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Saturday, 21 December 2013

Interactive Nativity Play

End Scene of our Interactive Nativity Play 
- complete with baby Jesus!
Church in Progress had a thought provoking Christmas event this year. One of the highlights was our Interactive Nativity Play. Co-Written by Michelle Johansson and Emily Worman while travelling on the Waiheke Ferry! Our aim was to communicate that this isn't just any old story - it's OUR story. It's also a dangerous story with massive consequences.

Please feel free to use and share this resource. All we ask is that you write in the comments below if you've used it and let us know how it went.

You don't need much prep to put this play on. In fact, most of the people in the play won't know they are in it until the very moment when their lines come up - surprise! Obviously this was written for Church in Progress - so you'll need to change a few lines. 

To start off with you'll need:

A facilitator
An Angel
A narrator
A confident person (see script for more info)
An Angry Herod
Wings (for the angel)
Shawl (for the 'surprise' Mary character)
A real baby (or a doll for the 'surprise' Jesus character)
Tinsel (for the 'surprise' star character)
Gifts that the Wise Men brought (you could use whatever is best for you - we used the crafts we made that day, our food bank basket of food etc)
Burger King Crowns (for the 'surprise' Wise Men characters)
Cue cards - bits of card with bits of the script on them to hand them out to the 'surprise' characters
Cue Card #1
I’ve just found out I’m pregnant. I’m still at school. What do I do?
Cue Card #2
Councillor to Mary: Do you know who the father is?
Mary: Well, God is the Father, but … I’m sort of supposed to be getting married to Joseph.
Councillor: I think the first thing you should do is go and tell Joseph.

An Interactive Nativity Play - Script

Facilitator: Welcome to Church in Progress’s Nativity play … But where are all the cute sheep? Where is the shining star? Where is the cute baby? Will Emily play a shepherd AGAIN this year …. I’m sure all these questions are on your mind.

The more we thought about putting on a cute nativity play and the more we looked at the story – we realised that the story of Jesus’s birth isn’t that cute at all. In fact it’s a dangerous story, the characters in it were at risk, some of risked losing their lives to be part of it. We stopped thinking of it as cute and instead of as a challenging story. A story that had a massive impact on the people in it. Yet, its such a big story, with such huge consequences – it still affects us today.

Remember – we are part of the story … To really hear the story of the very first Christmas – we need to get involved. So prepare yourselves to be part of the story … 

Narrator: The Annunciation

Angel: (Puts on angel wings, ‘finds’ Mary, puts the shawl around her and says) Good morning Mary! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you. I have some big news for you. (Spoken to everyone else) Can I get a drum roll please? (To Mary) Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. Now Mary, I know you’re not married or anything (winks at Mary and asks her). How do you feel about all this?

[Mary reacts and shares with the group how she feels]

Narrator: So Mary, is thrown off course a bit. This wasn’t part of her plans at all! She decides to talk to someone else about it. She goes to see the school councillor…

Angel: (Finds someone who'll make a good school councillor - gives Mary #1 Cue Card and prompts her to read it to the school councillor)

Mary says to Councillor: I’ve just found out I’m pregnant. I’m still at school. What do I do?
[Councillor reacts]
Angel: (Gives out #2 Cue Cards to Mary and Councillor)

Councillor to Mary: Do you know who the father is?
Mary: Well, God is the Father, but … I’m sort of supposed to be getting married to Joseph.
Councillor: I think the first thing you should do is go and tell Joseph.

Angel: (Takes Mary and finds a 'surprise' Joseph. Prompts Mary to tell Joseph that she is pregnant. Angel gets Mary to ask Joseph if he’ll still marry her).

[Joseph reacts to the news]
Narrator: Mary did get eventually get her head around the situation. And thanks to a Godly intervention – so did Joseph. As the months went by Mary felt quite overwhelmed about the enormity of the task God had chosen her for. In the bible it records how Mary, even though she was young, understood that things would never be the same and she would be remembered through the retelling of this very story for always.

