By Peter Minson, based on an idea by John McNeil
How Christmas was transformed from its original simplicity to its modern day crassness.
And God saw all that he had made
The light called day
And the darkness called night
The Heavens and the earth
the sky and the seas
the dry land;
the plants and the trees
the stars, the sun and the moon,
the living creatures on the land, in the sky and in the waters;
and finally the humans - male and female, in the image of God he'd made them.
and he'd given them his first and only commandment:
'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it,
and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over everything that moves upon the earth.'
AND IT WAS SO.
And God saw everything that he'd made
and indeed it was good - very good.
and there was evening,
and there was morning - the sixth day.
And on the seventh day, God rested
from all the work he had done,
and God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it
because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
But while God rested,
the man and the woman whom God had made
were busy - very busy indeed.
Remind me again, said the man.
What was it God commanded us to do with the earth...was it our job to subject it to our ideas?'
'I don't think so, said the woman - It was dominion or domination or something...'
'Domination?' asked the man. 'What's that?'
I don't know, replied the woman.
Yes you do, argued the man, Typical! You women know everything. You're just trying to make me look stupid ... in front of that snake over there.
And in his anger and frustration,
the man snapped a branch off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
and took a swipe at the snake,
which wriggled away in time,
hissing out the words, 'I'll be back!'
Damn, missed! shouted Adam,
But man! That did feel good. So this is what domination feels like, he said to himself,
Come on, Eve, he said, Try some domination!
'No, you go, she said, 'I'm not feeling well'
And the man shrugged,
turned his back on the woman and stalked away.
And so it all began.
And behold it was not good.
Not very good at all.
Not very good for the man and the woman - made in the image of God.
Not very good for the trees and the plants.
Not very good the living creatures - the creatures of the waters, the land and the sky.
and it was not good for the heavens,
and it was not good for the earth.
But then God had an idea.
God always his ideas.
It was strikingly beautiful in its simplicity.
But it wasn't just an idea.
It was a person - God's ideas always have skin on them.
It involved a baby and a young woman ... some angels ... a few sheperds, with their animals ... and three wise men.
The idea came from God,
who look at the dark and dangerous state humanity had got themselves into, and said: [as he had said once before]:
'Let there be light!
I will send my Son to bring light into their lives. He will free them from the chains they have wrapped themselves in through their greed and their pride.
If they will come to his light,
He will be their King, and he will lead them into ways of peace and good will.'
And it was so.
And the Father offered his gift to the world.
Being up with the times,
because He made time
God first went to the retailers and stock brokers and bankers, and said,
'Here is my Son - Christ the Messiah - born as one of you. This is the spirit in which I give everything I have to your world.'
So the financial sector hired an advertising agency, who advised, 'You must call this Jesus business 'Christmas', and every year we will ensure that Jesus means a sales boom for the sake of the economy, and our kind of Jesus will bring goodwill to all mankind.'
And the bankers issued credit cards with manger scenes and holly and bells and reindeer on them, and raised their interest rates 2 per cent during December.
So God went to the Government, and said,
'I have chosen you to lead this people according to the light of my word made flesh - Jesus my Son - born to be the Ruler of Creation, and He will bring peace and goodwill to all people .'
And the Government said,
'Thank you, God, but excuse us. Rulership, peace and goodwill are our job - and we know that if you want to make this peace and good-will business work - call it what you may - call it Jesus if you like -
what's needed is a Census,
so we can levy taxes,
and you need bureaucrats,
and forms in triplicate,
and rules of celebration...which may or may not include shepherds being allowed within the city limits. You may make your submissions to the Cabinet Committee on peace and disarmament.'
So God went to the academics and the philosphers, and said, 'Here is the way I share love. It's so simple! Here is my Son - Jesus, born of a poor woman in a tiny village. What do you think, oh mighty thinkers?'
And the philosphers said, 'Yes, God [whoever we perceive you to be]. This Jesus is a nice idea. But not really practical.
And the Middle East thing isn't a very good model for peace on earth.'
So instead, they gathered together all the common experience of humanity ... the results of our greed and pride ... and said,
'We will call this Jesus idea 'religion' or 'the goodness of humanity' ...and this is what will triumph in the end.'
And they went and did likewise.
So in desperation God went to the church, and said:
'I have chosen you to take the joyful news of Jesus to the world.'
And the church said, 'Yes, Lord. But Jesus must also mean pageantry, and tradition, and a proper way of doing things....and anyway,
we've got to be relevant to what the outside world wants,
so tell us, Lord, what did the retailers and Government and academics advise you, about marketing this Jesus?'
And in time, they all reduced the image of Jesus the child in the manger to a useless, lifeless shell....made in their own image - in the image of humanity they made him.
But the people on earth failed to realise
What they had done was not good.
All they had done
was to kill the meaning they had created for themselfes
of Jesus - the Father's gift.
the real Jesus - the Son of God -
increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour,
and behold, he became ruler of all creation behind their backs.
He died, and he rose,
leaving behind the empty,
lifeless graveclothes of human ideas.
And he ascended to take the throne of heaven,
from whence he shall return
to establish his true reign as ruler of the whole of creation.
It's really a case of, which Jesus are you following?
© Copyright Peter Minson 2000. 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 authors would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed.
He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or at: The Anglican Parish of Burnside, 46 Kendal Ave, Christchurch 5, New Zealand