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A Christmas Drama by Jeff Carter
*1* EXT. VILLAGE WALL -“AN UNEASY PEACE” A woman enters, staggering beneath the weight of the heavy load upon her shoulders. She crosses the stage. Suddenly she collapses in a heap. ELISHEBA (a cry of overwhelming grief) Aaaaaaaaah! She lays there sobbing. For several moments there is no one to comfort her. Then MIRA enters – rushing to comfort and help her. MIRA Oh, my friend, my dear! What has happened to you? The sobbing continues ELISHEBA My sister in Besara…. MIRA (Gasp) No! ELISHEBA Yes… yes… she and her children and Yakov, her husband. All of them, dead… And Yakov among the crucified. MIRA Oh, my sister, my love, my dear… The two women embrace and weep together. YONA enters. YONA Mira, Elisheba! What is this? MIRA Elisheba’s received word that her sister is among the dead at Besara. YONA visibly bristles at this news. He is enraged. YONA Murdered by those Roman dogs! He sputters and fumes for a moment – flummoxed by his rage. Then, suddenly, he sets up a pile of stones downstage, making an impromptu platform.
YONA (Shouting) Cry loudly! Do not hold back! I will raise my voice like a trumpet! MIRA What are you doing? Stop that! YONA (to MIRA) I cannot be silent. I will not be silent. No. (Shouting again) I will cry loudly. I will not hold back. I will raise my voice like a trumpet. I will raise my voice like a trumpet to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke. TO LET THE OPPRESSED GO FREE! A crowd is beginning to gather around YONA. YONA I am not a desperate man. No. I am not a desperate man; I have hope. But these are desperate times, and the people of God are groaning under the weight of them. YONA Listen! The people are not silent! Elisheba, she weeps for the dead. She does not leave it for the ground to cry out for them. Listen to her and raise up your cry with her! YONA How long must our children be killed? How long? How long must our sons, and fathers, and brothers be imprisoned, for how long? How long will your daughters, and sisters, and mothers live in fear? How long? The crowd is becoming more animated. They punctuate his speech with their own shouts. YONA When Pompey led the armies of Rome into Jerusalem twelve thousand Sons of Abraham were slaughtered to demonstrate their power. And now, another demonstration of their rule – this time in Besara, another demonstration of their mighty empire. YONA But I say: No kingdom but God’s. No Lord but the Lord of Heaven! The Messiah of God will come and with him, the Revolution. He will break them from the inside. He will tear them from their thrones. He will crush their skulls with his iron scepter and bring Justice to this land. The crowd cheers. But MIRA and ELISHEBA drag YONA down from his platform and away from the crowd.
MIRA Yona! You must stop this. YONA I cannot, Mira. For Elisheba, I cannot… ELISHEBA Please, Yona. I would not have you do this. I would not have you die too. Please. Just then ROMAN CENTURION and several ROMAN SOLDIERS enter. ROMAN CENTURION Disperse now! Disperse peaceably or you will feel our swords. The crowd scatters in fear. MIRA Quick now, Yona, Elisheba. We must go now. ROMAN CENTURION (to the crowd as they flee and to the audience) We will subdue this land. You can be sure of that. END SCENE
*2* INT. A SMALL HOUSE – DAY – “MARY, MOTHER OF GOD, DAUGHTER OF REVOLUTION” Mary is sewing, patching a torn shirt. She hums a tune as she works. MARY If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, let all Israel sing, if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, all of our enemies would have swallowed us alive… She breaks off singing and sewing to look around. She is startled – as if she’d heard something- but there’s nothing … MARY …all of our enemies would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was burning against us… There it is again. This time she puts down her sewing and stands. Suddenly there is a bright light and the sound of birds. MARY Ruach Elohim – spirit of God! ANGEL (remains unseen) Do not be afraid, Mary. The bird sounds get louder. We see MARY speaking to this ANGEL (whom we do not see) but we cannot hear her. She bows her head, shakes her head in confusion, nods, and finally bows low. The light fades. The bird sounds cease. MARY remains motionless until MIRA, ELISHEBA, and YONA rush in. MARY Mira! Elisheba! Yona! What is it? What is happening? MIRA It was the Romans. We had to run. May we stay here for a while? MARY Yes. Yes, of course. Was there violence? MIRA No, not here. But Elisheba’s sister and her family were killed in Besara. YONA The blood that they’ve shed will come down on them in…
