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Great Ideas for Church Plays: Modern Nativity

Church plays are a great way of adding to your weekly sermon, letting you take a slightly more light-hearted approach once in a while. They’re also a great way to encourage younger members of your church to get involved. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to teach, or act in this case.

Rehashing the same old ideas again and again, however, can lead to a bored audience, and maybe even bored cast members, so trying something a little different is another way to keep people captivated. One such example is taking the traditional Christmas Nativity play and giving it a more modern twist. This also allows you to explore some ideas in a deeper way than normal, such as:

Ideas of Cheating & Faithfulness

In the traditional nativity story, the idea of Mary carrying God’s child is unquestioned, but how might a more modern, sceptical couple look at things? Of course, there is a difficult balance to strike here around between implying that Mary is unfaithful, but it does provide a way to investigate themes of a wife’s loyalty to her husband, and a husband’s trust in his wife.

This could be a major point of the play, or just a short, single scene between Mary and Joseph. If Joseph is outraged at the idea that his wife (or wife-to-be) has become pregnant despite being a self-proclaimed virgin, then they can either work through the discussion themselves, or Gabriel can interrupt them some time in.

Once the issue is settled, we can see that Mary is faithful, and if this has been the main point of the play, you can move on to discuss the elements of faith in each other and faith in God.

Herod & Acceptance of Jesus Christ

Herod is a powerful king known for the massacre of the innocents, an attempt to kill his potential rival as king of the Jews. Replaying this narrative in a more modern setting comes with difficulties, but you can find other reasons for Herod to dislike the birth of Jesus, and for him to try and sabotage the nativity.

Obviously, one of the big contentions might be a lack of faith. The modern world is an incredibly diverse place, with many people who actively lash out at Christian beliefs. The idea of the birth of a new messiah, or his rebirth, could be used as an excuse for Herod to seek out news of the messiah.

You could choose to have Herod be Prime Minister, a mayor, or just a powerful local businessman who is concerned about the birth of Jesus. If you want to turn this into a discussion about the place of Christianity in the modern world, then this element of Herod is one worth exploring. Otherwise, it might be easier to leave his role out of the play if you don’t want to attempt to modernise it.

Comic Modern Parallels

There are plenty of other fun things you can do with a modern nativity, even if you don’t go into the deeper themes. Little things like how Gabriel is dressed (do people question his angelic robes? Does he try out ‘God’s Angels’ biker leathers?), the journey to Bethlehem (there’s a small village in Carmarthenshire, South Wales named Bethlehem), or use of appropriate pop song clips can create a light, fun atmosphere for a Christmas play. These are especially good for a children’s play, which might want to stay away from more mature themes.

Mainstage specialise in stages for churches, as well as appropriate accessories such as altar rails. If you are looking for a stage for your church that is easy to store, and fits in with your church, then contact us now on 01524 844 099 to let us know how we can help you.