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Living Nativity

Title:  The Living Nativity

Subject:  Nativity of Jesus Christ

Age:  7+ years

Liturgical Time:  Advent

Doctrinal Content: Old and New Testament passages, the Gospel of Luke.

Direct Aim:  This pageant aims to consider the true story of the Incarnation, the meaning of Christmas.

Suggested Materials for the Living Nativity:
Song sheets for all guests with the words for O Come, All Ye Faithful, Angels We Have Heard on High, and Silent Night

Suggested Props (not limited to the following):
Costumes for each of the characters listed below
Podium or stand for narrator
Water Urn
Table and stool for Mary’s home
Furniture or props to distinguish Elizabeth’s home from Mary’s
Guiding Star
Innkeeper’s doors at Bethlehem
Stable props/manger
Containers symbolizing gold, frankincense, and myrrh

In Order of Appearance
Archangel Gabriel
Optional: Violinist
Servant to the Wise Men
Innkeeper 1
Innkeeper 2
Angel 1
Angel 2
Angel Chorus

We open on an empty stage, with a NARRATOR positioned at a podium to the side.
*Well Scene Upstage Left, House Scene Down Stage Right
Put props for Mary’s house (table, stool, etc.) down stage right.

Welcome to our Nativity Pageant.  Please join us as we consider the true story of the Incarnation, the meaning of Christmas.  We begin with the Virgin Mother, young Mary, only fourteen years old, and soon to become the Mother of God.

MARY enters, and walks to a well to draw water with an urn (Upstage Left).

Mary grew up in the Temple, along with several girls sent there by their families to be raised in service to God.  Just lately, as she’s grown into a young woman, she has moved into the house of Joseph, her protector.

As MARY finishes drawing the water, a voice:

GABRIEL (offstage):
Rejoice, you who are full of grace, the Lord is with you:  you are blessed among women!

MARY looks around, not scared, but curious, and then trembles as she takes the water into the house (Stage Right).  She sets it down on the table, and returns to her thread.  After a moment, GABRIEL enters Stage Left and approaches her, then goes to Center Stage.

Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!   Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

How can this be?

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible. (loudly.  Gabriel freezes with arms up, as in an icon.)

Behold the maidservant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word. (Says it humbly – Mary goes to her knees.)

Mary & Gabriel freeze, & all sing Hymn of the Annunciation. Choir will be down stage left.

CHANTERS sing the Hymn of the Annunciation:
On this day when our salvation is crowned for eternity and the revelation of the mystery of the ages O the son of God becomes on this day the Virgin’s Son with Gabriel proclaiming the tidings of God’s Grace, and we also join in the cry unto the Theotokos singing Hail to you who are filled with Grace!  The Lord is with you!

GABRIEL exits to choir.

And just like that, Mary the Young Virgin, whose heart was open and obedient to God, agreed without hesitation to become the Mother of God.  With this open-hearted willingness and trust, she became the first person to receive Jesus Christ, the very first Christian.

Lights dim. Mary exits to Stage Right.  Props are cleared.

Lights back up.

Violin plays We Three Kings.  (Violin plays softly while the narrator reads.) WISE MEN and their SERVANT enter stage left.  They carry papers, maps, old looking books, astronomy tools like telescopes.

Many years before, the Prophet Daniel had found himself far in the East, in Persia.  He taught the wise men of Persia about his God, the Creator of all things, and left them a collection of prophecies about the Messiah who would someday come to save all people.  For many, many years, the Magi, the great wise men of the East, had been studying the prophecies and watching the night sky.  They waited and waited for a special star to appear, one that Daniel had promised would lead them to Messiah.  Finally, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Theotokos, the star appeared in the sky.  The Magi were ready. (ß Cue for wise men to come out. Come from stage left then go to center stage.)

BALTHAZAR: (From center stage)
Amazing!  Many have waited to see this star, and we are the ones who are lucky enough to see it!  Let’s follow this light!  It’s time to meet the One Who created us, and Who created all of the stars!

As the WISE MEN & their SERVANT begin their walk, they sing We Three Kings.  (Violinist plays WE THREE KINGS)

WISE MEN & SERVANT exit stage right; song trails off.  They will walk around the Hall now throughout the rest of the show, coming on stage as needed to perform.

Lights dim. Put props from Scene 1 (table, stool, etc) back on stage left.

Lights back up.

The stage is empty (with perhaps some props to show that this is Elizabeth’s home.)

After her amazing visit with the Angel Gabriel, young Mary went away to the Hill Country, to visit the home of her cousin, Elizabeth.  Now you may recall that the angel had told Mary that Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age; in fact, her baby was a very special child, whom we all know as John the Baptist, cousin and forerunner to Christ our Lord.  Now here comes Mary, walking up to the door of Elizabeth’s home!