MIRA Not now, Yona… (to MARY) He nearly brought the soldiers down on us with his shouting. That’s why we ran. YONA These Romans cannot… ELISHEBA takes his hand and YONA stops his rant. She holds him. MARY Through it all he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servants and 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 their proud thoughts. He will bring down the powerful from their thrones and will lift up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty and begging. MIRA Gracious! Mary, you sound like Yona. What’s come over you? MARY The Ruach Elohim – the spirit of God, he has overshadowed me. ELISHEBA reaches out to place her had gently over MARY’s womb, and with her eyes, she asks the question. MARY nods. END SCENE
*3* EXT. VILLAGE WALL – “JOSEPH’S PRAYER” JOSEPH is praying as he walks – his prayer shawl is drawn up over his head. JOSEPH Oh Lord, spirit of God, I am burdened for your people, your children who groan under their oppression, your children who have no good news to comfort them. They are broken-hearted and held captive. They mourn. They bury their children and they mourn. JOSEPH Oh Lord, God of heaven, comfort your children. Give them garlands of flowers to wear instead of ashes and sackcloth. Make us to be oaks of Righteousness, planted by streams of water to display your glory. Build up our ancient ruins, raise up our devastations, repair our ruined cities, so that strangers from far off will know your glory. JOSEPH Our shame is too much, our dishonor is overwhelming. But you, Oh Lord, you love justice. You hate robbery and evil. You despise murder and cruelty. Give them that do evil their recompense. Proclaim a day of vengeance for our oppressors. Proclaim a year of Jubilee for your people, a year of your favor. JOSEPH I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a garden grows with flowers of beauty, so the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations. There is a light and the sound of birds. JOSEPH turns toward them. ANGEL (remains unseen) Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid… The bird sounds grow louder, drowning out the ANGEL’s voice. JOSPEH responds to the unseen ANGEL. END SCENE
*4* EXT. VILLAGE WALL – DAY – “MORE TROUBLE” A group of ROMAN SOLDIERS is congregating beneath the archway. They are laughing and generally trying to make the best of an unpleasant duty. A few individuals pass by, going to and from the market. SOLDIER 1 This heat never ends. SOLDIER 2 Neither do your complaints. You’ve been going on about the heat all morning Just give it over, will you? SOLDIER 1 It’s just not this hot at home. SOLDIER 2 But you’re not at home, are you? And if you’d like to be alive to return home some day, then keep focused here. These “dagger-men” of the zealot insurgents conceal their daggers within their robes. YONA enters, heading for the archway, but he stops short when he sees the SOLDIERS. He hesitates, and then decides to proceed. The SOLDIERS have noticed him as well. They are suspicious. SOLDIER 2 Hold there, Jew! YONA What have I done? I’m heading to the market. Let me pass. SOLDIER 2 I said hold there. (to the other SOLDIERS) Search him. Careful. He may be concealing a weapon. The SOLDIERS roughly search YONA and his bag, over his loud protestations. YONA I carry no weapons. I’ve done nothing. You’ve no right… SOLDIER 1 He’s clean. YONA Not anymore, I’m not. You filthy Romans have made me unclean, unfit for worship at the Temple. SOLDIER 1 strikes him across the face. YONA falls to the dust.
