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“The Least of These” San Jose Version
A Christmas Play ( by Caryn Brady)
[Lead in: Audience participation in singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
As finish, goes to hum and instrumental music as action begins.]
[Pregnant Mary and Joseph with shopping cart, blankets and bags of their few belongings make their way down the center aisle Ad lib lines as desired. As they approach Emergency Room...]
Joseph: Mary, come. We’re almost there.
Mary: I hope so, Joseph, because if we’re not there soon, I’m going to have this baby here on the street.
(They enter ER; receptionist is seated at desk.)
Receptionist: Can I help you?
Joseph: Yes, my wife is in labor.
Receptionist: How far apart are the contractions?
Mary: About 5 minutes.
Rec.: Here, fill out these forms and give me your insurance card. I’ll get them entered in the computer while I call the doctor. Who’s your doctor?
Joseph: Well, we don’t have a doctor...or insurance.
Rec.: You’re going to pay cash?
Joseph: Well, no. We don’t have much cash either. We will have to pay on time.
Rec: I’m sorry but we don’t accept credit here. Do you have an account here?
Joseph: We’re from out of town. We just arrived in the area.
Rec.: Not a very good time to be traveling.
Joseph: No it isn’t, but we received a court summons to appear on a case regarding filing for taxes in this county by a Davidson---my family name. I believe they have us mistaken with another Davidson, but the court wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t grant us a continuance until after the baby was born, so here we are.
Rec.: I’m sorry. It’s a tough story, but the policy of this hospital is not to accept credit especially of you don’t have an established account.
Mary: But I’m about to give birth now.
Rec: I realize that, but the policy of this hospital is to not take such cases. You’ll have to go somewhere else. There’s a clinic in Santa Clara
that accepts medi-cal. Maybe they’ll accept you on an emergency basis.
Mary: How far are they?
Rec: About 5 miles.
Mary: I don’t think I can walk 5 miles in this stage of labor.
Rec: I don’t know what else to say. I’m only doing my job. Maybe you can get someone to drive you there or take a cab.
Mary: Come on, Joseph, Let’s go quickly before it gets worse.
Joseph: Mary, do you think you can make it if I get us a ride?
Mary: I don’t know, Joseph. It’s getting very close. I don’t know if we’ll make it if we wait for a ride. It might be best to just find some shelter and go it alone.
Joseph: Do you think you’ll be all right?
Mary: Yes, Joseph. Just find us someplace sheltered and as private as you can. I’ll be all right. God is with us, remember?
Joseph: Let me try this place up ahead. Come with me, Mary.
(Joseph “knocks” on door to “house” with mother—or father-- and children.)
Woman (or man): What do you want?
Joseph: My wife is nearly ready to give birth and we have no shelter. Could you spare some room and a clean blanket for the night?
Woman: Me? I don’t take in strangers off the street. There are homeless shelters for people like you.
Joseph: But we already tried the homeless shelter. They were full and wouldn’t take anyone in her condition.
Woman: I can certainly understand that. Did you try the hospital?
Joseph: They wouldn’t take her. We have no insurance or enough money.
Woman:(Softening) Well, there are some homes down the road a bit, you know, on the “money” side of town. They have bigger homes there so they would be more likely to have a spare room. Or they could drive you somewhere safe in their cars. We can only afford one car and my husband works 2 jobs, so he’s on his night shift now. Sorry I can’t help.
Joseph: Thank you. Sorry to bother you.
(They proceed to next station.)
Mary: No luck?
Joseph: No, but she suggested trying the homes over on the other side of the street where they are larger. Mary, you stay here on this bench and I will go on ahead and ask.
Mary: All right, Joseph. Thank you. (He helps her to sit down.)
Joseph knocks on door, man (or could be woman)answers:
Man: Hello? What do you want?
Joseph: Hello. I am sorry to bother you, but my wife here is about to give birth. We have no place to stay, and I was wondering if you could spare a room for the night so the baby could be born in a warm, safe place.
Man: She should be in a hospital, not in a room in a stranger’s house. Why do you come here? O’Connor hospital is only a few blocks away.
Joseph: We tried the hospital, but they would not take us in. We have no insurance and cannot afford to pay. They suggested a clinic in Santa Clara, but she is in no condition to walk that far. We thought if you could let us use a room, or maybe give us a ride to the clinic?
Man: I’m afraid not. We have no extra room here, and I try to teach my children not to let strangers in the house, you know? It’s for their own safety. I am in the middle of reading to my children right now and need to get back. Why don’t you take a cab to the clinic?
Joseph: It took all our cash to get here.
Man: Well, the only thing I can think of is there is an old rooming house on the other side of the mall. They might have some rooms there. It’s not as far as the clinic. It costs to stay there, but maybe in your condition they’d make an exception. Just cut through the shopping center and you’ll see it on the other side.
Joseph: Ok. Thank you. Goodbye.
(Joseph goes to Mary, helps her up.)
Mary: Well, any luck here?
Joseph: No, but there’s a hotel up ahead. Let’s try it. If we can’t get some room there, we’ll just have to try to find some boxes or something and make a shelter, I guess. You’d think in a town like this they could find some room for a woman about to give birth to a child...especially the Christ Child.
