(Lights up on Brad and Jenny. They are just hanging up the phones.)
BRAD: That was a surprise.
JENNY: Yeah. (Pause.) Brad, we really do need to let your mom know whether or not weíre coming for Christmas. Itís really not right to keep her hanging like this.
BRAD: Yeah, I know. I just hate to disappoint her again.
JENNY: That sounds like youíve decided weíre absolutely not going.
BRAD: Itís just so far to go for just one day. And Iíd have to take off Christmas Eve for us to drive down there. I just donít know how Tom would react to that.
(Jenny nods, gets up and starts to leave as though resigning herself to this decision. Then she stops and turns back.)
JENNY: Your boss is human. He will understand that you would like to visit your family for Christmas. As a matter of fact, he went on and on to me at the office party about what a great ďfindĒ you were for the company, what a great manager you are. I think it might be okay to ask him for a few days off so we could actually spend some time with your mom and sister this year.
BRAD: Maybe youíre right. But why donít we wait til spring to go. If we go now, you know Iím going to get sucked into taking part in whatever the church is doing for Christmas.
JENNY: It wouldnít hurt you, you know. (Brad groans slightly.) We were so active in church ďin our younger years.Ē
BRAD: Yeah, I guess we were. But I think weíve moved on in life. Besides, we donít have any time for adding anything to our lives right now.
JENNY: I donít know. I guess maybe Iím feeling my ageó
BRAD: Youíre 22!
JENNY: I know. But I guess Iíve been feeling like there might be more important things than a good job, a nice house and a nice car. And I think itís time we both admit that family is important. Letís go see your mom. Itís not that far. And Kim, too. Wouldnít you like to see your sister?
BRAD: Oh, yeah, my big sis, the ďTormentor.Ē (seriously) Yeah, I really would like to see her. (Sighs, giving in.) Okay. Iíll talk to Tom tomorrow. Can I catch the last quarter of the Bears game now?
JENNY: (Hugs him.) Absolutely.
(Brad uses remote, sound up on football game. Jenny walks to back of stage, takes a deep breath, puts a hand to her stomach, looking up. Lights down.)
CHOIR OR QUARTET: NOT THAT FAR FROM BETHLEHEM (by Lowell Alexander et al., arr. Marty Hamby, Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, 1999).
(Lights up on Deeís kitchen. Brad and Jenny are seated at the table. Dee serves plates of waffles to them.)
BRAD: Oh, Mom, waffles. (Inhales aroma. Jenny is smiling and buttering.)
DEE: You lived here for 20 years. I ought to know what your comfort foods are.
JENNY: Wow, the syrup is even warmed.
DEE: You two sound like itís been way too long since you ate waffles.
JENNY: A waffle iron is the one thing we didnít get for a wedding present.
(Kim enters, takes off jacket, throws car keys on table.)
KIM: ĎMorning everybody.
(Everyone says hi to Kim.)
KIM: (To Dee as she eyes waffles.) Mmm, you got an extra one for me?
DEE: Always. (Hands Kim a plate and cup of coffee. They all sit.)
KIM: Iím so glad you guys are home. And Mom says youíre going to sing in the choir.
JENNY: Well, at least I am. We havenít talked Brad into it yet.
BRAD: Iím here to relax and enjoy. Someone has to be the audience.
KIM: Thatís the job of those of us who canít carry a tune in a bucket. If youíre not going to sing, at least you can help in other ways.
BRAD: (suspiciously) Other ways like what?
KIM: Last I knew, you were pretty good with a hammer. I know a couple of guys are getting together today to finish up the stable for the nativity program. I thought youíd be the perfect person to lend them a hand.
BRAD: (Waving his fork back and forth at Kim) Uh-uh. I remember you sucked me into helping you build a snow fort once. Then you wouldnít let me in it. Instead, you used it as a base of terror operations against me.
KIM: That was 15 years ago!