SOLDIER 2 You ‘d do well to keep your rebellious rants to yourself, boy. Rome is more than strong enough to take care of whelps like you. YONA It’s you who should watch out. When the Messiah comes he will bring justice for his people and vengeance for their enemies. SOLDIER 2 You just don’t know what’s good for you, do you? (to the other SOLDIERS) Take him. The ROMAN CENTURION enters. The SOLDIERS stand alert and at attention. CENTURION Report! What is going on here? SOLDIER 2 This boy is being detained. CENTURION Yes. I’ve seen him before, earlier, shouting in the street, causing a disturbance. You’ve done well. Take him away. The SOLDIERS drag YONA away. END SCENE
*5* EXT. THE VILLAGE WALL – “CAESAR’S DECREE” CENTURION (reading a proclamation from a scroll) Be it known by one and all that Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set everything in most perfect order by giving us Caesar Augustus, who she filled with virtue That he might benefit humankind, sending him as a savior, both for us and for our descendents, that he might end war and arrange all things for great prosperity. CENTURION Thus be it known that Caesar Augustus has issued a decree that a census shall be taken of those persons residing in the far reaches of his realm. Everyone everywhere will be registered for purposes of taxation. Those who refuse to be registered will be subject to his imperial and divine wrath. The CENTURION nails the proclamation to a pillar for all to see, then exits. JOSEPH and MARY enter. MARY is visibly pregnant now. They are frightened, but calm. They walk to the posted proclamation. MARY Oh, Joseph… JOSPEH Mary. MARY What will we do? What will… JOSEPH We will be registered and we will be taxed, and Rome will rule as Rome has ruled until the Lord of Heaven is pleased to declare a year of Jubillee for his people. MARY Where will we go? JOSEPH To Bethlehem. I have family there. MARY Bethlehem. That’s where he’ll be born, then. Bethlehem’s not the least among the rulers of Judah…
JOSEPH No. Not the least. From Bethlehem comes the shepherd of Israel. They exit together. END SCENE
*6* INT. A DARKENED CELL – “YONA IN CAPTIVITY” YONA is huddled in a small dark cell. He prays: YONA Surely the Lord’s mercies are not over. Surely his deeds of faithful love are not exhausted; every morning they are renewed. Great, great is his faithfulness. ‘The Lord is all I have’ I say to myself, ‘and so I shall put my hope in him.’ YONA When the prisoners of a country are crushed underfoot, when human rights are overridden in defiance of the Most High, when someone is cheated of Justice, does the Lord not see it? YONA Oh Lord, we need your anointed; we need your proclamation to soothe our heats, and to free the captives. Proclaim the year of your favor, Oh, Lord, to comfort those of us who mourn. YONA I will exult for joy in the Lord, my soul will rejoice in my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of saving justice, like a bridegroom wearing his garland, like a bride adorned with her jewels. For as the earth sends up its shoots and a garden makes seeds to sprout, so the Lord God makes saving justice and praise to spring up, even in the sight of the empire. There is the sudden sound of jangling keys (and, softly, birds…) then a light, and the creak of hinges. MIRA enters. MIRA Yona… Yona! Get up. You’re being released. YONA What? What’s going on? A ROMAN SOLDIER enters, brushing MIRA out of the way. SOLDIER 1 You heard her! You’re being released. Now get up, get out and stay out of trouble, or it will be the cross for you. YONA and MIRA leave the cell. The SOLDIER exits. YONA Mira, thank you. I don’t know how you did it, but thank you, and praise God. Praise God.
MIRA Yona, listen to me now. There’s been a decree from Rome… YONA is about to react with anger and outrage, but MIRA interrupts him. MIRA Now is not the time, Yona. We are leaving today, traveling with Joseph and Mary to register for the census. YONA (reverently whispering, quoting the prophet) Hence the Lord will abandon them – but only until she who is in labor gives birth… MIRA What? Yona, are you listening? We’re leaving… today. YONA Yes…. Yes. Bethlehem. Today. Let’s be on our way. They exit. END SCENE
*7* EXT. ROADSIDE – “ON THE ROAD” MIRA is helping the CHILDREN to pack. Sounds of travelers, camels, donkeys, etc… MIRA Hurry now. We’ll be leaving as soon as the others arrive. CHILD 1 But why? CHILD 2 I don’t wanna’ go. CHILD 1 Me neither. MIRA We go to Bethlehem because the Emperor says that we must. CHILD 1 The Emperor? Who’s that? MIRA He’s the one whose soldiers march in our streets. CHILD 1 But why? MIRA What? CHILD 1 Why? MIRA Why what? CHILD 1 Why do we have to go? CHILD 2 Because the Emperor said we have to and if we don’t he’ll send the soldiers after us to kill us! CHILD 1 cringes in fear. MIRA Stop it! Stop it now, both of you.
