The First Christmas

The Magi
Mysterious Visitors from the East

(Illustration - three kids singing)

A One Person Play by Paul Dallgas-Frey

The Setting

It is 2,000 years ago in the little dusty town of Bethlehem. We see a blind beggar, sitting cross-legged, as if by a roadside. He has a cloth wrapped around his head, covering his eyes. Next to him is a twisted wooden cane, and he is holding out a beat-up tin cup. He is a very animated character, who really likes to take on the roles of the people he describes! Have fun with it!



The Play Begins


[The beggar speaks throughout.]



[the beggar holds up his tin cup, moving it from side to side, as if not knowing if anyone is there]


Alms! Alms for the poor!


Alms for a poor blind beggar!!!


Alms! Alms for the poor!


[he lifts one side of the cloth, uncovering one eye, looks around furtively]


Oh... it's you!


[removes the cloth from his head and looks at himself]


Would you look at this mess! Look at me! Covered in dust!!!


You know... one time this little boy comes up to me and he says, [acts like a wiseacre little kid] "You know, that could be the same dust that was walked on by King Nebuchadnezzar!"


Ha! Funny, kid!


But I will tell you this... this is no ordinary dust! It comes from some far away place. That I know!


Do you want to know how I know?


I will tell you how I know!


This dust is from the caravan that passed this way a few days ago – okay, it has been a long time since I have had a bath... let's see... what year is it???? Anyway!


I was sitting here in my usual place along the main road – and I smelled them coming!


No, really!


When you sit by the side of the road with your eyes covered, pretending you are blind (shhhhhh! Don't tell anyone!), you learn to notice things! Like... smells!


Mostly it's just smelly camels... but this was different. It was a sweet smell, a strange, wonderful smell... spices! Wonderful spices!


And then I heard the sound of gold! Believe me, I know the sound of gold! Gold jewels and chains and buckles jingling and jangling as the camels walked along.


This was no ordinary caravan coming. It had to have been a caravan of kings! A large caravan too, coming into our little town along the eastern road.


Oh, these were strange visitors coming into our little town of Bethlehem!


And then I heard this voice from way up high [he jumps to his feet and takes on the role of one of the Magi, acting all kingly.... Whatever that is! ...looking down as if sitting perched on a camel]


"You there, blind beggar!" one of them says to me from way on top of his camel, "We seek the child who was born, the King of the Jews! We have seen his star rising in the east, and we have come to worship him!"


And I will tell you what I told them!


When you are a beggar, you hear things! You sit in the same spot day after day, and after a while people don't even see you. They talk like you aren't even there. And so as I have been sitting in my usual spot in the market place I have heard some stories – some wild, crazy, wonderful stories.


Stories about angels and shepherds and a baby born to be king!


[he re-enacts the scene, as if blindly looking up to the Magi on his camel] "You will find the baby in the house of David," I told them, "the son of Mary, the son of Joseph - you will find him there, in the house of his relative."


These mysterious visitors from the east thanked me and dropped a gold coin in my cup.... Clang! [imitates the sound of a gold coin rattling in his cup]. That's enough for me to live on for the rest of the year!


Oy! If the people in the marketplace were half as generous!


Well, once they were a safe distance off I followed them... very sneaky-like of course [acts out sneaking along, walking in place]. I had to see this thing they were seeking for myself!


So I followed them until they came to the house where Mary and Joseph were staying, the house of Joseph's cousin.


What a sight! These strange travelers, and their servants and their camels, all gathered outside that small house!


They came to the door and I heard them say, [acting all mysterious and kingly] "We seek the new born king! The king of the Jews! We have seen his star rising in the east, and we have followed it here!"


The man at the door bowed very low and let them in.


Of course, I had to see what was going on! So I sneaked around to a window on the side of the house. Nice there was a tree there to keep me out of sight!


The mysterious travelers entered the small room where a small baby boy was playing with a toy hammer on the floor.


As soon as they saw the baby they fell to their knees, their faces all the way to the floor!


What a strange sight!


These travelers, in all their gold and rich, flowing robes, bowing to worship a little baby!


It seemed like forever! The only sound was the giggle of a little baby boy!


It was as if everyone else in that crowded room was struck silent in awe and wonder.


And then without saying a word, they stood up and brought out from their robes gifts...


Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


Gold, frankincense, and myrrh?!!!


What kind of presents are those to give to a baby! Wouldn't a rattle or a wooden toy be way better?!!!


But then the other day I heard a wise old man in the marketplace talking a friend, [acting like a wise old man] "Ahhh... those strange gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus? I will tell you what they mean! It is all very clear. Gold, a gift for a king - the King of Kings. Frankincense, a gift for a priest, for the one who will speak to God for his people. And myrrh, a burial spice - the prophets have foretold he will sacrifice his life to save us all!"


What sort of baby is this?!!


So... as mysteriously as these visitors had come, they left. The strange smell of spices still in the air as their caravan disappeared over the hills.



But who were these travelers, these mysterious visitors from the east?!



I will tell you all that I have heard since.



Some say they were Magi, priests from the land where our ancestors were once carried off to and held as slaves a long, long time ago. They say that the prophet Daniel may even have been one of them, a long, long time ago.


Some say they were kings. They certainly seemed rich enough to be kings!


Some say they were astrologers, those who study the stars looking for signs. That could be too. They said they saw a star rising in the east and they followed it!


Some have called them wise men, and they were wise, because they knew the meaning of the star in the sky.


But I will tell you one thing for sure – they were seekers. They were looking for something! They were looking for the coming of a great king. And God gave them a sign. God gave them the star in the east as a sign that their king was coming!


And that star brought them to my little town of Bethlehem!


No! Wait! I forgot to tell you a big part of the story!


Silly me! [slaps himself in the head!]


They didn't come straight to Bethlehem. No! They went to Jerusalem first! They went to King Herod and asked him where the King of the Jews had been born.


Big mistake!!!


Herod went through the roof!


[acting as a very angry King Herod] "What!!! A new king?!!! I am the only king around here! And I am going to make sure it stays that way!"


That's the way I heard it anyway!


So Herod called in the teachers of the Jews and asked them what they knew about the coming of a king. They told him what the prophets had written. [as one of the teachers of the Jews, all old and learned-like!] "In Bethlehem, in the land of Judaea, shall come a ruler, and he shall be a shepherd to my people Israel."


So Herod called in the Magi and said [acting all fake nicey nice, smarmy] "Go to Bethlehem and find this baby king! Bring him back here so I may worship him too!"


Ha! I don't think that is what Herod planned to do at all! He didn't want to worship Jesus – he wanted to make sure he didn't become king!


When the Magi left Jerusalem they saw the same bright star again, shining in the night sky, and it led them here.


THAT'S how they got to Bethlehem!


And then I heard they were warned in a dream not to go back to Jerusalem.


That's why I saw them leave by a different road!



Now, some say there were just three of them. [as a know-it-all, posing with three fingers in the air] "I saw three kings!" I heard one merchant say, "And I can tell you their names too! Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar!"


[acting as another in total disagreement!] "What? Did they give you their business card?! There were twelve of them! And they weren't no kings neither! They were wise men!"


[as the first speaker] "You're wrong! Three gifts, three kings! That settles it!"


[as the second, fixing for a fight!] "Why, I'll settle it for ya!"




I told you they were mysterious! No one really knows for sure who they were or where they came from! Or even how many there really were!


But I will tell you one thing for sure – only God can put a star in the sky! And God gave them a sign that a king was born. And that star brought them to this little town of Bethlehem.


They found Jesus, and they fell down and worshipped him!



[he sits back down again, time to back to 'work'!]



Well, some strange things have been going on here in this little town of Bethlehem, that is for sure! Shepherds and angels and mysterious visitors from the east!


All because a baby was born!


A baby.


I have heard some people say that Jesus will be our Messiah, the King of the Jews, I have heard... but these visitors from the east called him their king too! Maybe that's why God gave them the star!


Maybe this little baby has been born to be king for all people!!!


Can it be? This little baby???!!! The Messiah? King of Kings and Lord of Lords?!!


There is one thing that keeps sticking in my head – the thing that the prophet Isaiah wrote, hundreds of years ago, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given! And the government will rest on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!"




Can it really be that that child has come now???!!! The prophecy is being fulfilled as I am sitting here talking to you??



I wonder!!!!



[he puts cloth back over his eyes]



Alms! Alms for the poor!




The End

2012 Paul Dallgas-Frey