Remembering What Counts at Christmas – Play 15 minutes

A 15 minute (or so) play about a good and faithful but worn-out pastor who needs to be reminded about what really matters at Christmas.

By Mark Harris


  • Pastor Tim – male, mid 40s
  • Cindy – female, late 30s, Pastor Tim’s wife
  • Michael – son of Pastor Tim, 12-13 yo
  • Candali – daughter of Pastor Tim, 9-10 yo
  • Rinna – daughter of Pastor Tim, 7-8 yo
  • Jenny – Church secretary, female, 50s to 60s
  • Jose – male, mid 30s
  • Mariana – female, late 20s
  • Joshua – infant

Setting – A Baptist church in Detley, South Virginia. Pastor Tim and Jenny the secretary are the only paid staff. Tim’s 4th grade daughter Candali and 2nd grade daughter Rinna are doing homeschool work in his office. The roof is leaking, with drops falling into a bucket on the floor.

Time – late Tuesday morning


Pastor Tim (Staring out the window. Rubbing his temples from a splitting headache) Christmas is in one week, and I just don’t know how to preach the Christmas story in a new way. Everyone has heard the nativity a hundred times…I wish the rain would stop… and dear God, make this headache go away!
Jenny, Church Secretary (Walking in absent mindedly) Pastor Tim, I have phone messages for you. Mrs. Johnson is in the hospital again, Mrs. Edwards wants to help you pick out the carpet for the children’s department, and Mr. Redden would like you to look at his car on Wednesday.
P. Tim (Still staring) Ok…
Jenny (Still talking) The building and grounds committee wants $2,000 for a new riding lawnmower, one of the toilets in the women’s restroom in the basement is leaking, and the insurance company says that they will raise our rates if we don’t install more lighting in the parking lot.
P. Tim (Still staring) Yeah…
Jenny (Talking louder) Mrs. Fickelstein says that she will never work with the children again, since they are all a bunch of brats. And Mr. Culenden didn’t like that we sang Christmas carols in the service yesterday. After all, it’s not Christmas yet……………Pastor Tim! Are you listening to me???
P. Tim (Startled) Uh, yes, certainly. I’ll visit Mrs. Edwards in the hospital after lunch, and I’ll look at Mr. Culenden’s car next week. Why does the insurance company want us to buy a new lawnmower?
Church Secretary leaves in a huff. Pastor Tim closes his Bible. He hears a knock on his office door and opens it. A woman with a small child appears.
P. Tim Can I help you?
Woman (Timid and a little disheveled) Are you the priest? Can we come in?


P. Tim No, I’m the pastor. But sure, come and sit at this conference table…Jenny, please join us here in my office.
Jenny Coming!
The woman brings the baby into the office and sits at the conference table. The baby is quiet. A man appears at the office door. Jenny walks in and sits down at the table to take notes.
Man (Wet clothes, hair) Hello, Pastor, my name is Jose, this is my wife Mariana, and our son’s name is Joshua. I was admiring a car across the street.
P. Tim You’re soaked! Jenny, please get some coffee for Jose.
Jenny (Smiling broadly) Of course!
  She jumps us and returns with a mug a few minutes later.
P. Tim (Sits at the conference table) What can we do for you and your family?
  The pastor looks tired and rubs his temples, trying to relieve his headache
Jose (Sits at the conference table)