BRAD: I guess some things never change. I put up shelves in your room for you. I built the float for your senior homecoming parade. I installed new cabinets in your kitchen. Iíve paid my dues, and Iím not letting you suck me into projects while Iím here.
KIM: Thatís too bad. Dan is going to be very disappointed.
BRAD: Dan Jones?
KIM: Of course. What other Dan would I be talking about? I asked him to stop by and pick you up.
DAN: (from offstage, knocking as on door) Hello!
KIM: As a matter of fact, I think thatís him now.
(Dan enters. Greetings exchanged all around. Brad stands to shake his hand.)
DAN: Hey, Brad, thanks for helping us out. Leonís meeting us at the church.
(Brad glares at Kim, she smiles sweetly/innocently at him.)
BRAD: (Sarcastically) Sure, Iíd be glad to help, Dan. But I know both of these girls are absolute handy maíams. I think we should get them to help, too.
JENNY: Oh, no. Kim and I have a lot of last-minute Christmas shopping to do.
KIM: Tell you what. Weíll come by first thing in the morning and do the final inspection. We are great inspectors.
DAN: Yeah, if we work all day, we should be done today. Letís get going.
BRAD: Let me get my jacket.
KIM, JENNY & DEE: (Waving and grinning) Bye!
(Brad and Dan leave. The women exchange looks and snickers. Lights down)
(Sound of power drill is cue for lights up. The three men are working on the stable.)
LEON: Brad, itís good to have you home. And thanks for helping us out today.
BRAD: I wouldnít miss it.
DAN: Letís get this brace on here.
(They add a piece of wood to the stable. Between the next few lines, they pretend to add a few screws and/or hammer a bit.)
LEON: So Brad, how is life in the big city?
BRAD: Great. We love it there. We both have great jobs.
DAN: Are you actually living in the city?
BRAD: We started out living in a suburb, but a few months ago we moved into a condo in the city. We both got really tired of the commute.
(Little boy [Jake] enters. He hangs back, maybe peeking around a bench or tree to watch the men work.)
LEON: Letís see, youíve been there, what, two years now?
BRAD: Two years plus a little, yeah.
LEON: No kids yet, huh?
BRAD; No. (Pause. Then he adds casually:) Actually, weíve decided not to have kids. Weíre just both so busy and, well, we both agree this isnít a great world to bring kids up in.
LEON: Mmm. And have you found a good church there?
BRAD: We just really havenít had time to look for a church.
DAN: Man. I have a hard time imagining you not involved in a church.
BRAD: Yeah, I know. I was pretty involved as a kid and a teenager, huh? I guess Iíve just kind of gravitated toward other things in life.
(Leon has brought water bottles. He offers the others water and the three stop work for a break.)
DAN: I guess weíve taken slightly different paths in that regard. The older I get, the more my faith is critical to my life.
LEON: You know, Brad, Iíve found that if you belong to the Lord, he wonít let you get too far away from him before he does something to get your attention, to draw you back to him. A ďwake-up call,Ē so to speak. You watch for him. He works in mysterious ways.
DAN: (Has noticed Jake.) Hey, we have an audience.
LEON: Hi. Whatís your name?
(Little boy runs away.)
LEON (to Dan): I donít recognize him, and I thought I knew everybody in this town from 1 to 100. Do you know who he is?
DAN: I noticed a woman with a little boy at McDonaldís this morning. I think thatís the same kid. She had a suitcase with her, so I thought they were just getting breakfast waiting for the train.
LEON: Oh, well. Back to work.
(They get up as lights go down.)
CHOIR: WE ALL NEED JESUS. (by David T. Clydesdale & Steve Wilkinson from the musical Thatís the Good News, 2000, Word Music)
(Faith enters with Jake. She is holding his hand and also carrying a bag and a backpack. They approach the stable.)
FAITH: Look, Jake! This would be a great place to spend the night. Itíll be like camping.
JAKE: I watched some men build this today.
