No, I am not referring to some Primary School which upset some children and parents by refusing to allow pupils to dress up in dino suits and stand with the sheep in the school nativity. not that some school “nativities” are no better than that. Often nativities have degenerated into a general Winterval concert, with the only nod to the birth of Christ being singing “Away in a Manger”. I can say that as for the last forty years I have sat through dozens of “nativities” put on for Church and County schools and within the church. Some have been very good and put over the story of Jesus’ birth in a fresh way for children and parents, many are indifferent and some were a farce.
A fossil free Nativity is very different. I am not sure how best to describe it, without imitating the language of St Paul in his stroppy letter to the Galatians and from a similar level of feeling. A fossil free nativity is a way of using the basic outline of the birth of Jesus with the usual characters and adding two “baddies” EDF and BP. The aim is to raise awareness about climate change and the need to get rid of dirty fossil fuels and DIVEST. Of course, in November, Oxford Diocese voted to divest from fossil fuels over the next five years. (I note that there was no motion for all Oxford Anglicans to stop USING fossil fuels in any shape or form.) http://operationnoah.org/news-events/church-england-oxford-diocese-decides-go-fossil-free/
You could google for other reports.
Last year A Fossil Free Nativity was performed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and is described here; http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/archives/6517 and in 2014 it took place outside Methodist Central Hall in London. here are two of their photographs
and it is described here; http://www.greenchristian.org.uk/archives/8134
Both of these come from the Green Christian website and below is another from Operation Noah/Bright Now, which is the driving force behind disinvestment in fossil fuels;
Below I include the full script of the Fossil Free Nativity (and join in the carols) and decide for your self what you think of it.
To give a flavour of where I stand as a Christian concerned deeply for the environment I include a copy of my letter to the main CofE newspaper The Church Times published on 12th December 2014. (There could be a reply on 19th Dec)
Will they have the guts to live a Fossil Free 2015, and eshew fossil fuels in ALL aspects of their lives?
A Fossil Free Nativity (2014)
Script by Westley Ingram
Song lyrics revised by George Dow, Simon Honey and Ben Rafferty.
This script is intended to be used in goodwill, for larking about, for struggles against principalities and powers* and for purposes not commercial.
( * Principalities and powers This expression is found 6 times in the New Testament most notably in Pauls letter to the Ephesians chap 6 vs 12, and are part of the evils forces which are against God, thus evil. This shows that the authors of this “nativity” thought all energy and fossil fuel (eg EDF and BP who are named) companies to be evil and anti-God. I find this offensive as a Christian)
Parts (14): Narrator EDF Wise One 1 Shepherd 1
Mary Angel Gabriel BP Wise One 2 Shepherd 2
Joseph Zachariah King Herod Wise One 3 Scripture Reader
Prologue: Narrator, Gabriel, Scripture
During the prologue all three are on stage staying pretty still unless they feel like moving about.
Narrator: Hello Strangers, hello friends,
Angels, donkeys, mice and men.
And woman. Heaven forfend misogyny
should mar this blessed Nativity.
But marred we are, the gloop is thick
and round our necks. We’re sinking quick.
In our sorry state we gasping plead
for some great estate to take a lead.
What’s that you say? Do my ears deceive?
Rumours of a fossil free C of E?
Perhaps with Bishops on the ball
There is some good news after all!
And like a branch snatched from the fire
it’s not just these Bishops that conspire.
Knowing cleanliness is next to Godliness
Methodists ponder whether to disinvest.
But I tarry and time is short
as our climatologists report
To waste more time would be a sin,
So let’s begin, at the begin.
John 1, 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Gabriel: The Word spoke out many things
on foot and fin and on the wing
of Water, earth, wind and fire
all elements that do conspire
to allow life and grant great pleasure
when each is present in due measure
but dark uncreation undoes his great care
when too much Carbon is in the air.
John 1, 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the
darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Gabriel: But life, like it’s source is ever working
and there is hope everywhere lurking.
Oil men rub their hands, worrying not the least
too busy to notice a star in the east.
