A Christmas Play ~ A Celebration, A Scroll and An Unknown Messiah

ABOUT A THIRTY-MINUTE PLAY. MAY BE ENHANCED AND LENGTHENED WITH MUSICALS.

Copyright ©2008 Carisa Gourley

Characters:

JUDAH: The Merchant

RUTH: Judah's Wife

SIMEON: The son of Judah & Ruth

NAOMI: The daughter of Judah & Ruth

AARON: The Servant of the Merchant's Family

REUBEN: Judah's Brother

SALOMI: Reuben's Wife

JOASH: Reuben and Salomi's son

PRISCILLA: Salomi's maid-servant girl

JESUS: The unexpected guest

Ruth smooths her clothes and begins to tidy the room as Judah sits and relaxes. Their children are playing a game on the floor.

RUTH: Oh, it's such a perfect evening for the celebration of the Holy Day!

JUDAH: That it is, my dear, that it is.

(Judah rubs his beard and gestures toward his daughter).

Naomi, would you please make certain that there is a closed sign on the door post? This is one merchant who won't be disturbed today.

NAOMI: Oh, it is, Father, I placed it there myself.

JUDAH: Very well.

RUTH: Simeon, I want you and Naomi to go out and water the camels before our relatives arrive.

SIMEON: What's wrong with Aaron?! That's the duty of a servant!

RUTH: Father and I are giving him the day off today in observance of the Holy Day which means that you two will have to take his place.

SIMEON: But Mother, that will take a long time, and we want to celebrate the Holy Day too!

NAOMI: That's right Mother, it isn't fair!

RUTH: Now don't argue. There will be plenty of time for you to celebrate. Some things must be done whether it's the Holy Day or not, and this is one of them. Now go, those camels are waiting!

SIMEON & NAOMI: Yes, Mother.

(The children turn to go).

SIMEON: Naomi should be good at this. She kinda reminds me of a camel!

(Simeon laughs at his own remark and Naomi playfully slugs him).

Owww! (Simeon rubs his arm).

NAOMI: Well, that's what you get for calling me a camel.

RUTH: That will be enough, you two.

(The children leave the room and Judah chuckles to himself.)

JUDAH: Dear Ruth, those children of ours can be quite a handful at times.

RUTH: Yes, I know, they get it from their father.

JUDAH: Hey, now.

RUTH: When do think your brother and his family will arrive?

JUDAH: Very soon, I suppose. (pause) Reuben tells me that their family has a new addition.

RUTH: Oh, has Salomi been with child?

JUDAH: No. They haven't been able to have a child since Joash, and Salomi has felt quite disheartened. Recently, Reuben came across a young maidservant that was orphaned as a babe. She'd never been placed in permanent service for anyone, and has been treated like a hireling. Since her parents death, she has only known the care of the various government officials, or someone who temporarily needed her service. She's never known her family or had a place to call her home, until now.

RUTH: Oh, that poor child! I'm so glad that she has found a home with people that love her!

(Aaron the servant enters the room discreetly).

AARON: Excuse me, Mistress?

RUTH: Oh, Aaron, please come in. I was about to send for you anyway. We want to make certain you are here to join in the day's festivities!

AARON: I just seen Simeon and Naomi doing my duty and it makes me feel bad.

RUTH: Trust me, Aaron, it's good for them. Just relax and enjoy yourself today!

AARON: Thank you, Mistress, you and the master make me feel like family.

JUDAH & RUTH: You are family, Aaron.

AARON: Oh, speaking of family, Master, I believe your family has arrived. They were just hitching up their animals when I came in.

JUDAH: Wonderful!

(Judah begins to stand to his feet when there's a knock at the door. Reuben walks right in without being invited and embraces his brother. Ruth embraces Salomi and Joash welcoming them and making small talk).

REUBEN: (As the brothers embrace). Shalom, my brother.

JUDAH: Shalom. (pause) I say, it's been too long since we have all been together.

REUBEN: Yes, my brother, but we are together now, and for a great cause.

RUTH: Please, come sit down. Make yourselves at home.

(Aaron gestures toward Salomi, then to his chair).

AARON: Please, my lady, take my seat.

SALOMI: Thank you, Aaron, you are very kind.

