Modern Day Christmas (in Bangkok)
It's that time of year again--time to plan the Christmas Chapel! Knowing that many others are working on Christmas programs, I wanted to share this script that I wrote in November, 2017 for the teens that I work with. I loved watching them bring it to life! If you use it or adapt it for your church, school or ministry, please let me know! I would love to hear about it!
Inspired by this video from Crossroads Church (script written by Christina Lowery) found on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHNCyLYt-lE
Approximate running time: 17 minutes
Stage is set up into various scenes, but starts all in darkness. Lights appear on just the group/individual doing the speaking.
Shepherds/motorcycle drivers (3 or 4 guys)
Wisemen/Professor & 2 or 3 students
Innkeeper/hotel receptionists (2 or 3 guys or girls)
Narrator: As we think about Mary and Joseph and the first Christmas, we think about Bethlehem and shepherds and the innkeeper and wisemen. But, what if…
What if we put it in a modern day context?
What if the setting was Bangkok?
What might it have looked like if there weren’t shepherds…but motorcycle drivers, instead?
What if…well, let’s just check it out and see…
(Spotlight on motorcy taxi drivers. A motorcycle behind them. Gathered around, looking at a phone. Talking, laughing, etc.)
Motorcy taxi driver #1: (responding to Narrator as she walks by)
Madam, madam…do you need a taxi? Good price, good price!
(then he turns to the audience)
It was an ordinary night, one like so many nights before. Negotiating prices and trying to stay awake as we tried to pass the time waiting for people to start coming out of the bars late one night. My friends and I were making jokes, playing cards and watching videos on youtube. Everything seemed like every other night had been before it.
As a person who had dropped out of high school, this was as good as life would get for me. I didn’t have hopes for my future, but I could at least enjoy my friends as I waited for customers. Life is what it is. I didn’t expect fame or to be remembered in history when I was gone. I was just a simple motorcy driver, choosing to enjoy the moment.
Scene Two: (light on Maria sitting in a comfortable chair, with her coffee cup.)
Maria: It was an ordinary night. I had just finished facetiming with Joe, and my mind was full of thoughts of our love and “happily ever after.” I wanted to sit and dream of the future, but, there was a US History exam to study for, my Capstone essay to write, college Apps to finish, the SAT exam study for and Mr. G kept pushing us to memorize our lines for the school play. Basically, a night like many others before it.
I look back on it now and it seems like a life time ago. The things that seemed so important then, don’t seem so important now. As I think about that night, I was totally unaware that everything was about to change.
(light on astronomers)
Professor: It was an ordinary night as far as those things go. The students of the Oxford University Space and Astronomical Society had invited me to speak at their weekly meeting (as they often do) at the observatory and I had just finished a lecture on the phenomena of the astrophysics of black holes. I gave some examples of high energetic processes that are due to the strong gravitational field induced by black holes and gave explanations about the extragalactic quasars and microquasars and the tremendous cosmic influence and…
Atronomer student #1: Excuse me, Professor. I believe you are getting a bit off topic. We wanted to share about the event that took place after the meeting, as we were observing the sky…
Professor: Oh, yes. Quite right. Quite right. Yes, that was the night that we first saw it. It was so clear, so bright and distinct. At first, I thought I was imagining things, but the students all verified it, as well. An excitement begin to build in me…was this the star that had been alluded to? Of course, I had heard about that—the star. Like most others, I thought that was simply a tall tale. We began researching our data, going back in the logs as far as we could…trying to determine what this new star might mean. Could this be the star the world had been waiting for?
Scene Four: (spotlight on Joe, sitting at his desk, working on his computer, surrounded by tools and wood.)
Joe: It had been an ordinary night like so many others. Well, as much as you can call talking with Maria ordinary. She’s breathtaking and delightful. At her school, she is admired by all the girls and all the guys are envious of me.
Ummm, yeah, but, I need to put that in past tense. She was admired by all.
Until that night, that night that had started out so ordinarily. I had almost completed my business degree and my online business of custom made furniture was taking off. I felt like I would receive Maria’s parent’s blessings if I just kept being patient and gave her time to go to university and get her degree. She was a prize worth waiting for.
Or, so I thought. Until that date when she told me she was pregnant and then wanted me to believe that the baby she was expecting was the child of God.
Until then, I had believed every word she said. But this was too far-fetched and the betrayal was unlike any feeling I had ever had before. I felt sadness and rage and despair.
My life was shattered by her revelation.
She not only had fooled me, but everyone who knew her.
