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How Can We Know What's Going On?


Scene 1

Voice 1 Come and see what God has done; how awesome his works on behalf of people.


Voice 2 In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to his own town to register.


Miriam is at the table preparing soup. Nathan enters with vegetables (others are busy with various preparations – and getting in the way)


Miriam Put them down over there – no over there! Not where the sheep can get them, on the table

Nathan Will here do?

Miriam I suppose so. How many are there in for supper tonight?

Nathan Dunno – looks pretty busy to me


Enter

Peter Phew – I thought I wasn’t going to get here; the crowds are chaotic. I’ve brought the extra bedding Sara said you needed. Where do you want it?

Nathan Extra bedding? What do we want extra bedding for – you cold at nights?

Miriam We need it for the extra beds we need with all these extra people! Put it over there, can you – no, not on top of the vegetables! Have you lot no sense?


Enter Rebekah

Miriam At last – somebody with some sense.

Rebekah goes to put the bundle she is carrying onto the table on top of the veg

Miriam No, I take that back; not there – find somewhere else

Peter puts the bedding on the floor to clear room for her

Miriam (sarcastic patience) No, I don’t think that is going to work do you?

Peter I guess not – where would you like me t put t

Miriam Now – where d you think it would be a good idea to put the bedding?

Nathan I wouldn’t worry – she always gets smart like this when she feels it’s got busy

Miriam And why not. None of the rest of you are doing much.

Rebekah Well, what do you want us to do

Miriam Never mind, it’s easer to do it myself!

Fusses around the tables

Rebekah What’s going on anyway

Peter It’s this government thing. Everybody’s got to go and get counted, and it means the streets are full of people

R So, why are they dong that?

N Don’t you know anything? The government want to know how many of us there are so that they can tax us.

R Tax us?

N That’s right bright spark. They are counting us so that they can take the money off us

P Is that what it's all about?

N Well, what else would t be about?

R Well, it might be to sort out better schools or travel or something like that.

N Are you blind? Can’t you see what’s happening. They are counting us to take our money. Again! Or maybe to get us n the army. It’s obvious to anybody who will look.

P Well, I suppose you might be right

N Of course I am. Just look and see. They’re sending everybody back to their hometown, and getting them registered. Why else would they be interested. Since when were the Romans interested n our welfare. You need to open your eyes.

As he knocks over a jar of something

R And you need to open your eyes. Watch where you going can’t you. Look, all of you – if you’re not going to help, get out of the way.


Scene 2

Voice 1 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; a young woman will conceive and give birth to a son. They will call him Emmanuel.


Voice 2 While they were there, the time came for Mary’s child to be born, and she gave birth to a son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.


Rebekah s asleep beside the fire. Peter enters.

P Wake up, wake up

R What, where, why....

P Wake up, please

R wakening What’s wrong

P Out in the stable...there’s a funny noise

R What kind of funny noise?

P Like crying?

R Let me see. Honestly, can’t you work out what’s going on


As she sets out to g outside, N comes in

N Can you find a midwife

R A midwife. At this time of night? What do you think I am. And why would you want a midwife anyway?

N Don’t be silly – not for me. Do I look like I want a midwife.

R I don’t know what you look like. It’s the middle of the night, it’s dark, this one’s wittering on about funny noises in the stable and you come in asking for midwives. How am I supposed to know what’s going on. And I was having such a nice dream.

N Well, this is no dream. There’s a young woman in the stable having a baby, and we need a midwife. I would have thought anybody with half an eye could see that?

P Is that what the funny noise was

N Yes – don't you recognise a baby’s cry when you hear it

P Why should I? I’m the youngest, and don’t have a baby. How can I be expected to know what’s going on?

R Fair enough – we won’t expect you to know. But I‘m not sure I know

N Well, I am. There’s a baby born in the stable, and we need to get the midwife.

R But why is the baby being born there?

P Because that’s where it’s mother was ?

R Yeah, OK, but why is she there? I don’t understand.

N I presume it’s all because of the census


M comes in

M What’s going on here.


They all speak at once trying to explain

M Shut up. How can I understand with all this noise.

P There’s a baby in the stable

N It’s because of the census

R And we need to find a midwife

M Why is the government making babes be born in stables. And where are we going to find a midwife in the middle of all this crowd


Enter Deborah, a midwife

D I was on my way home, and I heard a baby crying, and it seemed to be in the wrong place, so I wondered f I could help?


