I am such a huge nerd, I subjected Presbury United Methodist Church to a Christmas pageant written using scripture and dialogue from the Star Wars franchise. Enjoy!
Introduction: NARRATOR, PS, and SCRIPTURE READER
(PASTOR SHANNON putting on jacket like she’s going to leave.)
NARRATOR: Hey Pastor Shannon, where are you going?
PS: I'm going to see the new Star Wars movie!
NARRATOR: Oh yeah. I almost forgot how big a geek you are.
PS: Whatever NARRATOR. It is a classic battle of good and evil! Plus it takes place in space!
NARRATOR: Well, you should stick around here because number one, it's your job. And number two, we are talking about the ultimate battle of good over evil today in worship.
PS: Wait--- do you mean Easter, when God defeats death and Jesus rises from the dead? I thought that was the ultimate battle of good over evil. But we celebrate that in the spring, and it is cold outside now, and plus I don't see any chocolate Easter eggs anywhere.
NARRATOR: Ok, Easter is the ultimate battle of good over evil. But so is Christmas! God became human! Listen to this passage from the Gospel of John:
SCRIPTURE READER: John 1:1-14a (NRSV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us...
PS: Oh, yes, that is one of my favorite scriptures!
NARRATOR: Of course it is. But what it is saying is that in Jesus, God put on flesh and lived among us! This mighty, powerful God, who brought all things into being just by speaking; this God of light who cannot be overcome by darkness--- this God became a weak, suffering human, to live in solidarity with us.
PS: Yes, God didn't just reconcile us to God's self through sacrificing Jesus, but by becoming Jesus. God came to walk with us, and showed us a new way to live. And that Love God showed by becoming human is a lot like how Obi Wan Kenobi explains the Force: “it surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” It is a pretty cool story. But it doesn't take place in space.
NARRATOR: No it doesn't, but I think you'll like our re-imagining of the story. (to church) Pastor Shannon and Presbury United Methodist Church, sit back and enjoy our Christmas Pageant!
NARRATOR: A long time ago in the days of King Herod of Judea, in a galaxy not so far away...
(Star Wars theme song plays.)
NARRATOR: Turmoil engulfed Palestine at that time, much like turmoil still engulfs us today. So God sent angels to bring a message of peace and justice, or good news of great joy, to settle the conflict, and prepare the way of the Lord.
(ANGEL and MARY are standing in front of the wreath.)
ANGEL: Be not afraid! The Lord is with you!
MARY: Aren't you a little short for an angel?
ANGEL: Size matters not. Judge me by my size, do you? Well you should not. For my ally is the God, and a powerful ally God is. God is your ally as well! And now you will conceive and bear and child, and you will name him Jesus. The Force will be strong with him, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
MARY: How can this be since I am a virgin?
ANGEL: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.
MARY: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.
(MARY steps to the center of the stage. ANGEL steps back into the background.)
MARY: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For I am a poor young woman from Nazareth, the town furthest from the bright center of the universe, but God chose me! Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever. Help us today, God! You are our only hope!
NARRATOR: There was unrest at home, however, specifically in Joseph's home. Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but here she is, found pregnant. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to declare his intentions to leave her, he receives a visitor.
ANGEL: Joseph! I find your lack of faith disturbing!
JOSEPH: What? Who are you?! What are you doing here?
ANGEL: No, I'm just kidding about the lack of faith thing--- don't be afraid! You are actually a righteous man. So do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus.
(ANGEL and Joseph shake hands.)
ACT 2: NARRATOR, MARY, JOSEPH, DONKEY (no lines), ANGEL, SHEPHERD 1, SHEPHERD 2, and SHEEP (no lines)
NARRATOR: A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away...
(Star Wars theme song plays.)
NARRATOR: A decree went out from Emperor Palpatine...I mean, Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. Pursued by the Roman Empire's sinister agents, well, kinda anyway, Joseph and Mary journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem where Mary would give birth to a baby who can save all people and restore freedom to the galaxy and bring balance to the Force.
(MARY and JOSEPH appear with DONKEY. They walk back and forth.)
MARY: Joseph, we need to find a place to stay now.
JOSEPH: Cool it, your worshipfulness, but no one seems to have any extra room for us anywhere.
MARY: Well, someone has to save our skins. Into the barn, flyboy.
(All the ANIMALS come onstage. C-3PO brings in the manger.)
JOSEPH: (holding his nose) What an incredible smell you've discovered!
MARY: Well we will make it work. I'll have the baby here and we'll wrap him in swaddling clothes and lay him in the manger.
(C3PO brings a baby out to MARY.)
NARRATOR: Now, in that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
(SHEPHERDS and SHEEP enter. ANGEL appears. All SHEPHERDS cover their faces.)