Scene Five: (light on receptionists)
Receptionist 1: An ordinary night at our hotel means a busy night. I am thankful to work at such a successful job. Our guests are in and out at all hours of the night. We try hard to make sure they are happy and our hard work seems to pay off. I don’t like working at night and my feet always ache at the end of the long shift. But, I am thankful to have a good job with good pay.
I remember this night because it was rainy season and the streets were flooded. Many who had planned to check out that day had been unable to because of the floods. So, every room was full.
Scene Six: (light on Motorcy drivers)
Motorcy Driver #1: When the bright light blinded us, my fear was immediate, but I couldn’t believe it was real. Had I had too many beers? Had I smoked something stronger than cigarettes? But, then I looked and my friends were all shaken, too. They were trembling and watching as we began to see that in the light was a shining man and he was speaking to us.
He first told us not to be afraid. It was too late! But then he spoke of good news that would bring joy to all people. He told us exactly where we could find a baby, in the center of Bangkok. Then many more shining men joined the first one, singing of the glory of God and peace for all men.
Once they were gone, we looked at each other. We all had experienced the same thing and we were sobered and quiet. We decided to go to the address we had been given.
Scene Seven: (light on Maria)
Maria: Ummm…yeah. Pregnant at 18 years old. Not my parents dream for their daughter.
And, Joe. Oh, it was hard to think about the pain on his face the night that I had told him.
But, when I thought back to the night that changed everything, I couldn’t be sorry. When the angel appeared, I was scared and shocked. Never could I have imagined anything like this. But, he reassured me and explained that there was no reason to fear. I will never understand why I was chosen, but I felt a peace. I had questions, but also a quiet trust and I believed the angel when he said that nothing was impossible with God.
It was a lonely time for me. Life as I had known it completely changed. The reputation I had earned was stripped away from me. I won’t pretend it was easy.
But, as my tummy grew, my hope grew, as well.
And, the night that Joe texted me saying that he had also been visited by an angel and that he would be supportive of me, my joy was complete.
Scene Eight: (light on astronomers)
Professor: As the magnitude of this discovery became evident, my students and I considered our options. We could call a press conference, we could start posting messages on twitter, we could continue to do more research and let others in the scientific community know what we had observed and pool our resources and knowledge, we could contact the government…
We spent hours debating the merits of each option. It especially fascinated me that this astronomical phenomenon appeared to have taken place due to the electromagnetic waves—you see, when you have neutron star mergers, it’s possible that…
Astronomy student #1: ummm, Prof, I think you may be getting off track once again…
Professor: What? Oh, yes, quite right. Quite right. Yes, we looked at many options, but the star seemed to be calling to us. In the end, we packed up and followed the star—our transport included buses, trains, planes, boats and, finally, a tuk-tuk ride, until we finally arrived at a hotel on Sukhumvit Road.
Scene Nine: (light on Joseph)
Joe: In one way, life couldn’t be better. After the visit from the angel, I understood that there was a bigger story happening around me—much bigger than just two young people who were living an ordinary life. A peace settled into my heart and I determined to do everything I could to help Maria. Even though we were young, we got married and as I pledged my life to Maria, I also pledged to do the best job I could of raising our baby, God’s own son. The baby who would change not only our world, but the entire world.
In another way, life was falling apart. No-one wanted to do business with a man who they thought had gotten a school girl pregnant. Our parents were so disappointed and would hardly speak to us. Maria dropped out of her school. If it had not been for our confidence in God, our shame would have destroyed us.
As the time drew near for her to give birth, it was rainy season. I was worried the floods would keep us away from getting to the hospital in time. We made our way downtown, to stay in a hotel near the hospital. We were weary and exhausted.
Scene Ten: (light on receptionists)
Receptionist #1: I hated to turn them away, but we had no rooms. They were wet and tired. And, she was so young and you could see that her time was close. I thought about the utilities closet in the basement parking garage. It wasn’t a nice hotel room, but there were mats on the floor where some of our staff rested when they were not on duty. They could at least get dry and rest.
I never expected that the baby would come so quickly. I never expected for a baby to be born in the basement of our hotel.
When the motorcycle drivers came in our hotel in their unclean state, I was first angry and tried to get them to leave. But, they were insistent, “where is the baby who has been born to bring hope to all people?” And, then, the scientists arrived all the way from England.
We took them all down to the basement.
There they were, the young mother and baby and adoring father.
Something in my heart knew that my life would never be the same again. This baby somehow had changed everything.
Band begins playing “Children, Gather Round.” Joseph moves towards Mary and stands behind her, both looking at baby Jesus. Motorcycle guys gather round them; astronomers gather round them; hotel receptionists join—everyone kneeling, standing, adoring, as they gaze at the baby. The baby that would change everything.