An Epiphany Gift: Two Wise Guys and a Gal

This is a script for a chancel comedy/drama first performed a number of years ago at Christ the King Lutheran Church in West Chester, Ohio.  At that time, it was written for THREE wise guys.  This is a complete rewrite of that script, this time written for TWO wise guys and ONE Wise Gal!   You are free to use it for performance purposes in a worship setting only, and   if you will kindly credit me for it and let me know that you have/are planning to use it.    Everyone else–I hope you enjoy it, I hope that it moves you to more than laughter.  Merry Christmas.  Er.  Epiphany.

Love,

Betsyhs-2013-43-a-large_web

 Two Wise Guys and a Gal

CHARACTERS

FRED A techno, hip dude wise in matters of technology, an Age of Aquarius kind of guy.

MELCHOIR  A dignified sage of scientific truths.

BABBETTE  Melchoir’s youngish wife, wise in practical matters..  The only person who gets away with calling Melchoir “Mike.”

NARRATOR  BEcause we need one.

SETTING

Persia, 4 A.D.

TIME

Middle of the night

ACT I

Scene 1   Melchoir and Babbett’s bedroom.

Scene 2   Somewhere between Persia and Jerusalem.

Scene 3   Bethlehem, outside a house.

Act II

Epilogue:  In a marketplace somewhere in Persia, thirty-ish years later.

ACT [I]

SCENE [1]

(Melchoir and Babette,sleepily pop up from behind altar   “their bedroom” with Fred hurrying in excitedly pointing at star on the screen to his left)

FRED

Mr. Melchoir!  Mr. Melchoir!  You’ve got to see this!  Ive never seen anything like this before!   Are you still awake!  Look!

(  Melchoir and Babette stand up from behind altar sleepily)

BABBETT

Fred, can’t this wait until tomorrow?  You’re going to wake the baby.

MELCHOIR

No dear, he can’t wait until tomorrow.  He’s Fred.

FRED

Please Mrs. Melchoir, I’m sorry.   We’re astronomers.  We can’t work in broad daylight.  Here, try these.

(hands melchoir the binoculars)

Do you see it?

MELCHOIR

Hmmm.   When did you first see this?

FRED

This evening, just after sunset.  It’s growing in intensity.

MELCHOIR

Seems to be a red dwarf, 35 degrees south at the 42nd parallel, let’s see…..

FRED

Here, you can get your bearings with this.  It’s a global positioning device.  Very cool.

(Irritated, Melchoir waves it away)

MELCHOIR

What am I supposed to do with this…this…thing?

FRED

You can use it to find out where you are anywhere in the world.

BABBETT

I can see Fred’s at it again.

MELCHOIR

Fred, my boy, its not figuring out where we are that is the problem.  I know where I am.  It’s called here.  Right here.  But figuring out our place in the universe, our place in the will and purpose of the gods.  Do you have any gizmo that will tell me that?

FRED

Now come on.  Look at this thing in the sky.  Just look babbett.

(hands the binoculars to babs)

BABBETT

It’s a beauty, you’re right about that.  What do you think it means Mike?

MELCHOIR

I’ve heard reports that the gods send signs in the heavens to mark the rise of a new king–but not any new king, a king who will change the course of time, history, the destiny of the human race.

FRED

A phenomenon!  Maybe they will name it after me at the next meeting of the Astronomers’ Academy.  The Fred Phenomenon.

BABBETT

You are a phenomenon Fred, just not the kind you think you are.  Mike–is that what you think this is, something that will change, well, EVERYTHING?

MELCHOIR

(taking binoculars from bab’s hands)

Let’s just put these back.  I didn’t see a thing.  We never saw a thing–got it?

FRED

Don’t you get it Mike?

(melchoir glowers at fred, offended to be called “mike”)

Mr. Mike?

(Melchoir continues to glare)

Okay, okay.  Mr. Melchoir, we could be witnessing the beginning of world peace, sympathy and understanding, the end of hunger, death and taxes.

