In the Stable

Production Notes


JOSEPH:Mary’s husband, angry that he cannot control things as he would like and frustrated.

MARY:God’s chosen, afraid she is not good enough for His choosing, exhausted from the journey.

SETTING: The action of the scene is in the humble stable where Mary will soon give birth to the Baby Jesus. The stable can be represented by as little as some scattered hay that Mary sits upon, or by as much as seems appropriate. Mary is curled up with her back to Joseph, asleep., with a thin blanket. Joseph sits on the edge of the stage next to the manger – trying to fix things up for the child’s bed. He has a hammer next to him hidden from view until he uses it.


She’s sleeping, poor thing.exhausted from the journey. The pains have stopped … for now. Money. That’s the bottom line of it all, isn’t it? The fact is, if I had money, do you think she’d be in a place like this tonight? I don’t think so. She. she’d be lying somewhere warm and. I could have had people around her while she was in pain. They could’ve told her everything would be fine. That everything was normal. That she was doing just great. Instead she has me and this horrible place. (Breaks.) I mean, God’s son is coming into the world, tonight maybe, and I don’t even have a decent place for him to sleep.

(Pause. Takes a deep breath.)

Money. That’s what it’d take. But what’ve I got? An honest job that can’t even make her comfortable at a time like this. I broke my back to prepare for the baby and then somethin’ like this comes along and takes everything. There’s always some expense you didn’t figure on to knock you right back where you started. Travel expenses to Bethlehem. Who would’ve counted on it?


I’m so humiliated. I thought at least I could get her a clean room to have the baby in. You can bet if we were rich the innkeeper would’ve let us in. He’d’ve found something for us. But he took one look at these callouses, these sides of beef for hands with the black, cracked nails, and he knew what he’d get out of the deal. There goes the door. Right in my face. His fat wife will probably sleep well tonight. She could have offered to help poor Mary.

(Pause. He begins to cry.)

Mary. I’m so sorry. I did my best. I don’t know why all this happened. Dear God, what does all this mean? Angels whispered in my dreams. They told me not to be afraid. But tonight, I’m terrified. I sit here totally helpless to help her during her ‘time’. I admit – I’m afraid. How could You let this happen? Are You testing us? What are You trying to do?

(Begins working on the manger. It’s rickety and he shakes it as he speaks.)

What will He sleep in? This manger? I don’t think a king’s life should be started in a food trough. He was promised a throne. The least I can do is make Him a cradle. It’s something I know I can do, anyway. If only I had something to work with. Well, at least I can make it sturdy. Hears noises - Looks off)

Look at all those people whooping it up in that inn. Place is packed to the walls, and none’ve ‘em know what’s going on right outside their doorstep. Why don’t You send them to help us? The awaited birth of the Son of God in a filthy stable. Everyone will wonder why I couldn’t have done any better for Him.

(Begins steadying up the manger.)

I don’t know what You’ve got planned for Him with a beginning like this. What’s on Your mind? Will they listen to Him? Will they give Him a better reception than this?

(Pulls out a nail and sets it against the side of the manger, reaches for his hammer.)

If people couldn’t find room for a baby in the middle of the night, what’ll they do when they find out He’s the Son of God?

(He begins hammering the nail in, pounding as Mary groans and turns over in pain. Joseph drops the hammer and goes to her side helping her sit up.)

JOSEPH:I am so sorry, I didn’t think. I wanted to fix the manger.

(Mary sits silently)

Mary, you must believe that I did all I could. I pleaded, threatened, every house was full. I would never keep you in this filthy shelter if there were any other choice. any other way, Mary.

(Mary continues to sit silently. Joseph looks at her a moment, thinking of what he should do.)

I am sorry. I am such a fool. Why didn’t I arrange lodging sooner? Arrive sooner? We could have left earlier…. I didn’t have to finish that table first.

(Mary sits silently. Joseph has worked himself into a lather. Mary winces in pain.)

Are you all right? I’ve got to do something, ANYTHING. It is better to break down a door and drag someone in from the street before I leave you here to handle this alone.

(Joseph begins to storm out.)

MARY:Joseph, stop. Please don’t go. (he stops and turns, still angry)

You did what you could, I know that. We will be all right here. There are no crowds. No prying eyes. Just these few curious animals. It will be fine.

(pause, as Joseph begins to cool down)

JOSEPH:I am sorry.

MARY:I know.

(he again looks at her a moment)

JOSEPH:Do you know how much I love you?

(Mary looks up at him and thinks of what a good man he is.)

MARY: I should not be here. (Joseph moves to her)

JOSEPH:I know. I’m sorry.

MARY: No. I mean, I think I was a poor choice for God. You are a good man. This Child that I carry is fortunate that God placed you as His father. I can think of no better man.

JOSEPH:I will do my best.

MARY:(sadly) Yes, you will.

JOSEPH:What is it?

MARY:(near tears) I doubt. Can you not see I doubt? How can I be the best person for this task? I am afraid. Months ago I was proud. The “Child of God” was to be my son. But that was in safety. That was in comfort. Now I sit here in pain and I am afraid.

(Joseph tries to comfort her but is unsure what to do.)

Joseph, God can take this back if He so wishes. This should be given to someone stronger. someone… worthy.

(Joseph stands)

JOSEPH:(slightly angry again) Stop it. You are the one chosen by God and for good reasons. You are strong. From the moment this all began you were the anchor. In my moment of greatest doubt, you were sure. You have helped me see that the God of our fathers is more than able to see us through. Whether in comfort or in this damp cold place, the God of heaven, who breathed the breath of life into our bodies, is the same as He always was. You have taught me this. Now, you must believe it and trust God to take care of us.

(Mary reaches out and touches Joseph saying her thanks with her look and her touch.)

I ... will go now and.; find something to help keep you warm. I’ll see if I can find someone to help. Perhaps God has spoken to the innkeeper’s wife. (Smiles)

(Joseph squeezes her outstretched hand and then turns and exits. Mary sits a moment as the musical intro begins, and then she begins to pray. Music, “Breath of Heaven” starts. She remains silent as the choir performs and waits to exit at the end of the song. )