A Communal Reading for Christmas
NOTE: This Communal Reading stands in for the gospel reading from Luke, as a paraphrase. The actual text of the reading from Luke could be printed in the bulletin, if so desired. The “script” below should be prepared as an insert for congregation and readers. Shepherd reads from center chancel. Child reads from his or her place in the congregation (standing on a pew if need be, with a cordless microphone, or a very big ‘outdoor voice’). The Choir should be prepared to burst immediately into the refrain, “Gloria in excelsis Deo” from Angels we have heard on high at the indicated places. The Shepherd should be a skilled adult reader who can really tell a story. The Child should be willing to raise her hand and jump up and down a bit, like an eager student. In general, everyone should take their time, and ham it up. No rehearsal should be needed if all the ‘characters’ practice their lines beforehand on their own.
A Reading from the Gospel According to Luke
Shepherd: I remember that night. How could I forget it? We were tending sheep in the fields when all of a sudden, the dark sky began to shine, and shine, and shine!
Choir: Was it the moon breaking through the clouds?
Shepherd: No! It wasn’t the moon!
Congregation: A shooting star flashing across the sky?
Shepherd: No! It wasn’t a shooting star!
A Child: I know! I know! It was an angel of the Lord, shining, and shining, and shining!
Shepherd: Yes! That’s right! It was an angel of the Lord, shining, and shining, and shining! And that angel of the Lord scared us half to death! We fell flat on our faces with fright!
Choir: What happened next?
Shepherd: The angel of the Lord spoke to us!
Congregation: Spoke to you? What did the angel say?
A Child: I know! I know! The angel said: “Do not be afraid! I have great news for you and the whole wide world! Today, in Bethlehem, the City of David, a savior is born!”
Shepherd: That’s right! A savior was born!
Choir: What else did the angel say?
A Child: I know! I know!
Congregation: Hey! You know everything!
A Child: Yes, I do! I pay attention in Sunday School! Anyway, the angel said to go to Bethlehem to find the savior. To look in a manger, not a palace. To look for a baby, not a king. Wrapped in strips of cloth, not in a velvet robe!
Shepherd: That’s right! That’s what the angel told us! And then, oh my goodness! Then, the whole sky was filled with angels! A million of them!
Congregation: A million?
Shepherd: Well, maybe half a million. And they all began to sing!
Choir: Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Shepherd: And then they disappeared! Just like that. They were gone. And everything was the way it was before – dark and cold, and very, very, very, very quiet. And we looked at each other, our eyes as wide as saucers, and we said, “Should we go, then, and see for ourselves?”
Choir: And so you went, didn’t you?
Shepherd: Yes, we did. We went to Bethlehem. We saw Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger. We saw everything the angel said we would see. We saw it all, and it made us glad. And so we told other people, and they told other people, and they told other people, and they told other people – and now you know the story too.
Congregation: It’s a wonderful story! Who could have imagined it?
A Child: I know! I know!
Congregation: There [he/she] goes again! All right, tell us. Who imagined it?
A Child: God imagined it! And God brought made it happen! God did it for us!
Shepherd: For us, yes. Because God loves us, God did it for us. And for everybody, and for always, and forever and ever. Amen.
Everyone: For everybody! And for always! And forever and ever! Amen!
Choir [and everyone joining in]: Gloria in excelsis Deo!