Tidings of Great Joy

By Heather Cooper, John Kenneson, John Wayne Samples


In this story, which has echoes of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Sarah longs for a world where things between her family members would be all better. Her family have lost sight of what was important in life. But instead of finding a dream world, Sarah finds the Truth and the Life…… Someone who can help her family "get it all together again".


Sarah: a twelve year old girl; worried about her family
Jenna: her seventeen year old sister, a bit of a rebel
Leanne: Sarah's mom, trying to please everyone, to hold things together
David: Sarah's dad, a workaholic, disillusioned with life
Joshua- a shepherd; concerned with truth
Simeon- shepherd; Joshua's brother; excitable
Mordecai- a shepherd friend of Joshua and Simeon; wants to believe


Scene 1

(Family enters stage left chatting about the movie, "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe they have just seen. They hang up coats, turn on tree lights and sit in the living room.)

Sarah: Wasn't that the coolest movie?

Jenna: It was good. It was no rock video, but the special effects were sweet.

Leanne: I'm so glad they finally did justice to those stories. They were my absolute favourites growing up.

Sarah: What did you think, Dad?

David: Pretty good, if you like that sort of thing, I guess.

Jenna: C'mon, Dad! How could you not like it?

David: It was a kid's movie! What do you expect? (starts to get up) I'm going to head to bed now, I think.

Leanne: Aren't you going to help me? I've got a lot of last minute things to do!

David: (annoyed) Like what? I thought we were all done?

Leanne: (gestures at kids, meaning she can't talk now) You know….. things!

David: (oblivious and angry) Did you go out and buy more gifts? I thought we set limits here.

Leanne: (trying to smooth things over) Nothing expensive, David! The children …(gestures again).

Jenna: (insulted) I'm not six, you know! Stop treating us like kids! What time are we getting up tomorrow?

Leanne: Well, church is at ten, so if we want to open gifts first….

David: Church! Who said anything about going to church? It's the one day in the year I can afford to take some time off. I'm not spending it in some church!

Leanne: But, David, it's Christmas Day!

David: You can go if you want to, Leanne, but I'm staying put!

Sarah: (timidly) I'd like to go, Mom. What about you, Jenna?

Jenna: I'd never wake up in time. I'll hang with Dad.

Leanne: I don't want the family to be separated. We'll skip church. I'd better get going here.

Jenna: I'm going out for awhile.

Leanne: Where are you going on Christmas Eve?

Jenna: Out!

David: (sternly) You'll stay home with your family.

Jenna: What? And listen to you fight all night? Cool!

David: That's enough, Jenna! You're not going out!

Jenna: Fine! (stomps out, stage left, followed by Leanne and David, arguing. Sarah watches all in dismay and wanders to center stage. Lights out as she leaves living room.)

Scene 2

(Lights up on Sarah's bedroom, with a wardrobe top center stage and a bed just right of center stage. Sarah is sitting on her bed, hugging a pillow. She wipes her eyes and it's obvious she has been crying.)

Sarah: (to herself) Why can't they just get along for once? Doesn't Christmas

mean anything to them? (blows her nose and opens her book) I wish I could just walk through a door to another place - like in the Narnia books. (Gets off the bed and walks downstage leafing through her book.)

Sarah: It would be a place where the big things matter….where families could get fixed… where there's something more important than buying things, or partying, or working forever! (Goes back and sits on bed, cross-legged.)

It would be a place where no one would say they believed but acted like they didn't! (Sighs, and then prays.) God, can you please help my family. They believed in You once… at least they said they did… but somehow they've lost You. I trust You, Jesus. Please show them the way. Oh, and Happy Birthday! Amen.

(Lights out.)

(Lights up dimly. Sarah is sleeping in her bed. A bright light shines suddenly from behind her wardrobe doors. She awakens.)

Sarah: (gasps and speaks sleepily) What is this? (She gets out of bed and walks slowly to the doors and opens them. Blinding light fills the room. Sarah shields her eyes, then walks through the doors.)

(Lights out.)

Scene 3

(Low lights up on video backdrop of Bethlehem hills. In foreground, 3 shepherds sit around a campfire chatting and warming their hands. Sarah emerges from a cave stage right, wearing a white nightgown and bare feet. She wanders toward the firelight. Shepherds don't notice her until she's almost there.)

Simeon: What's this? Little one, what are you doing out here, alone?

Joshua: Who do you belong to? Where is your home?

Mordecai: (noticing her shivering) She's freezing! Here, put my cloak around you! (They wrap her up and sit her next to the fire.)

