Christmas revisited by James Archer
This sketch takes the style of a lesson during a church service. It is intended to bring home the shock of what the first Christmas was really like. It needs to be properly introduced so that people are not offended - it is an imaginary update of the Christmas story as it might have happened if set in Britain nowadays, rather than an accurate modern "translation".
Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened something like this:
In the days of Queen Elizabeth II, a decree was issued that everyone should go to their home town to register for Council Tax. So Joseph Davidson travelled from Nantwich in Cheshire, where he lived, to Bethnal Green in the East End of London, where he had been brought up. He went there with his fiancée Mary, who was expecting a baby. Because of the crowds, all the bed-and-breakfasts were full, so they had to camp out under the railway arches. While they were there, Mary gave birth to a son. She wrapped him in rags and laid him in a cardboard box, because there was nothing else available.
Now there were gypsies living in caravans nearby, so that they could sell their goods to the crowds. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; they were terrified. But the angel said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you wonderful news for the whole world. Today, in Bethnal Green, a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. And this is how you will recognise Him: you will find Him wrapped in rags and lying in a cardboard box."
Suddenly, the skies were filled with a great crowd of angels, praising God and singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men, on whom His favour rests". when the angels had gone, the gypsies hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a cardboard box. Then they spread the news about what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed by the gypsies' story. The gypsies returned to their caravans, glorifying and praising God for the things that they had seen and heard.
Some time later, astrologers from the Far East came to London. They called at Buckingham Palace, and asked, "Where is the one who has been born to be king? The stars have told us about him, and we have come to worship him." When the Queen heard this, she was disturbed, wondering what Fleet Street would make of it. She summoned the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and her Press Secretary, and asked them what was going on. "Yes, Your Majesty; no, Your Majesty; yes, Your Majesty," they replied. " We have heard all sorts of wild rumours, Your Majesty. The whole country is talking about it, and wondering whether the child might, err, be, more suitable than, err, the Prince of Wales, Your Majesty, to be the next king." "Idiots," replied the Queen, "you can't make any East End beggar the next king. Go and scotch the rumours."
So the Prime Minister took the astrologers on one side, and asked all the details about what the stars had told them. He sent them on their way, telling them to report back to him when they had found the child. When they reached Bethnal Green, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they bowed down and worshipped Him, and gave Him presents - gold, costly perfume, and myrrh. Having been warned in a dream, they did not go back to Downing Street, but left the country straightaway.
When the Prime Minister realised that he had been tricked by the astrologers, he was furious. She ordered MI5 to search out every male child under two years old within two miles of Bethnal Green, and to murder them. But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said to him, "Get up immediately, and take the child and his mother to France, because the government is trying to kill Him." So they left by foot in the middle of the night, and escaped to France.
Editable and printable Word version