Interactive, No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant

Note: The Minister or Director of Education narrates this pageant with help from two youth leaders and three “guest stars.” The entire congregation participates as prompted. Congregants remain in their seats but there are three opportunities for children to join the leaders on the chancel. No rehearsal is required, though pageant leaders may want to work through the script together to establish its upbeat, humorous tone. Christmas carols are sung after each scene, as announced by the narrator. The pageant begins after the singing of Hymn #253, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

SCENE ONE: “What's up with that?”

MINISTER/DRE: We begin our story in the little town of Bethlehem. And that means we’re going to need some villagers! And that means… YOU. Yep, the entire congregation is going to be the people of Bethlehem.

So every time you hear [Youth One] or [Youth Two] say the words: “It’s so bright!” You all say, “What’s up with that?!” Let’s try it. So they might say something like, “I’ve never seen a star like that. It’s so bright!” (All respond: “What’s up with that?”) Excellent!

So one evening in Bethlehem, two villagers were coming home from work. They were sore and tired from working in the fields all day but they stopped in the middle of the street and looked up at the sky.

YOUTH ONE: You know, I’m getting kind of annoyed with this whole star thing. I mean, where did it come from, anyway?

YOUTH TWO: I know what you mean. And I can’t get away from it. It keeps me awake at night because… It’s So Bright! (All respond: What’s up with that?)

YOUTH ONE: Good question! What IS up with that? What’s up with a star that just appears out of nowhere?

YOUTH TWO: Perhaps it’s a sign, an omen of some kind. Perhaps something very-very good or very-very bad is going to happen. Because, you know, It’s So Bright! (All respond: What’s up with that?)

YOUTH ONE: Yeah, I’m not really into the whole “omen” thing. I’m more, you know, science-based.

YOUTH TWO: Sure, but the evidence suggests that such a star is likely to bring many things to our little village. People will come here to gaze upon it, to learn about it. Because you can’t ignore the fact that… It’s So Bright! (All respond: What’s up with that?)

YOUTH ONE: Good question! I have a feeling we’ll find out. This is a story still unfolding!

MINISTER/DRE: Indeed it is. Good job, everybody. Please rise in body and/or in spirit to join in singing Hymn #246, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

SCENE TWO: “You try it!”

MINISTER/DRE: So while folks in Bethlehem were perusing the sky and wondering “What’s up with that?” there were two people who had just arrived in town: Joseph and Mary. They had to go to Bethlehem because of a nasty new tax law, even though Mary was very, very close to having her baby, and they had to travel almost a hundred miles – with the help of a friendly donkey.

But in Bethlehem they found that all the inns and hotels and AirBnBs were full – or cost too much. Finally one innkeeper told them they could stay in the stables with the animals. And in that stable there was a Cow, a Duck, and a Horse. Who wants to come up and be a Cow, a Duck, or a Horse?

(Children come up, as many as feel comfortable.) Okay what sound are the cows going to make? (Children moo.) What sound are the Ducks going to make? (Children quack.) What sound are the Horses going to make? (Children neigh.)

Excellent! So for this scene [Youth One] and [Youth Two] are going to be joined by special guest star [Congregant One]! Come on up! [Congregant One] will say all the words that the animals say to each other – but of course Mary and Joseph can’t understand them. So every time I say, “But all Mary and Joseph heard was…” You make your animal noise. Let’s practice. So I’ll say something like: “The animals just kept talking and talking to each other but all Mary and Joseph heard was…” (Children respond.) Great!

So a Cow, a Duck, and a Horse were hanging out in the stable late one night when all of a sudden the door opens and a man and a pregnant woman and their donkey come inside and start making themselves at home.

COW/YOUTH ONE: Moo! Who let them in here? They don’t belong in a stable.

DUCK/YOUTH TWO: Quack-quack. Yeah. They should be in the Inn with the other human types.

HORSE/CONGREGANT ONE: Neigh…! I mean, what were they thinking?

MINISTER/DRE: But all Mary and Joseph heard was: (Children respond)

COW/YOUTH ONE: You’d think they’d just stay home at a time like this.

