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Plymouth United Church of Christ
Making a more loving world
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Open and Affirming
2010 Moholt Dr. (Directions)
Eau Claire, WI 54703
Worship at 10:30 am Sunday
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“Always the Way it Wasn’t”
Play by David Huber, Carole Spenser, Jens Nielsen

Premier performance Dec. 21, 2014 at Plymouth UCC, Eau Claire, WI

Cast: Mary, Mother of Jesus – a female
Joseph, Step-Father of Jesus – a male [though no reason to hold to strict gender interpretation]

Setting: Christmas Eve in a typical midwestern living room. Two chairs set up facing the audience, in front of a TV (real or imaginary) with a small table between them. Table should be empty, though maybe a newspaper or a crossword puzzle book could be on it. Perhaps even some knitting. Even a “Jewish Mother Quarterly” magazine, or a “How To Parent The Messiah for Dummies” book. Joseph and Mary are in their 60s or 70s.

[SOUND CUE: AFTER the scripture readings, play “White Christmas” - Joseph will enter while it plays]

[Joseph enters, sits down. He’s tired, but feeling some anticipation]

[SOUND CUE: Turn off music as Joseph gets ready to speak]

Joseph: Come on, Mary! The Christmas show is starting.

[offstage] Mary: I know! I’m coming!

Joseph: Don’t want to miss our son!

[enter Mary with a tray with snacks and two drinks]

Mary: I know, I know. But, Joseph, you do remember it’s just an actor playing our son, right? [put the tray on the table]

Joseph: Obviously it’s an actor. I’m not that addled. I was there when he died, too, you know.

Mary: I know, I know. I just worry.

Joseph: Always worrying about other people, you are. That’s one of the reasons I love you.

Mary: Oooh.

Joseph: Did you make my hot chocolate?

Mary: Right here, dear. Where I always put it.

Joseph: Sorry. I just get so... excited. We’ve been telling this story for almost 2000 years, but I never get tired of it.

Mary: It looks so staticky.

Joseph: Ugh, Charter never gives us a good signal when it’s something we actually want to watch. [Fiddles with dial/remote/TV]

[Music cue: “Silent Night” begins playing]

Mary: Ooh! There it is! Reba McIntrye is singing Silent Night!

[pause 10 seconds listening to Silent Night]

Mary: Silent Night? They do realize a birth happened, right? It was anything but silent.

Joseph: All the screaming.

Mary: The animals bleating. You yelling at me.

Joseph: Push! Push! Push! [laughs]

Mary: [mocks “push push push”] Straw everywhere!

Joseph: And me allergic to it. [sneeze]

Mary: And the angels singing!

Joseph: Wouldn’t shut up. So loud!

Mary. Yeah. But what a child. So beautiful.

Joseph: Who would have guessed! [pause] I was so happy to claim him as my son.

Mary: You almost didn’t.

Joseph: I was ready to leave you. Oh, I would have done it honorably! But your story about how you got pregnant was pretty far fetched.

Mary: You know I would never lie to you.

Joseph: I didn’t know it then. We hardly knew each other!

Mary: Then Gabriel came.

Joseph: Then Gabriel came.

Mary: Pretty weird, if you think about.

Joseph: “Marry her,” he said to me. “It’s okay.” Craziest thing I ever experienced. Well, for a few decades. The whole walking on water, feeding the 5000, healing the lepers stuff, ending on trial in front of Pilate.. that was pretty crazy, too.

Mary: It was all so strange.

[Music cue: “Away In a Manger...”]

Joseph: Look, they’re showing us in the manger.

Mary: Look at those animals. Standing perfectly still, all facing the baby Jesus. So staged.

Joseph: Ha! They were actually all over the place! And look at how you’re dressed here!

Mary: Her clothing is white as snow! And look at her hair. Like she’s spent the last three hours brushing it. Not a single strand of straw in it. Have none of these people witnessed a birth?

Joseph: You don’t look like someone who just gave birth. Certainly not in an animal stall.

Mary: Took me days to feel clean again.

[Sound cue: “The First Noel” begins to play]

Joseph: Oh, and look at this: the shepherds are arriving already!

Mary: And their clothes are clean, too.

Joseph: Do you remember five of them?