There is a third act. We’ll breath clear again
But first what we need are a few good women and men.
John 1, 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to
bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to
bear witness about the light.
Narrator: So now as we strain under this coalition:
The greenest one ever once their own position.
We wonder perhaps if they will with our permission
Set to work putting right our awful condition.
Or perhaps, somebody else needs to get the ball rolling
To create a popular movement ever extolling
Faith, Hope and Love and Climate Justice
You know what I mean: just like John the Baptist.
All sing: SILENT NIGHT
Silent Night, Holy Night
When will you see the light?
Arctic melting as temperatures rise
Carbon burning and filling the skies
Churches – think of God’s way
For Christ’s sake please hear what we say
End of Prologue
Scene 1: Zachariah (Narrator, Scripture, Gabriel, Zachariah)
Narrator, Scripture reader and Zachariah on stage. Gabriel enters later.
Narrator: Okay, now we’re going. This is the first Scene.
If you’ve arrived late. It’s a Nativity: Fossil Free.
Our Story now finds us in the time of King Herod.
Herod the Great. Not his son, also called Herod.
Now Herod’s not that Great, he works for the Romans
a faceless foreign empire who think they own everything
he’s lots of blood on his hands but he’s rebuilding the temple
So the Religious establishment won’t say anything.
His people do suffer despite their Priest’s silence
One after another beset my more violence
Economic and social and some by the sword
as Priests, Prophets and Rabbis say nary a word.
Scripture: Habakkuk 1
2 How long, LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
Narrator: Speaking of Priests today is the day
When Zachariah goes in to pray
into the temple’s secret places, befitting his station
he offers up prayers for the whole Hebrew nation.
Zachariah: Hello! I am actually a pretty good gent
both great and good. Quite establishment.
Of good standing, from a good family
but my wife and I remain child free.
Though young at heart, time marches on
and our child bearing days are now long gone.
Narrator: As he watches the incense as it rises up to heaven.
Out of nowhere the Angel Gabriel says hello to him!
Zachariah: (falls on his face)
Gabriel: Zachariah! Get up. There’s nothing to fear
although this always happens when angels appear.
I have come to tell you some very good news
God has heard your prayers and is not amused.
He sees the corruption, the lies and the pain.
This is just like Egypt all over again.
He will sort this out but he will need a hand.
He will send out a singular man,
and here’s the kicker, you’ll like this one.
You and your Mrs will have a singular son.
Zachariah: This is fantastic! Oh my word, on my life!
I can’t wait to go and tell my wife.
We have waited and wanted and prayed
that we would have a child one day.
Gabriel: Yes, he’ll be quite the fellow. He may seem funny
as he goes about in Camel hair and eating wild honey.
But no-one will be laughing when he preaches repent!
And goes about baptising. That will be why he’s sent.
People will rethink their ways. Hearts and minds will be won
And parents will show concern for their daughters and sons.
They may even begin to wonder how their kids will fair
with droughts, storms and flooding every year, everywhere.
He will make straight roads and prepare the nation
to receive the truth from Jesus, his own poor relation.
Then he will be beheaded for opposing King Herod,
Not this one. His son, also called King Herod.
Zachariah: Hang on now. In case you were not told
Myself and my wife are exceedingly old.
Check your facts. Something is amiss.
I don’t know now if I am up for this.
Gabriel: I’m the Angel Gabriel. My facts are correct.
I got this information straight from God direct.
Changes are coming. I do accurately relay
that this boy when a man has a big part to play.
One more thing Zacchariah then I’ll be gone.
Not a peep out of you til you name the boy John.
Narrator: From that moment on Zachariah spake not a word
He tried to explain to his wife what he’d heard.
He made himself clear. It took a while
then they busied themselves conceiving a child
All sing: IN THE PEAK OIL WINTER
In the peak oil winter The fossil fuels all gone No coal to smelt the iron, Let’s go back to stone GDP is falling, plastics had it’s day In the peak oil winter Not too far away
End of Scene 1
Scene 2: Mary (Narrator, Mary, Gabriel, Scripture)
Narrator, Scripture reader and Mary on stage. Gabriel enters later.