ANGEL: Do not be afraid! Fear is the path to the Dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering! What I am here to share with you today is good news of great joy for all people!
SHEPHERD 1: Well if there's nothing to fear, why give me a heart attack like that. Sheesh!
SHEPHERD 2: Seriously, me and this stuck up, scruffy looking, half-witted nerfherder here are just trying to mind our own business!
SHEPHERD 1: Who's scruffy looking?
ANGEL: Hey cut it out guys. I'm trying to give you good news, ok? Anyway, to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
SHEPHERD 2: A Savior! Sounds like somebody's having delusions of grandeur.
ANGEL: Not at all, actually. This shall be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger.
SHEPHERD 1: A manger? Like where animals eat?
SHEPHERD 2: Doesn't the poor guy have a crib?
SHEPHERD 1: That can' be comfortable. But speaking of mangers--- hey, are you hungry?
ANGEL: Ok, it seems I'm dealing with some real laserbrains here.
SHEPHERD 2: Laugh it up, fuzzballs!
ANGEL: Enough, enough. God has chosen you, humble shepherds though you are, to witness God's own self in human form. God didn't choose Herod, or the Emperor, or some rich dude. God chose you! You are important to God.
SHEPHERD 2: Wow, that does sound pretty awesome.
SHEPHERD 1: Yeah, I feel kinda special now!
SHEPHERD 2: Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place!
(SHEPHERDS and SHEEP move to the side, and MARY and JOSEPH and Jesus set up. SHEPHERDS kneel around the altar.)
(ANGEL moves to the center.)
ANGEL: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, may the Force be with us all!
ACT 3: NARRATOR, HEROD, MAGI 1, MAGI 2, and MAGI 3
NARRATOR: A long time ago in a galaxy not so far, far away...
(Star Wars theme song plays.)
NARRATOR: Wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, seeking a child they learned of in their studies of the night sky. The evil puppet king Herod, obsessed with maintaining power, invited these wise people into his palace for a secret meeting...
(Imperial Death March plays.)
HEROD: Hello wise men from the East. I hear you are searching for something very interesting.
MAGI 1: Oh yes, we have been reading the work of prophets around the world because we have noticed changes in the night sky. A star rising over Judea.
MAGI 2: It has been written: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rules of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.
MAGI 3: We understand this prophecy and the star to be connected. That the shepherd ruler of Israel was born at the star's rising.
HEROD: WHAT?! A king to replace me? A Messiah to be anointed over me? I must find the child!
MAGI 1: (to MAGI 2) I've got a bad feeling about this.
HEROD: Oh, sorry for my outburst. I am only excited because I, too, have been searching for this Messiah. To pay my respects, of course.
MAGI 2: (waves hand) Um, I'm sure he's not the Messiah you are looking for.
MAGI 3: (waves hand) You don't need to see where he was born. We can go about our business. Move along.
HEROD: Those Jedi mind tricks don't work on me! Now go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word.
MAGI 1: I've got a bad feeling about this.
MAGI 2: Me too.
MAGI 3: When it is time to go home again, let us leave for our country by another road.
(MAGI walk down the aisle and back up. Meanwhile MARY, JOSEPH, and JESUS set up.)
MAGI 1: (pointing) Look! The star has stopped.
MAGI 2: We did it! We made it! Let us go see this child that makes kings quake and stars rise.
MAGI 3: Let us worship the newborn king!
(MAGI kneel at the manger.)
(ANGEL steps back into center stage.)
ANGEL: And so the people who sat in great darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and the shadow of death, light has dawned. There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?
Closing: PS, NARRATOR, and SCRIPTURE READER
PS: Wow, you were right! That story really is an epic battle where good triumphs over evil. I feel like we should celebrate with a party the way they do at the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi when the Death Star is destroyed---
NARRATOR: Ok, Pastor Shannon, I think we've indulged your geekiness enough for one day. Remember, we need to be preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ child all over again. The Gospel of Mark, which does not have a story about Jesus' birth, still leaves us with an important message as we celebrate Christmas this week.
SCRIPTURE READER: Mark 1: 7-8 (NRSV)
“The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
NARRATOR: We aren't just talking about a nice sweet little baby we can hand back to his mom and dad when he gets fussy when we are talking about baby Jesus. We are talking about power, the power of the presence of God within a human being. This power may have been most complete in Jesus, but it is in each of us as well. Like the angel said at the end of the last act--- we are talking about an awakening. So let us leave from this place preparing our hearts for the power of the Holy Spirit to wake us up!
PS: That's a pretty good message to end on. And remember, no matter how sleepy you may end up feeling, the Force will be with you always.
NARRATOR: And also with you!