A couple of years ago, I wrote a Christmas pageant for my congregation and I wanted to make this pageant available to churches who are looking for a fresh and unique approach to the Christmas story. This pageant is based on the book I published in 2013 and I would refer you to that book for further information.

Click here for more information on the book.

I am releasing this pageant under a Creative Common “Share and Share Alike” license which means you are allowed to use it and to adapt it freely and the only stipulation is that the original author is to be acknowledged. You must also be open to sharing any adaptions of the pageant you make available freely.

The script follows. If you would like to view, download and print a PDF file, please click here.

Caesar’s Census, God’s Jubilee. A Christmas Pageant
by Scott McAndless

Caesar’s Census, God’s Jubilee. A Christmas Pageant by W. Scott McAndless is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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Note: This Christmas Pageant is based only on the nativity story as told Luke 1:1-2:20 with reference to Acts 5:37. No effort has been made to harmonize the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke with the one found in the Gospel of Matthew. The reasoning for such an approach may be found in my book, “Caesar’s Census, God’s Jubilee” (available on Amazon in paperback and in ebook format from most ebook retailers).


Scene 1: A Hill in Galilee

Judas stands looking out over the landscape. He seems troubled and lost in thought.
Narrator: In the days when Quirinius was the Governor of Syria, the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, took direct control of the land of Judea. He ordered a census of the population and imposed heavy new taxes. These actions greatly disturbed a Galilean named Judas and his friend Zadok.
Enter Zadok.
Zadok: Peace be with you, Judas.
Judas:Hello, Zadok, I don’t think I can wish you peace. How can there be peace when the Romans are doing such things?
Zadok: Yes, I’ve heard – the census, the new taxes. They’ll end up turning people out of their homes and make us all into slaves!
Judas: You are a Pharisee, what do you think God would say about it?
Zadok: What would God say? God would say that he wants his people to be free. He wants them to live on their own land and serve God alone.
Judas: And how does God make that happen?
Zadok: How? A year of Jubilee! Everyone should return to the place where their ancestors lived and claim their freedom and their land. (Laughs) But there’s no way that’s going to happen!
Judas: Why not?
Zadok: Well, the Romans certainly aren’t going to call for a jubilee. They’re the ones taking our land and making us slaves. Especially right now – if everyone started traveling for a jubilee now, it would totally mess up their precious census that they’re taking.
Judas: (Thoughtfully) Yes it would, wouldn’t it.?
Zadok: (realizing what his friend is thinking) Oh no, Judas, you wouldn’t! We’d get in so much trouble!
Judas: Come with me, my friend. Let’s talk to the others.
Narrator:Judas had a plan – a bold plan and a fiendish plan. A plan that would have greater consequences than even he could imagine.

Scene 2 – The village of Nazareth

Narrator: In the little village of Nazareth nothing much ever happened so people often spent their time gossiping about other people’s lives.
Villager 1: Hey, have you heard the latest news?
Villager 2:What is it?
Villager 1:Young Mary is engaged to be married.
Village 2:Oh, that is big news, who is she going to marry?
Villager 1:Joseph, the son of Heli, that’s who!
Villager:No! Way!
Villager:But Joseph is just a carpenter. He has no land. He isn’t even from around here. His family comes from someplace in Judea.
Villager:From Bethlehem, I know. What can he offer to Mary? What were her parents’ thinking?
Villager: (Pointing to Mary and Joseph who are about to enter) Oh, that might have something to do with it!
Mary and Joseph enter. Mary is clearly pregnant.
Villager:Congratulations, Mary. We heard the news.
They gather around congratulating her.
Narrator:But, in the year of the census, there were suddenly big developments to talk about:
Enter a rebel blowing a horn.
Rebel:Jubilee! Jubilee! It is the year of Jubilee!
The crowd gathers around him.
Crowd: (All speaking at once) Jubilee? How can that be? etc.
Rebel: Yes, it is the jubilee. You must all return to the place your family came from. You must claim your land and your freedom!!
Villager:Wait a second, who says it is Jubilee? Who called for this?
Rebel: It is God’s will. Judas the Galilean is the one who declared this in God’s name.
Villagers discuss together.
Narrator:Some of the people of Nazareth didn’t like the sound of that. Judas was a rebel. Anyone who helped him in any way was likely to be killed. How they could anyone celebrate a jubilee that Judas called for?
Joseph steps forward.
Joseph: I will honour this call to Jubilee. I will return to Bethlehem, to the land that my people once owned and I will claim it as mine because that is God’s will.
Mary: I… I am going with him. I am God’s servant and if jubilee is God’s will, I must obey the call too.
The rebel runs off shouting “Jubilee” and blowing the horn. The villagers discuss together.
Narrator: There was a great deal for the people of Nazareth to talk about that year! Some tried to talk Mary and Joseph out of going. Others vowed that they would make a jubilee journey too.
Mary and Joseph travel pick up some luggage and head off.
Narrator: In the end Mary and Joseph did set out for Bethlehem in Judea. Many others also set out for their ancestral homes. They weren’t exactly disobeying Caesar’s order regarding the census. But in their hearts they knew that what they were really doing was obeying God’s call to jubilee.

