Act One, Scene 3

Segment 3.1


[Music cue: “Herald Trumpets” underscore MP3, PDF ]

(A ROMAN STATESMAN appears with four soldiers behind him. Townspeople gather hurriedly around them to listen to their proclamation.)

[Music cue: “Roman Soldiers” underscore MP3, PDF ]

Roman statesman reads Cesar's decree
ROMAN STATESMAN: Come near, citizens and subjects of the Roman Empire. Caesar has spoken to all this land and people. All citizens are hereby commanded to return to their city of origin. All citizens of Nazareth. All citizens of Capernaum. All citizens of Bethlehem.31

(The soldiers and townspeople exit.)

(Mary and Joseph’s home. Mary sits, resting. She is visibly with child. Joseph enters.)

JOSEPH: Are you all right?

MARY: Yes, just tired. Are you all right? Something’s bothering you.

JOSEPH: I’m fine.

MARY: Joseph, what’s wrong?

JOSEPH: It’s this census. I’ve been down to the market. It’s humiliating.

MARY: You mean sending us back to our ancestral homes?

JOSEPH: Yes. Micham says it’s Herod cooperating with the Romans, trying to make their plan look like it’s our tradition. But it degrades our tradition; it robs it of its holiness. Others keep saying we have to go along with it, that we have to do the best we can and keep praying for the Messiah . . .

MARY: And what did you say?

JOSEPH: I was agreeing with them until they started talking about the Messiah . . . about Him . . . and then I didn’t dare say anything. (pause) Oh Mary, how can I leave you right now? The baby will be here soon.

MARY: Joseph, I’ve been thinking about this. Perhaps this is what God wants.

JOSEPH: What? What do you mean?

Mary talks with Joseph
MARY: Well, perhaps I could go with you.

JOSEPH: Mary, six days round trip over bad roads is difficult even for me—

MARY: No, Joseph. I mean perhaps we should go there to live.

JOSEPH: But the house is just finished, I’ve finally set up shop in town—

MARY: We could start over there.

JOSEPH: Start over? Why start over?

MARY: I know it hardly makes sense. But Bethlehem is the home of our ancestors, the city of David.

(MICAH appears on the colonnade.)

MICAH: And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda . . .

MARY: We’d be nearer Zacharias and Elisabeth, and nearer the temple.

MICAH: For out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.32

JOSEPH: Yes, I see. The City of David. It’s for His sake. We never would have chosen Bethlehem.

MARY: We didn’t.

JOSEPH: No, Caesar did. And Herod.

MARY: The Lord did. All flesh is in His hands.

JOSEPH: Does He have to grip so tightly?

MARY: Please, let me come.

(They exit.)


31. See Luke 2:1–3.
32. Matthew 2:6 (based on Micah 5:2).

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