Walk Through Bethlehem
In our church, in the rural town of Frankfort, MI, we have done a Walk Through Bethlehem
in early December for the past 15 years. It runs two nights, Friday and Saturday, from 7- 8:30 pm. It's done inside in our sanctuary and in a Sunday School room; it is free and open to the public.
A group of about 20 visitors at a time follow a shepherd on a 15 minute walk through to view 7 skits or vignettes while looking for baby Jesus. He stops at each scene and allows our church actors to talk about the baby, discuss prophecies, etc. The audience is allowed to view the baby and the manger scene as long as they wish; then as they leave, they are given a candy cane with the Legend of the Candy Cane attached to it.
We distribute scripts usually in early November to all who want to be involved. We completely clear out the sanctuary and set up scenery we've painted and built. We also borrow a couple of live sheep from a nearby farmer and they are tied up in the first shepherd scene. Below is a copy of our script.
We usually have around 250 people come through our Walk Through Bethlehem, which is a good percentage based on our area and the weather at that time of year.
(Actors are indicated by numbers)
#2: Hey Josh, have you registered for the census yet?
#3: Yeah, what a hassle. All just so the Romans can bleed us dry with taxes.
#4: I sure wish we had a decent army.
#2: Wouldn't that be nice. But we don't and there's not much we can do about it.
#3: (after pause) Say, Ashel, how's the grass over on the south pasture?
#2: Well, it's lookin' pretty good. I think we can move down that way tomorrow, but first we'll have to . . .
(The shepherds notice a light and the angel, and look terrified)
Angel: Do not be afraid. Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which is for all people. Today in the town of Bethlehem, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you - you will find the baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.
(Suddenly several other angels appear)
Angels: Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will to all mankind
(Angels sing together the first verse of "Joy To The World")
Roman Soldier: Sign here for the census for Caesar Augustus.
#1: (to audience) Come on! Let's go to Bethlehem and find this child! Come with me. Wait a minute. Have you registered for the census yet? No? Well, let's avoid the Romans for now. Come on, let's go this way.
Beggar: (as audience passes by, reach out with hand or bag, repeat line a couple of times)
Alms, alms for the poor.
(A few townspeople stand between shepherd's scene and Roman guards at census table and move back and forth to sign "census" as audience moves towards Merchant's Scene)
(Lights come on to reveal Roman soldiers at table for census register and merchant at table with baskets and blankets for sale)
Shepherd: Wait here, I have a friend who lives nearby. I'll go see if he knows anything.
(Shepherd temporarily leaves)
(A townsman shoulders his way through the crowd and steps up to the merchant's table)
Man: Excuse me, pardon me (as he walks through crowd)
(when he reaches table) I'm in town to register for the census and it's colder than I expected. Have you got anything to keep a man warm at night, like a rug or a cover?
Merchant: You're in luck. I have something here guaranteed to keep you warm (displays blanket). Is this what you're looking for?
Man: Well, maybe.
Merchant: Sir, this is made from the finest of wool. See how smooth the wool has been spun? Notice how tightly and evenly it has been woven. Why, this would keep a man warm. Just feel it, sir. See how warm it is? It is fine workmanship and will last for years. This is what you want!
Man: Well, how much is it?
Merchant: What's money to me? What would you give?
Man: Not much.
Merchant: Well, surely it's worth 30 denarii.
Man: A month's wages! Yes, what is money to you, your god?
Merchant: But this is quality. It's valuable. I'll tell you what, since you're a Jewish brother and not one of those Romans, I'll give it to you for 18 denarii.
Man: Oh, you are so generous . . . but not generous enough.
Merchant: Then what will you give me?
Man: I could scrape together 1 denarius and 5 stater.
Merchant: Poverty must be upon you. I feel so sad. But I can't possibly let this go for less than 15 denarii.
Man: Well, I guess I might have to give you all I have. That's 2 denarii and 5 stater.
Merchant: If I go any lower, I'll be just as poor as you. I just can't sell for less than 15 denarii.
Man: If you don't sell, you don't eat.
Merchant: I will sell. (gestures towards audience) Why look at all the people in town. Someone will buy.
Man: All right. I can give you 5 denarii.
Merchant: Please make it 8. Even at that price, I lose greatly.
Merchant: Six denarii and 5 stater?
Man: Six denarii.
Merchant: For such a poor man, I will sell for 6.