FAITH: I bet they wonít mind if we stay here just for one night. Look, itís in front of Godís house, and I know He wonít mind. I wouldnít be surprised if He had those men build it just so weíd have a wonderful place to sleep tonight. That would be just like God, wouldnít it?
FAITH: It looks like it might rain a little, but weíll be nice and dry here.
(They enter the stable and Faith pulls a blanket out of her luggage and spreads it out. She pulls out a teddy bear and gives it to Jake.)
FAITH: Come here. Whadíya say we say our prayers and hit the sack?
(They kneel side by side.)
FAITH: Dear God, thank you so much for making Jake feel better. Thank you for the kind people at the hospital who helped make his fever go down. God, thank you for making sure we had plenty of food to eat today and now a great place to sleep tonight. In Jesusí name I pray, Amen.
FAITH: Okay, you snuggle down here and Iíll sing you to sleep.
(Jake lies down, hugging bear. Faith sings chorus of ďHeís Been GoodĒ by David Baroni, Integrity Music 1999). As accompaniment continues softly, she lies down by Jake and lights gradually go down. Music ends. Long pause. Lights come up very gradually, signifying the sun rising. When it is completely light, Kim, Dee and Jenny enter.)
JENNY: You know, I really think he enjoyed working on it no matter how much he complained about it.
KIM: Thatís just like Brad. He always gripes about the work, but he always gets a lot of satisfaction in the things he builds. I canít wait to see how it turned out.
DEE: I know. Me, too.
(They approach the stable from the right. They donít notice Faith and Jake.)
KIM: Oh, look at the roof. That turned out really nice.
(Faith and Jake begin to stir and sit up.)
JENNY: It did. The whole stable seems good and Ė
(They notice Faith and Jake.)
KIM: (In a halting voice at first) Hi.
(Kim, Dee and Jenny exchange looks when they realize Faith and Jake have slept here. There is an embarrassed silence.)
KIM: Iím sorry. We didnít mean to disturb you.
FAITH: (Beginning to gather up blanket.) No, no, thatís okay. I hope we didnít disturb anything by staying here. It just seemed that God had provided this place for us to stay last night. (She stops, looks at Kim and smiles.) Day by day, itís just amazing the way He provides, isnít it?
JAKE: Mom, I have to go to the bathroom!
FAITH: Oh, Jake. Youíll have to wait a little bit until I can get this stuff together.
(She begins to stuff blanket into bag.)
DEE: Well, this is our church (pointing). Iím sure the secretary is already here and it would be fine for him to use the restroom. If itís okay with you, Iíd be glad to show him where it is.
FAITH: (Looks unsure.) Welló
FAITH: Well, if you wouldnít mind.
DEE: Not one bit.
FAITH: Jake, go with the nice lady, okay?
DEE: (As she takes Jakeís hand) My name is Dee, and this is my daughter Kim and my daughter-in-law Jenny.
FAITH: Iím Faith, and youíve met Jake.
(ĎHellosí and Ďnice to meet yousí are exchanged all around.)
DEE: (to Jake as they walk offstage) All the kids around here call me Aunt Dee. You can too if you want to.
FAITH: Thank you so much. People in this town have been so kind to us.
(She starts packing again. Kim moves over to left of stage to help her. Jenny remains on the right watching.)
KIM: How long have you been here?
FAITH: Since day before yesterday. Actually, we were headed for Chicago on the train. Iím scheduled to start a job training program there the week after Christmas. But Jake started running a high fever on the train, and we got off here to get help.
JENNY: Thatís terrible.
FAITH: No, not really. The staff at your hospital were wonderful. They took him in right away, and he responded really well to the IV and just a lot of TLC from some wonderful nurses. But of course, the bill was way more than I had. I gave them everything I had.
Then a group of them passed the plate among themselves and insisted we take it. We stayed in a motel that night, and we have money for meals for a few days, but not enough to get us on to Chicago. But Iím trusting God. He has a plan for us, and He will work things out.
(When theyíve got everything packed, Kim and Faith move to sit on hay bale at front of stable. Jenny moves closer to them, but remains standing.)