They all speak at once trying to explain

D I know, I’ll go and see the mother, and then I’ll understand.


Scene 3

Voice 1 But you Bethlehem, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel

Voice 2 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. And an angel appeared and said to them Do not be afraid. I bring you news of great joy. Today in the town of David is born a Saviour. And the shepherds said “let us go to Bethlehem and see the thing that has happened.


R and N are washing dashes. P is lounging by the fire

R Well, all know is I saw them going in as I went past.

P And I think you’re wrong. Sheep don’t live in stables.

R I didn’t say the sheep were going into the stables. I said the shepherds were going into the stable.

N Well, why would shepherds be going into a stable – and this early in the morning It doesn’t make sense.

R Maybe not, but it’s what I saw!

P Well, I don’t think you were looking properly.

R And you’d have understood better, I suppose

P We-e-e-elll

N Come on, you know he wouldn’t. But it doesn’t make much sense, does it.

R I don’t know about sense, but I know what I saw.


Enter M with a tray of dishes.

M But do you know what they are saying they saw?

R Who?

M The shepherds. One of them has just been in for breakfast. He said they’d seen lots of light

N Soldiers on patrol?

R Too much red wine rather.

M I don’t know – but he was rather shaken by it I think.

P What do you mean?

M Oh I don’t suppose it really matters. Not while there’s all this washing up to do. I don’t suppose we’ll hear any more about it.


Starts to put dishes away

N I should hope not; there’s more than enough to worry about without worrying about out of place shepherds who forget their sunglasses.

P What’s that then?

N Well, I did hear that there were more people coming to town, more to be counted. How are we going to find room for them all?

M And who’s going to cook the soup


P gets out large roll of plans and spreads them on the table

P I wonder if we ought to be thinking about expanding. I mean, all these people coming in, and there’s not really enough rooms in the town for them all. We might make a real profit we expand

R I need that table to cut the veg – will you move that?






Scene 4

Voice 1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.


Voice 2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Wise men from the East came. And they went on their way and the star they had seen in the East went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the chills was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed and went into the house. The saw the child with his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped him.


N and P are standing at the table with J; they are looking at plans

N We thought we might start with an extra couple of rooms out the back

P And then, if that goes well, we can add another floor which will give us abut 6 more rooms – and maybe turn the land round the side into a putting green

J Well, it looks interesting, I must say. And you really think you’ve got enough customers to make it worthwhile

N Certainly. And not just local custom either. Only last week, we had a party from somewhere out east.

P Yes, very swish. Proper nobility they were. And we didn’t really have room to put them up, not properly anyway.

N We did our best of course, but if it’s the start of something, then we want to be ready

J Forgive me for asking, but f you didn’t really have room, why were they here. Mean, I know the soup’s famous, but I don’t really see what’s going on that they came here.

N Well, our soup is really famous.

P And we have a good reputation for making people welcome

N But t was really to do with the baby.


Pause

J The baby?

N Some child that was born the other day in the stable.

J the stable?

P Yeah. We’re not really sure why they came to see him, but that’s what it was all about. I mean, he’s a nice enough baby

N As babies go.

P And you expect the women to get all gooey about babies.

N But – well, these didn’t look like people you would expect to , that is, they didn’t look like - gooey

P Anyway, since they weren’t really baby sorts, we thought they might be scouting out the land as, you know, travel agents, and using the baby as an excuse, so that’s why we thought we would look at expanding.

J I see. Well, this is going to take some thinking about. Are you sure about it?

P Well, they came – and why else would they be here?

J That’s true


Enter M Oh, those plans again! I am not convinced!

J You’re not – why?

P She’s just scared

N Well, cautious

M I’m sensible!

J Well, what brought them her?


M is busy making a meal, moving all the papers.

Enter R, carrying washing

R What brought who here?

J The visitors that have given the idea for the extension

P We said – we’re sure it was spying out the land. They’re thinking of starting a business, they must be.

N No other reason to come here out of season

R Nonsense. Move out the way. They were lost. That’s what it was.

M I don’t think so – they were too intelligent for that.

R Intelligent – they went to Herod and talked about kings – what’s intelligent.


P starts to pile up dishes to serve a meal

P Well, if we do get the extension we can get more staff and save our feet

J I need to know a lot more. What was really going on here?

N Well, how can we tell? How can we ever know what’s really going on?


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