MELCHOIR

Let’s not get carried away Fred.

BABBETT

The gods don’t change the course of the stars and heavens for just anyone, Mike.  When someone–or some thing this powerful comes along, I want to be found on its good side.

FRED

I think we should follow it!   Road Trip!!

BABBETT

Now wait just a minute!  We can’t just jump out of bed and follow this thing.  We need a plan.  We need financing.  We need reservations.  We need a map. we need a babysitter!

FRED

Ta da!  Look!  Global Positioning Device.  Didn’t I tell you this is useful?

MELCHOIR

I’m not worried about losing our place.  I’m worried about losing IT

(points to star)

The star.  The vision.  We won’t lose our way if we don’t lose it.

BABBETT

Okay okay.  Go get your camels boys.  I’ll pack what I can.  Maybe your mother will take the baby Mike.  And gifts.  We’re going to need some gifts.

MELCHOIR

I wish there were just a more spiritual way to get there.  Riding camels at my age.  Ugh.   I hate camels. I hate the desert.

BABBETT

You hate the desert?  You haven’t tried nursing a baby on the back of a camel yet, or changing a diaper in the sand.  Let’s hope your mother will babysit.

FRED

Okay, okay–back in an hour, got it?

camel

SCENE [2

ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM IN A CAMEL CARAVAN.  CHARACTERS SIT SIDEWAYS TO CONGREGATION, TOWARD PROJECTION OF A STAR

(everyone quite tired by now)

MELCHOIR

Every part of me hurts. My tired aching bones. I can’t believe we let you talk us into this Fred. I’m not cut out for these expeditionary forces anymore.

BABBETT

Melchoir,o wise one, if the gods can re-arrange the course of the heavens to lead us this far, why is it that couldn’t just as easily made this king happen where we live?   And what are we going to say when we get there?  Hi, my name is Babbett, and I’ve just crossed two deserts and traveled five hundred miles on a camel WITH A NURSING BABY to get here?

MELCHOIR

I’m sorry, truly I am.  I knew asking my mother was a long shot, truly ah, aah, shot in the dark. She is nearly 100 years old now.

BABBETT

She would have shot me in the dark, thank you, except gunpowder hasn’t been invented in Persia yet!

FRED

(looking at his gps)

Hey–stop bickering and look over there!  According to this, Jerusalem is coming up right over those hills.  That’s the capital city.  Someone there should know something!

MELCHOIR

Sometimes you just have to leave home to find real wisdom.  Look at all the misery in the world we have seen on our journey.  We know this isn’t the way things are meant to be, but we don’t know how to change it.  Ok Fred, let’s take a look at that device of yours.  Jerusalem–good place to start looking for a king.

NARRATOR

In the time of king Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, astrologers from the east came to Jerusalem asking, “where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?   For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage”

FRED

Nice building projects you have going on here Mister Herod.  King.  Sir.

MELCHOIR

According to my calculations, the buildings we have seen so far cost more than this kingdom is worth.  Do you think the median income here can support this much taxation, Fred?

FRED

Who is this king trying to impress–his people or Rome?

 

BABBETT

Aren’t we supposed to be looking for a baby?  I’m not seeing any “It’s a Boy!” balloons around here?

NARRATOR

When King Herod heard this, he was frightened and all Jerusalem with him.  And calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.

FRED

Now that was scary!  Did you see the looks on their faces when we asked to see the new king?  I mean, what does a guy like that have to be afraid of?

MELCHOIR

This just doesn’t add up.  Fred you’re right this time.  All the people around him looked afraid.

BABBETT

Isn’t a king supposed to be GLAD to have an heir to the throne?

FRED

I heard that he murdered two of his own sons, and his mother-in-law, because he was so afraid they would murder him first.

MELCHOIR

Perhaps people have a lot to be afraid of with that man. I believe Rome–and Herod with her–is a falling star.  Tyranny cannot last forever.  We may not see it end–but that star tells me there will be an end.