(Everyone sits down except Priscilla who stands close to her mistress. Aaron sits on the floor).

JOASH: Where is Simeon and Naomi?

AARON: Oh, they're filling in for me today and letting me have a break.

REUBEN: Say, that's nice. Joash, why don't you go out and help your cousins?

JOASH: But, Father...

REUBEN: Go, Joash. (Reuben says this in a firm tone and points toward the door).

JOASH: Yes, sir. (He turns to go and grumbles to himself). Me and my big mouth. I should have just found them myself. (He leaves the room).

(Judah looks toward his wife).

JUDAH: Boy, now that sounds familiar. (He turns to Reuben) We had a similar response from ours earlier.

RUTH: Aaron, do you see now why I said it'll be good for them?

(Aaron smiles).

JUDAH: Well, now. Let's meet the little maidservant. What is your name, child?

PRISCILLA: I'm Priscilla, sir.

JUDAH: Well I'm glad to meet you Priscilla. You may refer to me as Uncle Judah if you like.

PRISCILLA: Thank you, Uncle Judah, sir.

REUBEN: Priscilla has been a blessed addition to our home.

SALOMI: Yes, she's like a daughter to us.

PRISCILLA: Thank you, Mistress. You are the only Mother I've ever known, yet I cannot imagine ever having one better than you.

(Salomi reaches over and slightly embraces Priscilla and wipes tears from her eyes).

REUBEN: So, how's business, Judah?

JUDAH: God has been good to us; and he has abundantly blessed`. I have the store packed full, and I've been keeping some of the overflow stored here in the house. Things seem to be going as fast as I get them in.

REUBEN: That's so good to hear. I was wondering how you would fare going from a shepherd to a merchant. It seems you're doing fine.

JUDAH: I must admit, I do miss at times the quiet solitude of the fields, and the company of my beloved sheep. It gets so busy here in the town. Most of all, I miss being around you and your family, Reuben.

REUBEN: We miss you too, but being in God's will is what's most fulfilling. There must be a reason why God led your family here.

JUDAH: His ways are not our ways. I have had the privilege of meeting some dear people here. Many of my customers have become dear friends.

REUBEN: How is the worship here?

JUDAH: Oh, it's much more modern than we're used to at home. Each teacher is highly skilled by local rabbis, and their knowledge is incredible. They seem to make the Scriptures come alive and so easy to understand.

REUBEN: Have you shared your story with anyone here?

JUDAH: No, not yet. I'm waiting for the right time. I want to get a solid reputation established first so they'll believe my words.

REUBEN: That's probably wise.

JUDAH: Also, since God has chose to bless my business, I am hoping to take some of the money I make to enroll Simeon in one of the schools here. I've been talking to some of the rabbis, and they think they may be able to find a place for him before his next birthday.

REUBEN: How does Simeon feel about this?

JUDAH: He doesn't seem to show a preference one way or the other. He is still so much a boy at heart. I would like to think the schooling might mature him some.

REUBEN: He would do better though if he holds some interest for that sort of thing.

JUDAH: Well time will tell. I'll just see if there's an opening first before I worry too much over details. I just thought with a son as a respected scholar, people may be more apt to hear my story.

RUTH: People will believe what they want to believe dear, regardless of social status. If you wait to tell them, they'll wonder why you kept it from them all this time. I think they'd be more likely to believe you if you tell them now.

JUDAH: I don't know, let's just forget about them for now. We know what's true. We'll just celebrate our Holy Day today and worry about them later.

RUTH: As you wish, dear.

JUDAH: Reuben, Ruth and I have talked it over. Because the Lord has blessed us, we would like to share some of that blessing with you. We want to pay for all of your expenses coming and going, and provide you with a few provisions to take home.

REUBEN: (startled) Judah, I could never let you do that! (Salomi shakes her head and holds up her hand).

JUDAH: God blesses those who bless others. Would you rob me of that blessing?

REUBEN: Well if you put it that way...

JUDAH: Then it's settled. Everything will be set in order before you return home.

REUBEN: Judah, I don't know what to say.

JUDAH: Then don't say anything, just accept my gift.

REUBEN: Thank you, my brother. I am indebted to you.

JUDAH: The only thing I ask is your covenant of love.

