On This Dirt
A New-Age Christmas Program
By Rev. Daniel Pugh Jr
Setting: The land of Bethlehem.
Luke: tour guide
Matthew: tour guide
Isaiah: Wise owner of the land
Luke: Travelers, tourists and parents who are here to take video of their adorable children that you will never watch again, everyone gather around. Welcome to Bethlehem. My name Luke and I am an official tour guide to this dirt.
Matthew: I thought we agreed to not call ourselves 'official'.
Luke: No, I agreed that you are not official. I tell an orderly account of the facts, which makes me official. You, Matthew, tell the story all wrong.
Matthew: There are lots of people who prefer my version of this dirt better. Ever heard of Godspell? If you get to be the official tour guide of this dirt, then I'll ask that you kindly refer to me as Saint Matthew, the expert.
Luke: Yeah, like anybody is ever going to call you a saint for what you stole from Mark. Saint Matthew, patron saint of plagiarism.
Matthew: How about we let these people decide.
Luke: Decide what?
Matthew: Decide whose story is better. My story about Kings, family, royalty, and attempted murder.
Luke: Or my story, about underdogs, Angels, shepherds and a star so bright
Matthew: It all started with-
Luke: It all started with-
Matthew and Luke: HEY!
Isaiah: What is going on here? What are you two squabbling about on MY dirt?
Matthew: I’m sorry, Mr. Isaiah, we didn’t mean to disturb you, we are grateful that you let us bring tours to your dirt. We were just fighting because we were both giving a tour at the same time.
Isaiah: Well, it’s fine, kids, I’m not in it for the profit. Get it? Isaiah, not in it for the profit?
Luke and Matthew stare at each other.
Isaiah: You’re too young. So, both of you are trying to tell the same story, but differently, is that what I understand? Well, how’s this. I happen to know a lot about the story of this dirt. It is, after all, my family’s dirt and I was writing about this dirt for 300 years before you two were born. And I predicted what would happen. So you, Matthew, you have a good Jewish name, I’ll let you go first.
Matthew: Well, the story of this dirt begins with Abraham. Abraham begat Issac, and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah and his brothers. Judah begat Perez.
Luke: How long is this going to take?
Matthew: The story takes 28 generations. (14 kids line up wearing hats, then switch to crowns.)14 generations from Abraham to David, and 14 from David to Jesus.
Matthew: These are leaders and Kings, and it all happened here.. Abraham lived on this dirt and Issac and David and Joseph and Mary. You see, Jesus was born here, too, and he descended from Kings….
Sing “What Child is This” (2 verses)
Luke: Thanks for the history lesson, Professor. Now here’s a story about David that you left out. David started out with humble beginnings. Before he was a king he was a runt.
Matthew: A runt?
Luke: A runt, the youngest of 8 sons of Jesse. One day the prophet Samuel came by Jesse’s house to find the next King.
Isaiah: I know that prophet Samuel, great guy. We play racketball together on Thursdays. He is a good honest man who listens to God’s voice.
Luke: So Samuel comes to visit Jesse because God told him to. And Jesse lines up his oldest 7 sons (7 kids line up in order of height, Jesse stands proudly by him. Samuel checks them out) Samuel examined each one and determined that God was not calling any of them. Samuel asks Jesse- Do you have any more sons?
Samuel: Jesse, do you have any more sons.
Luke: And Jesse says, not really. I have my son David, but he is outside with the sheep.
Jesse: Not really, I have my son David, but he is outside with the sheep.
(David stands petting someone dressed as a sheep)
Luke: He is the smallest of my sons and he smells.
Jesse: He is the smallest of my sons and he smells.
Matthew: Objection, King David did not smell.
Isaiah: If the boy slept with the sheep, he probably smelled. I’ll allow it.
Luke: And Samuel called the boy over (David leaves the sheep and goes over to Samuel) and looked him up and down. Then he took out his oil and anointed the boy. And he said, the Lord expects great things from you.
