NARRATOR: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Jospeh also went up from
MARY: Stop! Stop! (Looks around wildly) I need to find a bush!
JOSEPH: I TOLD you to go before we left the house!
MARY: I DID go before we left the house!
JOSEPH: We’ve only been on the road 5 minutes! You must have a bladder the size of a pea!
MARY: Oh yeah? You try riding an ass with rickets over these bumpy roads with a great big full-term baby tap-dancing on your bladder! Maybe it’s YOU that’s got a BRAIN the size of a pea, mister!
NARRATOR: And when he heard this, he was troubled at her saying, and cast in his mind what manner of salutation this should be.
(Mary struggles to dismount and scurries off.)
MARY: I AM hurrying – ow – drat these thorn bushes! – my center of gravity is off!
MARY: (anxiously) ummm, Joseph, do you see any good leaves?
(Mary climbs gingerly on donkey.)
JOSEPH: Think of the benefit to your pelvic floor, sweetie!
(They plod on.)
MARY: Are we there yet?
JOSEPH: (sighs) We’ve only been –
MARY: I know! I know! We’ve only been on the road 5 minutes.
(Joseph looks around.)
JOSEPH: I wonder which way?
MARY: Check the map.
JOSEPH: Maps haven’t been invented yet.
MARY: Ask someone!
JOSEPH: No, no, it must be – this way, I think. (more hesitantly) This can’t be right.
JOSEPH: (heavenward) God? God? Hey, is this your idea of being funny? Here I am, stuck in the middle of nowhere, going somewhere I’ve never been, with a wife I’m not married to, whose carrying a baby that’s not mine! I sure hope there’s some cosmic purpose in all this!
MARY: Joseeeeeeeph! My bowels are runny and I think I’m losing my mucous plug!
JOSEPH: Great! Thanks for sharing, honey!
JOSEPH: (testily) NO!!!
MARY: All right, all right, keep your cloak on!
(Some time later)
MARY: (irritably) Can’t you shut those children up? (They have been droning an endless loop of “Little Donkey” in the background throughout.)
JOSEPH: Shh! (to children, who stop singing, look disappointed, shrug and leave).
MARY: Ow! Joseph, PLEEEZE drive more smoothly, do you have to hit EVERY pothole and speedbump!
JOSEPH: I’m trying babe, but this donkey has a mind of its own!
Mary groans or catches her breath with each step and stumble the donkey makes.
JOSEPH: Are you OK, babe?
MARY: It’s these Braxton-Hicks contractions. All this bumping and jiggling makes them happen more.
JOSEPH: Braxton and Hicks haven’t been born yet.
MARY: (wails) You NEVER validate anything I say!
(Mary grips donkey’s mane with both hands and look strained, trying not to groan with every footfall.)
JOSEPH: Are you sure you’re OK, babe?
MARY: No, actually, I’m not OK! I’m 9 months pregnant, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, my back aches, my legs ache, my pants are wet and - (starts crying) – I just want to go home!
(Joseph stops leading the donkey and comes around to hold out his arms to her for a hug. Mary weeps. She starts to breath differently, holding on tight to Joseph.
MARY: Joe, I don’t think that was a Braxton Hicks. That hurt right down low.
(Jospeh looks around, worried.)
JOSEPH: Look, you can already see the lights of
MARY: Joe, I think walking makes them come more. I think I’d better get back on.
They proceed with Joseph walking beside the donkey trying to support Mary.
JOSEPH: Excuse me! Excuse me please – ah, my wife here is just about ready to have a baby and we’re looking for the
JOSEPH: Well, is there anywhere else?
MAN: Do you have a reservation?
JOSEPH (blankly) A reservation?
MARY: (Through gritted teeth) I can’t BELIEVE you didn’t make reservations!
(She clambers off the donkey purposefully and leans forward over the donkey’s back, breathing and swaying her hips. The man stares, Joseph looks more concerned. A matronly woman notices Mary’s posture and stops.)
WOMAN: This little lady hasn’t long to go! You can’t be schlepping about all over town trying to find a room! You poor little treasure (kisses and pats Mary) you’re hardly more than a baby yourself! Is it easing now? Good. Come on then. I know a place that will do. It’s not exactly 5 Star – Bring Your Own Star more like it – but it’s shelter and it’s private and you’ll be left in peace at least. That’s right darling, you’re a strong healthy girl, take my arm, hubby’s right there on the other side, we’ll have you sorted out in no time. How far apart now?
NARRATOR: And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
WOMAN: Now it might smell a bit mucky, but the straw’s all clean. Joseph, we’ll need your cloak, that’s right, just lay it down here. Now this milking stool will be perfect! Remember, Mary, the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women, but they are lively and give birth upon the stools! We’ll get gravity on your side!
That’s your heritage darling, a quick easy birth for you, because you are blessed and the fruit of your womb is blessed, that’s the blessing Yahweh gave to Abraham! That’s right, that’s right, settle yourself on the stool, lovely open pelvis, that’s the way. Now Joseph, if you just kneel in front of her, she can lean forward and have a lovely cuddle, that’s the way. And rest. Just rest. Yes. Yes. There you go.
(Mary breathes intently through a contraction and moans at the peak)
WOMAN: All that walking and donkey riding has gotten you well along, you’ve already done most of the work. And you’ve prepared all these nice clean cloths. Perfect. Sensible girl. We’ll put fresh straw in the feeding trough and it will make a perfect little cradle. You’ll be holding him in your arms before you know it. You’re doing perfectly.
JOSEPH: Lord, sorry about before. You’ve worked everything out. (He prays for his wife).
MARY: (starts her breathing only to grunt at the top) UMF! Uh, I think I just pushed. This is what Elizabeth did when I attended her. Johnny was born just a little after that. Joey, I think I am pushing!