REUBEN: You can always count on that, my brother.

(Ruth starts stirring a pot of soup).

JUDAH: Smells delicious dear.

RUTH: Well it's almost finished.

SALOMI: Here I'll set the table for you.

(Salomi gets the plates, bread and cups and starts to set the table).

PRISCILLA: I will help, Mistress.

RUTH: Why don't you go see if the other children are almost done and tell them it's almost time to break bread.

PRISCILLA: Yes, dear lady.

RUTH: Aunt Ruth, my dear.

PRISCILLA: Of course, Aunt Ruth.

(Priscilla leaves the room, the ladies continue to make preparations for dinner).

REUBEN: Aaron, my boy, I thought I caught you looking fondly toward my Priscilla.

AARON: I must admit sir, she's quite a lovely girl.

JUDAH: Well, Aaron, maybe when she's of age, Reuben and I could betroth the two of you.

AARON: As always, Master, your wish is my command.

(Everyone laughs).

(Simeon, Naomi, Joash, and Priscilla enter back into the room. Simeon walks over to Aaron and lays his hand on his shoulder).

SIMEON: Aaron, I've just learned to appreciate you more.

AARON: Thank you, Master Simeon.

NAOMI: Oh, my arms are aching form hauling so much water! Aaron, you must have a lot of muscle hiding under that tunic.

(Aaron flexes his muscle, smiles and nods).

(Simeon then walks over to his mother and lays a hand on her shoulder).

SIMEON: It's all done now, Mother. And with Joash's help we got finished much faster.

RUTH: Good, and just in time to break bread. Go wash up.

SIMEON: Great, I'm starved! I think I could eat every last drop in that pot!

NAOMI: Well, I'd rather look like a camel than a pig. (She smirks, pleased at her great come-back).

SIMEON: (Sticking out his tongue) Naahh!

JUDAH: Alright, just get washed up.

(The three finish washing up at the basin {Joash first} then dry their hands and faces).

JOASH: (Looks into the basin in disgust) I'm glad I washed first, that water looks gross!

NAOMI: Maybe that's why it looks gross, because you washed first.

JOASH: Whatever.

(Ruth stirs the pot one last time then sets it on the table).

JUDAH: Shall we eat?

RUTH: Yes, it's ready, dear.

(They all find their places and sit down).

JUDAH: Brother Reuben, please ask the blessing.

(Everyone bows their heads).

REUBEN: Our Holy Father in Heaven. Thank You for this food that You provide and for the comfort of family. Most of all thank You for what this day stands for. May Your blessing be upon this food, upon this family, and on this day. Amen.

EVERYONE: Amen.

(The women begin filling everyone's bowls with soup and gives each person a piece of bread. When everyone is served the women sit down and everyone starts eating. After they've eaten briefly, Priscilla ventures a question).

PRISCILLA: If I may ask, what does this day stand for?

(Everyone looks at her in surprise).

REUBEN: Oh, Priscilla, I should have told you about today. I guess I just somehow thought you knew.

JUDAH: Priscilla, before I became a merchant, and sold things out of my home here, Reuben and I were both shepherds. We would spend long hours in the fields with our sheep, just like Reuben still does. Exactly 12 years ago on this very night, a marvelous thing happened.

(Reuben leans back in his chair, folds his arms, and looks toward the sky).

REUBEN: Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday. While we were there in the fields that night, an angel of the Lord came to us and lit up the sky turning it as bright as the noon day.

PRISCILLA: Did you say an ANGEL?

REUBEN: Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but it happened.

JUDAH: I don't mind telling ya, we were scared!

REUBEN: That's an understatement. Anyway, the angel said, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy! And he said that in the city of David, a baby had been born which was the Savior. He said we could find this baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger!

PRISCILLA: A MANGER?!

JUDAH: Yes. And after he said that, a whole multitude of the Heavenly Host filled the sky, and started praising God!

JUDAH & REUBEN: Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

RUTH: The next thing I knew, the two of them ran into the house, breathless, scaring me half to death. They said they were leaving for Bethlehem. When I asked Why, they told me an angel told them about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. Then they ran out as fast as they came in!

REUBEN: We were so stunned, that we didn't know whether we were coming or going!