Mary: I remember the stink.

Joseph: I remember three. Not five.

Mary: And no help at all! Just stood there, staring and stinking.

[Music cue: “Angels We Have Heard on High”]

Mary: Now the angels are there.

Joseph: What a mess they were.

Mary: Wings blowing dirt and hay all over. Jesus coughing. Then the hiccups!

Joseph: But their singing was glorious.

Mary: Glorious. [beat] I’ll never forget that sound.

Joseph: The most perfect music I’ve ever heard.

Mary: And I’ll never forget the light. I could feel it. I could actually feel the light, Joseph! Like a bath of grace and love.

Joseph: Light? Yes, filled the whole manger. So bright, but never hurt the eyes. I never saw the world so perfectly as I did with that light. It stripped away all the dirt and the facades and exposed the true essence of everything. // Looking at you in that light – that’s when I knew that I truly loved you, and I knew then why God chose you to be Jesus’ mother.


Joseph: Remember, I went out to get some more water?

Mary: That’s when you saw the star!

Joseph: The star! It came out of nowhere. I know it wasn’t there the night before. It was so bright!

Mary: I was so exhausted, I couldn’t go look. Birthing is very tiring. The Mary in this Christmas Special, though – I bet she could have gone out to see it AND managed to build an addition to the stall to receive visitors AND made enough crafts to stock the souvenir shop.

Joseph: This is all pretty romanticized.

Mary: Not like it really happened. Neither one of us knew what we were doing! Newly married, in a strange town, neither of us with experience of birthing...

Joseph: I wish this is how it happened.

Mary: It would have been a lot easier.

Joseph: And happier. [pause] They never show in these specials the part where Herod kills all the baby boys in Bethlehem.

Mary: Or us fleeing to Egypt to protect our son.

Joseph: [pause] Gabriel told me to marry you and that our son would be the Messiah, but no one told us how to raise him.

Mary: So stressful! God’s son, plopped into our family. Would God protect him? Was it up to us? What if one our decisions led to his death? What if he got sick, what if he fell off a cliff, what if Herod got hold of him?

Joseph: God was awfully silent while we were trying to raise his son.

Mary: Yes.

Joseph: It really was annoying!

Mary: And no warning about what would happen. I’m not saying I would have done anything differently, but if I had known what would happen... it just seems so cruel, what God did to us. God’s son, sure. But we were the ones who loved him, raised him, changed his diapers, taught him...

[sound: someone singing “We Three Kings”]

Joseph: The kings are arriving already? The star just came out! How did they travel a thousand miles in a half hour?

Mary: They didn’t show up for.... well, I don’t remember how long it was. But it wasn’t that night!

Joseph: Weeks?

Mary: Months?

Joseph: The gold was helpful.

Mary: The myrrh was weird.

Joseph: And I’m allergic to frankincense. [sneeze]

Mary: But the thought was nice. And why was it that the only people, other than those shepherds, that came to see the son of God were some men who weren’t even Jewish?

Joseph: None of our people really understood him.

Mary: No, I suppose not.

Joseph: And that’s how the special ends – everyone in the manger, smiling and happy as though that’s the end of the story. [Turns off the TV]

Mary: No painful childhood.

Joseph: The other parents didn’t like him.

Mary: When he left us to go follow John the Baptist, that was hard.

Joseph: So mistreated when he came home.

Mary: He didn’t fit in. It never seemed to really bother him. But it bothered me! It bothered me to see him abused by so many.

Joseph: All that healing he did, but the authorities still ridiculed him.

Mary: The blind people he gave sight to.

Joseph: The new life he brought to so many.

Mary: Calming storms. Raising Lazarus.

Joseph: Giving speech to the mute.

Mary: That devastating Friday in Jerusalem.

Joseph: Just for saying that we should love one another. [pause] And it seems so little has changed.

Mary: Who would have guessed at the time that our story would be told and retold by so many?

Joseph: Did you have any idea at the time just what was happening?

Mary: Certainly not the significance.

Joseph: You can be proud of what you did, Mary.

Mary: I only know I was doing my part.

[Music cue: “Joy to the World”]|

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Plymouth United Church of Christ
2010 Moholt Drive
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 54703

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