DUCK/YOUTH TWO: Yeah, or plan ahead a little, so they had a place waiting for them.

HORSE/CONGREGANT ONE: And maybe saved up some money ahead of time too!

MINISTER/DRE: But all Mary and Joseph heard was: (Children respond)

COW/YOUTH ONE: It’s just bad planning on their part.

DUCK/YOUTH TWO: Yep, typical human-type mistake.

HORSE/CONGREGANT ONE: I wish they’d go back where they belong.

MINISTER/DRE: But all Mary and Joseph heard was: (Children respond)

MINISTER/DRE: Finally the tired old donkey lifted his head. He looked at the Cow, the Duck, and the Horse and he said, “Eee-Yah! Why don’t you try it? You try riding ninety miles on the back of an old swayback Donkey like me when you’re so pregnant you can’t even see your feet! You try being an expectant Dad worried about the woman you love and the child she carries! You try being ME, watching every step I take so I don’t jostle this woman who’s just trying to get here safely. You try it!” And the Cow, the Duck, and the Horse felt very-very bad. And they cried out: (Children respond)

COW/YOUTH ONE: I’m sorry! I’ll offer them some milk!

DUCK/YOUTH TWO: I'm sorry! I’ll lay them an egg!

HORSE/CONGREGANT ONE: I’m sorry! I’ll take them wherever they need to go!

MINISTER/DRE: But all Mary and Joseph heard was: (Children respond) Nice job everybody! You can all head back to your seats as we join in singing Hymn #237, "The First Nowell."

SCENE THREE: “What's that noise?”

MINISTER/DRE: For this next scene, we need folks to play a very important role. In fact, we need everyone – the whole congregation – to be the Baby Jesus. Now, the first sound most babies make is a really loud cry – but not this baby. Nope, this baby looks around and he sees his mom and dad for the first time! Then he looks over their heads and he sees a Cow with big brown eyes, and a Horse with a really long nose, and a Donkey with big tall ears, and sitting between the Donkey’s ears….is a Duck. So the first sound out of the baby Jesus isn’t a cry, it’s a big…laugh!

So every time you hear the innkeeper say “What was that noise?” you’re all going to laugh. Let’s practice. “Gee, I was just sleeping nice and quiet and suddenly I heard something. What was that noise?” (All laugh.) Excellent!

And to play the innkeeper we have special guest star [Congregant Two]! Come on up! So here’s what’s going on: The innkeeper who told Mary and Joseph that they’d have to sleep in the barn is tossing and turning in her bed.

INNKEEPER/CONGREGANT TWO: I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t sleep tonight! For one thing those animals are making a heck of a lot of noise. But just when I finally got to sleep, I thought I heard something. Now, what was that noise? (All laugh) There it is again!

MINISTER/DRE: So the innkeeper woke up her partner – who could sleep through just about anything – and asked:

INNKEEPER/CONGREGANT TWO: Did you hear something? I’m sure I heard something. What was that noise? (All laugh.)

MINISTER/DRE: But the innkeeper’s partner just rolled over and went back to sleep. So the innkeeper went outside to see what they could find, but the streets were empty – and silent. Still, she knew there was something out there – and they wondered aloud:

INNKEEPER/CONGREGANT TWO: What was that noise? (All laugh) There it is again! It sounds like it’s coming from the stables. I’ll go check it out.

MINISTER/DRE: So the innkeeper went across the courtyard and through the stable door and there were Mary and Joseph who had been kicked out of the inn that afternoon. And the innkeeper said to them:

INNKEEPER/CONGREGANT TWO: I’m sorry I made you sleep in the stable. And I’m sorry that I’m barging in on you like this. But I just have to know… What was that noise? (All laugh) Oh my gosh! It’s, it’s your baby?!

MINISTER/DRE: And the innkeeper realized that it was the newborn baby who had been laughing all along. And suddenly the innkeeper was full of love for this vulnerable little child – and full of hope too. And innkeeper said to Joseph and Mary:

INNKEEPER/CONGREGANT TWO: I’m going to go and tell everyone that you have the most wonderful baby with the most wonderful laugh there ever was.

