Thought for the day

Each morning BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a “Thought for the day”. The best one I’ve heard yet was by member of the Iona Community, the Rev John Bell, broadcast on 23 December 2004. I printed it out, and have only just come across it again. Here is what he said:

Thought for the Day, 23 December 2004

John Bell

We tend to think that Christmas is a time for children. That’s why we get them to do nativity plays. But do they learn the story? Here’s one child’s testimony:

Christmas is a time for children because the baby Jesus was a child. So were his mum and dad. Mary was 10 when she had her baby, because that is how old Sheryl Foster is, and Joseph was 11 like Ravinder Singh.

Joseph was not the real daddy of Jesus. The real daddy was Mr Montgomery, our school janitor who is also Santa Claus.

Mary was pregnant, but stayed very thin, unlike my mum when she was having wee Sandra. Mary always wore a blue nightie, and Joseph wore a dressing gown like Ravinder Singh’s dad.

Mary and Joseph had to travel from the back of the school hall to Bethlehem on a donkey called Gerry, after Mr. Montgomery the janitor.

Caesar Augustus wanted the whole world to be taxed. That is why everybody went to Bethlehem and it was so crowded. People had even come from Africa and Australia because there is no snow there.

Mary decided she was going to have the baby right away in the snow, because there was no room at the inn.

The innkeeper had a wife whose name was Veronica. She was also one of the ugly sisters who had big feet.

The innkeeper’s name was Lo, because Joseph said to him, ‘Lo, my wife is great with child.’ Lo took Mary and Joseph to a dirty cowshed. It was full of steam and smells from the pigs and cows and hens who had gathered together for the census.

Mary had her baby in front of everybody. When he arrived everybody realised that she was dressed in blue because she knew it was going to be a boy. She called him Jesus and immediately he sat up and pointed to the roof where there was a draught.

Some shepherds came to see the baby. They had been told by the angels to bring him a lamb. Joseph put it in the manger beside the baby Jesus.

The shepherds got in just before the three wise men who wore Mrs. Anderson’s silk scarves after they promised not to wipe their nose on them.

The wise men had gifts for the baby – a big stone covered with gold paper, a perfume bottle full of cochineal and incense sticks. Joseph put these in the manger next to the lamb and the baby Jesus.

Then the shepherds and the wise men knelt down in front of the baby Jesus and sang Jingle Bells. Then Mr. Montgomery came in dressed as Santa Claus, but Mrs Anderson shouted at him because it was not time yet.

If you find this funny, Happy Christmas. If you’re offended, stop asking children do the nativity play. It’s really a story for adults.

Copyright © 2004 BBC

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

One thought on “Thought for the day”

  1. I have found your account of a children’s Nativity play absolutely brilliant. Extremely funny but with such true and rather worrying undertones! I made copy in 2004 and have read it to many groups I belong to and have requests from one to read it again year after year. Thank you so much.

    Happy Christmas. Ann Goulder

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