December 24 & 25, 2002
Nativity of the Lord Christmas Eve & Day - Proper 2

Luke 2:(1-7) 8-20

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancee, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's tory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

"Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him."

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned, and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

[The Message]


Let's play parts -

1. Joseph - Without a census (since there probably wasn't one) what would it mean for Joseph to return to David's experience (home town)?

Might he remember the scandal of David and Bathsheba and know it eventually turned out alright? - be brave Joseph!

Might he remember their unusually conceived firstborn died? - be afraid Joseph!

How would you play Joseph?

2. Sheepherders - Going along with everyday work, along comes an unusual experience of glory. It gets them running (for their lives). Confirmation of their glorious epiphany brings them back to earth - an animal manger. It was as it was told.

So they told everyone they met that day or night about this sign of change, this sign of peace (meaning things have to change). How long do you think they told the story? Did it change their behaviors and relationship to the powers that be? Did any of them keep up with Jesus and later become a follower? Were they all dead by the time of Jesus' ministry blossomed?

How would you play a sheepherder?

3. Mary - Did Mary bring a blanket along for just such an occasion? Was it a gift from an unnamed midwife or compassionate relative in Bethlehem? Was it her own blanket meaning she went cold into that good night (or was it really a warm spring eve)?

Did she just treasure the sheepherders arrival and praise, or did she also treasure the blanket?

At what points would she pull the treasures out to revisit them and how would she deal with them in future times of encouraging Jesus to change water into wine or holding Jesus back by calling him away from those who were doing the desire of GOD?

How would you play Mary of a Treasured Heart?

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