(Instead of the Inn Keeper scene this next bit of the play will convey that there was no space and get people thinking about how they will make space for God this Christmas)

Confident Person: (Enters and tries to find a seat. S/he asks many people to share their seats and tries to push in on several people's seats. When s/he find a space they invite Mary and Joseph to come over and says ...)

Confident Person: Over here you two! I’ve finally found a place for you to give birth to your child.

Angel: (Hands over the baby to Mary)

Narrator: Mary gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room anywhere else.

Often in the bible there are several stories that intertwine. In the background we have Herod – the wicked king. He was completely power hungry and had heard the rumours about a Jewish revolutionary who was about to be born and that there were wise men who were on their way to worship this baby. Herod didn’t want to worship this new threat – he wanted to kill the baby. He sets out to trick them ..

Herod: There is no way some little kid is going to come along and change the way things are. I’m in charge, I do things my way. (Asks everyone) I need some wise men to find this child. Who here has got a degree or can do the Herald crossword? (Chooses three people) Excellent – you three will do!

(Puts BK crowns on their heads and pretends to be on their side)

Oh, you guys are so great – going to find the new leader of your people. I totally want to worship this new little baby too (winks a lot). In fact – I just can’t wait. Pretty please go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.

(Herod goes away laughing to himself)

Narrator addresses the wise men: So have studied your whole lives so you could work out when and where your new leader would be born. You’ve already identified the star that will lead you right to the baby’s feet. You are so excited!

BUT, you know if you disobey Herod order you’ll be killed. And you get the sense that Herod will probably kill the baby too. What would you do? (don’t really expect an answer from them – but hopefully everyone in the room will be thinking about the risk factor)

Narrator: Meanwhile God really wanted everyone to know that Jesus had been born. God surely knew the wise men were on their way – but this was the kind of news God wanted EVERYONE to hear. So, God reached out to everyday people.

Angel: (Turns to a group of people an says) Hi guys, don’t be afraid – I’m just an angel sent by God! Just wanted to ask you what you do for a living?

['Shepherds' respond and talk about their jobs or what they do, childcare etc]

Angel: That all sounds really great and I’m sure it helps to looks after your family, paid the bills and all that – but actually I’m going to ask you to leave all that for at least a couple of weeks. You’ll need the time off as you've got to go and meet a baby! Drop everything at once!

All I can guarantee is that it’s dangerous – but it will be worth it.

Narrator: As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They ran from where they were and found Mary and Joseph, and a baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard them were impressed.

The wise men turned up too and brought gifts. 

Angel: (Addressing everyone present) Shall we bring our gifts to God? (Gets everyone to bring the gifts and place them in front of the baby) 

Facilitator: This is more the scene we are used to. The gifts, the baby, the shepherds and the wise men. We like this image as its safe. It’s all about worship and we love to worship Jesus. It’s important. 

But I haven’t seen a nativity scene yet that shows what happens next. After Mary, Joseph and Jesus left Bethlehem, Herod realised that the wise men weren’t coming back to report to him. Herod was so angry he had every single baby under two years old, living in Bethlehem killed. 

Why do you think Herod was so afraid of Jesus being born?

Why do you think God sent wise men AND shepherds to go and meet Jesus?

Do you think this is just a story or do you think it’s something bigger?

I believe that God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. But this Christmas, Church in Progress is challenging you to give time to think about what Christmas means to you. 

We don’t think you’ll figure this out by someone telling you what to think! God didn’t instruct the shepherd’s what to think. God invited them to have an experience and to make up their own minds. The shepherd’s took a risk, had an awesome encounter with God and went away to tell everyone what they had experienced. 

Are you ready to take a risk?

Of course, in true Church in Progress style, we then handed out the words to 'Mary's Boy Child' by Boney M and sung along to finish up ...


Interactive Nativity Play by Church in Progress: Michelle Johansson/Emily Worman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. Will be doing this at CRAVE MCC in Christchurch tonight - this ROCKS!! Thanks Emily and Michelle :-)

  2. Exciting!!!! Let us know how it goes :)


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