Joshua: Now, how did you get here? What is your name, child?

Sarah: (sounding bewildered) I'm Sarah. I don't quite know how I got here. There was this light in my closet and I opened the doors and then I walked through a sort of cave and here I am. (pause) Where am I?

Simeon: She's beside herself. One of us will have to take her back to Bethlehem and try to find her family.

Sarah: But… I don't live in Bethlehem.

Mordecai: Joshua, why don't you take her to your mother. She'll know what to do.

Joshua: Yes, I guess that's best. But she has a houseful already. With all the people returning here to be counted in the census, she has taken in several who could find no other place to stay. But I guess one more won't hurt.

(Gets up.) Come with me, Sarah.

Simeon: Wait! The child has no shoes! She'll never make it back over these sharp rocks.

Joshua: (Sits back down.) Well, then, one of you will have to lend me his sandals and I'll try to tie them on her…..

(Suddenly: Video scene of a blinding light. The shepherds and Sarah react in fear and an angel appears on the video screen. A voice over gives the announcement from Luke2:10-12, followed by choir music like "Glory to God" from the Messiah. The voice over continues with Luke 2:14. Then all dies away. The shepherds and Sarah are left breathless.)

Mordecai: (breathing heavily) Let us go and see this thing that the angels have made known to us.

Sarah: May I come, too?

Simeon: Of course, child. Here, we'll help you over the rocks. (They all get up and exit right through sanctuary door.)

(Lights out.)

(Lights up on same scene. Enter all the shepherds and Sarah through right sanctuary door.)

Joshua: Praise be to our God! He has seen our suffering and has sent us a Messiah!

Simeon: I never thought that I would be among the first to see and worship Him.

Mordecai: What a blessed night! I will never forget this as long as I live! Our Saviour, born here and now! I feel like I must shout it to the world!

Sarah: No-one will ever believe it. I can hardly believe it! I've seen the newborn Jesus!

Mordecai: How do you know His name, child? You are a strange one!

Joshua: We have been given a great gift, but also a great responsibility. We must make sure the world knows the message the angels gave to us. It's a quest, a mission! We must dedicate ourselves to it! "Never forget this night! Tell the world what you've seen and heard."

Simeon: I will gladly accept this calling. What about the rest of you.

Mordecai: I will, too.

Sarah: So will I, though I'm afraid everyone will think I'm crazy.

(Shepherds laugh.)

Simeon: Crazy as a shepherd, alone night after night with no one to talk to but the sheep? Welcome to our world!

Joshua: But, Sarah, we must get you home. You said you know where to go?

Sarah: I know this sounds strange, but I think I can get back home through that cave. It was the way I got here in the first place.

Mordecai: Nothing will seem strange to me again after tonight!

Joshua: Alright, we'll go with you. Come.

Sarah: I don't think you can go with me. I have to go alone. But you can walk with me to the cave. (They walk toward the cave, stage right.) Good-bye. I'll never forget you or this amazing night.

Simeon: Don't forget the quest, Sarah! Farewell!

(Sarah hugs each of the shepherds then exits through cave.)

(Lights out.)

Scene 4

(Lights come up on Sarah's bedroom, set up as in Scene 2. Sarah is coming back through the wardrobe door, looking around. She then starts to call loudly.)

Sarah: (yelling) Mom! Dad! Jenna! Mom! Dad!

(The family stumbles in from stage left in pjs, robes and mussed hair.)

Leanne: Sarah, honey, it's okay. We're here! Did you have a nightmare?

Jenna: Man, Sarah! D'ya have to yell like that? You woke me out of a dead sleep!

David: What is all this fuss about?

Sarah: Mom! Dad! Jenna! You'll never believe where I've been, what I saw! It's incredible!

Jenna: Okay, okay! What?

Sarah: I've been to Bethlehem with some shepherds. We saw the angels and went to find the baby Jesus! It was so wonderful!

Leanne: That's a lovely Christmas dream, Sarah! Come back to bed now.

Sarah: It was no dream, Mom! I woke up and there was this light coming from inside my closet. I opened the closet door and went through and came out of a cave on a hillside near Bethlehem at the time Jesus was born! I saw Jesus! You can, too, all of you! Come back with me!

David: Oh, for heaven's sake! I'm going back to bed. (Turns and leaves, left)

Leanne: It's obvious that the movie last night really made an impression on you,

Honey! But you need to get back to bed. Christmas morning is in just a few hours. You'll need your energy and good spirits.

Sarah: I'm not making it up, Mom! Jenna, you believe me, don't you? Come with me, I'll show you!