Samuel: The Lord expects great things from you!
Luke: And that story took place on this same dirt. You see, Mary and Joseph had to come back to this place because there was a census.
Matthew: A census? What is that?
Luke: A census is when all the people are counted from where they are from. So everyone had to go back to their home town, including Joseph and Mary. And their son, Jesus, was a decendent of David, the shepherd, so it was actually perfect that he was born on the same dirt. It’s like the family tree was underground and under this dirt it lie dormant. But some day, the prophesy said that a new branch shall come out of the roots of Jesse.
Matthew: You’re making that up. Who said that?
Isaiah: I SAID THAT! A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
The young girl will give birth and he will be called, Emmanuel, God with us.
Sing: “O COME, O COME, Emmanuel.” (2 verses)
Matthew: You said all that? You mean, you predicted that a messiah would come to save us?
Isaiah: You didn’t think yours is the only story of this dirt, did you?
Luke: I guess I hadn’t thought about it.
Isaiah: We Jews have been telling stories of this dirt for over a thousand years. God has been faithful to our people Israel even though we didn’t always listen to him or his messengers.
Luke: Like angels?
Isaiah: Yes, like his angels.
Matthew: So it’s my turn. When Mary and Joseph got to this dirt, an Angel came to visit Joseph (An angel and Joseph come on stage, joseph sits in the chair, the angel behind him.
Luke: What? The angel came to Mary, not Joseph.
Matthew: You’re crazy.
Isaiah: Children, children, if it’s Gabriel we’re talking about, he probably visited both. He leaves no stone unturned.
Luke: It was Gabriel! How did you know?
Isaiah: He is the one who was prophesied to herald in the Messiah, and the one who will declare that the end of the world. Let me ask you this, did he tell you to fear not?
Luke: Yes, like every time.
Isaiah: That’s because Daniel prophesied that he would show up at the end of the world.
Matthew: Let me guess, Daniel is another prophet like you and Samuel?
Isaiah: Yes. Great guy, Daniel. We play in a band together on Fridays. He can really blow that horn.
Matthew: So back to my story. Joseph was confused because he and Mary weren’t married and he didn’t know if he was ready to be a dad. But the Angel said to Joseph- You will be a great dad.
Angel: You will be a great dad.
Matthew: And he explained that his son will be the King of Kings, just like his ancestor, KING David. And when Jesus was born, the angels sang, “Glory to the Newborn King”
Sing “HARK, THE HEROLD ANGELS SING” (2 verses)
Luke: I am beginning to see that our stories are very similar, but told a different way. In my version of the story the angel doesn’t go to Joseph, because the story is really about Mary. (Joseph gets out of the chair and Mary sits down) And the angel Gabriel comes to tell her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Angel: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God
Luke: You shall bear a child, and his name shall be Jesus,
Angel: You shall bear a child, and his name shall be Jeuss.
Luke: And he will be called the son of the Most High.
Angel: And he will be called the son of the Most High.
Luke: And Mary wondered, How can this be?
Mary: How can this be?
Luke: And the Angel said- The spirit of the Lord is upon you
Angel: The spirit of the Lord is upon you
Isaiah: That sounds familiar.
Luke: Have you heard that before?
Isaiah: I should think so. I wrote it.
Luke: I had no idea!
Isaiah: It’s OK, it’s flattering.
Luke: And just like the angel foretold, Mary did have a baby boy and named him Jesus. And the angels began singing.
Sing “Angels we have heard on High” (2 verses)
Luke: So, after the prophesy, Mary and Joseph headed to Bethlehem, they need a place to sleep.
(Mary and Joseph not on the door and the innkeeper answers)
Joseph asks- Is there any room in the Inn?
Joseph: Is there any room in the inn?
(Innkeeper shakes head, points to a barn.)
Luke: But there was no room. So they settle into a barn, where the animials sleep, because the animals were out in the fields, with the shepherds. And while they were there, it came time for Mary to give birth. And on that night, a star appeared over the stable where the baby was born. And guess who saw it- the shepherds!