We are new in town. I just got a job as a swing shift janitor at the airport. Mariana had Joshua just two months ago. We were staying in a hotel in town, but thieves looking for drugs broke in while I was at work. They took our money and everything else they could.
P. Tim I am sorry to hear about that. What do you need?
Jose Everything. We have no safe place to stay, only a few clothes. I don’t get paid until next week, so we don’t even have much to eat.
P. Tim Are you Christians?
Jose Catholic. Does that matter?
Jenny (Whispering loudly) Pastor Tim, remember that we are a month behind on our power bill. And winter is coming up.
P. Tim (Stumbling for words) No, it does not matter. But there are Catholic churches in our town. Would you like to go to one of them? Also, here is a list of food banks, clothing closets, and low-priced housing in our community. I will call Father Lilly and tell him that you are coming. And we will pray for you. If they can’t help you, please come back.
Jose (Looking rejected, standing, and taking Mariana’s hand) We went to the Catholic Church first, and they sent us to the government also…But my family is hungry. Please help.
Jenny Pastor Tim, remember that you have a call with the choir director about the Christmas program any time now.
  Pastor Tim says nothing, his head splitting now more than ever.
Mariana Please, sir.
  The phone rings. Pastor Tim answers it.
Pastor Tim Ed, please call back in an hour. It’s not a good time.
  Ed persists in talking so Tim can’t hang up.
Pastor Tim Ed, I really have to go.
Jose (standing up and leading his wife out of the room) Sorry to have bothered you. Merry Christmas.
Jose and Mariana leave carrying Joshua. The phone rings in Pastor Tim’s office. He walks back and picks it up. Discouraged, he hangs up without a word.
Candali Daddy, what was that about?
P. Tim Just the police charity wanting money.
Candali No, daddy, not the phone call. The man, his wife, and their baby!
P. Tim Just a young family who needed help.
Candali Like Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus?
P. Tim Yes, no. I mean, there are so many people who need help. And our church attendance is down, and giving is down…we don’t have any extra.
Rinna Daddy, in Sunday School we learned that a sick man asked Peter for money. Peter said that he didn’t have any, but he would give him what he did have. Did we give this family what we could?
P. Tim Yes. The government has lots of resources for needy people. We sent them to others who could help them. Besides, they had enough money to buy a car.
  Michael, a middle school boy walks in.
Michael Dad, mom just dropped me off from the dentist. She told me to tell you that she is giving some people that she met in our parking lot a ride. They were walking in the pouring rain. She’ll come back after the Munoz’s are fed and safely in a shelter.
Candeli Was it a man, a woman, and a baby?
Michael Yeah, how did you know?
Rinna They were here asking for money, but we didn’t have any.
P. Tim Didn’t they have a car?
Michael No, dad. There’s no cars in the parking lot, or parked on the street. Just yours…
P. Tim I thought that Jose said he was looking to buy a car!
  The phone rings.
P. Tim Yes, Mrs. Edwards… No, I don’t think that a person in your condition should be picking out carpet for the children’s department…Just work on getting out of the hospital and we can talk later…What do you mean you’re not in the hospital?…No, I am not trying to ignore you…Yes, I always want your input on important church decisions like carpet…Please don’t hang up…
  Pastor Tim hangs up the phone, and then dials Cindy. The phone rings many times and finally picks up
P. Tim Cyndi, are you ok?
Cyndi Yes, Tim, of course. I am just taking the Munoz family to the homeless shelter. Well, actually, I am taking them to McDonald’s first. Didn’t they look hungry when you saw them?
P. Tim So you are safe?
Cyndi Yes, we are turning in to McDonald’s now… Wait!
  Pastor Tim hears the sound of a crash through the phone.
P. Tim Kids, get into the car now! Your mother has been in an accident.
  Pastor Tim and kids rush off stage. The lights go out for a few seconds.
Jenny Good morning, Pastor Tim. I was so worried. It is wonderful to see you back in the office after yesterday. What happened?
P. Tim Cyndi was pulling into the drive through lane when an F150 tried to pull in ahead of her, hitting her car on the passenger side. Jose was sitting in the front and Mariana in the back. They got hit hard.
Jenny What then?
P. Tim Jose’s door was stuck and had to be popped open by the fire department. But he wasn’t injured. Mariana had a terrible head gash. They took her to the hospital in the ambulance. The emergency department stitched her up and released her.
Jenny What about Cyndi and the baby?
P. Tim They were on the other side of the car, so they were OK.
Jenny Did the family go to the homeless shelter after the accident?
P. Tim No. Arrangements were made.
  Phone rings. Pastor Tim answers.
P. Tim Yes, Jose. If Cyndi said that you can use the towels in the guest bathroom, please do so…No, don’t worry about paying us back for food. God has given us plenty. Don’t forget, you can stay as long as you need until you get your paycheck and a place to live.
Jenny (smiling) Arrangements, huh? …Still having trouble finding a fresh approach to tell the story of Jesus’ birth?
P. Tim Not a bit, ideas about helping Jesus’ needy family have just flooded into my mind.… And by the way, call Mrs. Finkelstein and tell her that we need her to do children’s church again this Sunday. I know how much she loves the kids.
Jenny (sighing) Yes, Pastor Tim. Glad to know that you listened so well to my messages yesterday.
P. Tim (without pride, just a matter of fact statement from a really good person who doesn’t realize that he completely messed up the messages) Well after all, it is my ministry…

Play can be preceded and followed by some Christmas carols or other Christian Christmas songs (15-20 min). A devotion led by the church pastor afterward (15-20 min) can flesh out an evening service during the Christmas season.


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