[Music cue: “Herald Trumpets” underscore , ]
(A ROMAN STATESMAN appears with four soldiers behind him. Townspeople gather hurriedly around them to listen to their proclamation.)
[Music cue: “Roman Soldiers” underscore , ]
(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?
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.
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