NARRATOR

They told Herod, “In Bethlehem of Judea for so it has been written by the prophet; ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”  Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared.  Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and hwen you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

 

 

(outside bethlehem, getting ready to go in)

BABBETT

Gifts.  Everyone have your gifts?

FRED

Yup.  Got mine.  Let’s see…

(going through backpack, taking out stuff)

I know I had it.  I hope I didn’t leave it–EWWWW.  How long has that been in there?   Ahh!   There it is.  Gold!

BABBETT

You brought GOLD?  Don’t you think someone powerful enough to change the course of human history is going to need your spare change?  Like he won’t have enough already?

FRED

Look, it’s my inheritance.  It’s all I have.  If this is the king who is going to make a real difference in the history of this world….it’s my future I’m investing in here.  What did you bring, Mrs. melchoir?

BABBETT

(taking out a vial and breathing deeply of its fragrance)

Myrrh.  Used for the annointing of kings.  They say this king is to be the Messiah, The Annointed One.  Let the oil that pours on his head come from my hand….the finest money can buy.

(melchoir looks at her in surprise)

Yes dear.  It was a wedding gift.  Not my fragrance.And you?  What did you bring Mike?

MELCHOIR

This.  This is frankincense.  My frankincense.

(babbett’s turn to look surprised)

I’ve been putting away for my burial.  Advance planning, you might say.

FRED

I’m sorry to mention this, but you’re no spring chicken old man.  What will you do–what will Babbett and your kid do?  She could sell this, like a life insurance policy.  You don’t think you’ll live long enough to replace this, do you?

MELCHOIR

Fred, my boy.  I only have a few threads of the truth and not the whole fabric.  If this king is all I believe he will be, if this king is all the prophets say he will be–and an old man like me can still have a few dreams, can’t he–my fondest, dearest hope is that he will make the world a different place for my son.  It was foolish enough for me to take a young bride, and foolish enough for her to take on an old mand–and more foolish yet for us to have a baby– is it that  much more foolish for me to dream of a new world for him to grow up into?  I believe this star is telling me to believe that the long arc of history is inclined to justice….and to love. The tyrants won’t last forever, no matter how much power they think they have.

BABBETT

But frankincense?  Darling, are you planning on burying this king before he is even out of diapers–which by the way, put those on the shopping list, we’re completely out, and I think his mother might welcome some too–Melchoir, let’s bring him some wrappings for his bottom before we start wrapping him for the grave.

MELCHOIR

A king who is king enough to change the course of a star in the heavens is going to be opposed in this world.  This king couldn’t pick a worse time to be born.  Do you think Herod and his puppetmasters will just invite this king of ours over for tea and ask him what his new plan for social welfare is going to be, once he gets them out of his way?  Yes Frankincense.  When they do succeed in killing this king, I want him to be buried like a king.  I want him to be remembered forever as more than a king.

NARRATOR

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.  Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

(arranged in camel formation again, pointed the opposite direction)

FRED

On the road again.  I’m so happy to be on the road again.

BABBETT

Fred, will you cut that out?  I just got the baby to sleep.

FRED

Just as I expected, Herod was a weasel.

MELCHOIR

Did you expect that, babbett?  That the king this star was leading us to would be just a….common baby?  Just like ours?

FRED

Do I have to put this in the report?  I mean it’s bad enough that we just waltzed straight into Jerusalem and did WHAT–ask Herod where the new king was, but then we found him and then…..the bottom line doesn’t look good, once the accountant gets all the figures.

MELCHOIR

That’s the scandal of it all, isn’t it?  The God of Israel chooses to beknown in ordinary common baby flesh.

BABBETT

What other kind of baby flesh is there, sweetheart?  We all start out as nothing more, nothing less.


MELCHOIR

It seems so partial, so incomplete.  Can’t an old man wish for some things to be finished in his own lifetime?  But it seems we’re only going to get this…this shadow in the light of a star.

Fred

How long do you think it’s going to take?

