first-century Palestine, but
the women of Joseph’s family
would have rallied round in their time of need.
Finally, it’s properly Christmas! It’s about Jesus!
Then, after Jesus had a good cry and a feed,
the next thing this little boy would need,
was somewhere soft and safe to sleep,
so Mary looked around the heaps
of straw, and put some in the feeding trough
which turned out to be good enough. [Place Jesus in manger]
The nativity story zooms right out next,
to take in shepherds, not at their best,
trying to get through the night,
who are about to get an enormous fright.
So any shepherds who are here today,
please can you gather at the back, that way, [Point them to field
and make yourselves comfortable, on the ground,
around the fire, some of you sleeping sound;
Others of you might count the sheep
to make sure none have taken a leap
off the hillside, or got otherwise lost
because every lost sheep to you will cost!
Nothing much happens during the night shift –
it’s usually a good time to catch up on kip. [Some shepherds
Now, shepherds weren’t considered holy men
In those days, because they couldn’t get
to worship at the temple or synagogue,
due to always working on the Sabbath.
So they couldn’t usually worship with anyone else,
but on that night, worship came to them!
We’re going to need all our angels again,
Please come up and stand over there, [Behind or beside
to say boo to the shepherds and give them a scare!
The shepherds were completely petrified, [Shepherds afraid]
they hugged each other, shook and cried. [Hugs all round]
But the angel said to them, “don’t worry,
but I would advise you to hurry
to the town, where you will find
the baby Messiah, who will save humankind.
And, if you need some proof of this,
you’ll find the baby where ox food normally is!”
Then, suddenly, the whole sky was full up
of angels, singing glory to God, “Glory to God!”
And we’ll all stand for our next carol all together,
Because it’s Christmas – It’s about Jesus!
While shepherds watched their flocks by night
There were shepherds (Out of the Ark Music)
The angels disappeared, the shepherds jumped up
and left the sheep there – the whole flock! –
to rush off to find the newborn king
[Shepherds up and off to ‘Bethlehem’]
using the angel’s clue about where he was lying.
The shepherds arrived where the family were,
tiptoeing in, so as not to cause a stir, [Tiptoe towards manger]
and they just knew there was something special
about the boy, so they hushed their babble
and knelt silently, by the manger there [Shepherds kneel]
before telling the story of what led them here.
Joseph and Mary were totally amazed
by their story, which some might have said was crazed,
but they were getting used to surprises from God,
so they listened, and remembered, the whole lot.
The shepherds had come because
it’s Christmas – it’s about Jesus!
Now Marys and Josephs and shepherds can sit,
because the next part of the story is set
a very long way away, in lands to the east,
where wise ones study the stars, down to the least
little change or movement, which they thought to show
up there in the sky what was happening on earth below.
So let’s have any wise men – or women, for that matter –
up here to consult the stars with telescopes
and compare them with their maps and charts.
[Wise men & women come to ‘starry sky’ area]
And if we have anyone who has come as a star
this evening [or morning], please can you go over there,
to shine above the town of Bethlehem. [Near to manger]
The star appeared when Jesus was born,
and the wise ones spotted it, shining out. [They point to star]
They said – after me - “what is this that we see?”
“What is this that we see?”
The new star was shining so brilliantly
What should they do, this group so clever?
They talked and got their heads together. [Huddle]
Let’s follow the star, they decided, as one,
as it must mean a royal baby has come.
They set off on their adventure,
not knowing where or when it would end –
by far the longest journey in this tale,
across desert, mountain, stream and dale.
And such a long way it was – no doubt -
that, because the star appeared when Jesus popped out
it was likely to be at least a year on
when these guys arrived – but it’s time for a song!
So as we sing, please can the stars
lead these wise ones all round and afar?
Because it’s Christmas! It’s about Jesus.