MIRA notices that CHILD 3 (RACHEL) has been silent and withdrawn. MIRA (to RACHEL) Rachel? Are you okay, little one? RACHEL I suppose. MIRA Are you scared of the soldiers? RACHEL No. … I’m sad, I guess. JOSEPH and MARY arrive with ELISHEBA. The CHILDREN dance and jump in excitement. MIRA Joseph, Mary, Elisheba! MARY Mira, dear sister. MIRA The children are ready. When do we leave? JOSEPH We are waiting for Yona, are we not? ELISHEBA Yes, Joseph. We wait for Yona. JOSEPH (disgruntled) Yona… MARY He is my cousin, Joseph. We will wait for him. JOSEPH (still disgruntled) Yona… YONA arrives. The CHILDREN jump and dance again. CHILDREN Yona! Yona!
MIRA Yona! We were so worried. MIRA hugs YONA JOSEPH (still slightly disgruntled) Yona… it is good to see you. We should be on our way now. They all gather their packs and exit. END SCENE
*8* EXT. ALONG THE SIDE OF THE ROAD – “THE CHILDREN OF THE ROAD” The travelers have been walking for some time now and the CHILDREN are tired. MARY Joseph. Joseph. The children are tired. MIRA And Elisheba too. We could use a rest. JOSEPH (looks at the road ahead) All right. We can stop here for a while. Yon and I will go a bit further. There’s a well just there ahead. MARY Thank you, Joseph. ELISHEBA Yes, thank you, Joseph. You are a good man. JOSEPH (nods) Thank you. Come Yona. JOSPEH and YONA exit. MIRA and MARY help to make ELISHEBA comfortable. They spread a blanket for her and lower her gently to the ground. MIRA then helps the pregnant MARY to sit as well. The CHILDREN flop to the ground. CHILD 1 Are we there yet? CHILD 2 I’m tired. How much longer is it to Bethlehem? CHILD 1 I’m thirsty. CHILD 2 Joseph and Yona went on up to the well. They’ll bring back some water. RACHEL (softly at first) I waited patiently for the Lord…
MARY What’s that, Rachel? RACHEL (louder now) I waited patiently for the Lord… ELISHEBA and MIRA have heard her now. They turn to RACHEL. ELISHEBA I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. CHILDREN, MARY, ELISHEBA, and MIRA He lifted me up from the pit, up from the miry clay. He placed my feet upon the rock and made my footsteps firm. I will sing, sing a new song to the Lord. There is a pause as they consider the words they have just spoken. ELISHEBA Thank you, Rachel. JOSEPH and YONA enter. They are nervous and jumpy. JOSPEH Up. Everyone up. We’re going now. MARY What is it, Joseph? Joseph? (when he doesn’t respond) Yona? Tell me… YONA There are soldiers on the road. We should go now. It’s best that we don’t linger here. The band of travelers get up to their feet despite their aches and pains and thirst and continue their journey. They all exit. END SCENE
*9* EXT. NIGHT – “A NEW SON OF DAVID” The travelers have arrived finally. They are exhausted. They pause before entering the village. JOSEPH But you Bethlehem, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come the future ruler of Israel. MARY takes his arm. The CHILDREN gather close. ELISHEBA Sing to God and praise his name. Praise the one who rides upon the heavens. Cry his name into the wind. MIRA He cannot be caught. He cannot be fled. YONA All the clanking footgear, all the soldiers bloodied armor, will be burnt; food for the flames. He will extend his dominion in boundless peace, he will make it secure. MARY And this is the name he will be given: Wonder-Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace. Jesus. JOSEPH Emmanuel. There is a pause as they reflect on what is coming. MIRA (suddenly) Mary! You must be exhausted. And Elisheba! Joseph, where will we stay? JOSEPH There is a sort of common room. We’ll go there. They walk a little ways. CHILD 1 This is Bethlehem? JOSEPH This is Bethlehem. CHILD 1 I expected more.