MINISTER/DRE: And the innkeeper ran out onto the streets of Bethlehem to tell everyone the good news! Please join us in singing Hymn #239, “Go Tell It on the Mountain!”

SCENE FOUR: “Talking with angels"

MINISTER/DRE: So now we’re out in the fields with the shepherds and they’re in for a big surprise, because there is a whole host of angels heading their way. So we’re going to need a whole bunch of angelic children to come up here and play the angels! Who wants to come up and be an angel? Come on up! (Children come up and put on minimal angel costumes – halos, wings, etc.)

Now, sometimes angels talk to us and we don’t even know it. If we’re lucky, we might hear something like “Ahh!” (sings a “heavenly” musical note). So every time you hear me say, “Then the angels said…!” You’re all going to sing “Ahh” Let’s practice. I’ll say something like, “The shepherds didn’t know what to do so they said to the angels, ‘Hey, what should we do?’ And the angels said… (Children sing: Ahh!) Excellent!

And for this scene we have special guest star [Congregant Three]! Come on up! So here’s the deal. There are three shepherds out watching their sheep. Two of them are fast asleep but one is staring up at that bright star in the sky. Then the shepherd who’s awake starts to notice that there are some new stars shining alongside that bright star. Then there are lots of new stars. Then the stars start getting bigger and bigger and the shepherd realizes they aren’t stars at all but angels flying toward them, getting closer and closer. And the shepherd wakes up the two other shepherds and points up to the sky and all three of them fall to their knees as they looked up at a whole host of angels hovering in the air. And the angels said…. (Children respond: Ahh!)

SHEPHERD ONE/YOUTH ONE: What’d they say?

SHEPHERD TWO/YOUTH TWO: I don’t know. I couldn’t understand a word.

SHEPHERD THREE/CONGREGANT THREE: They said we have to go to Bethlehem.

SHEPHERD ONE/YOUTH ONE: Wait, you speak Angel?

SHEPHERD TWO/YOUTH TWO: Why didn’t you tell us?

SHEPHERD THREE/CONGREGANT THREE: (shrugging) It’s just something I picked up.

MINISTER/DRE: And the angels said… (Children respond: Ahh!)

SHEPHERD ONE/YOUTH ONE: What’d they say this time?

SHEPHERD TWO/YOUTH TWO: Yeah. Come on. What’s the deal?

SHEPHERD THREE/CONGREGANT THREE: Well, loosely translated, something like… “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

SHEPHERD ONE/YOUTH ONE: They said all that?

SHEPHERD TWO/YOUTH TWO: Very efficient language.


MINISTER/DRE: And the angels said: (Children respond: Ahh!)



SHEPHERD THREE/CONGREGANT THREE: They said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, goodwill among people.” Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem and see what it’s all about.

MINISTER/DRE: So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. And the angels smiled down upon them and said… (Children respond: Ahh!) Good job! Now, let’s joining in singing Hymn #231, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

SCENE FIVE: “Hearts full of love”

MINISTER/DRE: Let’s get all the children up here with us. All the angels and all the animals! Does everyone remember their cues? Because we’re all going to do all of them! The whole congregation. Ready? And so everyone came together on the streets of Bethlehem, gathering in a big crowd in front of the stable.

Some of the townspeople looked up at the star and said again, “It’s so bright!” (Everyone responds: What’s up with that?)

And the animals inside the stable were talking a mile-a-minute about the new baby and its beautiful laugh but all Mary and Joseph heard was… (Everyone responds with Animal Sounds).

And the shepherds were there too, with a host of angels hovering over them. And the angels said… (Everyone responds: Ahh!)

And the newborn babe looked up at the people and the animals and angels all gathered together on that cold night and he made a quiet little sound.

And the innkeeper leaned forward and – even though she knew the answer – she whispered with a heart full of love: “What was that noise?” (Everyone responds with Laughter.)

Amen! What a happy ending! Please rise as you are able to join in singing Hymn #245, "Joy to the World."

Small children, in costume, lean over a manger during a church Christmas pageant

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