We three kings
As with gladness men of old
The guys with the camels (Out of the Ark Music)
During which, stars lead wise ones all round the room, ending
to Jerusalem, somewhere middle front, & stars can sit down
Now I’m hoping in the room we have a king
who goes by the name of Herod, I’m thinking
he should come up here and sit
on this big red throne for a bit
as we continue to tell the story. The wise men
didn’t go at first to Bethlehem,
because the star wasn’t that precise,
and now our story gets less nice.
King Herod is a nasty sort of man
who does everything that he possibly can
to keep himself in the seat of power.
The wise men, not wanting to scour
the whole country for this new king,
went straight to Herod’s palace, logically.
When they turned up at his place
he put on his very nicest face, [Pulls nice face]
he shook their hands and welcomed them all [Welcomes wise
and listen to their story, enthralled.
Then he left them, eating and drinking [They mime]
as he did not like what he was hearing.
He called together his cleverest folk [Narrator moves over to
to ask them what the prophets had spoke
about where the messiah was to be born,
“In Bethlehem” they said, in a new dawn!
Herod was scared of losing his throne
to a new king he didn’t even know.
So he went back to the wise men, with a smile, [Herod to wise
and told them where to find the child,
and also asked them, by the by,
to let him know where he also the boy could spy.
King Herod, you can sit down for a while [Herod back to seat]
while the wise men find the child.
King Herod is really not very Christmas – it’s about Jesus!
The wise men went to Bethlehem, Jesus-finding –
the boy by now was probably walking –
but Joseph and Mary had stayed in the town
until he was big enough to travel back down
to Nazareth, where he would grow up and live,
but I skip ahead, I always do this!
Let’s have one star – yes, you’ll do well – [Select one star…]
to show the kings where the family dwell. […to stand by
The wise men arrived, properly following the star [Wise men
until it stops where the family are.
So let’s have our Marys, making the bed, [Mime]
and Josephs, sawing wood for a shed!
Here come the wise ones, knocking at the door, [Knocking]
not what Joseph expected at all!
He invited them in, and then they saw
the child they’d travelled all this way for.
They present him gifts, not the usual kind –
no teddies or woolly hats, lined with soft fur,
But gold and frankincense and myrrh. [Give gifts]
Three gifts, yes, but not necessarily three
wise men – now don’t get cross with me! –
But there might have been more, or fewer
of these rich, travelling astrologers.
Gold for a king, incense for a God,
But myrrh is the sad gift of the lot,
pointing ahead to the Easter story,
which is also, in places, really quite gory.
They left their gifts, and had a nap [Wise ones mime sleep]
before they were due to set off back
to tell Herod where to find the boy,
but, warned in a dream about Herod’s ploy,
they went back East a different road.
[Point them round a different way back to their
And can we have Herod up here once more [He sits on the
while you guys go back to your seats
for the ending to be revealed.
It’s Christmas – it’s about Jesus!
When Herod found out that the men
had gone back home a different way,
he got really steaming mad, and said, [Herod gets mad]
“I would have ensured that king was dead,
but as I don’t know where he is,
I have no choice but to improvise.”
He calculated when the wise men said
the star had appeared, which had led
them to his land, and he worked out
he could leave no room for doubt.
So Herod sent every single soldier
to find the boys who were two or younger,
and, sad to say, all of them died
in one horrible night in ancient times.
Now, we all like a happy ending,
to create a viral tweet that’s trending.
The good news is that Joe was told in a dream
what would happen, and that he should leave
with Mary and Jesus, off to Egypt,
so says our Bible manuscript.
And, for now, we’ll leave it there –
a happy ending we can all share.
So as you tuck into your Christmas lunch,
Remember that Christmas – it’s about Jesus!
So thank you to one, and thank you to all,
For making this nativity a ball.
And just to mess with your heads further,
Jesus was probably born in September!
So please come back for the Easter sequel,
But now let’s stand to sing our final carol.
After that, refreshments are served in the hall,
So happy Christmas, one and all!
See Him lying on a bed of straw
Scratch Nativity - by Angela Bryan