When Joseph Doubted
First Sunday before Christmas
(Adapted from the drama, WHEN JOSEPH DOUBTED, by Gurden Henley. It is from THREE WORSHIP DRAMAS FOR CHRISTMAS by Baker and is available from CSS Publishing of Lima, Ohio. Contact Deedee Norton at CSS by telephoning 1-800-537-1030 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. The publishing rights are inexpensive.)
SETTING: A stable with straw and at least one manger. (If possible, consider using a live donkey or sheep or two.)
(Laying baby on manger) He's asleep, Joseph! Baby Jesus is asleep, just like any normal
baby.... and he has five toes on each little foot, and five fingers on each hand, and little
finger nails, and.... well, he seems to be a normal child in every way. I had so wondered
how the Son of God would look. (Notices that Joseph is preoccupied) Joseph, you aren't
Oh ... yes, yes I am.
You've been quiet all evening. Aren't you excited?
(Not convincingly) Oh yes, yes, of course.
You certainly could have fooled me! Joseph, it is not like you to be so.... so moody. What's
(Trying to change the subject) Now that the baby is asleep, don't you think we should
try to get a little sleep too? It has been an awfully rough day... and night. Aren't you extremely
Joseph, you're trying to change the subject. (Tenderly) What's the matter sweetheart? And,
don't tell me everything's all right, for I know better. You act as though you are
disappointed that the awaited child is here.
No, that's not it at all.
Then tell me.... what is bothering you?
Well, to be honest.... I am disappointed!
Disappointed? But he is a perfect child!
Not disappointed with the baby! I am disappointed with God.
Really Joseph, you can't be serious!
Mary, you're the one who wanted to talk about it. You insisted. (He turns away from her
and pauses) Yes, I am disappointed with God.
How can you say that after what has happened here this evening?
It's because of what happened here, this evening. Why would the God of the Universe, with
all of his wealth, might, power, and riches, allow his Son to be born in a smelly, stinky place
like this? (Questioningly) If it is God's Son!
(In great astonishment. Mary stands. Hands on hips.) Joseph! How can you say such a
You deserve better than this, Mary! (Pointing to child) He deserves better than swaddling
clothes... these old rages. Even if he isn't the Son of God!
(In greater astonishment) Joseph!
(Continues, without even pausing) I tried to do better for you! At least to get a room in the
inn. (A bit angry) No decent father would allow this to happen. This certainly is not the
kind of place I would pick for the birth of my son. ... (pause) Mary, really, can you still
believe that this child is the Son of God?
Joseph -- you can't know what you are saying! If this is not the Son of God, then you are
saying that I am immoral.... that I had a lover!
(Hesitatingly) I don't know.... but how can I know for sure who the father is?
(Interrupting him) Joseph, how can you doubt? Have you forgotten that an angel came to
you, not just to me, but to you, and told you to marry me... told you that the baby is the Son
of God? The angel? Remember? (Looks away from him to baby)...
(Organist begins, "Angels We Have Heard on High" right after the word, "remember," using
bells and chimes and the refrain again. Light, airy, heavenly. Organist plays the refrainz
("Gloria"), one stanza and the refrain again. Meanwhile, the dancing angel begins on the
first note and dances during the music. She dances around the manger and Mary and
Joseph. Mary and Joseph freeze, looking intently at the baby, never moving a muscle while
the angel dances. The angel exits as the music concludes. When the organ stops, Mary
moves her body, so does Joseph (breaking the freeze) and Mary says her line.)
I believed the angel. I have never doubted. I haven't understood everything but I haven't
doubted. I have kept all of these things in my heart, and pondered them. My faith grew
with every movement of the child within me.
(Pleading) Joseph, I am not an immoral woman! Joseph!! this child is the Son of God!
Mary, I too once believed that with all my heart. But now ... I am not sure if it was an angel,
a dream, my imagination, if I read too much into it. ... I was so confused ... because of
your situation, with you being pregnant and all... because I loved you so much... because I
didn't want to hurt you. ... Mary, I wanted to believe you, but I have so many doubts now.
I feel that God has failed me... has failed us.
How can you say that Joseph? How can you feel that way?
For seven months, silence from God. The entire time we were bearing with the ridicule of
our friends. Even our families were suspicious, and not a word from God.
It wasn't right for you to have to make this trip to Bethlehem, when you were so pregnant. I
was positive God would prevent your having to come, but not a word. Nothing.