(Man takes blanket and leaves. Shepherd returns)
Shepherd: (to audience) My friend, Micah, knew nothing. I'll just have to ask around. (approaches Merchant)
Sir, I'm looking for a baby.
Merchant: A baby! Do I look like I have a baby? Hah, you need a wife, then you can have a baby.
Shepherd: No! No! What I mean is, there was a very special baby born in town today. Have you heard anything about him?
Merchant: Do I look like a midwife? I don't know anything about any baby, but I do know that babies like nice, warm blankets. I can sell you a perfect blanket for your baby.
Shepherd: No thanks. (Shepherd leaves)
Shepherd: Come friends, let's try at the Inn. (knocks on door)
Excuse me, but we're looking for . . .
Innkeeper: Rooms? I suppose you're looking for rooms? Are all of you looking for rooms in my Inn? I'm so sorry, but I'm full. You know, these Romans and their census. Everybody has to go to their birthplace to be counted. So many people in town and I'm sure you won't be the last ones needing a place to stay. Why, I've been turning people away all day. People older than you and in greater need than you. I even had to turn away a woman great with child. Her time was near. I wanted to help, but I was full, and I couldn't have a woman giving birth in the common room of the Inn. After all, I am trying to run a business and I have customers to think about. I'm full, so please don't ask to stay. You'll have to go somewhere else.
Shepherd: Wait! You turned away a woman about to give birth? What happened to her? Where did she go?
Innkeeper: I told her the same thing I'm telling you - you'll have to go somewhere else.
Shepherd: Thanks, anyway. (to audience) Well, I guess I could go ask the Romans. Wait here, I'll be right back.
WOMEN AT THE WELL SCENE
#1: I heard my husband talking about what the prophet, Isaiah, foretold in his writings about the Messiah. It says, "A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it, with justice and righteousness from then on, and forevermore." My husband said, according to this prophecy, we will again have a king in Israel, a descendent of David.
#2: (gradually gets louder while talking) Yes, I just wish that king would come now. These Romans with their census and taxes and armies . . .
(Roman soldier passes by the well)
#3: Shhh! Not so loud! You want those Romans to hear. I want them gone, too, but I don't shout it! I only wish we knew when this king, this Messiah, was coming.
#2: So do I.
#1: I've heard my husband talk about other words written by Isaiah that refer to this King.
#2: Which words?
#1: "A virgin will be with child and will bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Do the rabbis believe this refers to the Messiah?
#2: Sounds to me like it refers to the Messiah!
#3: Born of a virgin? What else have you heard about what the prophets say about this Messiah?
#2: I've heard my husband talk about where the Messiah is to be born. It's in the writings of the prophet, Micah - "But as for you, Bethlehem, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."
#3: Sort of funny, isn't it?
#3: That our glorious king would come from here, from this place.
#1: Well, it isn't much, that's true.
#2: Well, I guess we can know where the Messiah will be born, but I'd like to know when.
Shepherd: (while walking up on women's conversation) You said you've heard where the Messiah was to be born?
#2: Sure, the prophets say here in Bethlehem.
Shepherd: But where in Bethlehem? An angel appeared to us in the field tonight and said we'd find the baby in a manger. He must be here somewhere!
#1: A baby in a manger?
#3: (to #2) He smells like a shepherd to me.
#2: I think he's been too long with the sheep.
(ladies laugh. Shepherd and audience move on to ladies sorting grain).
WOMEN SORTING GRAIN SCENE
Shepherd: Ladies, we're looking for a baby that was born today.
#1: I'm sorry, I don't know of any.
#2: Do you know the father's name?
Shepherd: No, all we were told was the baby would be wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.
#1: Wrapped in strips of cloth. That doesn't help much, that could be any baby.
#2: Lying in a manger, huh?
Child: (Excitedly) Momma, Momma, I saw a man and his wife go into that stable over there earlier today. She looked pretty big and she was holding her stomach!
Shepherd: Oh, thank you!
(The shepherd leads the audience into the "stable", asks them to be quiet. Shepherd kneels down and says...)
Shepherd: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth".
(After a short time, the shepherd leads the audience to the exit and returns to the Shepherd Scene.)
Copyright 2000 Cathy Bodell
Benzie Area Church of Christ, Frankfort, MI
Also check out Bethlehem Drive-Through
for another way to present the Christmas story in your community.
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