The Fourth Gift

By John Fewings

Summary

A fourth visitor arrives to bring a gift to the baby Jesus after the other wise men have left. His gift - a candle - points to Jesus as the light of the world, and also to the resurrection.

Characters

Joseph
Mary
Visitor

Script

JOSEPH: Come along, Mary, it's been another busy day and you need all the rest you can get.

MARY: (slightly weary) It takes a lot of getting used to - having a baby to look after.

JOSEPH: As well as all the visitors.

MARY: I know! We've had more people calling on us here than we ever had in Nazareth.

JOSEPH:  (hesitant) It may be soon, but ... do you think you'll be ready to travel ...

MARY:(comforting) You're still worried about that dream. aren't you?

JOSEPH: Yes, I am. I don't want anything to happen to the child.

MARY: I know ... but he'll be alright.

(There is a knock at the door. They both react.)

MARY:(whispering - a little frightened) Do you think .... ?

JOSEPH:(worried - but reassuring) Don't worry ... he'll be alright. (Joseph crosses to the door.) Who is it?

VISITOR: A visitor ... From the East

JOSEPH: From the East??

VISITOR: To see the baby. This is the place, isn't it?

JOSEPH: (opening door carefully) Yes ... but ... the others .

VISITOR: (slightly disappointed, entering) Have they been already?

JOSEPH: Yes, they came.

VISITOR: (interrupting) And I tried so hard to catch them.

MARY: You mean ... you know them?

VISITOR: Yes. Well ... no. I know OF them. I had intended to come WITH them, but I was delayed. It took me a while to find the gift.

MARY: Another gift!?

JOSEPH: That's really very kind of you.

VISITOR: It's a gift with a meaning. I suppose you already know that.

MARY: (gently) That's what the others said.

VISITOR:  And did they explain the meanings?

JOSEPH:(hesitant) No ... but we've talked about it.

MARY: ... and we've worked it out ..

JOSEPH:  Some of it, anyway.

VISITOR:  So you know how special he will be?

JOSEPH & MARY: Yes.

VISITOR: The gifts ... if you don't mind me asking ... what did the others bring?

JOSEPH: They were very generous. One of them brought gold. More gold than I've ever seen before. (reflecting) If only they had come a little earlier I might have been able to offer a lamb for the child, instead of turtle doves. But then, that might have looked suspicious from a poor carpenter ... and we don't need any trouble. Already it seems we may need the money to help us get away safely to Egypt.

VISITOR: Escape?

JOSEPH: It seems King Herod has heard about the child and knows he is born to be a king.

MARY: That's what the gold means. It is the symbol of a king.

VISITOR: I see. What did the others bring?

MARY: Frankincense. The symbol of worship. You see, he is not just an ordinary king. The messenger said he was a "child of God". I've often thought about those words and I believe our little child will one day become a king of a different kind. Not just an earthly king but one before whom people will bow in worship.

VISITOR: I understand. And the third?

(There is a slight pause - a kind of awkward silence)

JOSEPH: The third ... brought myrrh.

VISITOR: (taken aback) Myrrh'.

JOSEPH: (gravely) The symbol of death ... (there is a brief pause before Joseph tries to turn the conversation in a different direction - for Mary's sake) A mistake, perhaps. It could mean anything.

VISITOR: (reassuring) Yes, yes, of course.

MARY:(firmly and calmly) No. it DOES mean death.

VISITOR:(sadly) I fear you may be right. I was told very clearly what I should bring. I am sure the same applied to the others. Sadly, it is unlikely they were mistaken.

MARY: And it does mean death??

VISITOR:  (shrugs) For those who are different the way is never easy.
For your son ... ?

JOSEPH:  Cold ... Frankincense ... Myrrh ... A king ... worship ... (a pause) ... death

VISITOR: I'm sorry. I don't know what to say.

JOSEPH: (a little flustered) Forgive us ... we shouldn't be bothering you with our problems. Have you come far? (realises the stupidity of his question) Of course you have! How did you know where to find us?

VISITOR: The star .

JOSEPH: Of course ... I'm sorry ... I'm not thinking straight.

MARY: (calmly) Would you like to see the child?

VISITOR: Yes. I would ... but perhaps I should give you the gift.

(The visitor goes to get the gift. He returns with a lighted candle, which he gives to Mary.)

MARY: Thank you. Is it also a symbol?

VISITOR: I WAS told what to bring.

(There is a pause as all three of them look at the candle.)

JOSEPH: (quoting Scripture) "Arise, shine, for your light has come -and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."

MARY: Jesus - "the light of the world."

(The visitor leans across and blows out the candle. Joseph is quizzical. Mary is calm. After a few seconds, the candle re-ignites.)

JOSEPH: Gold ... Frankincense ... Myrrh.

MARY: A king ... worship ... death.

(All three realise the significance of the re-igniting candle. Joseph and Mary look at each other, their. eyes brimming with tears ... but at peace ... and happy.)

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Note: The entire significance of "The Fourth Gift" depends upon the candle re-igniting. Hence, close attention to this particular "prop" is essential.
Re-igniting candles can be obtained from "joke-shops" or from shops supplying cake-decorations. You may only be able to obtain tiny ones (intended for birthday cakes): in which case, it will be necessary to construct a larger, false candle of which your tiny sample forms the tip.

BEWARE: You should practice in advance how to blow out the candle in such a way that it WILL re-ignite. It may be necessary to allow the candle to burn for a short while in order to build up sufficient heat to re-ignite the impregnated chemical that effects the "trick".

You may prefer to rig up a battery-operated "false" candle with a simple switch for the visitor to operate. I have seen the sketch done this way but personally feel that it lacks the impact of a real candle.
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(c) Copyright John Fewings, all rights reserved.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: 50 Howdale Road, Hull, HU8 9JZ, UK. Email: fewings@fewings.karoo.co.uk