About twenty years and half a dozen churches ago, I wrote a script for a Christmas pageant that was to be narrated to a slide show. It apparently was, but we moved to California before it was produced (I heard it was great…). Since then, this script has been adapted for use in a few other churches (2 were churches I was involved in), and this year a nice lady found it online at Small Voices and asked if her church could adapt it for their program.
A couple of years ago I rewrote it as a story (rather than a play), and decided it was time to republish it here. The character Alfred is kind of a cross between Andy Griffith and Walter Brennan (it must have made sense at the time). I hope you enjoy it…
An Angel’s Christmas Story
by Alden Swan
(humming, “Angels we have heard on high…”)
Oh, hello there. I just love the Christmas season, don’t you? But it’s not the same as it used to be. And believe you me, I’ve seen my share of Christmases.
Let me introduce myself – Alfred’s my name. I’m what you folks call an angel. My friends call me Alf. Yep, I’ve been around since the beginning, and I’ve seen it all. You know, we all were pretty shocked at the Adam & Eve affair. It was a terrible day for you humans, and it didn’t make our job any easier, let me tell you. That Lucifer, he thought he had the whole thing wrapped up right then, but he hadn’t planned on Christmas, no sir. That really set him shakin’ in his boots.
Well, here, listen to this:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . .”
Isn’t that nice? Those words were written almost two thousand years ago by a man named John. John was given a very special insight into the birth of Jesus. His book is a beautifully inspired depiction of the Jesus’ life and ministry, and is well named the “Gospel” – the “Good News” of John. I’m sure some of you have read it.
Other writers have also told the story of Jesus’ birth well, and I must be honest in saying that my favorite is Luke’s Gospel, since he did a pretty fair job in telling about our role in Jesus’ birth. I guess even I like to see myself in print. However, I’d still like to tell the story myself, if you don’t mind listening to an old angel reminisce.
The plan had been unfolding for a long, long time. Even at the Garden of Eden tragedy, we began to see hints of great blessings to come for mankind. The prophets of Israel saw glimpses of the plan, but who ever thought that God himself would come down to Earth as a helpless child! Maybe I’d better start at the beginning; well, maybe not the very beginning.
A little over a year before Jesus was born, God had sent Gabriel (a close personal friend of mine) to Judah to bring a message to a man named Zacharias, telling him that his wife Elizabeth would have a son. And sure enough, Elizabeth became pregnant. Her son was to grow up to be known as John the Baptist, a great man, and quite important to Jesus’ ministry.
Now over in Galilee there was a little city named Nazareth. This was an average city back then, except that it, too, was about to have an angelic visit. You might think that this sort of thing happened a lot back then, being Bible times, and all, but let me tell you, it didn’t. Not like this, anyway.
Gabriel was sent there to bring a message to a young girl named Mary, who just happened to be Elizabeth’s cousin, who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. Mary, of all the women in Galilee, had found great favor with God. When Gabriel told her this, she was taken aback, and with good reason. As I said, even back then people were not often visited by angels.
When Gabriel assured Mary that she had nothing to fear, she relaxed a bit and listened with awe at what he had to say. And Whoooeee! What she heard was enough to make a girl fairly nervous. She found that she also was going to have a son, which was a very unusual miracle, seeing as Mary was not even married. Now I don’t approve of all these unmarried women today having babies. But this was not your ordinary pregnancy.
Mary’s child was going to be the Son of God, and she was to name him Jesus. Gabriel said later that this had to be the greatest moment of his existence; to bring to Mary the news that the Son of God would live and grow within her so that someday he could dwell within all who asked him. Of course I’m not envious of Gabriel, you know. We all have our own responsibilities, and all that. But, even still, I kind of wish it could’ve been me to carry that news…
Well, that’s water under the bridge, as they say. I’d better continue.
When Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, heard that she was pregnant, he thought perhaps that he should quietly call off the whole thing. But God sent another angel (also a friend of mine) to him in a dream to assure him that what Mary said was true, that her son was indeed the Christ.
Personally, I think Joseph’s part in the birth of Jesus has been really downplayed by many people, but the story would read much differently had Joseph not been the great man of faith that he was. Even with an angel in a dream, it took a lot of guts to be obedient to God. It is hard for me to imagine human feelings, but I know, though, that this was quite a bit of responsibility for a couple about to be married…
[Alfred stops to listen to a group of carolers, his thoughts drifting]
To Be Continued …