Mary: No one deserves to be brought into the world like this. We are all children of God who deserve better. But it’s shelter for the night.
Joseph: It’s hard to understand how this can be God’s plan though.
Mary: God’s Plan can only be worked in our hearts, Joseph. Come, let’s try the hotel. Maybe we’ll get lucky. Where is it?
Joseph: On the other side of the shopping center. Let’s cut though it. It’ll be shorter.
(On their way to “Inn” they pass a man in the mall.)
Joseph: Sir, do you know where I can find shelter for the night? My wife...
Man: Get away from me. What’s wrong with you? Why should I help you? You should be out getting a job and contributing to society, not hanging around on the streets begging.
Joseph: We’re not begging. It’s just that my wife is about to give birth and we need a place to give them shelter.
Man: What business do you have having a baby if you can’t even take care of yourselves?
Joseph: But it’s God’s Plan, sir,that this baby be born now.
Man: More like it’s God’s Plan that you have a baby so you can get on welfare and live off society. Your kind makes me sick. What right do you have having children and then expecting the rest of us hard-working, tax-paying citizens to foot the bill? Haven’t you ever heard of birth control or abortion?
Joseph: Abort the SON OF GOD, sir?
Man: Son of God, my foot. I’m a “son of God,” too, and one who’s sick of footing the bill for all the other lazy, good-for-nothing sons of God.
Mary: Please, Joseph, stop. Let’s go on. You’re wasting our time and there’s not much time left.
Man: Yes, get out of here and leave me alone. (He walks down aisle muttering things under his breath as he goes.)
(They approach the “Inn.” Joseph knocks on door.)
Innkeeper: Yes, can I help you?
Joseph: We’re looking for a room for the night.
Innkeeper: Sorry, our rooms are full. In fact, we’re bursting at the seams. There’s a computer convention in town this weekend and there’s nothing left, in fact we have waiting lists.
Joseph: But my wife is about to give birth...
Innkeeper: I see. Well, the best I can do for you is there’s an old shed out back. Used to be a stable in the old days when we had horses and buggies. It’s cold and dirty, but it’s better than the street. Here, you take a blanket, anyway. The poor kid at least deserves a clean blanket.
Joseph: Thank you, sir. We’re very grateful.
Innkeeper: Don’t be. You haven’t seen this place yet.
Mary and Joseph move to shed [off stage]. She “gives birth”--takes out padding and gets baby.]
Lector: There in the stable, Mary gave birth to her first-born son and laid Him in a manger. (As Nightwatch, inc. people stroll in.)
NW 1: Sure is chilly out here tonight.
NW 2: Yeah, but the stars are really something’, aren’t they? I mean, look at that star up there. I’ve never seen anything like it. Must be a comet or something.
NW 3: Or a UFO or something’. I must be watchin’ too many sci-fi’s. Look how it’s beaming right for that old hotel down there...like there is something it’s after.
NW 1: Whoa...look at THOSE stars up there. They look like they’re coming closer, don’t they? _______, what’d you put in this coffee tonight?
NW 2: Nothin’, ________. Wish I had, now! Must be a UFO convention or something. I’m going inside!
NW 3: But we can’t leave our watch! We’ll lose our jobs!
NW 2: Who cares about our watch, I’m outa here.
NW 1: Wait a minute...look at them again...they look human.
NW 3: Any of you believe in ghosts?
NW 2: Not til now.
NW 1: The light is blinding my eyes...I can’t look...
Others: Me neither.
Angel: You have nothing to fear. I come to you with great news!! News of great joy to be shared by all people. This day...a Savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord. This will be a sign unto you: In a manger you will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes. (Angels depart.)
(Nightwatch people ad lib lines of amazement.)
NW 1: What’d he say? In a manger?
NW 2: Who the heck puts their baby in a manger?
NW 3: Well, it’ll make it easier to find, anyway. Must be in a stable, then, unless they moved the manger in the house.
NW 1: You know, there’s an old stable out back of the hotel where that star is shining...
NW 2: Seems about as likely as any other guess right now. Might as well check it out.
NW 3 (as leaving): Swaddling clothes?? What’s swaddling clothes??
NW 2: Beats me.
Lector: They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger. Once they saw, they understood what the angels had told them about the baby.)
(Music: What child is this?)
(They “journey” to where Mary and Joseph have entered, placing the baby in a manger. As they approach, Joseph greets them.)
Joseph: Come near. What is it you want?
NW 1: Have you a newborn child?
Joseph: Yes, He is here, lying in the manger next to His Mother.
(Nightwatchmen/women fall down to their knees.)
NW 2: It is as the Angel said!
NW 3: Tonight while we were out on watch, we saw an angel who told us that we would find a baby born today wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
NW 1: And that this Child would be our Savior and Lord.
NW 2: And would be for all peoples.
Mary: Come near and gaze upon Him, for He IS the Lord, as the angel promised.
(optional: Music: “O Come All Ye Faithful”--if real baby, audience participates--as Angels re-enter, inviting audience to come up and view baby, then stand behind baby.)
Lector: Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.
( Followed by “Silent Night” sung by everyone. )