Narrator: In scene 2 we meet Mary, a girl of low station
She is Zach’s wife Elizabeth’s own poor relation
As she sits in the dark she is darning a sock
so when it is done she can put it in hock
Her fiance called Joseph is out. He works all the time.
He’s out fitting solar panels in rain, hail or shine.
Like Joseph, this young woman Mary is a practical sort
and little suspects an Angel speeds her way by public transport.
Scripture: Psalm 112
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
Gabriel: (enter Gabriel)
Mary! The Lord thinks you are fantastic
he’s getting excited. Heavens gone frantic!
Mary: (falls to the floor)
Gabriel: Calm down there Mary. Don’t be afraid!
Good news. Soon you’ll be in the family way!
Mary: (gets up)
What are you saying? I will not have a baby.
I’m quite confident. No ifs, buts or maybes.
Events must conspire before a babes on the scene
and I have never, ever…, You know what I mean?
Gabriel: Oh don’t worry Mary, what you say is a fact
but the spirit of God will take care of all that.
Mary: Say what now?
Gabriel: Don’t worry Mary. Wondrous things will unfold
Your son, named Jesus will do things long foretold
He’ll be this lands greatest ruler and then…
Ah, Peace on the Earth and goodwill toward men..
Mary: And women?
Gabriel: Yes, and women. Women and men.
And his Kingdom will have no end.
Mary: In case you hadn’t noticed I don’t live in a palace.
I can’t raise a King. Not with my bank balance!
Gabriel: Verily Mary, we agree with your sums
You have 99 problems but being rich ain’t one.
It’s not just that you’re broke and living in obscurity
Now bang goes your good name, despite all of your purity.
This King will be humble, and of low station
getting a bottom up view of his creation.
In case your worried this is too much for you
This little scandal’s going to ruin Joseph too.
Mary: Oh, that’s all right then I suppose.
Gabriel: Excellent! Now I’m off. I’ll let myself out.
I expect you and Joseph have a lot to talk about.
One last thing. Watch out for Herod, he’s a little bit crazy
he does everything he’s told by his advisors, EDF and BP.
They have him all wrapped up and for their own improvement
and are unlikely to aid in the Peace on Earth movement.
Mary: Maybe God isn’t looking down on us as it turns out:
from the top of the Shard, with the rich in collusion.
But at last God is with us, who they said didn’t count,
looking down on the rich from our place of exclusion.
Well this is rich! I tell you in the sight of you all.
If I am raising a King he will be called Wonderful!
He will love his Mother, his neighbours and his foes
Poor in spirit and in pocket, meek, gentle and opposed
to brutal sorts, unpopular with the establishment,
or anyone corrupt or crooked, the liars and the bent.
Everybody else though will think he is the best
and his friends with cash in fossil fuels will surely disinvest.
All sing: NO OIL
No oil, no oil the angels did sing No more fossil fuels just invest in green things Solar panels, local food, and other green stuff
Insulate all buildings then we’ll be warm enough No Oil, no oil, no oil, no oil Now is the time to divest from those fuels!
End of Scene 2
Scene 3 (Narrator, Herod, BP, EDF, Wise One 1, Wise One 2, Wise One 3)
Narrator, Scripture reader, Herod, BP and EDF on stage. Wise ones enter later.
Narrator: While all that was going on up north with Mary
In the capital King Herod was being kept busy.
His people complain of the latest of their many ills
as he asks BP and EDF how to lower their energy bills.
Despite their input and their constant devotion
thanks to an e-petition and an early day motion
As a sign of good will He has granted a short audience
to three wise folk from East Anglia. The mood’s a little tense.
Lucky for Herod with his advisors on hand
He can come over as a reasonable man.
Besides he needs the support of these financial giants
more than he needs to heed the perspective of science.
BP: My Lord, three from East Anglia wait in reception
I know their sort though. Their game is deception.
Herod: Nevertheless we can’t have them just rot in the hall
I am the Greenest Biblical tyrant of them all after all.
