Behold: A Christmas Play
Characters: Rich Man, Poor Man, Mary
Running time: 3-4 minutes
Setting: The Rich Man (dressed in very rich clothes) and the Poor Man (in very poor clothes) stand upstage left and upstage right. They do not acknowledge each other until the end.
Rich Man: All my life I've been successful at everything I've tried. It helped that I was born into a good family and was able to get the best education. Eventually I earned an excellent reputation as an astrologer and scientist. As far as my personal life, I married a woman I adored and we had a beautiful son. So you see, I was doing as well as anyone can in this life.
Poor Man: From the moment I was born, my fate was sealed. My father was a shepherd and his father before him. I started working in the fields as far back as I can remember. Out in the fields there's not much to do but think. Sometimes I would wonder about God. He obviously set all this up but, beyond that...well he certainly wasn't thinking about me. That's the only thing I was sure of.
Rich Man: I was very sure of myself. I didn't think about God much. The existence of God didn't affect my day to day life so it just wasn't important. I was a rational, thinking person who managed my life perfectly well. What was there to think about? I was in control and everything was fine.
Poor Man: I knew what I had to do and I just did it. But to tell the truth, I was pretty miserable. I used to dream about being somebody—traveling, succeeding, doing great things. It was just a way to escape. Then I had to stop. I knew none of it would happen. It all became too painful.
Rich Man: Then my wife suddenly became ill and died. After that my relationship with my son became very painful. He was making decisions that would ruin his life, but the more guidance I gave him the more he found ways to resist me. He made it clear that he just wanted me to leave him alone. But my heart will always be bound up with his, so how could I?
Poor Man: All my life I loved one girl and I always assumed we'd be married. But it turned out that was impossible. I wasn't good enough for her family. They knew me, they knew I was a good person, but that didn't matter. That's when I understood my place in this world. Why are some people born with everything and others with nothing?
Rich Man: I began to realize that in the things that really matter in life, I was not in control.
Poor Man: In the things that mattered most, I was helpless.
Rich Man: If I wasn't in control, was there a God who was?
Poor Man: What kind of a God would make life so miserable?
Rich Man: Does he have a plan?
Poor Man: Does he care about us at all?
Rich Man: I needed peace in my life. Could an impersonal God give me that?
Poor Man: If God is in control then I have a problem. I'm not at peace with this God.
Rich Man: When the opportunity came to go on a pilgrimage, I was anxious to get away from home for a while.
Mary slowly crosses to center stage carrying her baby and sits between them.
Poor Man: One night we were in the fields looking after the sheep. It was a night like any other. The sky was full of stars.
Rich Man: We'd been studying in the ancient scriptures about a star that would come signifying the birth of God in human form—and that star had appeared!
Poor Man: Suddenly there was a bright light, it was blinding and pure, it was... holy. I'd never seen anything like it! Then we heard a very clear voice telling us not to be afraid.
Rich Man: As we followed the star I started to think that God did have a plan and that we were part of it! It was frightening to think about.
Poor Man: We were terrified. Then the angel said that he was bringing good news that would be the cause of great joy for all people. Great joy? What does God have to do with joy?
Rich Man: In the ancient scriptures it was written: "A Savior will be born who is the Messiah, Christ, the Lord. His name is Emmanuel, which means, 'God with us.‘”
(On this line they move closer to Mary.)
Poor Man: He told us, "A Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, Christ the Lord." So we ran to the place the angel told us about, and it was just as he said it would be.
Rich Man: There was the baby and his mother, right in front of our eyes.
Poor Man: I couldn't stop staring at him. (They move in even closer to Mary.)
Rich Man: She couldn't take her eyes off him. I recognized the look of love in her face, the love of a mother for her child. From now on they would never be separate. Her heart was bound up with his. That's how I feel about my son. Could it be? Is that how God sees us? Watching our every move with the obsessive love of a parent? Do we love deeply because the Creator God loves deeply? It was at that moment I truly started to believe this was "God with us." How could he keep away?
Poor Man: Shepherds aren't allowed to testify in a court of law. But God chose us to testify about his birth! Here he was, not in a palace but in a filthy barn. Not rich, but one of us. Looking at his pure, innocent face made me aware of my own bitterness and frustration. Of course he came as a Savior, because that's what we need. My life has been miserable and I didn't choose any of it. But now I know that he knows all about it and he's come to save me. I never dreamed of a God like this.
Mary slowly exits center aisle, while the Rich Man and the Poor Man watch her leave.
Rich Man: I continued to follow Jesus' life right up until his death and beyond. Everything the scriptures wrote about him came true. He was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.
Poor Man: He was God reaching out and making a way back for all of us.
Rich Man: A way back, a spiritual re-birth that happened the moment I asked him into my heart. Now I'm one with my Father God, never to be separate again.
Poor Man: It changed everything.
Rich Man: Nothing is the same.
Poor Man: The night of his birth, I sat right next to him in that barn.
Rich Man: I was so close I could reach out and touch him.
Poor Man: But now he's even closer than that. He's born in me!
Rich Man: Why would God come to earth for anything less than this?
Poor Man: The angels were right. God is about joy, he's all about joy!
The two men look at each other for the first time.
Rich Man: Praise the Lord, my brother!
Poor Man: Yes, brother. Praise his holy name!
They exit together.
*Name changed for security reasons.