KIM: Wow, your faith is really strong. Your name really suits you.
FAITH: It hasnít always been that way. I didnít even meet the Lord until I was expecting Jake. Iím not married, and I was thinking about having an abortion. I was really in turmoil, and I went to a clinic to talk to someone about it. It turned out to be an anti-abortion clinic. A counselor there introduced me to Jesus, and things have never been the same for me. I was given a beautiful son, and Heís provided every step of the way.
JENNY: (With a lump in her throat and a choke in her voice) What an unbelievable story.
(Kim and Faith both look at Jenny.)
KIM: Jenny, are you okay?
JENNY: (coughing) Just something in my throat. Do you have a tissue?
(She pulls out a pack and gives them to Jenny, who moves to bench.)
KIM: Donít you have any family? It looks like you and Jake are all alone.
FAITH: Well, when I decided to keep my son, my parents kicked me out. I really donít have any earthly family. But Jake and I have been living in Memphis and doing well. Then I got this opportunity in Chicago, and thatís where we were headed.
KIM: It seems to me the opportunity you have right now is to spend Christmas with us.
FAITH: Oh, no, we couldnít intrude on your family like that.
KIM: You wouldnít be. We have the same heavenly father, so youíre part of our family, too. Besides, my mother would never let someone leave knowing theyíre in need. You just plan on staying, at least through Christmas. Then weíll see about helping you and Jake get on your way. We donít have any little children in our family right now. Itíll be nice to have Jake around on Christmas Day.
(Jenny stands from the bench and turns her back to Kim and Faith as she wipes her eye. Kim notices this as Dee reenters alone.)
FAITH: Whereís Jake?
DEE: The secretary had brought fresh donuts and coffee for the staff. I left Jake getting to know Pastor Bob while I came back for you. You look like you could use a little breakfast, too. And then weíll talk about you coming home with us for Christmas.
KIM: What did I tell you?
FAITH: Thank youóall of you.
DEE: (Picking up a bag) Come on. Pastor Bob is anxious to meet you. (They start walking away.) When I left, he and Jake were having a deep theological discussion about Noah.
FAITH: Why am I not surprised?
(Kim goes to Jenny. They sit on bench.)
KIM: Jenny, whatís wrong? Are you okay?
JENNY: Oh, Kim. Iíve got to tell you something. Iíve got to tell somebody. I found out two weeks ago that Iím pregnant.
KIM: Oh, Jenny, thatís wonderful! (She hugs Jenny.) Thatís wonderful news!
JENNY: Iím so glad you think so. But you know how Brad feels. Iím so scared to tell him. And then here is this girl with her little boy. Listening to her story, it just felt like a tornado stirring up inside me. How can she be so calm when she has nothing, when her future and her childís future is so uncertain?
KIM: Jenny, I know this wasnít what you and Brad had planned. But God has a way of changing our plans sometimes, and it can feel very scary. I think Faith has learned that she can trust God even through the scary times. Just trust Him. (Pause.) And tell Brad. Okay?
JENNY: I know. Iíve got to find a way to do that soon.
KIM: Jenny, would you like to pray about this?
JENNY: That would be great. Thanks, Kim.
(They hug, then bow heads together. Lights dim. Soft solo instrument [we used a baritone recorder] plays a verse of ďHeís Been Good,Ē then SAT trio sings a verse, then soft solo instrument tag. Lights down.)
(Comic relief. Music starts and choir enters again as though for rehearsal. Soloist is the last to enter, obviously moping and carrying a box with fruitcake inside.)
CHOIR MEMBER: Whatís wrong, Jim? You look really down.
(Choir sings and acts out Fruitcake, by Kirk Talley & Geron Davis, Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, 1999.)
(Lights up on scene at Deeís house where Dee, Kim, Brad, Jenny, Faith and Jake are opening presents. Brad and Jake are playing with a model car on the floor.)
FAITH: (Lifting a sweater out of box) Oh, itís beautiful. Thank you.
