God’s Perfect Love: A Christmas Pageant

[The stage is set with two chairs next to a table with a third chair behind it, like a late night talk show. The narrator functions as the “host” of the talk show interviewing guests.]

Narrator

Welcome back. My next set of guests have a wonderful, inspiring story to tell.

This story is about fear and love. I want to tell you that up front so you can listen for those two things — fear and love. The Bible says in the first letter of John: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” This story we share today happened because God so loved the world that God gave us this Perfect Love in the form of God’s own child. This story tells how Perfect Love became a person. The fancy word for “became a person” is Incarnation. For the Incarnation to happen, God chose several people to help. Every one of them was afraid, and the love of God gave them the chance to serve despite their fear.

[Zechariah enters]

Here’s the first one now, though you might have expected someone else. This is Zechariah, a priest of the temple. He and his wife Elizabeth had been trying forever to have a baby and they never could. Zechariah, what happened that day in the temple?

Zechariah

I was burning incense for an offering when an angel spoke to me. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid.” I was scared to be so close to God, scared that my life was about to change completely. I didn’t trust the angel at first, but then I realized the wonderful new thing God was doing in our lives, mine and Elizabeth’s.

Narrator

Speaking of Elizabeth, here she is now.

[Elizabeth enters]

What happened next, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth

I gave birth to our son John. And yes, our lives did change completely. God gave us love in human form, and that love was so much bigger than our fear. John went on to prepare the hearts and minds of the people to hear the message of his cousin Jesus.

Narrator

Speaking of Jesus, his mother Mary is your relative, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth

That’s right.

Zechariah

I’ll get her.

[Zechariah exits, and Mary enters]

Elizabeth

I was six months pregnant with John when the same angel who spoke to my husband spoke to Mary.

[Elizabeth takes Mary by the hands]

Immediately afterwards, you came and told me all about it, and the baby in my womb jumped for joy. Do you remember what you told me, Mary?

Mary

It’s all a blur at this point. But I remember one thing with crystal clarity. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid.” I was about to be married. I had my whole life in front of me. And yet I was afraid all the time because our country is occupied by a foreign power. I was afraid for my children to grow up under the same oppression that I did.

Elizabeth

You sang a song about that. I remember you humming it day and night during the three months you stayed with me.

Mary

Ah yes, the song. When I consented to the angel’s invitation, I felt the power of God overshadow me and fill me with a love I always knew existed but that I had never quite embraced. I became pregnant with the Perfect Love of God, a love that was so much bigger than my fear. This new song bubbled up from that love and spoke good news to the oppressed.

Narrator

God was indeed doing something new — turning the world upside down in order to turn it right side up again. But when new things happen, fear is often the first thing people feel. Mary’s fiancé Joseph was no exception.

Elizabeth

I’ll fetch him.

[Elizabeth exits, and Joseph enters. Mary takes his hand.]

Mary

You were pretty upset when I told you about the angel.

Joseph

I was. At first I couldn’t see how God was touching your life, Mary. I was so stuck in what my family and our culture would say about you being pregnant before our wedding. Then I had a dream and an angel spoke to me, too. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid.” My fear had blinded me to the new thing God was doing in our lives. My fear had kept me stuck. But the moment the angel said Jesus’ name, I felt God’s love pulling me forward, despite my fear. The Perfect Love alive in Mary’s womb was bigger than my fear.

Narrator

What happened next was part of the oppression Mary feared. The Roman emperor desired all the people in his vast empire to be enrolled in the tax lists. Imagine that! Making the people the empire oppressed pay for the means of their own oppression. Everyone had to go to their own hometowns to be enrolled, which meant Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, since Joseph was a distant descendant of the great King David.

[The table is moved to the side and the Narrator moves to the lectern. Manger and animals enter. The two chairs are moved to either side of the manger and Mary and Joseph takes their seats.]

Mary and Joseph could not find a place to stay in Bethlehem, but wandered around homeless for many days. Growing desperate, they wound up in a shepherd’s cave out of the night’s wind. The animals kept them warm as Mary labored. She gave birth to Jesus there, and the Perfect Love of God entered the world in a new way.

Most of the world did not notice, but a group of nearby shepherds were in for a surprise.

[Shepherds and angels enter]

Angel

Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you — wonderful, joyful news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s City!

Narrator

Here’s what one shepherd had to say.

Shepherd

The angels dazzled us with their presence. I had always feared that gifts and blessings were for other people, people of more wealth or fame. But then the angel spoke to us about the love of God wrapped up tight in swaddling clothes, and I knew this most precious gift was for me. This gift of love was bigger than my fear. We went and told everyone we could think of about the good news of Jesus’ birth.

Narrator

There you have it. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” Four times the angel said, “Don’t be afraid.”

[Zechariah and Elizabeth enter.]

Four times people listened: Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds. They believed God’s love was bigger than their fear. When the angel said, “Don’t be afraid,” the angel wasn’t shaming them for being scared. The angel was showing them God’s reality, a reality were God’s love surrounds fear and allows us to keep going, sustained by that Perfect Love made known in Jesus Christ.

Zechariah

I feared God’s plan for my life.

Elizabeth

It turned out that plan was a plan of love.

Mary

I feared the future would be full of hard times. That was true, and the future was also full of God’s love.

Joseph

I feared doing the right thing would condemn me in the eyes of society. I was right, but staying true to God’s love is always worth it, no matter what society says.

Shepherd

I feared that blessings are only for other, worthier people. Then God’s love turned me into a blessing as I shared the good news.

Narrator

Fear comes in many guises. And God’s love is always bigger. Whatever the future holds, God’s love holds the future. And God’s Perfect Love holds us in our fears. God’s Perfect Love calls us like Zechariah and Elizabeth, dwells in us like Mary, gives us courage like Joseph, and sends us out to proclaim the good news like the shepherds. So hear once more the repeated message of the angels and know this message is meant for you.

Zechariah and Elizabeth

Don’t be afraid.

Mary and Joseph

Don’t be afraid.

The shepherds

Don’t be afraid.

The angels

Don’t be afraid.

Everyone

Don’t be afraid.


Speaking Roles
Narrator
Zechariah
Elizabeth
Mary
Joseph
Shepherd
Angel

Non-speaking Roles
Animals
Shepherds
Angels


Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash.

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