A Very Kippax Christmas 2013
This is the script that we will be using at the Very Kippax Christmas on 15 December at 945. Everyone is invited to come dressed as something to do with the story. Some of the more ‘obvious’ things that you might like to dress up as are highlighted in the text. But don’t let that limit your imagination, your creativity or your sense of fun. 3rd lobsters are very welcome.
If you have something in mind that doesnt seem to be in the script, let us know – we are an open and inclusive church and are happy to make textual accommodations
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Roman Empire was a mighty kingdom that dominated 6 ½ million square kilometres. That’s almost the size of Australia.
In those days the whole area was ruled by an emperor called Augustus who presided over an era of relative peace when arts and culture flourished. But the empire demanded taxes from the people of all the regions it had conquered.
One of those regions was Judea which was an important link between Mediterranean coastal ports and food production in Egypt. To tax people, you need to know where they are. The emperor didn’t want to be caught on the blind side or outflanked, so the emperor ordered all the local governors to conduct a census. In the absence of a reliable postal service or high speed internet, every person had to travel back to the place where they were born to be accounted for.
At this time, there was bloke named Joseph who was just a carpenter minding his own business when life suddenly got complicated.
First of all his fiancée Mary was mysteriously pregnant. Mary had been immensely shocked to be visited by a messenger from God telling her she would bear a special child. No denying it was a weird situation, one that would rattle the minds of theologians and thinkers for centuries, but Joseph was going to stand by the woman he loved.
The second complication was that the couple were going to have to travel a really long way for the census. In those days you couldn’t just book a flight or jump on a bus: travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem was not a simple thing. It was 150 kilometres – about 4 days’ walk if all went well. The region directly between Nazareth and Bethlehem wasn’t very safe. You had to get from Galilee to Judea but there was Samaria in the middle and the Jews and Samaritans didn’t like each other very much. Travellers in strange territory were at risk of attack from robbers and bandits.
So Mary and Joseph probably joined a convoy of people, called a caravan, to travel together as a group for safety and company. The caravan probably included donkeys, carts and camels. They were as common around then as wallabies and brumbies are travelling around Australia.
In those days you couldn’t book your accommodation ahead. When they reached Bethlehem they found it packed to the rafters with people coming back to their home town to register. Every hotel, B&B and relative’s couch was completely booked out. Mary and Joseph would have been really stuck but fortunately, the friendly owner of a pub took pity on them and told them they could camp out in his stables with the horses and cows.
Pretty soon Mary went into labour right there in the stables and she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. She wrapped him up, snug as a bug in a rug, and made up a bed for him in a feed trough full of hay.
Now, the region around Bethlehem was sheep country, and that night there was a group of shepherds and shearers, sitting round a campfire, telling stories and resting after a hard day’s work. Suddenly the whole sky lit up like fireworks with the glory of God, and the Lord’s messenger stood among them.
They were pretty freaked out, but the messenger said to them, “It’s okay! There’s no need to panic. I’m here with good news, news that will give everyone everywhere good reason to celebrate. A saviour has just been born in David’s town. He is God’s chosen one, God’s gift, the Lord of all. Go and see for yourselves. You’ll know you’ve found him when you see a baby wrapped in a blanket and sleeping in a feed trough!”
The second he’d finished speaking, the messenger was joined by a whole crowd from heaven like a massive gospel choir, all praising God and shouting at the tops of their voices, saying: “All the glory belongs to God in heaven, and let there be peace on earth for all God’s people!”
Then suddenly the show was over: the angels didn’t have any traffic problems at the end of their concert, and they were gone, just like that! They all went back to heaven and the guys were left sitting there looking at one another, stunned. “We’d better go and check this out,” they said. “Let’s go into town and see what’s going on.”
So without hesitation, they charged straight into Bethlehem, and sure enough, they tracked down Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the feed trough. When they saw all this, they began telling everyone what they had heard about this child. People could hardly believe their ears when they heard what the shepherds and shearers were saying.
Then they headed off back to their camp again – a rowdy mob, singing and shouting in the streets about how fabulous God was because of everything they had seen and heard. Everything had been just the way they had been told it would be.
Their words rung in Mary’s ears. She felt excited and blessed and amazed.
Now all of this happened during the reign of King Herod who was a nasty local puppet king – the Romans has him under their thumb. He liked the bit of power he had and felt very threatened by the idea that another “king” might have just been born.
Soon after Jesus’ birth, a group of wise men arrived from the far east, looking for him. Although they are often referred to nowadays as “kings” these guys were more like celebrity astrologers, providing advice to the ruling classes. They had travelled a very long way across the desert with their entourage to find the king whose birth they had seen in the stars.
Naturally, they started their search at Herod’s palace, asking “Where can we find the child who has been born to be the king of the Jews? We observed the appearance of the star that heralds his birth, and so we have come all this way to pay our respects.”
Herod went berserk when he heard this, and when Herod was cranky, everybody in Jerusalem had reason to be worried. Pulling himself together, he called in the city’s top priests and religious scholars and asked them where they thought the Messiah was supposed to be born. They were in no doubt: “Bethlehem in Judea,” they said. “The prophet Micah spelt it out quite clearly:
‘Bethlehem in Judea, you’re it!
I’m going to put you on the map!
You will be the home town of my chosen ruler,
the one who will lead my people on the right track.’”
So, Herod met behind closed doors with the visiting astrologers and grilled them for information about exactly when the star had first appeared. So they all got their heads together, a bit like a scrum in a football game. At first, he couldn’t believe they were serious that it would be in Bethlehem, but he gave in, and sent them on their way, saying, “Go, and leave no stone unturned until you find the child. When you’ve found him, drop me a line so that I can come down and pay my respects too.”
So, having gained this information from the King, they headed off. As they did, they spotted the star again, the same one they had first seen appear. Taking a line from the star, they were able to track down the exact place where the child was. Their search was finally at an end, and they were over the moon!
At the stable, they introduced themselves to Mary and Joseph and were allowed to meet the little child they had come all this way to see. Overcome with amazement, they fell to their knees in reverent wonder before the child and they gave him exotic gifts they had brought with them on their long journey:
gold, to symbolise Jesus’ kingship and to help a young family get started;
frankincense, a beautiful perfume to symbolise holy anointing – not to mention when burned like incense it was handy at keeping the mozzies away;
and myrrh, another fragrant substance, known for its healing and embalming properties, to symbolise Jesus’ future suffering on the cross.
Fortunately, before the wise men could even think about going back to tell Herod they had found Jesus, they were warned in a vivid dream not to, so they kept a low profile and took the back roads out of Judea as they began their journey home to their own country.
Before long, Herod realised the wise men weren’t coming back so he prepared to take more drastic measures and send his soldiers looking for all newborn babies. This was not going to be a good thing. But God warned Joseph in a dream, and Mary and Joseph bundled up their precious newborn and headed off in secret to take the long way home to safety.