JOSEPH (chuckles) Why’s that? CHILD 1 King David came from Bethlehem. But it doesn’t look like a king’s home. It looks like every other village we’ve passed through. YONA King David! Were he here, he’d do something about the Romans. MIRA (exasperated) Yona! Let it go. At least for a while. Please. YONA It’s just that we were strong under David, and under his son, Solomon… ELISHEBA (interrupting) No. Under Solomon, the people of Israel became weak. YONA That’s just not true. Solomon expanded the borders of Israel. He built up an army of chariots and horses, and he built fortresses. Israel was strong under King Solomon, stronger than we’ve been since. ELISHEBA (interrupting again) No, and no. How did King Solomon build those fortresses? YONA What? How did he build them? What are you talking about? ELISHEBA How did King Solomon build those fortresses? I’ll tell you. He built them with the sweat and blood and the tears and groans of slaves. YONA Elisheba… ELISHEBA And where did he get those chariots and horses? YONA Elisheba, you’re tired…
ELISHEBA Where did he get those chariots and horses? He got them from Egypt, the land of our slavery. ELISHEBA We were carried out of Egypt and made the people of God to be something different. And when we entered into the land promised to our forefathers we became the very things we left behind. ELISHEBA What we need is not a return to the riches and power of King Solomon. Those who trust in chariots and horses shall not stand; they will crumble and fall. No. What we need is not a return to that son of David, Solomon. JOSEHPH A new son of David. MARY A new son of David, the Son of the Most High, who will be given the throne of his ancestor David. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will have no end. CHILD 1 A new son of David from Bethlehem. JOSEPH Yes. Bethlehem. They all exit. END SCENE
*10* EXT. THE FIELDS SURROUNDING BETHLEHEM – “SHEPHERDS AND ANGELS” The SHEPHERDS are standing / sitting together. We hear the quiet noise of their sheep as they sleep through the night. SHEPHERD 1 is singing softly. SHEPHERD 2 What’s that you’re singing? SHEPHERD 1 Eh? SHEPHERD 2 What are you singing? SHEPHERD 1 It’s a song my grandfather taught me when I was young. They stare out into the night sky… SHEPHERD 1 I wish I’d paid more attention to my grandfather. I don’t remember all the words. It’s about an old blind shepherd who listens to his sheep, and listens to the wind on the hills, and listens for the voice that will call him home. SHEPHERD 1 Then to the hills I’ll lift my eyes / no matter though they’re blind and I will walk behind / till far up in the midnight sky the light of heaven I’ll find. SHEPHERD 1 And maybe when I am up the hill/ and stand above the steep I’ll turn around to look my fill/ on my old flock of sheep and I’ll leave them lying white and still / there on the quiet hills asleep. SHEPHERD 3 That’s nice. The music keeps the sheep quiet. They are silent, watching the sheep. Then suddenly there is a bright light and the sound of bird songs. The SHEPHERDS cower in fear. ANGEL (remains unseen) Do not be afraid. Do not fear. I bring to you a proclamation of good news of great joy; a joy to be shared by the whole people. SHEPHERD 2 (still terrified) What is this?
ANGEL (unseen) Today in the village of David, a savior has been born; the anticipated one has been born to you. He is the Christ. He is the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you yourselves will find him – the baby – wrapped in cloths and laid in a manger. The light swells in brightness, the bird song is louder. ANGEL (unseen) Glory to God in the highest heaven. Glory to God. And on earth, peace, for those he favors. The light fades, the bird song is gone. The SHEPHERDS come out of their cowering. SHEPHERD 3 Bethlehem? The Christ is in Bethlehem? SHEPHERD 2 We must go to him. If he’s come, we must go to him right away. SHEPHERD 3 Now. Let’s go now. SHEPHERD 1 We can’t go. We’re shepherds. SHEPHERD 2 Of course we can go. The sheep can mind themselves for a while. They won’t wander far. SHEPHERD 1 No. I mean, we’re shepherds: we’re unclean. Unwelcome. The family of God’s messiah will have nothing to do with us. We stink of the sheep we watch. SHEPHERD 3 But the messengers came to us. God sent them to us. Don’t you see? He has proclaimed the good news to us. His kingdom has come and his heralds have announced it to his people. We must go see this child. We must. SHEPHERD 2 Let’s go to Bethlehem to see the child, to see the one who brings the kingdom of God. SHEPHERD 1 But…
