Open Hearts In Bethlehem

A Christmas Musical Drama

By Dr. Kenneth E. Bailey


About the play...
Dr. Bailey has written an exciting Christmas drama informed by his career as a renowned biblical scholar and his years living in the Middle East. The drama is about the well known and beloved birth story of Jesus, but with insights gained from years of study and contact with traditional village life throughout the Middle East. Dr. Bailey has tried to interpret the biblical text in a way that is authentic to the Middle Eastern cultural world where it all took place.


Most Christmas pageants are built around "no room in the inn." Dr. Bailey's research changes this concept and brings more meaning to the wonderful story of the birth of Jesus. It is Dr. Bailey's prayer that a more culturally sensitive and historically accurate understanding of the birth story of Jesus will help "rescue truth from familiarity" and will enrich the story for all.


Has the church been wrong for 2,000 years? Well, no. The current traditional understanding of the birth story in the Western Church is not a view that the church everywhere has held. For example, the churches of the Middle East, for 2,000 years, have never seen "inn" in the story. The oldest translation simply says there was no room for them. The most common Arabic translation says "there was no space the manzil (house)."  We, in the Western world used a translation by St. Jerome which led to us thinking "no room in the inn." Another Western interpretation is that Jesus was born the night they arrived, but in scripture it was after several days had passed. It is good to honor our traditions, but we invited you to come, allow yourselves to be enriched by a deeper, and even more beautiful, understanding of what most likely happened that glorious night. We hope you met some simple folk in Bethlehem who offered the newborn king their best. We are challenged to do the same.


For information about Dr. Bailey go to


About our performance...
Our director, Michael Davis, is professionally trained in theater. There were 14 actors of various ages who wore period costumes. The play was performed in Trinity Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary. It was about 50-minutes long, with no intermission. The folk songs were written by David Bailey and the choir music by Lois Hopkins of New Wilmington. It included a song at the beginning and at the end of the performance, three adult solos, and one child solo.

We, as a congregation had a wonderful time with all of the preparations -sets, costumes, sound and lighting, refreshments, rehearsals, etc..We even got to know each other better. We hope you got caught up in the drama, enjoyed the music, and were touched by the message, the fellowship with us afterwards, and now have a whole new appreciation of God's Christmas story.


The $4,000 in donations were matched and $8,000 was given in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Bailey to the Diyar Consortium in Bethlehem.