Jenna: (Winks at Leanne.) Sure, sure I do, Sarah!

Leanne: I've got a lot to do tomorrow. I need my sleep. I'm going back to bed. You see what you can do with her, Jenna. (Exits, left.)

Sarah: Come on, Jenna. I'll show you. (Pulls Jenna over to the wardrobe.)

Jenna: (Reluctantly going along) Okay, Sarah. Just to show you that you were dreaming… Hey! (Light appears through closet doors.)

(Sarah opens door and bright light beams out. They go through.)

(Lights out.)

Scene 5

(Lights come up on a different video backdrop. The cave still opens up on stage right but it is daylight in a Judean village. A few crowds walk through. An older Joshua and Simeon stand talking together stage left.)

Sarah: Hey! This isn't where I was before! That's so weird!

Jenna: (Looking around bewildered.) This whole thing is totally weird! I thought you were just, like, hallucinating or something! Where are we?

Sarah: I don't know. It's all different. I don't recognize anyone!

(Joshua and Simeon, appearing much older, point to Sarah and walk over to her.)

Joshua: Sarah? Could that be you? After so many years?

Simeon: You look the same as the Sarah we knew. But how could that be? It was 33 years ago! She would be a middle-aged woman now!

Sarah: (Runs toward them, meeting center stage.) Joshua? Simeon? It is you. But you look so old! What happened to you?

Joshua: Just 33 years of hard living under the Romans, that's all. Who is this with you?

Sarah: Oh, sorry. This is my sister, Jenna. Jenna, these are the shepherds I told you about. But how could 33 years have passed? I've only been home for 15 minutes - half an hour at the most!

Simeon: This is uncommonly strange, Joshua! Yet this is the same Sarah we met on that incredible night long ago!

Joshua: Well, we have seen God work many wonders over the years! At least she has sandals on this time! (Points at Sarah's bedroom slippers.) And welcome to you, Jenna! It is good to meet a sister of Sarah.

Jenna: Thanks! Could you tell us where we are?

Joshua: We are near the village of _______. We have heard that Jesus will be speaking to the crowds today and we have followed them here to listen!

Simeon: Do you recall the baby born the night we met you, Sarah? The man He has grown to be is an amazing prophet who performs many miracles of healing.

Joshua: Not just a prophet, Simeon! Remember what the angels said? The Messiah! The Son of God!

Jenna: Whoa! You mean Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth is alive here? Now? And we could actually see him?

Simeon: Of course. Just follow us.

(Joshua and Simeon head off. Sarah starts, turns to beckon to Jenna, then follows. Jenna looks around her, unbelievingly, then runs after them. Show a video clip of Jesus from the movie, John's gospel, where Jesus performs some healing and teaching. The live actors move onto the stairs to watch. At the end, the crowd disperses and Joshua, Simeon, Sarah and Jenna move to center stage.)

Jenna: Wow! With my own eyes I saw it! I only really half-believed those stories in my Bible.

Joshua: With God, nothing is impossible! Sarah, have you remembered our quest?

Jenna: Quest? What does he mean, Sarah?

Sarah: (To Jenna.) It was the mission we took on, the night we saw the angels: "Never forget this night. Tell the world what you've seen and heard!"

Well, I brought my sister to see it. Now, if only I could get my parents to come.

Jenna: They've got to see this! They'll have to believe it if both of us are telling them! Let's go now and get them.

Sarah: Joshua and Simeon, it was good to see you again. I'm not sure if we can get back here again and how much time will have passed when we do, but I hope we will see you again. Good-bye! Remember the quest!

(Sarah and Jenna walk back and out through the cave.)

(Lights out.)

Scene 6

(Lights come up on Sarah's bedroom again. Jenna and Sarah burst through the wardrobe doors.)

Jenna: Sarah, I honestly thought you were losing it tonight, but I'm so glad you brought me with you. Now I know we've got to get Mom and Dad to come, too.

Sarah: But how will we convince them? Dad, especially! He's so cranky these days.

Jenna: You and I hardly ever agree on anything. Maybe when we do it will make a big impression.

Sarah: Well, let's give it a try . How will we get them up?

Jenna: Let's go carol at their bedroom door.

Sarah: Yeah - good idea.

(Sarah and Jenna go to door stage left and sing "Silent Night". Leanne and David emerge sleepy and grumbling.)

David: Now what? You two haven't been awake so much at night since you were two months old!

Jenna: Dad! Mom! Sarah was right. I've been through the wardrobe, too! I've seen Jesus! You've got to come!