Matthew: SHEPHERDS! You’re going to let smelly old shepherds into the story of the birth of a king! That night a star appeared so bright that KINGS saw it from a long way off and it took two years for them to get there.
Luke: Shepherds saw the star because David was a shepherd.
Matthew: David was a king!
Isaiah: Children, children. Why do you insist on fighting? Can’t both be there. In a 100 years, you watch, no one will care that Luke talks about shepherds and Matthew talks about Kings. I bet in a 100 years, people will forget which is which and just have a story of all of them together.
Matthew: All of them together? Kings and shepherds? No way!
Luke: That will never happen, Isaiah. People won’t want to just make up another story of Christmas, like it’s a pageant. They will always remember who wrote what.
Isaiah: This is coming from two children who have been using my words in their stories without even knowing it! Children, it is ok if people put your stories together sometimes. They are both good stories. Now, let me hear about the shepherds from you, Luke, and then you, Matthew, can tell me about Kings.
Luke: So the Shepherds are watching their flock by night (Shepherds, sheep, and angel take the stage opposite Mary and Joseph) when the angel Gabriel comes to them. And when they see him, and the glory of the Lord shines around them, and they are terrified.
Shepherds: We are Terrified!
Luke: But the angel Gabriel says- Fear not!
Angel: FEAR NOT!
Luke: For I bring you good tidings of great joy
Angel: For I bring you good tidings of great joy
Luke: For unto you, in the city of David, a savior is born, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you, you will find the baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.
Angel: For unto you- what he said!
Luke: So the shepherds took their sheep and went to see the baby, and sure enough, they found him in a manger, which reminds us that Jesus will grow up to feed people by the thousands, and his last supper will show us the way of communion, which reminds us that our sins are forgiven. And after the shepherds meet the baby they go out telling everyone- that Jesus Christ is born.
Sing “Go tell it on the mountain” (2 verses)
Isaiah: That is a good story about this dirt, from David on down to Mary, and Gabriel, and the Shepherds. Thank you, Luke, for telling it. You are an excellent tour guide. Now Matthew, you have been waiting patiently. Tell me about the kings.
Matthew: I’d be happy to. So there was an evil king named Herod, and he wanted to hurt Jesus. So the three kings from the Orient came and followed the star to Bethlehem, (the kings enter on the side opposite the shepherds and Mary and Joseph) and they brought him gifts they had reserved for the king. They said these are gifts for a king
King 1: These are gifts for a king
Matthew: We didn’t give them to Herod
King 2: We didn’t give to Herod.
Matthew: You are the true king, the one who was prophesied.
King 3: You are the true king, the one who was prophesied.
Matthew: We brought you gold
King 1: We brought you gold
King 2: Frankincense
Matthew: And Myrrh
King 3: And Myrrh.
Matthew: Gold was a traditional gift for a king. Frankincense was for a king to make his house smell nice, and myrrh was a gift that could be used as medicine. All three gifts were the best gifts that could have been given for that first Christmas. Gifts from kings to the King of Kings
Sing “WE THREE KINGS” (2 verses)
Isaiah: Matthew, thank you for your story of this dirt- of the family line from Abraham to King David to Jesus. You told the story of how the Kings from far away came to this place, and how they went past the bad king Herod in order to find their one, true king. So this Jesus, does he ever become king?
Matthew: Yes, but in a new way, he is still the king of us all.
Isaiah: And does he ever become a shepherd?
Luke: Yes, but in a new way, he is the Good Shepherd of us all.
Isaiah: Well, let us celebrate the stories of this dirt, and the God of us all. I am excited to see what God will do next. You all who are here today, on this tour, bear witness to God’s great and abundant mercy. Let us all search in our own lives, for the one whom I have prophesied will come,
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the kingdom will be on his shoulders. And he will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And all God’s people say, AMEN!
Sing “JOY TO THE WORLD” (2 verses)