Scene 3 – In front of a house in Bethlehem

Mary and Joseph approach the front door of the house.
Joseph:Well, Mary, here we are. It’s been a long hard trip but we have finally arrived at the land that once belonged to my family.
Mary: What happened? How did your family lose it?
Joseph: The usual way. They couldn’t pay their bills, the family was starving, they borrowed money that they knew they’d never pay back…
Mary: …and you lost everything – ended up as landless carpenters in Nazareth far from home.
Joseph: But now I’m back. We’ll see what happens now.
Joseph knocks. The landlord opens the door
Landlord:Who are you? What do you want?
Joseph: I am Joseph, son of Heli. My family owned this property ever since God gave this land to his people.
Landlord:Yeah? So?
Mary: It is the year of jubilee. You must return the land to its rightful owners. It is God’s law.
Landlord: (Laughing) Oh yeah? And who’s going to make me? You? Go on, get out of here!
(Landlord starts to close the door.)
Joseph:Okay, okay. I did not really expect you to follow God’s will. But there is one thing… it’s my wife, Mary,
Mary: My child is coming very soon. I feel it.
Joseph:Maybe you won’t give me the house that should be mine. But surely you will offer us hospitality – especially in our time of need.
Landlord:Hospitality eh? Sure, I’ll give you hospitality. I think that there’s an old manger out in the back field. Why don’t you lay your brat in there?
Landlord laughs and slams the door as Mary and Joseph head off.
Narrator:And so it came to pass that, when the child was born, he did not have a home or even a decent place to stay. He was laid in a manger in a field. Yet it was a beginning that promised great things.

Scene 4 – A field behind the house

A child lies in the manger. Mary lies on the ground by a little fire that is slowly glowing. She is asleep, wrapped in a blanket. Joseph sits contemplating the child in the manger.
Narrator: It is dark, well past midnight, and in the middle of the field where they found the manger, the small family is huddled near a little fire. Joseph sits and watches the infant sleeping in the manger. It is a boy, just like Mary had assured him it would be—a tiny little boy who sleeps contentedly for the moment, his stomach full of milk.
Narrator: The boy’s mother also sleeps, rolled in a blanket nearby, taking advantage of the brief respite from the babe’s demands. Joseph, though he has every reason to be exhausted, finds that he is wide awake.
Narrator: It is a beautiful night, the stars blaze down from a moonless, cloudless sky and he is content to simply marvel at the sight of the child sleeping and watch his little chest rising and falling underneath the swaddling clothes.
Narrator: Suddenly the babe stirs. He grimaces and for a moment Joseph fears that he is about to wake. And he knows that if the child cries, it will wake Mary and she really needs her rest.
Joseph picks up the baby and paces with him, trying to calm him.
Joseph: (To the child) Shhhhhhalom. Shhhhhalom.
Narrator:“Shalom,” Joseph says to the child. The word means “peace,” which gets him thinking about peace. 
Narrator:There were some local shepherds who came by earlier this night telling wild stories:
Shepherds appear.
Shepherd:We were just minding our own business, taking care of our sheep.
Shepherd:All of a sudden there were angels everywhere!
Shepherd:They sang about peace on earth and people of good will.
Shepherds:(All together) It was totally awesome!
Narrator:The Romans always talk about peace. They say that that is what their empire is all about. But when they talk about peace, what they really mean is that, once they have defeated all of their enemies, no one will be left who is strong enough to resist whatever they want to do. Who needs that kind of peace?
Narrator:But now, sitting here, watching the child sleep and thinking of the strange words of the shepherds, he wonders if there couldn’t be another kind of peace—one that doesn’t come at the point of a sword—a peace from heaven.
Narrator: Joseph has always been taught that the land is a gift of God to all the families of Israel. The gift came, in the ancient days, by means of God’s servant Joshua. It came through conquest and battle and violence. That is why Joseph has always assumed that, if the land is ever to be reclaimed for the families of Israel, it will have to be through more violence.
Narrator: But the words of the shepherds and the sight of this child of promise sleeping so peacefully have made Joseph think differently about such things. Perhaps what they really need now is not for the old Joshua and his ways to return. Perhaps the need is for a new Joshua and a new way.
Narrator: That is why Joseph has decided that the boy will be named Joshua. He knows it’s the right name for this child. In Aramaic (the common speech of the people), it will be…
Narrator: Joseph doesn’t know this, but in Greek—the language spoken throughout the Eastern Empire, the language of Caesar and all his minions—the child’s name will mean the same thing but it will sound different for in Greek, someday, they will call him Jesus.

This video version of the pageant was made in 2013: