by Deborah Dresser, the Episcopal Diocese of New York, for the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The American Friends support humanitarian aid in the region, particularly educational and medical services for children.
In this simple version of the full nativity pageant, St. Nicholas tells his own stories along with the Christmas story.
The pageant takes about 30 minutes depending on the amount of music used. St. Nicholas should be played by an energetic and loving person with an air of mystery. The script does not need to be memorized by the actor. A large decorated book to hold the script works well, however the actor still needs to be very familiar with the script. The long monologues are enhanced by mimes that enact the stories Nicholas tells. There's lots of room for creativity, so have fun.
Grace Episcopal Church
Traverse City, Michigan
St. Nicholas of Myra
Childrenwho will take up the offering
Players for pantomine (mimes), optional
Three large gold bags for the offering
Welcome: The Pageant Host welcomes the people. The Host might be the Rector of the parish or some other person in leadership.
Welcome to our St. Nicholas pageant on this special day, December 6th, the feast day of this great saint. Before we begin I would like to thank ___________ and to invite everyone to a Nicholas feast following our pageant (tell them where).
December 6th is also the Sunday we highlight the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The American Friends for over twenty years has supported this Episcopal Diocese whose presence is in Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The diocese supports 27 parishes and 37 educational and medical institutions that minister to Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike. The offering that will be taken for the children of the Holy Land will be given in the generous spirit of St. Nicholas and sent directly to the Diocese of Jerusalem.
And now let the festivities begin.
There is a loud knock on the front door of the church and the Host invites St. Nicholas to enter.
Welcome, Nicholas of Myra, welcome on your festival day.
Instrumental or vocal piece by an ensemble. If a hymn is chosen for the processional it is preferable that the actual singing happen after St. Nicholas has made his entrance.
Nicholas enters with great flourish. He bows to the audience as he makes his way forward to his place of storytelling. This should be a grand chair such as a bishop uses.
The Nicholas story may be presented as a dramatic reading or memorized. Either way it is to be presented with flourish.
Greetings one and all! Well, well, I have traveled a long distance to be with you, and at last I may sit down and rest my weary feet. I am about 1609 years old, you know.
You might ask: where have you come from? I come from whereever children live, little children and bigger children, and even those who are along in years but carry the spirit of childhood in their hearts. From every corner of the world I have come and today I have come to share my gifts with you.
My name is Nicholas. Some call me Kris Kringle, some call me Santa Claus, but my true name is Nicholas. I was born in a small village called Patara in an area you might know as Turkey. I was born before the year of our Lord 300. My parents were very devout Christians and as all good Christian parents they told me the great stories of our Lord and taught me to follow in his footsteps. They died when I was very young (it was very sad) and left me a great deal of money. But I remembered the words of Jesus that they taught me, "Sell what you own and give the money to the poor." So, I did just that: helping the sick and suffering with my wealth. I dedicated my life to the mother Church and in time the Church made me a Bishop, the Bishop of Myra.
The stories that follow might be pantomimed off to one side.
There are many stories that are told about me and the way in which God worked wonders and miracles through my prayers and my hands. Once I was traveling and in a dream I saw three young students who had been murdered and stuffed into a pickling barrel. When I got up from my sleep I called the innkeeper and together we prayed to God and, lo and behold, the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. For this the Church, that holy and sacred mystery, made me the protector of students and all children.
Another time I was traveling to the Holy Land, that glorious place where our Lord Jesus was born and did so many miracles, praise be to God (Nicholas looks a bit dreamy). . . as I was saying . . . we were crossing the Mediterranean Sea and a great wind came upon us and we all thought we were going to drown in that great and terrible water. But the words came to my lips and I prayed to our lord Jesus, "Just as the waters of the Galilee were calmed by your words, command these waters to be still and know the wonder of God." And the waters fell silent, praise be to God. And, for this the Church, that holy and sacred mystery, made me the protector of sailors and all people who travel on seas.
My favorite memory is of the young girls who lived in such terrible poverty that their father was unable to support them. When it was time for them to be married, the poor father did not have dowries to give to prospective husbands and, so, as was the custom of that time and place, the father prepared to sell his daughters into slavery. Ah, it placed a burden on my heart and then a thought stirred in my mind.