JUDAH: At first we thought we were dreaming, but there was no denying the glory of God that had shown in the sky. The light was so bright, our eyes hurt for a long time.

REUBEN: We went as fast as we could to Bethlehem. It didn't take long to find them once we arrived.

PRISCILLA: How did you know where to look?

REUBEN: Where else would you find a manger? We looked in a stable!

PRISCILLA: The Messiah in a stable. (Priscilla shook her head).

REUBEN: Yes. And I still don't know why God chose to announce the Messiah's birth to us. We have thanked him over and over.

JUDAH: When we got there, there was the tiny babe laying on a pile of hay and in the manger just like the angel said.

REUBEN: You know, what's so funny? The parents didn't act a bit surprised when we got there and began to worship Him.

JUDAH: I'm sure nothing surprised them anymore.

PRISCILLA: What did the baby look like?

REUBEN: Just an ordinary baby I suppose. His features were much like his mother's. He even cried to be held. But we knew this was God in the Flesh.

JUDAH: We are very blessed. And that's why we celebrate the Holy Day. In remembrance of the day twelve years ago this night.

PRISCILLA: That's so wonderful!

AARON: I never get tired hearing about it.

PRISCILLA: If you don't mind my asking, Uncle Judah, is this the story that you didn't know if you should tell?

JUDAH: Yes, this is the one.

JOASH: I think you should tell everyone you see! So many think the Messiah has never arrived. Everyone should know about this. If just one person believed it would be worth telling.

JUDAH: I'll keep that in mind.

RUTH: Well let's clean up this mess, then we can play some games.

ALL THE CHILDREN: YEAH!!!!

(Ruth, Salomi, Naomi, and Priscilla began cleaning up. A few moments later, Reuben leans his ear as if listening to something).

REUBEN: Judah, I thought I heard someone outside toward the outer gate.

JUDAH: Simeon, go see if someone's outside.

SIMEON: Yes, Father.

(Simeon gets up and leaves the room).

JUDAH: It's probably just someone wanting to buy something from the merchant's shop. They probably didn't see the sign.

(Simeon can be heard talking outside):

SIMEON: Stay here while I talk to my Father, the merchant.

(Simeon enters the room again).

SIMEON: Father, there's someone out here who would like to purchase a scroll of the Prophet Isaiah.

JUDAH: Did you tell them I'm closed?

SIMEON: I just couldn't, Father. He's about my age and he said he wants to buy it with some money that he got for his birthday.

JUDAH: A scroll, huh? And you say he's about your age, and wants to buy this scroll with birthday money?

SIMEON: That's what he said, Father.

RUTH: Finally, a good example.

JUDAH: I have such a scroll already in here. (Judah gets up and reaches for the scroll). See him in Simeon.

SIMEON: Of course, Father.

(Simeon steps out and brings the boy in from outside).

JESUS: Shalom.

JUDAH: Shalom.

JESUS: Sir, I wish to purchase a scroll of the Prophet Isaiah.

JUDAH: So I've heard. How is it that a boy your age is interested in making a purchase such as this?

JESUS: Oh, sir, reading and memorizing the Holy Scriptures is my favorite past time. I'd rather do it than eat.

JUDAH: Why do you choose Isaiah?

JESUS: Well to be honest, I have already memorized the book word for word. I received a scroll of this book as a gift the night I was born, and the scroll is just worn out now. Although I know the words all by heart, I just want a copy to read and hold in my hand.

REUBEN: You've memorized this whole book?

JESUS: Yes, sir, I have.

JUDAH: Well tell me then, do you think there are any prophecies of the Messiah in this book?

JESUS: Oh, yes, more than one.

JUDAH: How do you think it predicts the Messiah will come?

JESUS: He predicted the Messiah would be born of a virgin birth.

JUDAH: And what did it say they should call the child?

JESUS: God with us. Immanuel.

JUDAH: Very impressive. There are many adults who still don't believe that this portion is a prediction of the Messiah. But I know for a fact that it's true. You have a lot of wisdom for a boy your age.

JESUS: Thank you, sir.

REUBEN: Do you know any other books?

JESUS: Yes, I've fully memorized two others and portions from the rest.

REUBEN: Do you attend school?