Sarah: Yes, Mom and Dad, you have to! We need you to, for our family's sake! It's an answer to my prayer!

Leanne: (Looks at David.) David?

David: Leanne, I honestly don't know what to think! It's hard to imagine that both my daughters have lost their sanity on the same night. Maybe I should have the air tested or something!

Jenna: Dad, just humour us. Come and try it. If it doesn't work, you can have us committed tomorrow. But you're up now. It won't hurt you to at least try.

Leanne: I feel awfully foolish, but I guess it won't hurt to try, if it will get us a little peace.

David: Okay, okay! Let's get this over with, so I can go back to bed.

(They follow the girls to the bedroom. Sarah opens the closet door, but there is only clothes hanging up. Sarah bangs on the back, then turns around, disappointed.)

David: See! You were dreaming! Now, go back to bed, you two!

Sarah: No, it can't be! I know we weren't dreaming. We have to get back!

Jenna: I thought for sure God would want you and Mom to see what we've seen. I thought it would be the thing we needed to stop all the fighting, to keep us from falling apart!

Sarah: (Nodding.) Me, too! That was what I prayed for.

David: (Sitting down on the bed.) That's how you see our family - falling apart? (Silence.) Leanne, what about you?

Leanne: I've been trying so hard to hold things together here, to make everyone happy. But, to be honest, I've almost given up. You're always working, David, and when you're not, you're edgy and exhausted. And I've been so angry at you, that I've taken it out on the girls.

Jenna: Yeah. Well. While we're confessing things here, I guess I could have been a lot less self-centered and helped out more around the house.

Sarah: Me, too.

(Suddenly, light streams from around the closet door. David sees it first.)

David: What the …..?

Sarah: The light's back! We can go through now. C'mon everyone.

(She throws open the door to blinding light and they all go through, Sarah and Jenna eagerly, Leanne and then David, very cautiously.)

(Lights out.)

Scene 7

(The family enters from cave to same video backdrop of Bethlehem hills as Scene 3. The campfire is in the same spot. An older Mordecai sits by it.)

Leanne: Sarah, Jenna, where are we? What just happened?

Sarah: We're back in Bethlehem, Mom. But I'm not sure when. Time goes differently, moving from our time to the past.

David: I don't believe this! I've been working way too hard! Is that a campfire over there? Let's go find out where we are.

(Family moves toward campfire. Sarah recognizes Mordecai.)

Sarah: (Running.) Mordecai - is it you?

Mordecai: (Hesitates.) Sarah…could it be? But this is impossible! You're no older than when I first saw you!

Sarah: It is me, Mordecai! It's a long story about the age thing. But I've brought my whole family this time. This is my father, David.

Mordecai: David, there's a good Jewish name! (Shakes hands with David.)

Sarah: My mother, Leanne, and my sister, Jenna.

Mordecai: I'm very pleased to meet you all. Sarah… seeing you again brings back such memories. What a night that was! What promise it held!

Sarah: Have you seen Joshua and Simeon?

Mordecai: Not for more than 30 years. Their family left not long after their baby brother was murdered by Herod two years after our special night.

Sarah: But I've seen them. They were…..

(Joshua and Simeon enter through sanctuary door, stage right while this conversation goes on.)

Joshua: Our ears are burning. Were you talking about us?

Mordecai: Joshua? Simeon? (Pause while he looks closely.) By the stars, it is you! What brings you back here? Trying to get your old shepherding jobs back, are you?

Simeon: And Sarah is here, too. A regular reunion! Sarah, who have you brought with you. We remember your sister, Jenna…

Sarah: I've brought my mother and father, David and Leanne.

Joshua: You have a fine daughter. Two fine daughters! You must be very proud of them.

David: (Pause.) I am - we are! Yes, we have been really blessed. (He smiles at his girls and reaches for Leanne's hand.)

Mordecai: Sit down and warm yourselves. (All sit down.) Well, this has turned out much differently than I expected. Just like old times. Goodness, how long has it been?

Joshua: It's been 34 years since we saw the angels, Mordecai.

Mordecai: I know that! Why do you think I'm up on this hill in the cold? The sheep don't even come up here any more. (Gets up.) Do you know, I've spent this night, every year, here on this spot! Right here where we all saw …. well, where we all saw… what we saw! (Sits down again.)

Simeon: Angels, Mordecai. We saw ANGELS. Why do you say it like that? Have you forgotten what happened that night? What began that night? Our quest?

Mordecai: How could I forget? But I was just a boy. A lot has happened since then. I have responsibilities now: a family, I'm on the town council, my business. So much has changed. (Pause.) No, I haven't forgotten. I guess I'm just not sure I still believe it all anymore, Simeon.