MARY enters from Stage Right ELIZABETH comes running in from Stage Left, arms outstretched toward MARY.

MARY: (Stage Right)
Elizabeth!  Hello, dear Elizabeth!

(Then ELIZABETH runs from Stage Left) They will meet center stage, a little bit down stage then ELIZABETH will begin speaking.

(as she speaks, she holds her large belly, which leaps!)
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  Look, he leaps!  What is this, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?  For, lo, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  And blessed is she that believed:  for there shall be a performance of those things that were told her from the Lord.

Oh, dear cousin, you know!  The Holy Spirit has told you everything!

Mary & Elizabeth freeze at center stage. Sing Magnificat and angel chorus sings from down stage left.

MARY sings the Magnificat (with ELIZABETH & CHANTERS backing up)
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me.
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his seed forever.

Mary & Elizabeth hug again and walk off Stage Right as the narrator is reading.

These two cousins, each one part of the prophesies, each pregnant with a holy child, and their two babies, who knew and rejoiced in one another even in their mother’s bellies, treasured their three months together.  But the miracles were only beginning to unfold, the mysteries only beginning to be revealed.

As the NARRATOR speaks, MARY and ELIZABETH embrace and exit stage right arm-in-arm.  Then the WISE MEN enter stage left as the Violinist plays their song.  The WISE MEN pantomime their tired journey to comic effect as they cross the stage, exiting stage right.

Lights dim. Props cleared.

Lights back up.

MARY (now with pregnant belly) and JOSEPH enter stage left. 

Mary returned home to Joseph in time to join him on another journey, this time to Bethlehem.  Caesar had called for a census, which meant that everyone had to return to his people’s hometown and be counted for tax purposes.  Joseph’s people came from the line of David, so they had to travel to King David’s city of Bethlehem.  That was about 100 miles from their home in Nazareth!  Joseph hated to take Mary on such a journey, because the time for her child to be born was coming closer and closer.  Old Joseph was doing his best to care for her and to protect God’s own Son, and to follow the law of the land.  (At underlined text, Mary holds Joseph’s arm and enter from down stage left and go to center stage.)

JOSEPH: (at center stage)
Mary, Mary, I am so sorry about this!  Here you are, so big and pregnant!  You should really be resting at home, relaxing and waiting for the birth of this child.  This is no time for a journey!

MARY: (at center stage)
Oh, Joseph, it’s ok!

Mary, this is a terribly long walk, especially for a woman who is about to have a baby!

It’ll be ok.

MARY and JOSEPH walk and walk and walk...

Exit Stage Right – continue to walk about halfway down hall. They will come back on stage in the next scene from stage left.

And so they walked and they walked and they walked, all the way to Bethlehem, the very place where the Prophets knew God’s own Son would be born.  Even Caesar’s timing was working into God’s plan.

(walking music begins to play, as MARY and JOSEPH exit stage right.  The WISE MEN and their SERVANT enter stage left, still with music playing and goes to center stage.)

We are getting very, very close!

We are so tired!

WISE MEN & SERVANT exit, stage right, as walking music continues into next scene.

Lights dim.

MARY and JOSEPH enter, upstage left.

Joseph and Mary walked all the way to Bethlehem.  When they arrived, the city was filled with all of the people who had come for the census.  There was nowhere to stay.  Every inn was full, every person in town had visitors filling every bed.  Bethlehem was packed.  It had no room to offer Joseph and Mary. (At underlined text, MARY & JOSEPH start walking from downstage left and walk to upstage left.)

JOSEPH: (Once at upstage left, they stop and JOSEPH says…)
Let’s rent a room here at this inn, and we’ll get some rest.

JOSEPH then approaches INNKEEPER 1.(upstage left)

Knocks on door. MARY & JOSEPH step back to center stage and Innkeeper 1 opens door.

Please, we have walked here all the way from Nazareth.  Could we rent a room from you?

Sorry, Sir, but we’re all filled up.

Please, she is pregnant!  She will soon be giving birth.  She needs a place to rest!

Sorry, buddy, but there’s no room at this inn.

Innkeeper 1 goes back in room and slams the door.

JOSEPH approaches INNKEEPER 2 upstage right.
Knocks on door. MARY & JOSEPH step back to about center stage and Innkeeper 2 opens door.   Innkeeper 1 sneaks off stage during this part.

Sir, we have walked all the way from Nazareth.  We are exhausted, and she is going to be having a baby at any moment!  Please, do you have room for us?

I don’t have any rooms.  But come with me, maybe we can figure something out!