(enter wise ones)
Herod: Well hello there, you great thinkers and my honoured guests
Tell me what’s concerning you as if I’d not already guessed
you’re going to ruin the economy and leave us all maligned.
Well go on, do tell. I’m all ears and have an open mind.
Wise One 1: Greetings King. We bring glad tidings and a gift.
We can clean up the air and give the economy a lift.
The age of choking black fumes is a thing of the past
we can have 1 million climate jobs that will last.
EDF: They’ve lost their minds or just naive. Their reasoning is lacking.
If you want some green jobs then you want to try fracking.
Wise One 2: Please King, Great and wise will you listen to me
Quickly invest in renewables and energy efficiency.
Most of the oil, gas, and coal must never be seen
If we ever want to keep warming below 2 degrees
Are you taking this in? I hope I’m not too subtle
I’m telling you King you are heading for trouble.
your kingdom is built on a big carbon bubble
You need to move your cash and on the double.
BP: Don’t listen King to this tree hugging hippy.
We can just drill a little bit deeper under the sea.
Wise One 3: Look here King Herod. Your advisers do you no good.
Let your people go. You know that you should.
If you don’t you will be plagued year in and year out
by floods, and storms and famine and droughts
insects and infections, infestations and strife
That will be your sons (also called King Herod) entire life.
EDF: Actually King Herod, if we were changing the weather
some people say things would change for the better.
But we are not changing the weather if you are asking me,
don’t let these Jeremiahs ruin the growing economy.
Herod: Are you absolutely sure these people are lying?
Some of their graphs look quite terrifying.
BP: Yes I know they are King but you don’t have to worry.
I suggest you look at them upside down. It’s a whole other story.
Herod: I see your point. Nice try folks but reason has in the end won.
Unless you want to donate a few million shekels, I think we are done.
(exit wise ones)
Narrator: So Herod and his advisers get to work, their schemes under way
making their millions at the expense of every child born today.
Scripture: Matthew 2
Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”[d]
All sing : BAD KING HEROD ONCE LOOKED OUT
Bad King Herod once looked out
Of his bedroom window
Saw the sky was filled with fire
Wondered what should he do
Called BP and EDF
In they walked together
Said there was no climate change
Only dodgy weather
End of scene 3
Scene 4: (Narrator, Shepherd 1, Shepherd 2, Gabriel, Choir of Angels)
Narrator, Scripture reader, Shepherds on stage. Mary and Joseph run through quickly. Gabriel is with Angels.
Narrator: When Mary’s bump begins to show
She and Joseph decide it’s time to go.
They get out of town for a while, and then
they travel to Joseph’s kin in Bethlehem.
After a long tandem ride, Bethlehem is in sight
they ride by some shepherds watching their flocks by night.
Scripture: Matthew 2, 6.
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.
Mary and Jospeh run across stage in front of shepherds
Narrator: Little did they know that not far behind them
were the three East Anglian wise men
Herod had offered them only frustration
So they sought out a more enlightened administration.
But the King had in place his own machinations
and had been reading their email communications
So EDF and BP looked for the Baby in Bethlehem
with money and gifts and an offer to Mentor him.
Shepherd 1: Here Larry! Pass a brolly. This weathers appalling,
and my bum is wet through from the rain that is falling.
Shepherd 2: I know what you mean, and what is more galling:
That Roman Centurion took my tarpaulin.
Shepherd1: Here, Larry! As we are passing time I have a joke for you.
What do you get If you cross a sheep and a kangaroo?
Shepherd2: An abomination?
Gabriel: (enter Gabriel with a choir of Angels singing)
What are you doing? Wake up! Aren’t you paying attention?
Didn’t you see that? Your King just rode in on a tandem.
Go quickly. You don’t want to miss this.
Hurry up or you will miss Christmas.
All sing: (Choir of Angels sing.) HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING!
Hark the herald angels sing
Go and see your new born king
Herod is a twit so dim
Thinks we all should follow him
Burning fossils fuels away
Ignoring what the wise men say
Stop now while we still have time
Burning fossil fuels is a crime
Hark the herald angels sing
Listen to the new born king!