SHEPHERD 3 We will be welcomed there. We will be loved. Come. Let’s go. SHEPHERDS 2 and 3 stand to leave. SHEPHERD 1 hesitates, but then joins them. They all exit. END SCENE
*11* INT. A HOUSE IN BETHLEHEM-“JOSEPH IS WARNED IN A DREAM” MARY is asleep. JOSEPH paces while holding the infant, Jesus. JOSEPH prays for his son. JOSEPH He’s a shoot from the stock of Jesse, Lord; give him the spirit of wisdom and insight, Lord God. Give him the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. Let his inspiration lie in fearing you. Let him judge with integrity and give fair sentence for the weak and humble.| Let uprightness be the belt around his waist, and constancy to gird his hips. He places the child in the arms of MARY. Then he prepares himself for sleep. He lies down. Soon he is asleep as well. After a moment, a light appears and the sound of birds. ANGEL (unseen) Joseph. Joseph. Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt. Stay there until I tell you to return. Herod intends to search for the child, and will kill him. Get up. Escape into Egypt. I will call him out of Egypt when it is safe. The light fades, the bird songs fade. JOSEPH awakes. He sits up suddenly and then rises from the bed. JOSEPH Egypt. … Mary! Mary! Get up. We must go. MARY Joseph? What’s wrong? What are you saying? JOSEPH We must go. Tonight. To Egypt. King Herod is searching to kill the child. We must go. Gather up what we need. I will tell the others. JOSEPH exits. MARY gathers up their meager belongings. After a few moments JOSEPH returns followed by MIRA and YONA. YONA Joseph, stop! Tell us what’s going on. You’re leaving us in the middle of the night for Egypt? JOSEPH I was warned to flee… that Herod is going to kill the child if we stay. In Egypt we will be safe. MIRA Warned? Who warned you?
JOSEPH A messenger. We must go. Mary? Are we ready? MARY Yes, Joseph. Mira? Yona? Will you come with us? YONA I cannot. My place is here, in Israel. I must stay. MARY Mira? What of you and ELISHEBA? MIRA Elisheba is old. She is tired. The journey here, I think will be here last. I will stay with her. MARY Oh Mira… They embrace. MARY The children… Joseph, the children must come with us. JOSEPH Yes. The children will be safe with us in Egypt, but we must hurry. MIRA and MARY exit it wake and gather the children. YONA Joseph…I… JOSEPH Yona. We must go. We will be safe in Egypt. You must look after Mira and Elisheba. You must take care of them. (he pauses) For their sake, Yona, you must control your anger. If you provoke the Romans and you are killed, what good will you be to them, then? YONA Yes, Joseph. I understand. I will. MARY and MIRA and the CHILDREN return. They are ready to depart. JOSEPH It is time.
Everyone embraces before JOSEPH, MARY and the CHILDREN ext. END SCENE
*12* INT. A DARKENED HOUSE – “SOLDIERS, INFANTS AND ELISHEBA” ELISHEBA is huddled inside the house. She is ill. She hears the noise of the approaching soldiers: screams, shouts, stomping boots, etc… Suddenly the door bursts open. Two JEWISH SOLDIERS burst through accompanied by the ROMAN CENTURION. ELISHEBA What is the meaning of this? SOLDIER 1 We have orders from King Herod to search this village for recently born children. SOLDIER 2 Where are the children? ELISHEBA There are not children here. There is only me, an old woman. SOLDIER 1 We have been informed that a child was born here. Where is the child? ELISHEBA There are no children here. But if there were, what would you do? Kill them? Does Herod the Great order you to kill children, now? SOLDIER 2 We do as we’re told. ELISHEBA But you are one of us. You are killing you own brothers’ children. You know the law of God, what does it say: Thou shalt not kill.” No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. Do not do this. I beg you. In the name of God, I beg you. I order you in the name of God: Stop. DO not do this wicked thing. The 2 JEWISH SOLDIERS hesitate – almost persuaded by her plea. CENTURION Do not listen to her. ELISHEBA Does the Caser demand these deaths as well? Do these children threaten his seat in Rome?