JENNY: (Lifting gift out of box, laughing) A waffle iron. Thank you, Dee.
BRAD: Mmmm, yeah, thanks, Mom.
DEE: Youíre welcome. Itís just so nice to have you here for Christmas. All of you. Itís just wonderful to have a full house.
KIM: (aside to Faith) I think Santa might bring at least one present for Jake to open tomorrow morning. Iím afraid Olí St. Nick ignores us adults who open presents on Christmas Eve because we like to sleep in on Christmas Day.
FAITH: Thank you.
DEE: I guess we better get this mess cleaned up and get ready for the Nativity program. Faith, yours and Jakeís costumes are hanging in the laundry room. We should thank you for stepping in to help us out. Who knew our Mary would come down with the flu yesterday?
KIM: God, maybe. (To Jake) Ready to become a shepherd, Jake?
(Kim takes him by the hand, ad libbing as they leave, ďAll right! Letís go get that costume on,Ē etc. All leave except Brad and Jenny.)
BRAD: Shouldnít you be getting ready?
JENNY: I have one more present for you. I wanted to wait til we were alone to give it to you.
(They sit together on loveseat. She gives him a box. He opens it and pulls out a T-shirt. He is looking at the back and only the audience can see that it says ďWorldís Greatest DadĒ on the front.)
BRAD: A T-shirt?
JENNY: Turn it around.
BRAD: ďWorldís Greatest DadĒ? Jenny, what are you trying to tell me?
JENNY: I think you know. Iíve been trying to tell you for a couple of weeks.
BRAD: (leaning back and putting hands on forehead.) Wow. (He leans forward and takes Jennyís hand.) Jenny, we agreed we werenít going to do this. How did this happen?
JENNY: You, me, the doctor, everyone is wondering that.
BRAD: This T-shirt tells me you want to go through with it.
JENNY: ďGo through with itĒ?
BRAD: (haltingly) I meanÖhave itÖthe baby.
(Jenny looks distraught, but doesnít respond. Brad stands and begins pacing.)
BRAD: I mean, we talked about all of this. I thought we agreed we wouldnít bring children into this god-forsaken world. Look at Faith and Jake. Itís so sad. What has that kid got to look forward to? Donít you think he would have been better off if he had never been born?
JENNY: No, I donít think so.
BRAD: (Seems not to have noticed that Jenny answered.) Even if we decided to have kids, this is a terrible time. I mean, we are on the brink of war! And the economy stinks. Weíre doing okay right now, but what will happen if you have to give up your job for months, if not years? Do you have any idea how expensive diapers are? Not to mention day care, clothes, school supplies, college!
(Brad stops pacing, facing away from where Jenny is sitting. She stands and goes to him, touching his shoulder.)
JENNY: I know we talked about all this, Brad. I guess because itís Christmas Iíve been thinking about things I donít think we considered before.
BRAD: (turning to her) Like what?
JENNY: Well, like the fact that I donít think our world is any worse than the world that God brought His own Son into. Except they werenít on the brink of war. It was worse for them because they had foreign soldiers on every street corner. And like the fact that God sent Jesus to be born to a poor homeless couple. Apparently God didnít think Pampers or college were all that necessary for bringing up a child. At least our child would have a roof over his head. Or her head. Thatís more than Jesus had when he was born.
(Brad looks away, deep in troubled thought.)
JENNY: Brad, Iím sorry. I know this was probably a terrible time to tell you. I finally decided there wasnít a good time and I just had to do it.
BRAD: (gently) Well, I donít think weíre going to decide anything here and now. Weíll talk more later, maybe even after we get back home. I guess you better go get ready or youíll miss this program after you made me listen to the songs for nine straight hours.
(Long hug, then Jenny exits.)
BRAD: Oh, God. Why canít life ever be easy? A baby.
(He picks up a picture of himself and Kim as children and looks at it a long time. He picks up the T-shirt, pondering.)