End of scene 4
Scene 5: Finale (Narrator, Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, Wise One 1, Wise One 2, Wise One 3, Shepherd 1, Shepherd 2)
Narrrator, Joseph and Mary on stage. Jospeh holding bundle of baby. Mary sitting on steps.
Narrator: It’s scene 5. In old Bethlehem town,
Mary has given birth and wants a lie down.
Holding baby Jesus Joseph stands at attention
Wondering if he will ever get another mention.
Gabriel: Here Joseph, look lively and listen to me.
Get Mary and the baby and flee the scene,
Joseph: Be serious Gabriel. Have you gone crazy.
We are fleeing nowhere. We’ve just had a baby.
Gabriel: Yes I understand that but we’re in trouble.
Herod’s friends are coming. Hot foot on the double.
They have it in mind to get their claws in the boy
and teach him their tricks, their schemes and their ploys.
Joseph. That sounds just awful. We’ll leave Bethlehem.
And keep the boy Jesus well clear of them.
Gabriel: They would puff him right up and offer him the earth
as long as he bows down to them and acts like their serf.
Joseph: All right, I’ll speak to Mary. And see what I can do
but it’s been a long night and I doubt she’s in the mood.
Joseph goes over to Mary and wakes her up.
Narrator: Joseph wakes up Mary and explains their situation
hoping she will not interpret it as a provocation.
He is about to find out if she will give him what for
but they are distracted by a knock at the door.
Shepherd 1: Hello, we have come to see the new King.
Joseph: Its not a great time, considering everything.
Shepherd 2: We wanted to talk to him about agricultural reform.
Mary: Tell them to get out and then shut that door!
(enter wise ones)
Wise One 1: We would greet the new King at the start of his rule
and speak with him about the end of fossil fuels.
Wise One 2: Since you live in this dump we thought you might care
I think the last King was in bed with some millionaires.
Wise One 3: Can he help us with our very many frustrations?
We heard his would be an enlightened administration.
Mary: Oh for goodness sake. What do you all want of me?
Can’t you tell we are busy trying to flee the country.
Joseph: I’m sorry. BP and EDF soon enter the scene. We must exit from it.
Perhaps you and they could discuss this over a climate summit.
(exit Joseph and Mary)
Wise One 1: But we’ve brought Myrrh?
End of Scene 5
Narrator and Gabriel on stage.
Narrator: So Joseph and Mary flee from Herod’s men
carrying new born King Baby Jesus with them.
So that stories over but we will have to see
What kind of a King he turns out to be
Will he grow up to be wise, gentle and meek
resisting the strong and uplifting the weak?
Gabriel: Or maybe he will be lazy, proud and rash
and fill up his pockets with oil stained cash.
Narrator: Will he be humble, living simply, preaching peace
the last will be first, those above underneath.
Gabriel: Or will he just take the dirty money?
And settle down to milk and honey.
Narrator: Will he inspire a great inconvenient shower
who go about challenging principalities and powers.
Saying the root of all sort of evil stem from love of your wad
and would tell us you cannot serve both money and God.
Gabriel: Or full of fear and a lack of imagination
will they sit on their hands, watching the nation
be torn apart by the oil stained predations
of a few awful companies and their machinations.
Narrator: Those are all good questions. My lip is all bitten.
Still so much drama as the futures unwritten.
If you have an opinion and you’d like it known
take one of our polar bear postcards before you go home.
And as we’re wending home let me please say
thanks ever so much for joining us today.
and before we sing our last song with some verve
give yourselves the round of applause you all deserve.
All sing: AWAY IN A MANGER
Away in a manger in a place far away
A saviour was born for a world to obey
What has he taught us? Why do we ignore
His teachings on peace, loving kindness and more?
Christ loves his church dearly he wants us to care
Not only for people but also for air
But air filled with carbon is destined to kill
So stop dirty money and be true to God’s will
He wants us to care for his beautiful world
To work to enable his plan to unfurl
Now close your investments in all fossil fuels
Take care of the planet stop listening to fools