MELCHOIR

That’s the question of the ages, Fred.  How long will it take for the world to embrace justice and love and mercy?  How long will it take us to learn to love what God loves?  How long?  Not long, not in this God’s time.  Truth pressed in the earth will rise again.  No lie can live forever  Not long, because the long arm of this God of Israel who plucked us out of our stargazing and navel gazing and brough us across two deserts, sandstorms, scorpions–

BABETTE

(cutting into melchoir)

–with a nursing infant, mind you–

MELCHOIR

The long arm of the God of Israel will reach out to this world and embrace it with justice, with love, and with mercy.  We have seen this truth written in the stars, and it is stronger than all the world’s powers of destruction and hatred.


FRED

Mr. Melchoir, that was so beautiful.  That was one of the–no, THE most inspiring thing I have ever heard.  It makes me glad I came all this way with you.  And you too Mrs. Melchoir.  But what I really meant was how long until the next oasis?  I need to….you know.

( both Melchoir and babbett turning to him to scold

Melchoir and babbett

FRED!!!!!

NARRATOR

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their country by another road.

 

ACT [2]

SCENE [1]

(Years later, Fred and Babbett run into one another again in the market)

FRED

Babbett, is that you?

BABBETT

Fred?  I can’t believe this!  It’s been years.

FRED

I was just thinking about Mr. Melchoir the other day, that crazy road trip we took so long ago.  Man, that was fun.   Mr. Melchoir, he’s…..he’s

BABBETT

No, he is no longer with us.  He left us long before he left the earth, his mind forever wandering with those stars of his until, well, until.

FRED

Oh, I’m sorry.  I wondered if he was somewhere among those stars thinking about all of us.  You, you look terrific!  And the baby?

BABBETT

Fred, that baby is almost thirty years old now and you’re an old man who knows better than to flirt with an old woman!


FRED

That means that other baby….he must be near to thirty now too.  I wonder  what happened to him.  Did we really go all that way for nothing?  For him to just pass into oblivion?

BABBETT

Does it matter, really?  We came back on a different road, and I don’t mean just the one we left on after getting run out of town in the middle of the night right ahead of Herod’s henchmen!  The same old place we came home to never looked quite the same to me.

FRED

Ha.  Here they think of us as so wise.  But there–we were all pretty foolish.  We got to be so wise by believing some supremely foolish things.  Melchoir though, now he was wise.  So wise.

BABBETT

I still can’t believe we left without a map, a business plan, a strategy, or so much as a business card!

FRED

Yes–but you, wise woman, you brought those diapers and a cookpot! Where would we have been without you?

BABBETT

You know it’s more than that Fred.  Can you believe we could give up everything so precious to us, banking on nothing more than the hope it would make a difference?


FRED

Given the state of the world we saw then…what it is now…do you still believe that what we saw there was the truth?  That how we got there and back was the Way?  That everything we’ve known since then is life–real life?  We are aliens in our own lands now, you know?

BABBETT

Would you do it again?  If you were asked again to drop everything and leave to follow, what–a star, a dream, a man?  Would you?

FRED

When do we leave?

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About Pastor Betsy Williams

I am a mom. And a wife. And a Friend. And a homeowner. And a dog ...uh....owner? Actually make that two dogs. Two kids. One husband. I'm an ELCA Lutheran pastor of a beautiful downtown church. I am the third senior pastor in a century, so my 10-12 years here may feel like an interim to some of the folks here. Recently I have had no spare time. In my spare time in the future, my imagination inhabits a novel I am writing, The Funeral Preacher. My primary blog is a personal reflection on the Revised Common Lectionary...mostly: "Not All Who Wander are Lost." A few years ago I was on a team of writers who produced a little book for Augsburg Fortress in the Washed and Welcome series called "Living the Promises." It's 101 ideas for helping parents and godparents nurture their children in the faith of their baptism. I am developing another blog, more about worship at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Newark, Ohio and including a summary of the past week's preaching. Otherwise, I imagine myself to be a musician, liturgical artist, cook in a five star restaurant where the patrons keep ordering chicken nuggets, but never a bottle washer. I know how to delegate and share.
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