JESUS: No. My family like most around here works hard for their money yet don't have a lot of extra to spend on such things. However, they do afford what is most important. They have always kept scrolls of every book in our home, and they have started me my own personal library of the Scriptures. My uncle taught me to read when I was five, and my Mother schooled me herself from the Scriptures. Now, it's more than just learning for me, it's my life. My mother sometimes has to remind me to go out and get fresh air. When I do step outside I just see the Scriptures come alive before my eyes. I see God's handiwork everywhere. From the trees to the hills and in the faces of every human being. The evidence of God is everywhere.

REUBEN: Well said. I've never thought of it like that.

JESUS: (Jesus turns toward Judah) May I ask you a question sir?

JUDAH: Sure, go ahead.

JESUS: You said that you know for a fact that the prophecy of the Messiah was true. Why did you say that?

REUBEN: Boy, nothing gets by you, does it.

RUTH: Dear, here's your chance. Tell him.

JUDAH: Let me just say that God was merciful enough to reveal it to me.

JESUS: In what way?

RUTH: Come on Judah.

JUDAH: Well it says it in Isaiah, does it not?

JESUS: Well of course. I just thought maybe God showed you in a way other than the Scriptures.

JUDAH: Well here's your scroll. That will be sixteen farthings.

JESUS: Here you are sir. (Jesus hands Judah the coins). Thank you for allowing me into your home. I see that you seem to be in the midst of a celebration. I saw just before I came in that your shop is actually closed today. Thank you so much for making an exception for me.

JUDAH: Oh that's okay, I enjoyed talking with you. Keep memorizing those Scriptures.

JESUS: Oh, I will. I won't stop until I know every book by heart.

JUDAH: Wonderful.

Judah sees him to the door.

JUDAH: Shalom, my son.

JESUS: Shalom.

(Judah comes back and sits down with his family).

SALOMI: What a nice boy.

REUBEN: You know, brother, something tells me that boy just might have believed your story.

RUTH: I was thinking the same thing.

JUDAH: Oh, well, he's gone now. And after all he was just a boy.

REUBEN: Yes, but a very wise boy.

RUTH: Well, what game shall we play?

SIMEON: I don't feel so much like playing now.

RUTH: How come?

SIMEON: Oh, I don't know. (pause) Uncle Reuben, when you went to see the Messiah, did you bring him a gift?

REUBEN: Well, yes. I didn't have much, but I did bring a couple of my choice lambs. I figured the parents could sell them and use the money, or keep them, whatever they chose.

JUDAH: You did give your best. You loved those lambs.

NAOMI: Father, did you give a gift to the Messiah?

JUDAH: Well of course! I gave him the thing that was most precious to me at that time.

SIMEON: What was that, Father?

JUDAH: It was...a scroll... of the Prophet Isaiah.

(The women put their hands on their mouths and gasp! Judah puts his head down and begins to sob).

RUTH: Judah, today was the boy's birthday too, remember the birthday money?

JUDAH: (Still sobbing with head down). Yes, I remember.

NAOMI: Father, why do you weep?

(Judah shakes his head while raising it slowly. Ruth puts an arm of comfort on his shoulder).

JUDAH: The Messiah was in our home tonight.

ALL THE CHILDREN: The MESSIAH?!

JUDAH: Yes, the very One whom this celebration is for was in our midst tonight...and we knew Him not.

(Everyone bows their heads in shame).

Then, while everyone's head is bowed, someone will have a hidden microphone and from where he sits will slowly read:

JOHN, Chapter one verse ten: HE WAS IN THE WORLD, AND THE WORLD WAS MADE BY HIM, AND THE WORLD KNEW HIM NOT.

THE END

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Comments 2 comments

Kiki Stamatiou profile image

Kiki Stamatiou 8 years ago from Kalamazoo

This is such a beautiful story. Very heartfelt and deeply moving, especially towards the end. I love this very much so. You are a magnificent writer. Thank you for sharing such an outstanding piece of writing.


blessedmommy profile image

blessedmommy 8 years ago from Oklahoma City Metro, Oklahoma Author

Kiki: Thank you very much, I thoroughly enjoyed writing it. The Christian school that my son attended a few years ago performed it. It was really exiting to watch my writing come to life.

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