Joseph!!!! I traveled fine.
Why, God could have miraculously provided us with two white camels, saddled with velvet.
But nothing. God did nothing special for us... even after the angel told us that we were
highly favored people. ( A bit sarcastic) Highly favored people, all right!
Joseph, you, too, are tired. It is easy for doubts to rise when the body is exhausted. You
will feel better in the morning.
For days I have believed in - and prayed for - some miracle to give me assurance. I really
wanted to believe my experience, Mary. All I needed was a sign from God. Even a small
sign would have been sufficient.
God doesn't always give signs, Joseph, ... exactly where or when we want them.
I was convinced that God was going to perform a miracle, and give us one of the better
rooms for his Son to be born in. (Sarcastic) Would that have been too hard for the
Almighty to give us a good room for birth? but I had to bring you here to this stinking
stable, and still no word. ... If this is the greatest event to ever happen, why is God still
silent. ... I'm disappointed. I have so many questions, Mary.
I have questions too, Joseph. Why you? Why me? Why Bethlehem? It is not a sin to have
questions. Maybe our answer is in the Scriptures. Remember all the other Bible passages
that came to life for us during these past nine months? Remember all the other prophecies
that have been fulfilled?
Well, I don't know.
Joseph, you are a good, honest, and devout man. God has chosen you to act as the father to
God's child. God will not disappoint you. But he'll give you the sign you so desperately
need. So, hold fast to your faith, Joseph, hold fast to your faith.
(Interrupting) Is everything all right out here? (Looks around) Seems to be okay. Sorry to
bother you, but I saw a strange glow coming into my bedroom window from this direction....
thought the hay was on fire again. Must have been a glow from that star, and not the hay,
Just last year we had a terrible fire here, when some drunken caravaners carelessly caught
the hay on fire. It was a disastrous....
(Interrupting him) A star, you say?
Oh yes, a mysterious star, there in the sky. There's also a strange glow over the shepherds'
fields. Just some freaky light up there. Well.... sorry to bother you. Good night. Oh, by the
way, come on over to the inn in the morning. I've got some folks checking out, and I may
be able to get you a room. Good night, now.
(To innkeeper) Good night... see you in the morning. (To Mary, excitedly) A mysterious
star? Mary, did you hear what he said? Could it be?... a sign from God?
Excuse us, but we are looking for a baby. Do you know if there is one here?
Yes. He was born just a few hours ago. Jesus is his name. But how did you know?
Is he wrapped in old swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger?
Yes. We didn't have anything better to wrap him in, and no other place to lay him.
Then this is it! This is the place! It's true. That's what the angel told us! ...
... Angel, you say?
... said this would be a sign... we would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
(with wonder).... An Angel...!
(Choir starts to sing, very softly "Gloria in Excelsis) Oh, no, not just one, but two,
three, seven, ten, all the heavens were filled with them. They were singing, "Glory
to God in the highest, and on earth, peace.... for born this day in the City of David, is a
Savior, Who is Christ the Lord." (Joseph is ecstatic) Listen.... you can still hear them
singing in the distance (They listen) (Choir softly sings, then gets louder)
(Three angels may enter from different places, all dancing "the Gloria." Joseph and Mary
don't see them; they are looking up, into the distant sky. The angels do not dance between
Mary and Joseph and the congregation, but to the side or behind.)
(Choir still singing Gloria) Those are angels, Mary! Listen! The angels are singing! It is a
sign from God. THIS IS THE SON OF GOD! (With tears) Mary, the angels are heralding
his birth! JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD!
(Go right into the hymn, "Angels We Have Heard on High" for congregation to sing. Then, as the congregation sings the three stanzas "Angels We Have Heard On High," the dancers may then dance, electrically and beautifully, front and center. Joseph and Mary look down at the baby, oblivious to the physical presence of the angels. The angels exit up the three aisles, so they are out of the sanctuary when the hymn is over.)
(When the hymn is over, the lights go down and Mary and Joseph leave the stage.)
Mary Heidi Kramer
Joseph Chris Kramer
Innkeeper Lloyd Meyer
Shepherd Buck Kittelson
Angel Kristen Smith
Dancers Reidun Zimmerman, Kathryn Passic
Organist Bob Hoem
Singers Dorothy Smith, Claudia Apker, Janna Robbins
Directors Ed Markquart, Darlene Malmo