One night, when the moon was full, I approached the house of the three daughters. In my hands I held three bags filled with gold. Not hearing a sound, for I presumed that they were sleeping, I carefully threw the first, then the second and then the third bag of gold up and through the window of the sleeping sisters. And, then I slipped away. The next morning the father, such a God-fearing man, was heard out in the streets of Myra, "A miracle! It's a miracle!" he shouted, "There was nothing and now this morning there is abundance and happiness in my house. Praise be to God." Truth be told, it warmed my heart to share my gift of gold with these children. And for this the Church, that holy and sacred mystery, made me the protector of all young girls and of young brides.
But enough with the stories of Nicholas! For there would be no stories about me had it not been for the greatest story ever to be told. There is no St. Nicholas without our Lord Jesus; there are no gifts of the heart without the greatest gift that God has given to the world, himself. So, our storytelling brings us to Bethlehem, to the birth of a child, to a humble cave where heaven reaches down and kisses the earth. It is the story of the gift of Christmas.
So, let us stand and give voice to the wonder of this holy story.
Carol Prepare the way, O Zion
The carol suggested is an advent carol. Should another be chosen it is important that it be a rousing tune with a text that anticipates the Christmas story. The hymn should cover the moving of furniture and the placing of scenery.
The nativity scene may be mimed as St. Nicholas tells the story.
The story of the first Christmas takes place when the world was filled with darkness. There was violence in the streets and hunger in the bellies of the children. Throughout the land people cried, "Where is God?" The people were looking for a sign from God that He would always be there to look after them.
God did not forget his Covenant with the people for in the fullness of time God spoke to a young woman named Mary and told her that she would bear a son and that his name would be Jesus and that he would be the Son of God and his Kingdom would have no end.
The child was born in Bethlehem, in a humble stable among the animals. Such a birth might have gone unnoticed but God could not keep this birth a secret so he sent angels through the nighttime sky to sing out: Gloria, Gloria, in Excelsis Deo. Now, there were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their sheep and they saw the wonder in the sky and heard the angels who pointed the way for them to go and find the child.
There were others who saw the glory in the heavens, wise men from the Far East who had been looking for a sign. They saw the brilliance in the skies, left their homes and travelled to find the new born King. And, when they did, they offered precious gifts in his honor. But really, the greatest gift that night was given by God.
This story is just the beginning, the beginning of giving. God begins by giving himself to the world in the person of Jesus. Mary gives her willingness to be the mother of Jesus. Joseph gives his gift of care-taking this family. The animals give their warmth on a cold night. The angels give their light and their song of praise. The shepherds give their adoration and the wise men their gifts of gold, frankincense and rich perfume.
Jesus is, of course, God's gift for the world. All during his life he showered everyone with God's love; ah, just to have been in his presence. And you know what? He loved the children best of all; so many children he gathered around him; blessing the children.
Carol O come little children
Sung by St. Nicholas if possible, or a choir ensemble.
Today, Jesus continues to bless God's children all over the world and especially the children of the Holy Land. He is present with every child in their joys and in their nightmares; in their hunger and their hurts; in their loneliness and the soothing of tears. Jesus is Emmanuel, which means God with us.
And Jesus' greatest gift is that is that we are gift bearers in his name. Like Jesus we reach out to bless the children in our homes and in far away places and especially tonight (today) in the Holy Land.
In my lifetime, my three bags of gold brought freedom and happiness to the three young girls in Myra. Tonight (today) your bags of gold will help an infant in Jerusalem who was born deaf receive medical treatment so that she can hear. Your bag of gold will allow a seven-year-old boy in Bethlehem to buy shoes so he can walk to school. Your bag of gold will provide a scholarship fora ten-year-old girl in Ramallah so that she will have a future.
You and my good helpers of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem are going to see the gift of Jesus come alive tonight (today). So let us with great cheer fill our gold bags with treasures for the children of the Holy Land.
Music Christmas Carol
St. Nicholas gives children three large gold bags which are used for the offering. The offering is brought forward and placed on the altar.
The Doxology is sung
God bless you and Merry Christmas to you all.
Carol Hark, the herald angels sing
By Deborah Dresser, the Episcopal Diocese of New York, for the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ), a non-profit, non-political partnership with the Church in the Holy Land. AFEDJ support the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in two major hospitals, several schools, 29 parishes and 35 service organizations in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Click for more information. Used by permission.