(Mary leans forward with the next one, holding Joseph's hands and grunts into it)
JOSEPH: Whoa! There is something down there! It's got hair too!
NARRATOR: And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn.
And it came to pass that verily, Mary was at the end of her tether because the holy infant was screaming its head off.
(Mary is lying down, an exhausted arm flopped over her eyes. Joseph is pacing with the roaring baby, jiggling it. A childish chorus croons “Silent Night” in the background.)
JOSEPH: Maybe he needs changing.
JOSEPH: Maybe he needs to nurse.
MARY: I JUST NURSED HIM!!!
(Joseph tries to rock and soothe, to no avail).
MARY: Ei Ei Ei! I need some shepherd's purse and milk thistle to calm my nerves! Can’t you take him outside for a moment so I can at least clean myself up?
JOSEPH: It’s freezing out there!
MARY: Just for 5 minutes? Please? Use the sheepskin!
JOSEPH: Blessed art thou among women? CRANKY art thou among women more like it! (He struggles to wrap the sheepskin around the screaming baby and leaves.)
MARY: Lord, that angel I thought I saw - unless it was just too much falafel – said I was highly favored! I sure don’t feel very favored right now! I’m sore both ends, I’m LEAKING both ends – and if that baby is really your baby then why is he screaming blue bloody murder all the time? Shouldn’t he be meek and mild and QUIET???
NARRATOR: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, not being sure of exactly where to find the new born king, they heard the screaming from afar and drew nigh.
SHEPHERD 1: (a family man, uncertainly) Ummm, is this the kid that’s wrapped in swaddling cloths and sleeps in the feeding trough?
JOSEPH: (sleep-deprived) Huh?
SHEPHERD 2 (a younger man, eyeing the squalling bundle in Joseph’s arms) Man, what’s wrong with him?
JOSEPH: I’d better take him inside before he gets too cold.
SHEPHERD 1: (knowledgeably) No, they don’t like to be cold. Uh – is there a - a manger in there?
JOSEPH: A manger?
(Singing children promptly launch forth into ‘Away In A Manger).
SHEPHERD 3 (a boy) : well, you see these heavenly host dudes were going about a manger, saying it was a sign and all.
JOSEPH: well, yes, there is a manger actually, but we hardly ever use it. He seems to like sleeping next to us where he can smell Mary’s milk. Then she doesn’t have to get up when he wants to feed.
(They go in.)
JOSEPH: Hi honey. There’s some guys here to see the baby.
MARY: (wearily) Do they know how to get him to stop crying?
SHEPHERD 1: Er, well, there is something we do that seems to work well with the lambs. May I?
(He takes the baby and holds him over his shoulder, head down.)
(Baby belches loudly and the crying begins to ease.)
SHEPHERD 1: There you go, it was just a bit of wind. He might have a touch of colic. If the lambs get discomforted like this, we just - (he adjusts the baby so he is “wearing” the baby around his neck) - carry them like this, so their tummy gets a massage. (He bounces gently, with confidence, and the baby settles). Works on my kids, too! I used to walk down the road carrying my second boy like this, to give his mother a break.
Why don’t you two go out for a moment? You could use a break. Even the ewes get stir-crazy if they’re cooped up with their lambs too long. We’ll keep an eye on this little feller.
JOSEPH: Come on babe! (pulls Mary up).
SHEPHERD 1: (to Jesus, as he cradles him in his arms.) So you’re the one who’s going to be the Shepherd of your people
“He shall lead His flock like a shepherd. He shall carry the lambs in His arms. And carry them in His bosom. And gently lead those that are with young.”
(Jospeh and Mary see their baby is in good hands and venture outside. They sit down on a hill side and snuggle close because of the cold.)
JOSEPH: Did you ever see such an amazing starry sky? Like you could reach out and touch them.
MARY: Is that a planet? Look at that one! It’s huge! Right above us!
JOSEPH: Maybe it’s the star!
MARY: What star?
JOSEPH: You know. The star you have to bring when you bring your own star.
MARY: God even provided the star. Joseph, do you really think that little baby in there is the son of God?
JOSEPH: (chuckles and cuddles Mary). Look at this way babe. You know how the baby was born, right?
MARY: All too well!
JOSEPH: (Meaningfully) Well, do you have any idea at all how you got pregnant?
(Mary laughs and blushes).
MARY: (musing) A virgin shall bring forth a child. Remember the old prophecy? Joe, don’t you find it strange how these supernatural, miraculous things are all mixed up with such ordinary things? Why would God choose such ordinary people like us, and have his son born in a smelly old shed? I sometimes wonder if I imagined the angel and everything.
JOSEPH: I know for a fact that I didn’t imagine my angel. I was terrified! I didn’t sleep for a week! Did you know those shepherds back there saw a whole sky full of angles? That’s how they knew to come find us!
MARY: (wryly) I thought it was all my yelling.
JOSEPH: Well, that too!
MARY: But you know, Joseph, it hasn’t been easy, it’s not always a smooth ride –
JOSEPH: yeees dear, and you let me know it!
MARY: (playfully thumps Joseph) You have your ornery moments too! But even so, it seems like God has every little detail all worked out, you know, even that long journey helped my labour, and the midwife who just happened to be there, and the shed just happened to have fresh straw –
JOSEPH: And those shepherds sure turned up right when we seriously needed a break!
MARY: That dear little baby! It’s amazing. I can hardly take it all in.
JOSEPH: I guess God likes to use ordinary people and ordinary things so His miracles are all the more special. Just store these things in your heart, Mary. They’ll come back to you like precious jewels in a treasure chest in years to come.
MARY: Yes. I will.
NARRATOR: And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.