Open Hearts in Bethlehem: A Christmas Drama
Kenneth Bailey is a scholar of the New Testament’s Middle Eastern cultural background; he has authored books including Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes. In this four-scene play, he dramatizes Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, correcting some popular misconceptions along the way. For example, this Christmas play does not include an innkeeper; Bailey believes that the word in Luke 2:7 traditionally translated “inn” is more properly rendered “guest room” (as it is in Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11). Also, animals at that time were often kept in a corner of the family room at night, so a manger was available within the house. Rather than being exiled to a stable, then, in this play Mary gives birth to Jesus in the family room of the place where she and Joseph had been staying with relatives.
Open Hearts in Bethlehem features five original songs, which are written by David M. Bailey and available in a separate musical score and CD. The play can be performed in 45–50 minutes with music, or 25–30 minutes without. It is intended to be performed in a church hall or sanctuary, and it requires 12 actors: 10 adults and two children. It would be well-suited for churches that are open to a different, yet culturally informed take on the traditional Christmas story.