All of Bethlehem was full.  The world did not make room for Christ, but instead the earth itself offered refuge; His very creation opened itself to offer shelter for the birth of Jesus Christ.

INNKEEPER 2 leads MARY and JOSEPH to cave.

Well, this is it.  This cave is all I have for you.  It’s not fancy, but it’s warm and dry.  I’m sorry about the animals, and the smell!

At least we have found shelter.  Thank you.

INNKEEPER 2 exits stage right.

This is fine, Joseph.  Thank you.  We’re here just in time!

(She begins to settle in, resting beside the manger.)

Lights dim. Mary & Joseph go stage left.

Truly, the time was upon them.  Mary and Joseph had arrived at the manger, and at a critical moment in human history.  God’s own Son was to be born that very night, the King of Kings born to a gentle Virgin in a humble cave.  Our own Creator, immortal beside His Father, was about to become a human being, to take on mortal flesh and enter this imperfect world.  (At underlined phase, lights back on.)

Violin plays walking music; WISE MEN & SERVANT enter stage right.

This is it, boys!  This is Bethlehem!  We made it!

WISE MEN & SERVANT exit stage right.

Lights dim.

Stage is dark. 

Angels enter from stage left and go to backstage center. Angel 1 stands on table. All angels around on both sides. SHEPHERDS come out and sit in center (surrounded by sheep, if you have them).  They’re sleeping at night, on the cold hard ground.  Suddenly, a bright light shines on them.  An ANGEL stands above them, and is flocked by the ANGEL CHORUS.

Nearby, a small crowd of poor shepherds stood faithful watch over their sheep, which were to be used for sacrificial services in the Temple.  And just as the Lamb of God Himself was born in nearby Bethlehem, those simple shepherds received an amazing visitor, bringing good tidings indeed.

Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

On this day the Virgin comes to the cave to give birth to God the Word ineffably, Who was before all the ages.  Dance for joy, O earth on hearing the gladsome tidings; with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him Who is willing to be gazed on as a young Child Who before the ages is God.

Lights dim again.

SHEPHERDS exit stage right.  Then immediately put lights up. Angels stay on stage.  Make room for Mary & Joseph to enter stage left as soon as lights are on.


The lights come up and we’re back to the manger, where MARY is now holding BABY JESUS with JOSEPH at her side.  The ANGEL and the ANGEL CHORUS stand above them, singing, and the rest of the cast stands to side of the stage and sings.

ALL sing:  O Come All Ye Faithful
O Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels, Sing in exultation!
Sing all that hear in heaven God's holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

SHEPHERDS enter stage right.

And so the shepherds, who had listened well to the angels, walked through the dark night, and they were richly rewarded.  They found a babe in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, and they understood that He was truly Christ, the Son of God.

ALL sing Angels We Have Heard on High:
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plainsAnd the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

The WISE MEN and their SERVANT enter stage left, and take their position.  Now the entire icon is in place (with JOSEPH a bit off to the side of MARY & BABY JESUS).

This must be it.  The star leads us right...  (seeing everyone) Oh!  Why, look! Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

The WISE MEN fall to their knees before Christ. (Up-Center stage)

BALTHAZAR: (walks stage right and greets JOSEPH)
Greetings to all of you.  We have come from far in the East!  For nine long months we have walked and walked, following a bright star, which lead us to the Newborn King.  Our Lord, this must be You!

The Magi from the East!  Just as the prophet said!

We bring you gifts, the most valuable things we could find!  Gold, frankincense, and myrrh!

(All three place gifts in front of the manager. Then the wise men back up.)

And so Balthazar and the Magi from the East, who had worshipped the stars, learned that the God who made all those stars loved them enough to guide them right to His Own Son.  They followed the light of God, and were richly rewarded.  May we all learn to carry that light inside ourselves, to follow it home.  (At underlined text, ANGEL 2 steps forward from angel chorus to up stage right.)

What shall we offer you, O Christ? Who for our sake appeared on earth as a human? Every creature made by you offers you thanksgiving. The angels offer you a hymn; the heavens, a star; the magi, gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, its cave; the wilderness, a manger; and we offer to you, a Virgin Mother.

Angel 2 steps back to be with other angels, down stage.

And so the simplest and humblest shepherds stood beside the great and wise Kings of the East, humans and angels together, all of creation collected together, to adore the Christ Child as He sat with His Ever-Virgin Mother in these humble surroundings.  Please join them, and all of us in one more beautiful song, as we gather here tonight in love to worship Our Lord and King, Jesus Christ!

ALL (including AUDIENCE) SING Silent Night

Angel Band comes back up to front


Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church
Austin, Texas


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