David: I hear you, Mordecai. We have a lot in common.

Simeon: Mordecai, a lot has changed with us as well. But what does that have to do with what happened to all of us right here on that night? (Getting excited.) I mean, how could you possibly have an experience like that and not believe every hour of every day. I don't understand how you…

(He is interrupted by Joshua's hand on his arm.)

Joshua: Mordecai, are you serious about having been up here every single year since that night?

Mordecai: Yes. I haven't missed a one.

Joshua: Why? If you don't believe, why do you keep coming back, year after year?

Mordecai: I didn't say that I don't want to believe. I just said that I'm not sure I do

believe anymore. Every year when the weather starts to change, it reminds me again and I get that crazy feeling inside. I guess I just keep coming back here hoping it will happen again. That something will happen to help me...believe.

Joshua: Do you know what happened to that baby we all went to worship in the stable that night? You do remember the stable and the baby…?

Mordecai: I could never forget that. Nothing has ever been so real to me. I felt like we were at the beginning of something truly wonderful.

Simeon: We were, Mordecai, we were! What do you think happened to that baby?

Mordecai: I assumed he was killed by Herod, along with your brother and all those other babies.

Joshua: No! God warned Mary and Joseph, his parents, in a dream, and they left for Egypt a few days before the massacre. They stayed there awhile, then moved back to Nazareth when it was safe.

Mordecai: How do you know all this?

Simeon: One year, we met his parents while we were all in Jerusalem for the Passover. They named the boy Jesus, and that year, when He was 12, we heard Him talking to the rabbis and priests at the temple. He had more wisdom and authority, even at twelve years of age than I've ever heard!

Mordecai: (Wonderingly.) He's alive! He didn't die!

Joshua: We made a point of connecting with Mary and Joseph at the Passover Feast in Jerusalem every year, watching Jesus grow into a fine man!

Simeon: But four years ago, He started doing these Miracles! Water to wine, healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind! Preaching to crowds of people. Amazing wisdom!

Joshua: We started to follow Him and we realized that He was as the angels told us - The Messiah!

Mordecai: (Excited!) Where is He now? I must find Him!

Simeon: (Quieter.) There's more, Mordecai. Last year, at the Passover, his teachings and his growing reputation threatened the Chief Priests and the Council, and they had Him arrested and crucified.

Mordecai: (His hopes dashed.) Oh… then that's it? No Messiah, no Saviour. He's dead after all.

Joshua: (Jumping up) No, Mordecai. We all felt as you do now. Desolate, all our hopes crushed. For two days, we mourned His death. But on the third day…

Simeon: Some of the women went to the tomb and His body wasn't there. The tomb was empty, except for the grave clothes. Angels appeared and told the women that Jesus wasn't there, that He had risen from the dead!

Joshua: We could scarcely believe this joyful news, but he appeared to over 500 of us during a period of forty days. He is definitely alive, Mordecai, and He is the Saviour of the world!

Mordecai: (Leaping up for joy.) This is what I've waited all my life to hear, since that night of his birth! I knew there had to be more. What must I do?

Simeon: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, for this was the reason He died, to pay for our sins, that we might have everlasting life!

Joshua: But remember our quest, Mordecai? We must continue to tell everyone what we know. Those were the last words Jesus said to us before He went back to Heaven: Go into all the world and tell the Good News!

Sarah: (Coming forward.) And I guess that's why we still know about Him and believe in Jesus two thousand years later. Because you kept the quest.

Joshua: Two thousand years?! What are you saying, Sarah?

Jenna: We're from a future time… 2005 years after Jesus was born. But we still know Him. At least, some of us do.

Leanne: If this is a dream, I don't want to wake up! Hearing you talk makes me long to know Jesus better, more personally.

David: I've heard this story a thousand times, but it was always just a story! Suddenly, I see it differently! It's real, exciting… TRUTH! It makes me want to live for Him.

Simeon: And what of the people in your future. Will people who live after you still know about Jesus?

Joshua: Sarah, you and your family must continue the quest to tell the Good News. Remember what the angel said….

(Lights out.)

Scene 8

(Lights come up on the family seated in the living room with the tree lights on. Sarah is reading from the Bible…)

Sarah: For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

(Lights out.)

Copyright Heather Cooper, John Kenneson, John Wayne Samples, all rights reserved.
This script may be performed without royalty payment, provided no charge is made for entrance to the performance. In return, the author would like to be told of any performance. She may be contacted at coopers@silk.ne