BRAD: Nine months from now I could be a father. I could have a sonÖor a daughter. (looking up) Oh, God.
(Choir is in costume and around stable. Faith is Mary. Jake is a shepherd. Brad and Kim are watching from the bench along with a few other spectators.)
CHOIR: CAROL MEDLEY (We sang Celebrate Medley from the musical Thatís the Good News by Clydesdale & Moore, Word Music 2000)
PASTOR BOB: (to audience) I want to thank you all for coming to our Christmas Eve Nativity Program this year. I hope youíve enjoyed meeting all of the characters who were present the night Jesus was born. You know, God used different ways to get the attention of each of these. He sent Gabriel to tell Mary what was about to happen. Joseph had a dream. A heavenly host of angels made the birth announcement to the shepherds. For the wise men, there was a star. God gave each of them just what was needed to draw them all to this extraordinary event.
But He didnít make it easy for them. Each person had to sacrifice, struggle and persevere to be there. Mary and Joseph had to struggle to make this trip at such an inconvenient time--although Iím not sure thereís ever a convenient time to pay your taxes. Mary and Joseph suffered such hardship when they couldnít find a place for Jesus to be born.
The shepherds had to drop what they were doing, risk their livelihood by leaving the sheep to seek out the newborn savior. The wise men didnít even really know where they were going and had no guarantee they would ever find the infant king. Their trip covered a great distance and may have taken years.
But I think they would all agree that to find the Christ no struggle was too hard, no sacrifice was too great, no distance was too far.
Besides, there was one more person there that night who had sacrificed more and traveled farther than anyone else to be there: Jesus himself. What did he sacrifice? How far did he travel? Scripture answers those questions in Phil 2:6-8:
6 [Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
What did Jesus sacrifice? He left behind life with his Father in Heaven with all its splendor. He came all the way to here (gesturing to stable) not only to be born as a helpless baby, but to grow to be a man, the perfect man who was ableóand willingóto pay the price for your sin on the cross.
Itís my prayer tonight that just as Jesus decided it wasnít too far to come for you that youíll decide that whatever the cost, the struggle or distance that itís not too much, itís not too hard, itís not too far to come to Jesus tonight.
QUARTET OR CHOIR: ďHE STILL CAMEĒ (by Donna Douglas & Pam Thum, arr. O.D. Hall Jr., Word Music 1990). At the ďHoly, Holy, HolyĒ section, quartet turns to face manger. Wise men and shepherds kneel in worship.
PASTOR BOB PRAYS.
PASTOR BOB: (to people at the bench) Thank you for coming. Good night.
(Choir starts to break up. Choir gradually exit and line up to re-enter for finale.)
( Pastor Bob is talking to choir members and audience members when Brad approaches.)
PASTOR BOB: Hey, Brad! Itís great to have you home. Thanks for coming tonight!
BRAD: Thanks. It was a great program. Pastor Bob, I know itís Christmas Eve and you probably donít have any time right now. Weíre supposed to head back home the day after Christmas, butówell, I really need to talk. If you had some time the day after Christmas, Iíd be willing to stay an extra dayó
(Jenny walks up while Brad is saying this.)
PASTOR BOB: Sounds important. Look, I need to speak to some of the guests here tonight, but I can meet you back at my office in about 10 minutes.
BRAD: That would be awesome. (Looks at Jenny.) Maybe weíll both meet you there.
(Brad and Jenny exit, holding hands.)
PASTOR ADDRESSES CONGREGATION, GIVES INVITATION, EXPLAINS RESPONSE CARDS.
PASTOR GIVES FINAL COMMENTS, INVITATION TO FELLOWSHIP TIME. CHOIR RE-ENTERS AND SINGS REPRISE OF ďTHATíS THE GOOD NEWS.
Copyright Ruth and Wright Eavenson, all rights reserved.
This script may be used with payment, provided that no charge is made for admission to the performance. In return for free use, the authors would like to be told of any performance. They may be contacted at InaRuthE@aol.com