CENTURION Rome has no stake in this, except to say that those who oppose the of power Rome and her governors will be cut down. I suggest that you tell us where the child who was born here is. ELISHEBA I will not. CENTURION Then you will die as well. (To the SOLDIERS) Kill her. They are reluctant to kill the old woman. ELISHEBA A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly; It is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more. CENTURION I said, kill her! Do it and let’s move on. They raise their swords. The lights go out. ELISHEBA screams in the darkness. END SCENE
*13* BETHLEHEM – “YONA AFTER THE SLAUGHTER” YONA has procured a sword. He is ranting. YONA See how the Lord lays the earth to waste, makes it a desert, buckles its surface, and scatters its inhabitants. Rise up! Rise up! I will strike down the enemies of Israel. MIRA enters. She sees the sword that YONA is wielding. MIRA What? Are you one of the “Dagger-men” now? A Zealot like the others? YONA does not respond MIRA Will you use that thing against the Romans? Will you use it against your fellow Israelites? The zealots kill anyone who stands in their way, Romans and Israelites alike. Will you join those murderers? YONA I can’t do nothing, anymore. The Romans have spoiled our land and killed our people for too long. And Herod – “Herod the Great” – he’s a murderer too. He killed all those children, Mira, and Elisheba! It’s time for us to fight, like the Maccabees who resisted the tyrannies of Antiochus Epiphanes. YONA I despise the Romans, Mira, and I’ll do whatever I can to rid our country of them, and of their puppets. MIRA All your life, Yona, you’ve waited for the coming of God’s anointed servant, the Messiah who is coming to bring the Kingdom of Heaven into the world. YONA And now is the time. The Messiah is coming and we must prepare for war… MIRA Yona, stop it. You know that when the Messiah has come he will judge the nations. And the people of his kingdom will hammer their swords into plows and their spears into pruning hooks. And never again will they prepare for war. She grabs him by his shoulders and looks into his eyes.
MIRA His kingdom won’t be like this. It won’t be a kingdom of violence. If evil always takes some form of violence, then more violence isn’t going to change anything. (pause) That sword has no place in his kingdom. YONA I know, but it’s so hard to wait. MIRA Then don’t just wait. Begin now – right now – by preparing a place for the kingdom of God within yourself. She releases him. MIRA Get rid of that thing, Yona. YONA Yes. He throws the sword aside. MIRA There is hope, Yona. There is always hope. YONA Hope. It’s so hard to see. MIRA Mary and Joseph are safe. And the child…. He is a light, a great light for this land of darkness. YONA Yes. A dawning light for this land, so long under the shadow of death. MIRA He will be our hope and our peace. They exit together. END SCENE
*14* EXT. ALONG THE ROADSIDE- “ON THE ROAD TO EGYPT” JOSEPH, MARY (who is carrying the infant) and the CHILDREN have been walking for hours, but they are still full of energy. JOSEPH Egypt. MARY What’s that? JOSEPH Egypt. We’re going to Egypt. MARY Yes, Joseph. You said the angel instructed you to take us to Egypt. JOSEPH It’s just that Egypt is the land of our slavery. CHILD 1 The place where we had to make bricks for Pharaoh’s monuments. JOSEPH Yes. Egypt has always been the enemy of Israel. Yet I know what the prophet has said about Egypt and Assyria too, that other enemy of Israel. “Blessed be my people, Egypt, Assyria, my creation, and Israel, my heritage.” I can’t help but to wonder if someday we’ll be blessing the Babylonians and the Greeks… Child 2 And the Romans! JOSEPH Yes, even blessing the Romans. MARY This child has been sent to us, Joseph. But he isn’t ours alone. He’s come to restore the people of Israel. But even more than that, he’s to be a light to the Gentiles, drawing them to the Lord God – making them beloved children. CHILD 2 I number Egypt and Babylon among those that acknowledge me, as well as Tyre, Philista, and Ethiopia. CHILD 3 But of Zion, it will be said, ‘Everyone was born there.’
CHILD 1 Everyone? Even Egypt? JOSEPH Yes. Even Egypt. They walk a little further. CHILD 1 How long will we have to stay in Egypt? JOSEPH The last time our people went down to Egypt, they ended up staying for over 400 years. CHILDREN 400 years? MARY Joseph! We won’t be in Egypt for 400 years. The Lord will call us when it’s safe; he will call his son out of Egypt. JOSEPH Then we will take little Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us, with us into Egypt, and there we will wait. RACHEL And those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They all exit. END SCENE.